Number of Babies Born Addicted to Drugs in the US Tripled in 15 Years
Prescription drug addiction is a significant problem both here in the UK and in the US, where shocking statistics have revealed that the number of babies born addicted to drugs in the past fifteen years has tripled. With more and more women developing addictions to opioid medication, the risk of children being born with the same problem is a growing concern.
Prescription Medication Abuse
Most people think that drug addiction relates only to illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine, but the reality is that countless individuals struggle with prescription drug addiction. These people have, in most cases, been prescribed medication for a legitimate health condition such as chronic pain or anxiety.
However, strong painkillers and sedatives should only be taken on a temporary basis as these drugs are highly addictive, and it is easy to build up a tolerance to them fairly quickly. Some patients will notice that, after a while, the medication starts to have less of an effect than it used to. This is because their body has become used to the presence of the drug.
When this happens, many will start to take larger doses, against the advice of their GP. They assume that because they have been taking the medication thus far with no adverse effects, there will be no harm in taking more of the drug if they need it. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case; abuse of prescription medication can lead to an addiction that can then be extremely difficult to kick. The consequences of a prescription drug addiction can be devastating, especially to those who then find they are pregnant.
Prescription Drug Addiction While Pregnant
Sadly, those who abuse any chemical substance while pregnant are putting the life of their baby at risk. Whether it is drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs or strong medication, the risk of it passing to the unborn child and causing damage is high.
There are numerous dangers to the health of both the mother and the unborn baby when prescription medication such as opioids are abused by someone who is pregnant. The pregnant woman may be more likely to suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth. She may also go into premature labour, which could put the life of the baby at risk.
Babies born to addicted mothers often have a low birth weight or are born with mental health problems. Some babies will be born addicted to the medication that their mother was taking, which can result in them suffering a lot of pain as they withdraw from the drugs once they are separated from the mother. Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is common among babies who were exposed to opioids while in the womb.
NAS babies often suffer breathing problems and are likely to have a low birth weight. Some find it difficult to feed while others will experience seizures. Sadly, some babies affected by NAS will be born with defects, and their growth and development will suffer as they get older.
News that there has been such a massive increase in the number of NAS babies born in America will cause concern among those health experts who are already of the opinion that something needs to be done about the amount of strong medication that is being prescribed in that country.
While many are of the opinion that prescription drug addiction is a problem for the United States only, many people here in the UK struggle with similar addictions, and the numbers are growing.
The crisis in the United States is alarming, especially when one considers that while an average of 1.5 babies for every 1,000 born in 1999 was addicted to drugs, the number has now risen to an average of 6 per 1,000. Sadly, this is not just a problem across the Atlantic. Many babies here in the UK are born addicted to drugs, so more needs to be done to prevent the problem.
Dealing with Addiction When Pregnant
If you have a prescription medication addiction and have discovered that you are pregnant, your immediate concern may be for the health of your unborn baby. It could be that you had not even realised you were addicted to your medication until you found out you were pregnant and tried to quit taking the drugs.
The first thing you need to do is speak to a GP as it can be dangerous to suddenly stop taking medication, especially after having developed a physical dependence. You may need to complete a programme of detoxification, but the fact that you are pregnant could make this more complicated.
A slow and supervised detox is the best way for pregnant women to overcome a prescription drug addiction. It is best to have this done in a specialised facility that has experience of treating expectant women.