Helping Babies Born Addicted
America’s prescription drug abuse epidemic has caused a spike in the number of addicted mothers and newborns experiencing withdrawal symptoms and delivering in maternity wards across the country. While there is no universally accepted standard of care for their offspring, the rise fueled efforts to evaluate treatment practices and sharpened calls for more resources to combat addiction.
At New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the number of newborns treated or monitored for drug withdrawal shot up 119 percent in three years, from 31 in 2009 to 68 in 2012. Many must be painstakingly weaned off whatever their mother used, extending hospital stays and driving up medical costs. The phenomenon is by no means Wilmington’s alone. A study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the number of babies that underwent withdrawal, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, tripled from 2000 to 2009, when 13,539 were born, or nearly two every hour. Treatment costs increased 35.5 percent over that same period, from $39,400 for each withdrawal case to $53,400. In 2009, 77.6 percent of those costs were charged to Medicaid, according to the study.
There are no national statistics to document the scale of the problem as it stands today, but interviews with researchers, doctors and drug treatment specialists suggest it continues to escalate. Physicians generally advise mothers who have been taking prescription opiates – medications based on opium or its derivatives – for extended time periods to continue during pregnancy because quitting cold turkey may cause her to withdraw, increasing the risk for miscarriage and pre-term birth. Pregnant addicts on methadone treatment, a time-tested opiate medication that staves off withdrawal and reduces cravings, are also instructed to stick to their regimen, not only because stopping may harm the fetus but because it may also drive her to relapse and use street drugs.
Seabrook has a highly trained staff to assist you with the difficult task of detoxing, and we can customize a treatment plans to fit an individual’s needs. Contact Seabrook today at 1.800.761.7575 to find out ways for you to beat your addiction.