Painkiller withdrawal symptoms among newborns have tripled in the last ten years, following a rise in prescription drug abuse figures, indicating an increased need for a lasting solution.
Since the 1990s, prescription drug abuse and addiction figures in the US have been rising, following the vast increases in prescriptions written for these drugs. But now, this epidemic of addiction has reached many of the world’s tiniest citizens: newborn babies.
As covered in the Christian Science Monitor, a new report states that one painkiller-addicted baby is now born every hour of every day in the US. (1) The number of babies born with signs of opiate withdrawal symptoms has tripled in the last decade, proving that pregnant women are using more of these drugs either legally or illegally. Also included in these figures are the babies born to women on methadone or Suboxone treatment programs as these medications are also opiates.
Increases in Prescription Drug Use Started in 1991
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 1991, there were about 76 million opioid painkiller prescriptions issued, for example. By 2010, this number had shot up to more than 210 million. The number of people dependent on these addictive drugs followed, naturally enough. By 2007, the number of people who died of overdoses from these prescription painkillers outnumbered the deaths from heroin and cocaine combined. (2)
As the number of women using or abusing these drugs or on opiate treatment programs grow, it naturally follows that many of their babies would turn up with the same addiction. And once born, their source of opiates is withdrawn – and their struggles with withdrawal symptoms start.
These babies suffer the same withdrawal symptoms that their parents would have if they had discontinued drug use including muscle and bone pain and aches, spasms, diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness. Some babies are put on small doses of methadone as a way of alleviating the symptoms.
“Every time we help a young woman overcome her addiction to painkillers, we may be saving a baby from these miseries,” stated Bobby Wiggins, Director of Drug Education at Narconon International. Narconon is a non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of substance abuse and addiction through effective rehabilitation and education. “At Narconon centers around the world, we provide lasting sobriety for seven out of ten graduates of our long-term rehab program. This means that these individuals are free from the ‘revolving door’ of repeated rehab visits that plague many people trying to find a new life free from substance abuse.”
Narconon centers use only nutritional supplements to help ease withdrawal symptoms and lift the moods of those going through withdrawal or detoxifying from addictive substance. What follows next is a comprehensive course of life skills training that enables those in treatment to gain the drug-free skills they need for lasting recovery. The sober graduate is free from any need of continuing reliance on medication-assisted treatment like methadone or Suboxone treatment programs that can result in a newborn going through withdrawal sickness.
Northeast, Southeast and Midwest US Regions Lead this Trend
In Maine, Florida, West Virginia, parts of the Midwest and other regions of the country, this new phenomenon is widespread. Florida and West Virginia have long had reputations for rampant prescription drug abuse. In fact, West Virginia’s problems were the source of the nickname “hillbilly heroin” for the prescription drug OxyContin, frequently abused in the area. (3) Florida finally got legislation controlling prescription pain medication enacted in 2011, slowing the flood of improperly used drugs from the pharmacies in this state. (4)
But the person who is already addicted to prescription pain relievers may turn to street supplies of painkillers or heroin, which is cheaper, to quell their cravings. If the addicted person is a woman who gets pregnant, then the outcome is seen in the hospital nursery.
Narconon Provides the Solution for Hundreds of People Each Year
When a young woman finds the Narconon drug addiction program in locations across the US and around the world, she has just found a 70% chance of eliminating her addiction to painkillers. And so if she becomes pregnant after completing this program, she can be relieved to know that it will be born addiction-free.
“We are very proud of our graduates who go on to establish clean, sober lives for themselves, marry and raise drug-free children,” concluded Mr. Wiggins. “We will continue in our mission until this trend is a thing of the past.”
For more information on the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, contact the international offices of Narconon at 1-800-775-8750.