Why Doctors Are Treating More Opiate Addicted Newborns

drug rehabilitation in wilmington NCWhat happens when a baby cries for heroin, instead of milk? According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, this is the frightening reality for more than 13,539 infants born with NAS (neonatal abstinence syndrome) every year. The situation is so dire that it is estimated that every hour one of the babies born in the United States is addicted to some form of opiate. This number has increased dramatically over the last fifteen years.

To understand why so many babies are born in the U.S. with opiate addictions you must first understand how drug addictions affect the general population. The University of Michigan has conducted extensive research on this problem and in doing so found that the number of babies addicted to painkillers has more than tripled in the last decade.

At Legacy Freedom, we understand that your addiction is a difficult battle. Breaking the addiction cycle is important for you and your unborn baby. If you, or someone you love, are pregnant and facing a substance abuse problem, Legacy is here to help. Our holistic approach to drug rehabilitation in Wilmington NC is unlike anything you have tried before. We believe in treating the whole person, not just the addiction. Together with our staff of life coaches, dieticians, therapists, and clinicians we combine traditional talk therapy with alternative therapies to help you develop healthy habits and coping mechanisms.

When you get pregnant and are addicted to heroin and other opiates your risks for carrying a baby with prenatal obstetrics complications increases significantly. However, many female addicts find themselves in this situation. Many women turn to prostitution and sexual favors to pay for their addiction. Addiction also takes away inhibitions and feelings of responsibility, so most addicts do not think about pregnancy prevention. Using heroin and other opiates can lead to having irregular periods or missing them altogether. After awhile, many women start to believe that they can't get pregnant.

Most women want to do the best thing for their baby when they find out they are pregnant. Those addicted to opiates are no different. Many expectant mothers want to quit using as soon as they find out they are pregnant. However, going through opiate withdrawals during pregnancy can put extra stress on the body and lead to a higher chance of miscarriage. Instead of quitting cold turkey, doctors recommend that women choose to follow a methadone maintenance treatment plan. Methadone is strictly regulated and use must be monitored throughout the pregnancy.

Methadone is a synthetic opiate medication that reduces the withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs. It does not cause the high associated with drug addiction and is a time-release drug, so it takes the body longer to process. Due to the chemical makeup that makes it a long lasting and stable opiate. Keeping the level of the synthetic opiate consistent in the mother's system has benefits for both mother and baby. Methadone helps control the mother's cravings for opiates and curbs or stops the use altogether.  One of the benefits of methadone is that the baby is less likely to experience withdrawals while still in utero. Participating in a methadone maintenance program requires strict monitoring. For this reason, pregnant women on methadone are more likely to receive regular prenatal care as well. Routine prenatal care is beneficial for all babies, particularly those who have been exposed to opiates. It also increases their chances of being healthier when they are born despite their exposure to drugs. At Legacy, our drug rehabilitation in Wilmington NC does not include using methadone, or any opiate replacement drugs. We use only holistic treatments to help you fight addiction.

Unfortunately, for babies who are born addicted the future is riddled with uncertainty. Many of these babies are at high rate for heart failure during delivery or other serious complications in utero. Risks for babies born with opiate addiction include:

  • Poor intrauterine growth
  • Premature birth
  • Malformations of extremities
  • Organ development on the outside of the body
  • Seizures
  • Congenital disabilities

Drug Rehabilitation in Wilmington NCHeroin and other opiates will cause significant withdrawals lasting as long as six months after birth. Infants who are exposed to opiates while in the womb will be addicted to drugs when they are born and suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). The exact symptoms the baby will experience will depend on what type of drug the mother was using when she was pregnant. Factors that also play a role in determining how sick or how long the baby will be sick are things like the genetics of the baby, how quickly they can break down and process the remaining drugs, how long the mother used the drugs and whether the baby was born at full term or not.

Symptoms of NAS often start showing 1 to 3 days after the baby is born. Because of this, the child will most likely stay in the hospital for an extended observation. If the baby was born prematurely, a range of other complications such as low birth weight, underdeveloped lungs, breathing problems, anemia, jaundice and eating and digestive complications may decide how long the baby requires additional care. Many NAS babies spend their first days, weeks or months in NICU. For holistic drug rehabilitation in Wilmington NC, be sure to call Legacy Freedom.

Symptoms associated with NAS as the child goes through withdrawals:

  • Blotchy skin
  • Hyper reflexes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Slow weight gain
  • Excessive sucking
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Poor feeding
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Sleep problems

Tests will be conducted on the baby shortly after birth to determine the level of toxicity. The neonatal abstinence syndrome scoring sheet will assign symptom severity. The infant's score can assist in determining treatment. A toxicology or drug screen will be conducted with first bowel movement (meconium) and urine sample to see what the baby was ingesting while in utero.

No amount of drugs or alcohol is safe for expectant mothers. If you, or someone you know, are pregnant and struggling with a substance abuse problem, the sooner they enter treatment, the better. Cocaine use in pregnancy has been shown to cause premature labor and babies exposed to drugs and opiates during pregnancy have a higher chance of having mental disabilities and physical deformities. Lifelong behavioral problems have also been associated with children who were addicted to opiates when they were born. These effects can be debilitating for these children and lead to lifelong medical complications as well.

What's caused the increase in babies born addicted to opiates?

A study conducted by the National Center for Prenatal Health in 2014 found that doctors frequently prescribe opioids to expectant mothers to treat back pain. Nearly forty-two percent of women on Medicaid were prescribed opiates. This information leads doctors to believe that the number of infants born addicted to opiates will continue to increase over the next ten years.

Holistic and Alternative Drug Rehabilitation in Wilmington NC

If you’re considering getting treatment for a drug problem in 2017, give us a call at Legacy Freedom Treatment Center in Wilmington, NC. There is no reason to be afraid to get help. Our caring admissions counselors can answer any questions you may have about our facility. We offer outpatient programs designed to let you continue to work and meet family obligations. Call us today to discuss the many treatment options we offer for drug rehabilitation in Wilmington NC. We have alternative therapies not found in other facilities that allow us to offer you an individualized program. Call us today to get started.

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