No one will argue that there is an unfortunate increase in prescription pill abuse and especially prescription pain killers, otherwise known as opioids. Some say that doctors are too quick to write the prescriptions and others will say that more people need to become educated on the proper disposal of these medications when they are either expired or no longer being used. Regardless of what has caused this near epidemic number of addicts there is another group that is suffering from the wrath of this problem.

There are more newborns being born today that are addicted to opioid drugs than ever before. More pregnant moms are abusing drugs like Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocets, Methadone, and heroin when they are pregnant than there has ever been. The result is that the baby is born addicted and has to go through a very dangerous and uncomfortable withdrawal. In the neonatal intensive care units it has become common to see babies that are suffering from drug withdrawal.

When these babies are struggling with withdrawal it is common for them to keep their fists clenched, whine in pain, be very agitated, suffer from tremors, they are unable to nipple the bottle, and some even have seizures. This is not even considering that they now have a precursor for drug abuse later in life. This surpasses the typical genetic link that people are born with. These babies now have the drugs in their systems and it will affect them later on in life.

The Journal of the American medical Association claims that the number of newborns suffering from withdrawal in the United States nearly tripled from 2000 to 2009. One nurse, Devlin Phinney, from the University of Louisville Hospital said that during one month in 2011 she saw eight of 15 babies in the NICU nursery suffering from withdrawal.
There are many mothers that claim they didn’t know that the drugs would affect their babies and others were so hooked that they could not function without the drugs. There are programs that cater to pregnant women that are drug addicted but there are not enough. Some women, who know they are endangering their babies, simply do not receive any prenatal care at all. This just complicates the problems even farther.

Because this has become such a huge problem there are more programs available for pregnant women than there was a decade ago. The problem still exists that there is no simple cut and dry plan for this problem. Quitting cold turkey is not an option and could lead to the baby being miscarried or born too soon to survive.

The best option thus far is to place the mother on methadone and babies are usually born addicted to that too. The only difference is that the mother is at least monitored during her pregnancy when she is on methadone and the final outcome is safer for the baby. There is no doubt that more educational services need to be offered to pregnant women. Also, drug dependence needs to become a frontline approach when a woman sees her doctor for her first prenatal visit.

Author's Bio: 

Cheryl Hinneburg is the content writer about addiction for KLEAN Treatment Center. Cheryl is working on her MS in substance Abuse counseling.