A small but growing number of clinics for mothers-to-be are cropping up around the country in response to a prescription drug epidemic.
Prescription drug abuse and addiction is a rising problem in the United States. Deaths caused by prescription drug overdoses are now greater than those caused by heroin and cocaine combined. And, in the case of pregnant women, newborns are paying the price. Much like the “crack-baby” epidemic of the 1980’s, the last decade has seen an alarming increase in the number of prescription drug addicted babies.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports some shocking statistics about prescription drug abuse in the U.S. The study estimates that the number of drug addicted babies born in the U.S. has tripled in the last 10 years. One baby is born addicted every hour. Officials are calling prescription drug abuse the fastest growing drug problem in the United States.
Most of the babies are born addicted to prescription painkillers such as Opana, Roxicodone, and Vicodin. Prescription drug addiction in newborns is very dangerous, even life-threatening. Drug addicted babies usually must stay in the hospital to be weaned off the drugs. Often, drug addicted babies are given narcotics, such as methadone, to manage withdrawal symptoms, and the risk of overdose is high. Prescription drug addicted babies may cry excessively and have stiff limbs, tremors, diarrhea and other problems that make their first days of life excruciating. In addition, prescription drug addicted babies are prone to problems like stunted growth, birth defects, and seizures.
The growing number of prescription drug addicted babies also has a heavy economic cost. Most drug addicted babies are covered by Medicaid. In 2009, care for these babies cost over 720 million dollars.
One of the problems with this growing trend is that women who are addicted to prescription drugs often don’t know they are pregnant right away. After the fetus has become dependent on prescription drugs, trying to quit while pregnant can cause a miscarriage. For this reason, many women wait until after they have delivered to get off prescription drugs.
Sometimes women who take prescription drugs for chronic pain conditions do not understand the risk of taking these medications while pregnant. They assume that because they have been prescribed by a doctor, they will be safe. Many women who take daily prescription painkillers aren’t offered any alternative treatment for their pain while pregnant.
A lot of the women who have prescription drug addicted babies became addicted to opiates before pregnancy and are simply unable to stop. Often, they don’t have the resources to seek addiction treatment. Most experts agree that we need a better way to screen for addicted mothers and funding to get them the help they need. Alternatively, because many of the mothers are young, inexperienced women in their teens and early twenties, they may be reluctant to seek treatment for their addiction out of fear the authorities will take their babies away.
Now some clinics across the country are responding to the need for drug treatment for pregnant women. The clinics, which are typically free for patients, are often tied to university medical centers and funded through a combination of Medicaid, health insurance and grants.
If your loved one is in need of prescription drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Alcohol has become so ingrained in our social culture that we often forget it is a poison. When you ingest poison it immediately begins to impact your body in ways that can cause serious health problems. Alcohol penetrates every cell in your body and directly affects your brain, heart, liver, pancreas, stomach, kidneys and lungs. At times people disregard the health problems associated with their drinking and blame it on aging or another disease they may have.
Here are some more (you can catch up on part 1 here) health problems associated with alcoholism that you should be aware of:
Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Consuming more than three alcoholic beverages temporarily raises blood pressure but continued drinking and alcoholism can lead to permanent hypertension. For those that drink heavily stopping drinking suddenly can cause severe hypertension. Alcohol also contains a lot of calories which can lead to weight gain which is also a high risk factor for hypertension. Alcohol can also interfere with blood pressure medications increasing the side effects and decreasing their effectiveness.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a condition that occurs from alcohol exposure during pregnancy. The problems caused by fetal alcohol syndrome vary from child to child but the defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are irreversible. Problems that are caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are physical deformities, mental retardation, learning disorders, vision problems, and behavioral problems. There is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume during a pregnancy. If a mother drinks during pregnancy in any amount the baby is at risk of developing fetal alcohol syndrome.
Signs of fetal alcohol syndrome include:
- Distinctive facial features, including small eyes, an exceptionally thin upper lip, a short, upturned nose, and a smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip
- Deformities of joints, limbs and fingers
- Slow physical growth before and after birth
- Vision difficulties or hearing problems
- Small head circumference and brain size (microcephaly)
- Poor coordination
- Mental retardation and delayed development
- Learning disorders
- Abnormal behavior, such as a short attention span, hyperactivity, poor impulse control, extreme nervousness and anxiety
- Heart defects
The liver is the second largest organ in the body that has many different jobs. The liver’s biggest job is to filter your blood and process what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. There are different types of liver diseases that are alcohol-related. There is fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.
Fatty liver disease is caused from the buildup of extra fat in liver cells. Fatty liver disease is the earliest stage of any alcohol-related liver disease. In most cases there are no symptoms of fatty liver disease. If there are symptoms they tend to be fatigue, weakness, and weight loss. Nearly all alcoholic drinkers have fatty liver disease but if they stop drinking it tends to go away.
Alcoholic hepatitis causes the liver to swell and become damaged. The symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and jaundice. Alcoholic hepatitis can range in severity from mild to very severe. If the damage is mild it can be reversed but if it is severe it can lead to serious problems including liver failure or death.
Alcoholic cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver. Hard scar tissue replaces soft tissue in the liver. Alcoholic cirrhosis is the most serious of liver disease. Symptoms of cirrhosis are very similar to alcoholic hepatitis. 10-20% of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis. Unfortunately alcoholic cirrhosis cannot be reversed and can cause liver failure.
Alcoholism can have a big impact on mental health causing many psychiatric disorders and heightening the risk of suicide. The formation of a depressive disorder is common with alcohol. Not only that but those who drink heavily are at risk of developing alcoholism which in and of itself is a psychiatric problem. Anxiety, depression, ADHD, narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, bulimia, PTSD, schizophrenia, confusion and panic disorders can all develop due to long term misuse of alcohol. Dementia would be one of the most severe and the longer the alcohol abuse the worse it gets.
If your loved one is in need of alcohol detox or treatment for alcoholism please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Your Baby’s Brain on Drugs
Obviously, exposure to drugs prenatally is bad for a baby’s brain. A baby’s brain is growing and developing while you are pregnant, so when drugs are introduced, it can disrupt this growth. The amount of disruption depends on how much you use, how often, and at what point during the pregnancy the baby is exposed to drugs.
Your Baby’s Brain on Drugs: Marijuana
Marijuana crosses the placenta, so when you smoke pot, your baby is affected too. It contains toxins that can keep your baby from getting enough oxygen. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact effect of marijuana on your baby’s brain because many mothers who smoke pot during pregnancy also abuse other substances.
Your Baby’s Brain on Drugs: Cocaine
Cocaine also crosses the placenta and the elimination of cocaine is slower in a fetus than in an adult. Cocaine can cause defects in the brain, developmental problems, and learning difficulties in your baby. Babies can become addicted to cocaine in utero and suffer withdrawal symptoms when they are born including tremors, sleeplessness, muscle spasm, and feeding difficulties.
Your Baby’s Brain on Drugs: Heroin and narcotic painkillers
Use of heroin or other narcotic painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin, or Morphine during pregnancy can cause bleeding within the brain (intracranial hemorrhage) and infant death. These drugs are highly addictive, and use during pregnancy can also cause your baby to become addicted. When they are born, they can suffer from withdrawal symptoms like irritability, convulsions, diarrhea, fever, sleep abnormalities, and joint stiffness.
Your Baby’s Brain on Drugs: PCP
PCP can cause numerous problems with your baby’s brain. It has been linked to brain damage, and can cause dependence if used frequently. Withdrawal symptoms include lethargy and tremors.
Your Baby’s Brain on Drugs: Methamphetamine
Taking methamphetamine during pregnancy can result in problems similar to those seen with cocaine use during pregnancy. The use of methamphetamine can cause the baby to get less oxygen, which can inhibit brain development. Methamphetamine is also highly addictive, and your baby may become dependent and suffer from withdrawal.
Your Baby’s Brain on Drugs: Anatomy
Even though behavioral studies clearly show that exposure to drugs, alcohol and tobacco when a baby is in utero is bad for a baby’s brain, specific effects on the anatomy of a baby’s brain have been hard to identify. This is because mothers don’t often limit themselves to one substance. In addition, other demographic factors, like poverty, can influence a baby’s brain on drugs.
However, a recent NIH study has shown that prenatal exposure to cocaine, alcohol, marijuana or tobacco can affect brain structure well into adolescence. More than one million babies born every year in the United States has been exposed to at least one of these substances.
The MRI’s in the study, done on adolescent children who had been exposed to substances prenatally, showed that there were indeed changes in the anatomy of the brain. The exposed children had reduced cortical brain matter and total brain volumes. The effects were shown to be additive: the more the substances the baby was exposed to, the greater the reduction in brain volume.
If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.