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In The News: Drug Law For Pregnant Women Gets First Arrest

In The News: Drug Law For Pregnant Women Gets First Arrest

New Drug Law For Pregnant Women in Tennessee

New Tennessee pregnancy law has apparently claimed its first violator. This month the state of Tennessee has issued a new law allowing for a pregnant woman to be prosecuted for assault for the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant if her infant is harmed or addicted to the narcotic upon delivery. A drug addiction mother can also be charged with homicide if the baby dies at any point.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed the new piece of legislation back in April, and the governor said himself that the intent of the new law is to give local law enforcement and the district attorney’s office another powerful tool to address the growing concern of illicit drug use among pregnant women through giving them the necessary access to drug treatment programs. The new law is supposed to be designed to allow any woman charged to enter into a substance abuse treatment program before giving birth as a defense, and hopefully she will be able to successfully complete the program afterward.

Republican state Representative Terri Lynn Weaver sponsored the new law. When the bill was first being brought to fruition he was quoted as saying,

“It would just seem to me that any society that puts value on life would agree that these defenseless children deserve some protection and these babies need a voice.”

But perhaps what Weaver is unaware of in the vast amounts of fear and stigma surrounding mothers who struggle with substance abuse while pregnant, and how hard it can be to seek treatment.

The First Arrest

Just recently local deputies in Tennessee said they received a call from the Department of Child Services after a baby girl was born at UT Medical Center and after being tested she came up positive for meth. The 26-year-old mother was arrested, and informed of her charges as she was actually being discharged from the hospital.

The young mother is Mallory Loyola. Loyola has had a history of meth-related arrests in the past, and now she is the first woman to be charged with assault under the new Tennessee law that is directed at mothers who take drugs while pregnant. Mallory Loyola was released later on a $2,000 bail, and has been charged with a misdemeanor.

The Sheriff of Monroe County Bill Bivens stated recently that Mallory Loyola had later admitted to smoking meth just days before she had gave birth to her daughter. Sheriff Monroe insists that he hopes the arrest will set a tone for the future in the area. Officials and law enforcement expect it will deter other women from committing the crime and endangering the lives of their children who have not yet been born. The sheriff was quoted as saying,

“Hopefully it will send a signal to other women who are pregnant and have a drug problem to seek help. That’s what we want them to do.”

Opposing Opinions on the Effects

As good as the intentions may be, not everyone in Tennessee believes that this is the best course of action for the war on drugs to take. The law recently came under fire with local and national critics claiming it would have the opposite effect of what lawmakers are hoping to accomplish. Those opposing the new bill say it will greatly deter and intimidate drug-addicted pregnant women from getting the help they need.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee has stepped up to lead the efforts in combating the legislation. Tennessee ACLU challenges the law, which they said raises “serious constitutional concerns regarding equal treatment under the law.”

Thomas Castelli is the legal director of the ACLU of Tennessee, and in a statement to the presss he had expressed a strong opinion on the opposition of this new policy,

“This dangerous law unconstitutionally singles out new mothers struggling with addiction for criminal assault charges. By focusing on punishing women rather than promoting healthy pregnancies, the state is only deterring women struggling with alcohol or drug dependency from seeking the pre-natal care they need.”

So at this point, the law has already taken effect, and surely there are more arrests on the way, which brings the question as to how will this affect the mothers who currently struggle with substance abuse? Will they feel more prompted to seek help and medical treatment, or will they become more terrified of the implications of seeking treatment? Will this new law truly be making a positive change in the way substance abuse and addiction is being addressed in Tennessee, or will there only be greater complications as a result of these scare tactics?

Mothers and fathers battling substance abuse and addiction experience the suffering in different and intense ways, and so do the children of addicts or alcoholics. But that suffering can be avoided and recovery is possible with the right treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

In the News: Drug Dependent Babies in Tennessee Challenge Doctors

In the News: Drug Dependent Babies in Tennessee Challenge Doctors

There is an epidemic of drug-addicted babies being born in Tennessee and across the country. The challenge comes when these babies are born and start to go through a terribly painful withdrawal process called NAS (neonatal abstinence syndrome).

Neonatal intensive care units in Tennessee are filling up faster than the health care system can figure out how to treat these babies being born to drug-addicted mothers. In the past decade, the number of babies with NAS has increased tenfold. Last year alone, there were 921 drug-dependent babies born in across the state.

Being at the forefront of this issue, Tennessee is struggling with how to go about addressing the problem. And it’s obvious that it’s not a cut-and-dry situation. State laws differ widely and are even conflicting to one another.

What it boils down to is this: treatment versus punishment/criminalization.

Shortly, there will be two laws in effect at the same time that contradict one another. One law encourages treatment while at the same time protects parental rights of those seeking treatment; however, the other threatens jail time for addicted mothers.

At the crossroads are the doctors who are attempting to treat these mothers and their babies. Laws like these leave doctors clueless as to what to tell their patients.

The Challenges

With addiction comes negative stigma and rampant misunderstanding about the disease. People who struggle with substance abuse and addiction are often ashamed and fearful to seek help. And then you have women addicts who know they are pregnant. The guilt, shame, and fear is compounded by their situation, and they face the very real possibility of having their babies taken away by the state.

Then there’s the unclear approach to treatment of babies with NAS. With the exact cause of withdrawal syndrome still unknown, treatment approaches are pretty much guesswork, at best; there’s a small handful of doctors that are actually equipped to truly help babies in this type of medical crisis.

Then, you have these same doctors who are unsure as to what to tell their patients, due to the mixed signals being sent by lawmakers.

Tennessee’s Opposing Laws

Last year, Tennessee legislators passed a law called the Safe Harbor Act, which was designed to encourage mothers with addiction to seek treatment. It also ensures parental rights, saying that, if addicted mothers seek help, then the Department of Children’s Services cannot take their children into state custody based solely on their having an addiction.

Dr. Jessica Young, who treats pregnant women with substance abuse problems daily at her Vanderbilt clinic – and is the only Middle Tennessee obstetrician whose practice targets this patient population, says of the Safe Harbor law, “[It’s] something I could talk about with patients to help assuage their fears that they were doing the right thing by getting treatment, that if they continued to do what they were supposed to do, they wouldn’t have to worry about losing custody.”

Yet, the legislature passed another law, one that targets mothers with drug addiction as perpetrators of crimes against infants. As of July 1, police will be able to arrest a woman whose baby tests positive for drugs if she can’t prove she’s taking steps to get clean.

Republican state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, who sponsored the new law that criminalizes addicted mothers said, “It would just seem to me that any society that puts value on life would agree that these defenseless children deserve some protection and these babies need a voice.”

Weaver seems to think that the law is a good idea and that it would weed out those mothers who are “acting” and help other addicted mothers who truly want help. It’s obvious that Weaver doesn’t understand the psychological aspects of addiction.

Pregnant women with drug addiction face very-real barriers to getting help: those of shame and fear.

While doctors and medical insurance programs struggle with wanting to help and being bound by criminalizing legislation, many addicted women and their equally-addicted babies are left to suffer the consequences, both literally and figuratively.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, or is looking for treatment in Tennessee, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We can help!

Meth Rehab in Tennessee

Meth Rehab in Tennessee

Meth and meth houses have recently become a huge epidemic in the state of Tennessee; because of this meth rehab in Tennessee is on the rise and could be the right choice for you. The term meth is short for the word methamphetamine, which is an extremely addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Meth causes chattiness, increased activity, practically no appetite, and a general sense of comfort. There are many different street names for meth such as but not limited to: speed, crank, crystal meth, ice and others.

Meth Rehab in Tennessee: Uses for Methamphetamines

There are of course medical uses for methamphetamines, too. There are a small amount of reasons someone would medically need methamphetamines; it can be prescribed for ADHD and certain cases of overeating and being overweight. Off-label uses contain the treatment of narcolepsy and for cases of treatment-resistant sadness. Meth is widely known for being used recreationally and for the anticipated “high” it creates. Along with a rush, the meth users experience extreme alertness and insomnia. Using of meth can cause a lot of health problems and if you overdose you can have a seizure and if you aren’t treated instantly, it can be fatal.

Meth Rehab in Tennessee: Long-term effects

A good reason to seek Meth Rehab in Tennessee is the long-term effects caused by using meth. One of the most harmful effects of meth use is addiction and that usually requires you seek treatment. Long-term meth users can experience paranoia, psychosis, memory loss, mood disorders, severe dental problems, a decrease in weight and hostile or intense behavior. Over the years, meth addiction has increased drastically. The amount of patients seeking treatment for meth use has also gone up.

Meth Rehab in Tennessee: Going through Withdrawal, Detox

Treatment for meth addiction is critical because the withdrawals can be very uncomfortable and can also lead to a hypothetically deadly situation. Once meth addicts end using, they suffer from exhaustion, depression, enlarged appetite, too much sleeping, anxiety, bad temper, headaches, and even thoughts of suicide. The best option for a meth addict who is trying to recover is to go into a detox center and then seek help from meth rehab in Tennessee. In the detox they will make sure to medically supervise you and make sure you are safe and comfortable.

Meth Rehab in Tennessee: Treatment Options

At this time, the most effective meth rehab in Tennessee is to programs that support 12-step fellowships and focus on therapy, group therapy and teaching life skills. When you go into treatment, you will be assigned a therapist and a treatment plan that is directly goaled towards helping keep you sober. They will teach you life skills and help you get used to living life like a responsible functioning member of society again (or for the first time) and also take you to 12-step meetings. You can make connections with people in the rooms and build a support system within your rehab community. A lot of treatment centers also take you out to different activities during the week and weekends to show you how to have fun in sobriety, too. Once you finish in-patient treatment they offer outpatient treatment and recommend you go to a halfway house and meetings. Going to meth rehab in Tennessee could really help change your life and save it. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction in Tennessee, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.

In the News: Tennessee’s Meth Epidemic

In the News: Tennessee's Meth Epidemic

The state of Tennessee has the country’s worst meth addiction issue, but it’s somewhat transferred into big business for industries that clean up meth houses. Apparently there are tens of thousands of meth labs throughout Tennessee, according to officials. This brings in a rush of cleanup workers that contract with properties when a corrupt batch explodes or the drug squad shuts it down after a bust. Depending on the size of the home and the quantity of pollution, it can total up to $25,000 to reestablish a former meth house back to a standard home.

“The process is extremely cumbersome, but I think it’s necessary,” said Dick Cochran, owner of the Memphis household where a resident was charged with making meth and causing the explosion and fire. He employed Siebenschuh to examine the property. “You don’t know how bad a house can be contaminated,” Cochran said. A lot of Americans are further aware of the making of the very addictive drug thanks to AMC’s successful show Breaking Bad,” about a high school chemistry teacher who turned into a meth cooker and dealer. In the real world, cleanup contractors are the ones who deal with a property when a batch detonates or police bust an operation and shut it down.

On the other hand, there is little misunderstanding of the growing industry in a majority of states, opening the door for possible malfeasance. In addition, property holders are frequently unwilling to pay thousands of dollars to make a home nontoxic, so countless houses don’t get cleaned for years, exposing residents and occasionally neighbors to dangerous chemicals. With the total cost reaching up to $25,000, you will find that most home insurance companies do not cover meth cleanup. To make a meth home safe, a specialized contractor must eliminate and replace every contaminated material in the home; from walls to carpeting to air conditioning outlets. After this process is complete, a certified “industrial hygienist” assesses the home to measure whether it can be lived in or requires further cleaning.

The craziest thing of all of this is even if you hire a cleanup crew, it is not essentially a guarantee that they will do their job accurately. The state of Tennessee may even start training people to supervise and evaluate the cleaning procedure of the meth houses. The worst case known so far of a cleanup situation that was mismanaged was last year with hygienist Douglas McCasland who allegedly contracted with owners to clean their properties, then unlawfully certified that the homes were safe to live in when they hadn’t been correctly cleaned. Authorities are aware that the contractors may do anywhere from a very good job to a horrible job and they are evaluating them very cautiously.

I may be a drug addict in recovery, but to imagine there being tons of meth labs all over the place near where I live is pretty crazy to me. I can only imagine what the people in Tennessee feel about this new epidemic. It’s scary to think that there could be a meth house near where you live and no one is cleaning it up, you could be breathing in all those toxic chemicals. It really should be a safety issue that requires those houses to be sanitized, but until then I hope they get as many homes efficiently cleaned up as possible. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/cleaning-up-homes-with-meth-labs-growing-industry/2013/12/27/81037df0-6f13-11e3-a5d0-6f31cd74f760_story.html

http://www.wbir.com/story/news/local/2013/12/29/cleanup-of-meth-homes-is-big-business-in-tn/4239715/

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