Addiction does not discriminate. Men and women of all races, ages, socio-economic backgrounds and education levels can unwittingly find themselves in the throes of a full-blown drug or alcohol addiction at some point in their life. Sadly, this demographic also extends to the unborn. Pregnancy and Addiction do not mix.
Statistics suggest that as many as 22 million Americans are currently addicted to a mind-altering substance, an epidemic that is said to cost our country more than $185 billion a year. While most Americans are aware illicit drug abuse is a rampant problem sweeping the nation, many are not aware of the crushing blow prescription drugs are delivering to our people.
The culprit of Pregnancy and Addiction?
The culprit? Prescription medications. The victims? Mothers and their unborn babies.Drug addiction used to be associated with dirty needles, dark alleys and a life of crime, but now, middle classAmericais seeing more soccer-mom types experiencing severe substance abuse problems.
Prescription drug abuse is defined as “the intentional use of a medication without a prescription; in a way other than as prescribed; or for the experience or feeling its causes.” This is not a new problem, but one addiction specialists believe this deserves renewed attention and increased public awareness.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 7 million people are currently using psychotherapeutic drugs for nonmedical reasons. Pain relievers and tranquilizers are among the most popular.
Where drugs like cocaine and heroin were once considered the greatest threat to the American public, legal pain medications like Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and Codeine are quickly climbing to the top of the list. NIDA reports that between 1991 and 2010, prescriptions written for opioid analgesics (painkillers) has almost tripled –from about 75.5 million to 209.5 million.
Medical experts are now proposing that there has been a significant increase in the number of women who are abusing legal narcotics. Because prescription meds are highly addictive, these women continue to abuse them even after they become pregnant.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 13,000 American babies are addicted to prescription painkillers every year and the number is increasingly exponentially with each passing year.
The consequences of a addicted newborn are severe.
In addition to extensive medical problems that can effect the child for the rest of his or her life, the average cost of healthcare for these children is more than $50,000 per child. Often, hospitals, state agencies and taxpayers are footing these expenses.
WebMD reports that birth defects, premature births, underweight and underdeveloped babies are just a few of the immediate results of prenatal prescription drug abuse. Taking pills while pregnant also significantly increases the likelihood of stillborn babies. Researchers are even suggesting there may be a link between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and prescription drug abuse during pregnancy. If there are no noticeable problems present when a baby is born addicted to prescription drugs, he or she may experience difficulty later in life. Developmental problems, learning disabilities, a deficiency in cognitive reasoning….these are all caused by the abuse of prescription drugs by a pregnant mother.
Not only does prescription drug abuse affect the fetus, it can have dire consequences for the mother as well. Adverse health conditions including overdose, kidney failure, liver disease and brain damage often result from this type of drug abuse.
If you are pregnant and abusing prescription medication, see a doctor immediately and seek treatment for your problem. You are putting your life at risk and severely jeopardizing the future of your unborn baby. Get help now –before it’s too late.