There’s a drug problem in West Virginia that is reaching epidemic proportions. Housewives are abusing medication, young women are addicted to painkillers, and both are giving birth to babies. Through no choice or fault of their own, many infants are born already addicted to narcotics. Their birth cuts them off from the drugs that inhabit their mothers’ bodies, causing them to immediately go into withdrawal. Any addict who has detoxed knows the discomfort of withdrawal. Narcotic-addicted babies are the most innocent victims of drug addiction and they don’t even have the option of going to a West Virginia drug rehab.
The Extent of West Virginia’s Drug Problem
According to the Charleston Gazette, the extent of painkiller addiction runs deep among West Virginia’s mothers. Five years ago, 80 out of 1000 pregnant women were addicted to drugs. By last year, that number had jumped up almost 150% to 139. For obvious reasons, any drug consumption while pregnant is dangerous, but the specific reasons why it is problematic are:
- Drugs restrict the baby’s growth, making them too small to complete gestation and causing mothers to go into early labor.
- Babies inherit Hepatitis C and other blood diseases contracted from intravenous injection, a common method used by opiate addicts.
- Only 25% of these babies can be discharged after birth, but 75% must remain hospitalized for weeks in order to detox and recuperate.
A Medical Solution
The doctors and social workers who were the focus of the Gazette piece posit two solutions for drug-addicted infants in West Virginia. The first is medical. They have found Subutex generally facilitates a more healthy birth for both the babies and mothers. Subutex, which is an opioid replacement medication similar to methadone, is used to gradually detox addicted mothers. This has been shown to reduce hospital stays and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.
A Social Solution
A much larger solution is social and much more difficult to apply. A major focus of social workers in West Virginia has been breaking the stigma of drug addiction. They argue that attitudes of moral superiority are a large barrier to helping addicts. Essentially, medical practitioners and counselors can’t go on believing that addicts “get what they deserve”.
Regardless of your own attitude toward drug addicts, we must all keep in mind that drug-addicted babies are the real victims here. You may think addicts get what they deserve, but their children certainly don’t get what they deserve. For the babies’ sakes, we shall hope and pray that West Virginia makes more progress. As for the addicted mothers, Drug Treatment Center Finder is always here to help find a treatment center for them.