America’s Youngest Victims of the Opioid Crisis
In 2012, every twenty-five minutes a baby was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). In 2015, the rate increased to every nineteen minutes a baby was born immediately thrown into withdrawal. Three years later and far deeper into the opioid epidemic, it is saddening to think what the rate might be today. There have not been any official numbers released regarding the rate of newborns born substance dependent since 2015. Tennessee has conducted a more recent study analyzing the state’s own level of severity in regards to rising NAS rates. The results showed a decennial increase over the last ten years in birth rates. Though Tennessee’s rates are alarming, West Virginia’s rate of babies born substance dependent is five times higher than any other state.
Legislators, companies, and civilians alike are beginning to advocate for the accidental victims of the opioid epidemic, babies. The typical newborn resides in the hospital for two days on average. A baby born to a parent who used throughout their pregnancy stays an additional 20 days case depending. Hospitals are testing ways to decrease the length of stay and increase the pace of rehabilitation in new and innovative ways every day.
Over the last several years, doctors have begun to witness the strength of skin-to-skin contact and neonatal abstinence syndrome treatment. The power of mother-to-child bonding outweighs modern medicine. Prior to the exploration of parental bonding, 86% of babies born at the Boston Medical Center were being subscribed medications such as methadone and morphine to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Today at Boston Medical, only 30% of NAS patients are receiving any medicinal treatments.
The popular diaper brand Huggies has caught wind of the growing development and created a $250,000 annual budget for a new scholarship called “No Baby Left Un-hugged”. The scholarships are awarded to hospitals looking to establish volunteer hugging programs. The programs train volunteers to cuddle babies for 2-6 hour shifts weekly. The volunteers are trained to recognize signs of stress or seizure. While a mother’s touch is most beneficial, it is understandable that biological mothers cannot be present 24/7, and volunteers are the perfect alternative with equal results. Sometimes volunteers will hug the babies as the parents are attending classes performed by hospital staff to teach parents life skills in addition to techniques on raising a unique newborn.
The best ways to reduce the number of children born dependent are to address the issues that lead the mother to use in the first place. The socioeconomic factors to be analyzed are employment opportunities, education programs, and accessibility to mental health services. Additionally, when being discharged from the hospital addicted mothers should be put in contact with a social worker. Having someone to assist them and keep them accountable will make the world of a difference.
There’s no better time than today to get help for you or someone you love who is struggling with opiate addiction. Seabrook is proud to be on the front line combating the nationwide opioid epidemic by giving our clients the right tools to achieve lasting sobriety. To learn more about our programs and services, including opiate detoxification, call us today: 856-455-7575.