Protecting Drug Dependent Babies

NASNeonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) occurs when a mother uses opioid narcotics during the course of her pregnancy. After birth, some babies will experience withdrawal symptoms which require medical attention. NAS is a byproduct of elevated opioid addiction rates, one that introduces newborns to substance dependency from the start of life. In the wake of the opioid epidemic in the United States, neonatal intensive care units have been overburdened on a number of different levels.

Naturally, NAS requires more than just treatment; mothers who struggle with opioid addiction need assistance as well, in order to ensure the safety of the children upon going home. Reuters looked into the matter; the investigation found that 110 babies whose mothers used opioid narcotics during their pregnancy – died from preventable causes at home. The investigation, while troubling, led to action among lawmakers on the national level. The legislation will provide assistance to opioid dependent mothers, and require both federal and state governments to monitor, better than they have in the past, the health and safety of babies born drug-dependent.

Protecting Our Drug Dependent Infants

Last week, a bill went to the Senate floor which prompted the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to pledge reforms, Reuters reports. This week, a similar bill was introduced in the House that would require states to report the number of babies determined to have been born drug-dependent. The states would also have to report the number of infants who have had safe care plans developed.

“We see the damage of substance abuse across all segments of our society, but perhaps the most tragic cases involve newborns who enter the world defenseless against the addictions they were born with,” said Representative Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania in a statement. “It is a sad reality in this country that a baby is born addicted to opioids every 19 minutes. We must do everything we can to safeguard the most vulnerable among us and ensure they will be well protected and cared for.”

A Failure to Report

In 2003, a law was passed that required hospitals throughout the country to alert state social services when a baby was born dependent on drugs, according to the article. The Reuters report found that only 9 states actually comply with the 2003 law, putting newborn babies at severe risk.

Going forward and in a perfect world, the expectant mother would be able to begin her addiction recovery well before the baby is born. While adult intervention is not appropriate in every situation, it may be the only way to prevent fallout from severe addiction. In some cases, intervention may even be a life-saving solution for loved ones that deny the presence of addiction or the need for rehabilitation. If you have questions about intervention and recovery, please contact us.

Marijuana Can Lead to Substance Use Disorders

substance use disorderLast month, a new study was published that debunked the often stated claim that marijuana was the “gateway” drug, meaning the use of cannabis would lead people to trying harder, more dangerous narcotics, possibly resulting with the development of a substance use disorder. The study painted a picture of the true gateway drug – alcohol. While the findings shined a new light on an old idea, it does not mean that the use of marijuana is completely safe and that those who use marijuana won’t go on to try harder drugs.

The changing views about cannabis in the United States, for better or worse, has resulted in long overdue research about the drug. A new study published recently found that people who smoke marijuana were at a much greater risk of developing an addiction to other drugs or alcohol, HealthDay reports. The research was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

All Roads Lead from Marijuana

The findings come from preliminary interviews of nearly 35,000 adults, who were interviewed again three years later. Almost 1,300 of the adults used marijuana, according to the article. The researchers found that two-thirds of cannabis users had some type of substance use disorder after the second interview. Of those who didn’t use marijuana, only 20 percent were found to have a substance use disorder. What’s more, the researchers observed that people who used marijuana once or more a month, had higher rates of substance use disorders.

“This new finding raises the possibility that the recent rise in marijuana use may be contributing to the coincident rise in serious harms related to narcotics and other drugs of abuse,” said lead researcher Dr. Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Recreational Disaster

With more states lightening their laws regarding marijuana, and four states where adults 21-years or older using marijuana legally, it is important that we acknowledge the fact that marijuana is not a benign substance just because it’s legal. Alcohol has been legal for a long time; every year thousands of people lose their life due to the use of the substance, from alcohol related illness and accidents.

“In the ongoing national debate concerning whether to legalize recreational marijuana, the public and legislators should take into consideration the potential for marijuana use to increase the risk of developing alcohol abuse and other serious drug problems,” said Olfson.

Substance Use Disorders

If you or a loved one’s use of marijuana, or another mind altering substance is out of control, reach out for help before the problem worsens. Please contact Next Step Intervention to get on the road to recovery.

CBD and The Future of Treating Epilepsy

CBDWhile marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I narcotic, which means the drug has no accepted medical use, there is growing evidence that particular strains of marijuana and the extracts derived from them can significantly help people suffering from life threatening disorders, such as epilepsy.

You may have seen a series of 60 Minute specials on marijuana that were hosted by CNN medical expert Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Historically, Gupta was against medical marijuana, but then he changed his position after learning that children with severe epilepsy who did not respond to current medically accepted forms treatment, greatly benefitted from marijuana that was low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the main psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, but was high cannabidiol (CBD). The children who were given extracts of CBD rich marijuana went from having hundreds of seizures per week, to two to three times per month.

CBD and The Future of Treating Epilepsy

The first child epileptic case to be treated with CBD products was in Colorado, a state with a medical marijuana program that stems back to 2000 and was one of two of the first states to legalize adult recreational use. So it is of little surprise that such revolutionary, and an extreme experiment would take place in Colorado.

Now, the use of CBD is occurring in the most unlikely of states. In Idaho, where all forms of marijuana use remain illegal, there are now four children with severe epilepsy that have been approved and are being treated with a drug called Epidiolex, The Spokeman-Review reports. The drug is a purified oil made from the marijuana plant, but it is free of THC. Despite the approval for use in limited cases, the Idaho Legislature overwhelmingly passed a resolution banning the legalization of marijuana for any purpose in 2013.

Idaho is not alone in approving cannabidiol drugs for treating intractable epilepsy, according to the article. In 2014, Utah approved the use of CBD oil, despite all forms of marijuana use being illegal, as did Wyoming. In Idaho, there are 25 trial spots available for Epidiolex trials, which has one lawmaker concerned.

“It’s frustrating for me that as a state, we have narrowed the options down for the kids and the parents,” said Sen. Shawn Keough. He adds, “whether we are denying a treatment that could give kids and parents some relief, and helping a pharmaceutical company along the way.”

CBD Is Euphoria Free

While CBD products have shown a lot of promise, it is important to remember that the ingredient is not psychoactive – it does not produce the high that THC elicits. The findings do not speak for marijuana, but for CBD alone, and people should still be wary about the long term effects of marijuana use. Smoking marijuana or eating edibles can have a serious impact on the developing brain, and can also lead to addiction.

Benzodiazepines Are The World’s Most Popular Drugs

benzosThe Benzo Business is Booming

Benzodiazepines (aka benzos), the modern child of barbiturates, are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. The drugs are fast acting, highly effective, and extremely addictive. Common benzodiazepines include:

  • Valium ®
  • Xanax ®
  • Ativan ®
  • Klonopin ®

While doctors are aware of the habit forming, addictive nature of benzos, Xanax continues to be the world’s most popular pill, The Huffington Post reports. U.S. prescriptions for Xanax ® and other benzos grow by 12 percent annually. In the short term, benzos are miracle drugs, in the long term tolerance continues to grow and kicking them can be lethal.

Benzos Over the Long Run

When most people think of drugs that can ruin people’s lives, benzodiazepines usually do not come to mind. While your average benzo user does not pawn family heirlooms to get their next fix, in reality, benzos can have a lasting effect on how the mind forms memories and processes anxiety.

“Benzodiazepines impair the formation of new memories,” says Dr. Jason Eric Schiffman, Director of UCLA’s Dual Diagnosis Program, “so they interfere with psychotherapy, which actually heals the cause of anxiety rather than just attenuating symptoms.”

Schiffman points out that, “because benzodiazepines work right after taking them, they create a paradigm of ‘feel anxious, take a pill, feel better,’ which reinforces a sense of powerlessness over anxiety. This is one of the reasons benzodiazepines are no longer considered to be a first-line treatment of anxiety, whereas SSRIs are.”

Kicking Benzos

Withdrawing and recovering from any drug is extremely difficult. Removing a drug from one’s system that has been consumed over a continued period of time is going to be painful – physically, mentally and emotionally. Without medical assistance, benzo withdrawal can be fatal, according to the article. Post-acute withdrawal can continue for months after one stops taking the medication.

“Following a sudden withdrawal or even too-rapid taper, the brain thinks it’s being injured, so it marshals all these other mechanisms to try and mitigate these reactions,” says Dr. Peter Madill, an integrative medicine physician with a subspecialty in addiction medicine based in Sebastopol, CA. “Fatigue, disorientation, malaise, severe panic and startle reactions, nerve pain, muscle aches, short-term memory loss. Xanax withdrawal especially can be dangerous, even fatal, which is why you need a slow, individualized taper. We desperately need more research into agents that can augment the withdrawal process.”


If you are struggling with benzodiazepines, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you be free from addiction.

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