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.

New Bills to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

opioidThe United States has been in the grips of prescription opioid crisis of epidemic proportions for over a decade. While state and federal governments have worked hard to address the problem which claims thousands of lives every year, there is no question that more can be done – especially now that heroin has sunk its hooks into addicts who struggle to get their hands on prescription narcotics.

The eastern states have been hit especially hard by prescription drug abuse, and the subsequent rise in heroin use. As a result, politicians from both parties in Massachusetts and Kentucky have come together to advance a number of bills to combat the crisis facing America, MassLive reports. The new legislative measures address:

  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
  • Opioid Overdoses
  • FDA Accountability
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

Protect Our Infants Act

NAS is a condition which can occur when newborns are exposed to opioids in utero. Babies born with the condition exhibit signs of withdrawal and require extra attention and extended stays in the hospital. The Protect Our Infants Act was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass. and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to the article.

Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would be required to conduct research and coordinate efforts, helping state agencies collect data on NAS.

Opioid Overdose Reduction Act

Over the last few years, first responders have been granted greater access to the opioid overdose antidote drug naloxone. If administered in a timely manner, the drug has the power to reverse the life threatening effects of opioid overdoses. In some states and municipalities, addicts and their loved ones can acquire naloxone without a prescription.

The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act was brought forward by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the article reports. If passed, the bill would protect doctors, first responders, and others trained to administer naloxone from civil liability.

“No one should be afraid to save a life because of a lawsuit,” U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. said in a statement.

FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pure-hydrocodone drug Zohydro, despite an advisory panel voting against the approval. A number of lawmakers and experts in the field of addiction were outraged by the approval, believing the drug was counter public safety. The FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act seeks to limit the FDA’s ability to approve opioid drugs against the recommendations of experts on advisory committees, according to the article.

National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) Reauthorization

In the fight against doctor shopping, PDMPs have proven vital for informing doctors when patients are receiving opioids from other physicians. However, many state programs, including Massachusetts, have been operating without funding. With bipartisan support, a bill has been put forward to reauthorize NASPER. If passed, it would provide states with the crucial funding needed to maintain, improve, and expand PDMPs.

This program “will empower states and advocates on the front lines of this crisis to build successful (prescription drug monitoring programs) that can communicate across state lines and help identify at-risk behavior—a key first step in fending off addiction before it starts,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass.


If you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin abuse, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help show you how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

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