Delaware Online recently published a long-form news report on how the state is keeping track of babies born addicted to heroin and other hard drugs, and our very own Dr. Elizabeth Drew added her expert voice to the conversation.
According to the report, four addicted babies died in Delaware in 2015 that were in the care of a parent or caregiver. Another three babies were reportedly abused severely.
What Delaware Is Doing to Help Babies Born With Addiction
Several state lawmakers are pushing legislation that would let state agencies more closely keep tabs on parents of a child born with addiction. The proposal calls for mothers to sign an agreement with the state that says they will properly care for their addicted children.
Since many adult addicts change residences frequently, Delaware’s Division of Family Services has had trouble tracking down such parents and checking up on the well-being of their children. The bipartisan legislation would make it so families with drug-addicted babies would not be able to move without notifying authorities first.
It’s not usually the addiction itself that causes these children to die at such a young age. It’s actually neglect or simply being in the care of parents who are ill-equipped to handle raising a young child, according to the report, which also was printed on front page of The News Journal earlier this month.
Dr. Elizabeth Drew’s Suggestion
Delaware is far from being alone in this crisis, though. More than 130,000 children have been born over the last decade in the U.S. hooked on drugs, according to a Reuters investigation, as cited by the Delaware Online article.
To combat the trend of drug-addicted babies being left in a poor family environment, a Delaware lawmaker initially drafted a bill that would have allowed a physician or the police to take temporary custody of a child who is born dependent on drugs or with fetal alcohol syndrome. However, the lawmaker backed off the legislation because it might discourage mothers from receiving formal addiction treatment.
Dr. Drew, Medical Director of the Pennsylvania branch of Serenity at Summit, told Delaware Online that helping mothers get into an effective addiction treatment program should be a top priority. Doing so would help the mother and her baby get started on a good path, she added.
Regarding expectant mothers who are trying to kick their habit yet are afraid to disclose their situation, Dr. Drew said Delaware should allow pregnant women to come forward with their addiction and not have to worry about losing custody of their baby. If Delaware were able to establish such an environment, expectant mothers would be able to receive treatment without fear of judgment or legal punishment.
Post-Pregnancy Treatment for Heroin and Other Addictions
Due to the delicate nature of treating substance abuse during pregnancy, Serenity at Summit actually does not accept expectant mothers into one of our rehabilitation programs.
However, we are here for women who need addiction treatment post-pregnancy in order to get themselves on a healthy path in early motherhood. To learn more about who we treat, click here.
Serenity currently has locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, including two facilities that offer medical detox. Inpatient and outpatient programs are available, and we treat all kinds of substance abuse, from street drugs and alcohol to prescription drugs.
If you’re a new mother and struggling with addiction, call Serenity at Summit today and our counselors can set you up with the right type of treatment program that will help put your substance abuse issues behind you.
To help spread awareness about the effort to help children who are born with addiction, please share this article with family members, friends and colleagues.