Pregnant heroin use, or really anything that can endanger a new baby, is a scary topic. I recently wrote another article titled “the number of drug addicted pregnat women is increasing”. It detailed the sheer number of new moms that are addicted to opiate drugs. As I researched the issue, I was startled by what I learned. As I thought about the many opiate addicted pregnant mothers, I couldn’t help but wonder: what is the next generation of kids going to be like? How will opiates play a role in shaping the next generation of kids?
Pregnant Heroin Use – Some facts
According to Drug War Facts, in 2012-2013, pregnant women aged 15 to 44 showed an annual average of 9.4% who reported current alcohol use. 2.3% reported binge drinking, and 0.4% reported heavy drinking. 10% of infants born during those years were low-birthweight.
Among risks for babies who are born to opiate addicted mothers, is “Neonatal abstinence syndrome” (NAS). It is experienced by newborns who are born suffering from drug withdrawal at birth. This syndrome is most commonly tied to opiates, but some other drugs can also cause it. Drug War Facts, states that NAS is characterized by a wide array of signs and symptoms including increased irritability, hypertonia, tremors, feeding intolerance, emesis, watery stools, seizures, and respiratory distress.
Cronkite News has reported that the number of infants born with NAS increased by 235% from 2008 to 2014. It has gone up 27% since 2013, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Pregnant Heroin use and NAS
Most medical experts will warn addicted mothers’ not to quit cold turkey during pregnancy. Doing so can result in a miscarriage, or other harm to the baby. Instead, many recommend methadone to wean the baby and her off of heroin.
This issue of heroin addicted mothers has spiked over the last 5-8 years. It will likely continue to see an increase. This all means more infant mortality and more babies born with NAS or other birth-defects and problems. Many hospitals are just now only beginning to have sufficient data on long-term effects of NAS.
Opiates And Kids – Victims of Pregnant Heroin Use
In my mind, these facts and figures all translate into a new generation of kids who will, in all probability, be very, very “screwed up” from drugs. Opiates and kids do not mix well together. So, if you think your parents did a terrible job, if they didn’t use heroin, you can be infinitely grateful that your infant body wasn’t pumped full of methadone.
Self-esteem, trauma, and stress is a huge factor when kids turn to drugs at young ages. Does it stand to then make the connection that so many babies who are born either already addicted, or with complications from their mother’s drug use, will grow up to face self-esteem issues? I’d make the jump and say yes. Having been predisposed to opiate drugs already, will it be easier for them to turn to them? That’s an unknown.
Here is what I do know: kids aged 18-25 are already using opiates at record levels. They are overdosing and dying from opiates by the tens of thousands. In another 15-20 years, it’s really scary to think of a two or threefold increase in addicted youth. I’ll admit those numbers sound really high, and that the likelihood of an increase of that magnitude is doubtful. However, it is within the realm of possibility. Again I say it: opiates and kids do not mix well together.
Drug War Facts