The growing epidemic of opiate use is affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans right now. Addiction to pain medication and heroin is accounting for hospital visits due to overdoses, accidents and illness every day. But adults aren’t the only ones suffering from addiction. Every year, thousands of babies are being born addicted to opiates. The numbers are rising.
In the New Hampshire and Vermont areas, substance abuse is on the rise, and substance use among pregnant women and mothers of infants has increased by several times in recent years. This alarming trend has resulted in an increase in preterm births, childbirth complications for the mothers, increase in disease and increases in fetal and infant death.
Women, Pregnancy And Drug Use
For women who are in the grips of addiction, pregnancy is a nightmare. Trying to quit can feel impossible, and getting help is frightening, as many women fear judgment or even criminal charges, as well as loss of custody of their children. This fear keeps women from seeking the help that could save their lives — and the lives of their babies.
As researchers learn more about the differences between men and women when it comes to addiction, it becomes clearer that a different approach needs to be taken with addiction recovery. Women are more likely to face barriers to getting help, partially because they are more likely to be primary caregivers, less likely to have access to help and often isolated.Women who are addicted may be less likely to seek prenatal care, increasing chances of pregnancy complications.
It is important that opiate-dependent women are able to access prenatal and addiction care in a way that allows them to be safe, get the help that they need and get the care that is needed for them to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
From a fiscal perspective, addicted mothers and babies cost several times more than the average in healthcare and other costs.
Fortunately, growing awareness of this problem is causing organizations to take action. One such program is the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Perinatal Addiction Treatment Program. Recognizing the need for a program to help pregnant and new mothers recover from substance abuse, their program offers a unique combination of counseling, treatment and peri and postnatal care to addicted women.
Helping Women And Their Babies
Babies born to addicted mothers face a myriad of problems. They are often born pre-term, underweight and addicted to opiates. Without treatment, women who continue to use are ill-equipped to deal with the stresses of motherhood, and the cycle continues. Helping women to get the treatment they need, as well as care for their pregnancy and postnatal care is essential in order to ensure the success and recovery of these women.
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock program was launched in 2013 and currently serves about 50 women. Services provided include psychiatric evaluation. This is important because many women who abuse substances are suffering from co-occurring disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and other mental health issues. Getting these addressed can be instrumental in achieving recovery from addiction.
The program also offers medication-assisted treatment of opiate dependence, allowing a safer, more comfortable method of detoxing from the drugs. This is done in conjunction with individual addiction counseling and group counseling.
Women also participate in prenatal and postnatal recovery groups. Addiction is an isolating disease and the guilt and shame that many women experience as a result of their addiction can make them feel cut off and alone. These pre and post natal groups not only help women stay clean and sober, but also give them a sense of belonging and community, and a strong sense of support.
In addition to these addiction services, women in the program have access to basic prenatal care.
Women are encouraged to continue participating in the program after the birth of their babies, and through the end of the first postpartum year. After this, they may enroll in the adult program.
Getting Help For Addiction When You Are Pregnant
Programs like the one at Dartmouth-Hitchcock exist in areas all over the country as it becomes more and more apparent that there is a strong need for recovery programs for pregnant women and new mothers.
It isn’t easy for anyone to admit that they have a problem, and for women who are pregnant or caring for young children, this is doubly true. With that said, there has never been a more important time to get help. And, that help is available. There are programs that are designed especially for women and mothers. These programs will help you get the help you need, overcome your addiction and care for your children. Taking that first step is as easy as picking up the phone. Call Recovery Hub at 888-220-4352 today and learn more about how a perinatal addiction program can help you and your baby.