Infant addiction and withdrawal are major concerns, new study finds

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  • marlli Herriman, UT
    Aug. 11, 2012 1:49 a.m.

    There is hope for these babies! I was born in 1953 at the height of the last polio epidemic. My mother contracted polio while pregnant with me, and ended up on morphine for 3 months. Although I had some withdrawal symptoms at birth and a few typical behaviors for such infants, I have lived a normal, healthy childhood and adulthood. I have earned three college degrees: BA, MA, and PhD. There's hope. Don't just discount these kids because they struggle from the beginning.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 9, 2012 6:01 a.m.

    Re: Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    "... But, not to downplay it, thousands of children are abused every year ..."

    Yes, you are correct. The question is whether society is willing to risk the well being of a helpless child to a mother who has proven that she hasn't put the well being of her child first in the past.

    This is about innocent children and not about drug addicted mothers who may, or may not, make correct choices in the future. Children who are addicted at birth should be taken from their birth mothers who don't deserve them .... permanently!!

  • Ilovethejjs medford, MA
    Aug. 8, 2012 3:50 p.m.

    @ironmania: After reading your glib comment, I ask you: Have you ever seen a newborn baby rub his chin raw or shake violently from withdrawal? Have you ever seen one cry incessantly with his eyes glazed over and his fists clenched with a look of horror on his face? Or scratch his eyes until they bled? Have you ever seen a newborn do this? If you haven't,
    maybe you could reserve your comments for a more lighter piece in this newspaper.

  • Ilovethejjs medford, MA
    Aug. 8, 2012 3:34 p.m.

    Kalindra is correct in that substance abuse is a complicated issue. "The user has to want to be clean". It's more complicated that "want(ing) to be clean". My son was and his girlfriend were street addicts for years before they joined the methadone clinic. A step up for them in the sense that they want sobriety. From what I learned by actually going to meetings, talking to councilors and addicts, drug treatment programs are flawed. After two weeks in his first treatment program, my son told me that all he learned was that withdrawal was painful and in group sessions, fellow addicts taught him new ways to abuse drugs. In less than a week he was using again. Methadone addicts think they are "cured" because they are obtaining opiates "legally," and are told they are lifelong recovering addicts and have to resign to the fact that their brains are hardwired for addiction. That is false. Willpower is not mentioned. Addiction clinics are a business. That needs to be changed and the attitude that having an addicted child can be remedied without serious repercussions has to be addressed.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 8, 2012 2:39 p.m.

    @ Nan BW: This is my last post, so someone will have to take over for me if you have additional questions. I appreciate the respectful tone of your questions and comments.

    Substance abuse and recovery are very complicated issues and include alcohol abuse and recovery. People start using drugs in different ways and for different reasons and the treatment must address any underlying issues as well as dealing with the actual substance usage. Some individuals have great success with 12-step programs, others do well living in group homes, others do better with other treatment options.

    The one thing that is consistent is that in order for substance abuse treatment to be effective, the user has to want to be clean - there has to be something in themselves that means more than using - and for some women that is a love of their child and the desire to raise that child. When there is a reason to get and stay clean, treatment is very effective. (More information can be found on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.)

    The decision on whether or not someone should be allowed to keep their child must be made on an individual basis.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 8, 2012 2:26 p.m.

    @ Rifleman: Yes - the story is sad. I never claimed it wasn't. But, not to downplay it, thousands of children are abused every year - the majority of them are not abused by individuals who use substances.

    Should we take away children whose parents are religious because sometimes the abuse happens in the name of religion? Should we take away the children of parents who are divorced because step-parents are more abusive than biological parents?

    We cannot and should not make public policy decisions based on anecdotes - we should make them based on all the facts. Sometimes the child(ren) will do better if removed from the home. Other times the children do best when left in the home. It must be decided on a case by case basis and one of the factors to consider is the willingness of the substance abusing parent to get and stay sober.

  • Ilovethejjs medford, MA
    Aug. 8, 2012 12:33 p.m.

    @Nan BW: Unfortunately this problem hits home. My grandson was born addicted to methadone and it was one of the darkest periods of my life. My son and his girlfriend were both attending a methadone clinic when he was conceived. To my amazement they told me that her two-year-old daughter was born addicted and it was "no big deal" because hospitals have facilities for addicted babies and her daughter was "ONLY in the hospital for two weeks". NO BIG DEAL!? My grandson was in the hospital for two months as he suffered while the staff tried to provide him with the right combination of opiates and barbituates to wean him off. There are no "IFS" "ANDS" or "BUTS" when it comes to this problem. Alternatives have to be addressed because infants should not have to suffer for the sins (yes, SINS) of their parents. My grandson lives with me and has developmental challenges. All I can do is lobby for change to this "Drug Plague" and love and care for my grandson, come what may.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 8, 2012 6:05 a.m.

    "All due respect to your anecdote ...."

    The little girl who's drug addicted bio-mom's boyfriend scalded her just got home from a summer camp for children who have been burned. Sometimes other children at school tease her about her scars. Should I mention that this same family also adopted her half sister. Same bio-mom but different boyfriend.

    Both children now enjoy the benefits of living in a normal, stable home environment with loving drug-free adoptive parents where they now have opportunities their bio-mom never would have given them.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Aug. 7, 2012 10:26 p.m.

    Kalindra, "As long as the mother is willing to seek help and is committed to actually doing what needs to be done to get sober and stay sober"... and there is the great "IF": commitment requires self-control and a lot of work. Does anyone have statistics to enlighten us on the number of addicts who "stay sober"?

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 7, 2012 9:25 p.m.

    @ Rifleman: All due respect to your anecdote, but when looking at a group of more than one the method I advocate has been shown to be most effective.

    @ Nan BW: There are a great many social costs associated with addiction. As long as the mother is willing to seek help and is committed to actually doing what needs to be done to get sober and stay sober (as it appears the mother in this story is doing), it is not necessary to add the costs (social, psychological, and financial) of foster care/adoption to the other costs associated with addiction.

    It has been proven that, when the mother is committed to getting sober and staying that way, the best outcome - for the mother and the child(ren) - is achieved by keeping the family together.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Aug. 7, 2012 8:53 p.m.

    It is not just the babies who suffer from the poor choices and decisions their mothers made while pregnant; it impacts all of us because of the medical expenses which all of us are to share under projected Obama care. There are many grandparents taking care of children of addicted daughters too, and they are often the adults who pay the heaviest price. There are no easy answers, but I am in agreement with those who doubt that leaving babies with addicted moms will have a good result very often.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 7, 2012 3:53 p.m.

    Re: Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    "Keeping her baby and having a reason to have a good life may help the mother stay off drugs"

    The best long term interests of an infant who was born with an addiction aren't going to be met by a birth mother who has proven that she doesn't make good decisions.

    Our neighbors adopted a baby who managed to get out of jail just long enough to get herself pregnant. Of course the adoptive parents had to deal with the 3rd degree burns the baby suffered at the hands of her birth mother's boyfriend. The birth mother has since moved on from the jail to the state prison where other people now make all her decisions for her.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 7, 2012 2:22 p.m.

    @ luv2organize: Keeping her baby and having a reason to have a good life may help the mother stay off drugs. Additionally, if there are eventual problems for the baby related to being born addicted to drugs, her mother may be the best person to understand what she is going through - her mother also has a stake in helping her daughter through things. (One of the biggest problems faced by children born to addicted mothers and then placed in foster care/adoption was finding someone committed enough to taking care of them to deal with the extra baggage and behavioral problems many of these children came with.)

    Staying together is the best chance for this mother and her daughter.

  • ironmania San Diego, CA
    Aug. 6, 2012 6:41 p.m.

    After reading the headline (only), I confess that I, too, am addicted to infants.

  • luv2organize Gainesville, VA
    Aug. 6, 2012 3:26 p.m.

    I'm sorry but I find it a tragedy that this mother opted to raise the baby. Certainly there are better homes for this baby to thrive in and have an overall better quality of life especially if there are long term ramifications of the drug addiction. Yes, I'm being politically incorrect but this mother should focus on healing herself and letting her daughter live a richer life.