The number of babies being born with addictions is increasing throughout the UK; many of these newborns are experiencing drug and alcohol withdrawal, which can be extremely distressing for everyone involved. It is common for people to think ‘why couldn’t the mother just stop using drugs while she was pregnant?’, but anyone who has had experience of addiction will know that it is not that simple.
Addiction is an illness of the brain that can cause, among other things, the addict to act in a selfish or even an unfair manner. They are unable to make logical decisions because of how the drug has affected the way their brain functions. For some women, even the knowledge that their drug or alcohol abuse could harm their unborn baby is not enough to make them quit.
Health officials in North Devon are concerned about the number of babies born with addiction in the area. Worrying statistics from the NHS have revealed that at least fourteen babies have been born with a drug addiction in North Devon over the past ten years. These infants were born suffering from drug and alcohol withdrawal due to their mothers’ abuse of the substances while pregnant.
The number of babies who were born with addiction at birth in the whole of Devon increased from 22 in 2014-2015 to 54 babies in 2015-2016; this is one of the highest numbers of infants born with drug addictions in England. Figures for certain areas in Devon are not available, so the overall number of these babies born with addiction could be a lot higher than recorded.
More than 1,000 babies are born with a drug addiction across England every year, and since 2011-2012, over 6,000 newborns have been negatively affected by their mother’s substance abuse, therefore leaving these babies feeling the effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal. In the period between 2015 and 2016, there were 1,119 babies born with a drug addiction; however, this number was the lowest that has been recorded in the past ten years.
The details of these addicted children and their mothers are confidential, but some of the drugs that these infants have been born addicted to include methadone, crack cocaine and heroin. The effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal that these babies may experience include uncontrollable tremors, vomiting and diarrhoea, blotchy skin and fever. In extreme cases, some babies will be provided with opiate drugs to gradually wean them off these drugs.
Enhanced Care and Ongoing Help
A spokesperson for Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, Sarah Delbridge, commented, “We provide antenatal and postnatal care according to NICE guidance and work in partnership with the allied agencies with specialist experts in drug misuse management. We encourage any pregnant women who have misused any substances to speak to a midwife at the earliest opportunity so that a full assessment can be made and the right support put in place. Babies who require enhanced care after birth because their mothers have misused drugs are monitored and cared for either on our postnatal ward/transitional care or special care baby unit. Before mother and baby leave our care, we signpost mothers to where they can access ongoing help.”
Loved Ones and Addiction
It is not just these defenceless babies that will suffer because of addiction; all loved ones will be affected. Once stable relationships can begin to break down because of one partner’s drug or alcohol addiction, children can become withdrawn or depressed as they may feel ashamed of their parent, friends may drift away as they do not know how to deal with the illness; all these are common when it comes to an addict.
The saddest part of all is that often, the addict will not even realise or care about this until it is too late; a drug addiction can totally consume the individual to the point where he or she has no interest in anything else other than ensuring they get their next fix. This can have negative consequences for the addict as once they move into recovery they will find that they have no one there to support them. This means that they will have to work extremely hard to rebuild any previous relationships that were destroyed while battling an addiction.
Help and Support
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from a drug addiction, then get in touch with us here at Addiction Helper. We work alongside many clinics across the UK that offer many different services geared toward different types of addiction. Have a look on our website for any information you may need, or if you would prefer to get in touch with us, then just send us an email or call us today and we will be more than happy to assist you on your journey to recovery.
Source: At least 14 babies born addicted to drugs in North Devon in the past 10 years (North Devon Jouranal)