According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of newborns with opioid dependency tripled between 2000 and 2009 to 3.4 per 1,000 births. Most medical and public health officials have focused their efforts on treating the babies, and have largely ignored the addiction issues of the mothers. Recently, however, many hospitals and maternity clinics have stepped-up their efforts to treat pregnant women who abuse drugs and alcohol.
Despite the growing number of rehabilitation programs, it is difficult for doctors and counselors to find the women who need help and keep them in the programs for a substantial period of time. Many are ashamed of their addiction or are afraid that they will be reported to the police and lose custody of their other children. Physicians may also be partly to blame, because some fail to screen for prenatal drug or alcohol abuse in their patients.
A new law in Colorado aims to encourage more pregnant women to seek help for their addictions. House Bill 12-1100 now bars prosecutors from using positive drug tests performed during prenatal care as evidence in criminal cases. Doctors will not have to report the test results to law enforcement. They do have the option, however, of reporting positive drug tests to child welfare agencies if they believe that there is an immediate danger.
"It should be standard practice to ask questions about drug and alcohol use and to test at least once during pregnancy," said Dr. Kathryn Wells, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Colorado chapter. "We want to make it super easy. There is no reason not to do this."
If you know someone who is endangering her life and possibly another because of drug addiction, now is the time to seek help. Contact Intervention Services today to be connected with an experienced interventionist who can lead your loved on back into full recovery.