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Unintended Consequences

by Ned Wicker
(Wisconsin)

They never see the worst case scenario coming. They rationalize their drug use by saying that “I’m only hurting myself,” but they are wrong and sadly, the consequences can be potentially devastating.

A recent story by Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press talked of babies being born addicted to pills (opiates) as a result of their mothers’ use of legal or illegal opiate drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and heroin. The article centered on the first national study of the problem released by the American Medical Association.

Imagine a newborn being given the same drug treatment as mom is receiving and who becomes addicted to pills just like mom. The study showed that the number of babies born with opiate addiction has tripled in the last ten years because of the surge in pregnant women using these drugs. Imagine the first days, weeks and even months of life spent in an intensive care unit, hooked to heart and oxygen monitors. They have low birth weights, breathing problems, feeding troubles and diarrhea.

The babies really aren’t addicted to pills, as we understand it. They don’t have that drug-seeking behavior, but they do have a physical dependence, mainly because their mother used during pregnancy.

This is a public health EPIDEMIC!

According to the article, “Newborn drug withdrawal" is rampant in Maine, Florida, West Virginia, parts of the Midwest and other sections of the country. Dr. Stephen Patrick, the lead author of the study and a newborn specialist at the University of Michigan health system in Ann Arbor, called the problem a "public health epidemic" that demands attention from policymakers, as well as from researchers to clarify what long-term problems these infants may face.”

The pharmaceutical companies are always looking for more opportunity to turn a buck and there are a couple of new “super strength” opiate medications in development, which will make Oxycodone look like aspirin. This public health epidemic as they call it is avoidable, but doctors continue to prescribe opiate medications in alarmingly increasing numbers. It’s nuts.

The AMA isn’t going to do anything at all, because it isn’t in its financial interest. A young women, for example, has a broken ankle and gets treatment at a local hospital. They prescribe pills for pain and it begins.

She abuses the pain medication and starts using more and more. The trouble is the prescription stuff runs out and it’s expensive, so the cheaper alternative is found on the street—heroin.

She started out addicted to pills and now she is addicted to heroin. She doesn’t know what dose to use, what the strength is, and she doesn’t have a clue what other junk is in there, but she snorts or shoots it anyway. She gets pregnant, but she isn’t going to stop using, because she can’t.

The article talked of research showing that babies born to addicted mothers can suffer developmental delays and other medical issues. Of course, there will always be people who say this issue is overblown and Tanner’s article sites evidence that only a small percentage of the “4 million U.S. infants born each year are affected.”

Maybe the women weren’t abusing during pregnancy and had a legitimate medical need. Does it matter? Doctors prescribe this stuff “like candy” according to the article, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where to start when trying to find a solution. Good luck trying to curb opiate prescriptions – there’s way, way too much money to be made.

People ALWAYS push the limit

People are always going to push the limits of anything. If one pill makes me feel good, then two pills are going to make me feel better. They go to emergency rooms complaining of pain and they demand service. Emergency rooms must offer something. We live in the age of “informed consent” and patients tell doctors what they want, and all too often, the easiest way to deal with a persistent patient is to give them what they want.

Television ads tell us about miracle drugs that will make our lives better, so “ask your doctor” about XYZ. If the doctor doesn’t do as you ask, get another doctor. The system is seriously flawed when it allows pushers with a medical license to practice.

Babies don’t have the opportunity to say no, they just take what comes. They receive mom and dad’s DNA, emotional characteristics and sadly their dependence too. It’s an unintended consequence, a sad reality that points to selfish, unthinking and reckless behavior.

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