Earlier this year, the New York Times reported a large spike in the number of pregnant women abusing drugs. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers calculated that almost 14,000 babies are born in the United States each year with withdrawal symptoms from opiate addiction. Although there are hospitals in place for the child’s delivery, getting the mother and her child into an addiction treatment centre is more complicated.
“The incidence has gone crazy and I think it has the potential to become a national or international issue,” clinical neuroscientist Marie J. Hayes told the New York Times.
And the issue certainly is an international one. An addiction treatment centre in Scotland though is working to combat the emotional and physical problems that face pregnant women and new mums addicted to drugs and alcohol, by offering a family-oriented drug rehab programme.
According to the BBC, the addiction treatment centre houses pregnant mothers or newborns along with their recovering mums. Though they are recovering addicts, new mums are allowed to be with their children and their interaction with the child is monitored. It provides a chance for mothers who might otherwise be immediately deemed unfit to care for their new child to prove their commitment to motherhood and drug recovery.
But of course, the child is always put first. “They’ll be able to assess very quickly whether the woman is likely to become an adequate parent and if she is not, then we can identify that before the baby comes to any harm,” Dr. May Hepburn told the BBC.
The initiative to include family services in a drug rehab programme is an excellent one, and an idea that might one day be expanded – not just to service more mothers, but perhaps other familial relationships, incorporating family members into the drug recovery process.
The example in Scotland is just another model of the decisions that are being made to make an addiction treatment centre as holistic – with a focus not just on a recovering addict’s relationship with drugs and alcohol, but with loved ones – as possible.