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Cocaine-exposed babies- Born addicted to drugs!

Addiction is a fallout in the personal front, but what if one was born addicted to drugs? Using cocaine while pregnant is not only harmful to the mother but also to her baby. Cocaine use can harm a pregnant woman and her unborn baby in more ways than one. When abused by a pregnant woman, the drug passes through the placenta and affects the baby and might even damage the fetus. The unborn babies exposed to a dangerous drug like cocaine during fetal development  might face many health problems, ranging from understated to life-threatening ones. It may also lead to later defects in some children, including behavioral problems, deficiency in cognitive performance and attention-related problems.

As per a 2017 study, children born to mothers who smoked crack cocaine during pregnancy were twice likely to use marijuana and tobacco and develop a substance abuse problem later in life. The study also found that teenagers born to women addicted to cocaine were more likely to have trouble handling stress, were easily distracted, had less control over their behaviors and emotions, and used fewer problem-solving skills.

In addition to being the cause of premature birth, babies born to mothers using cocaine during pregnancy have low birth weight, short length, smaller head circumference and other birth-related defects. The cocaine-exposed babies are also at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Besides being affected by the drug’s stimulating effects, infants exposed to cocaine during pregnancy also exhibit a range of withdrawal symptoms, such as muscle spasms, difficulty in feeding, sleeplessness and tremors.

Treatment for cocaine addiction

Crack cocaine, which is a crystal form of cocaine, is the most potent and its most dangerous form. It can inflict life-threatening health issues, such as seizures, strokes, heart attacks and respiratory failure, on its users. In spite of the dangers of cocaine addiction, an estimated 1.9 million people (aged 12 or above) used cocaine in 2016, including about 432,000 users of crack cocaine. As per recent reports, in 2016, around 28,000 adolescents (aged 12 to 17) were currently using cocaine and 3,000 were using crack cocaine.

The treatment of cocaine addiction among pregnant women not only involves paying attention to cocaine use but also addressing the medical and social problems that pregnant women face. Considered as the best treatment for pregnant women addicted to cocaine, inpatient treatment centers offer them a peaceful and conducive environment to get over their addiction.

A comprehensive treatment for cocaine addiction in pregnant women needs to address her treatment needs, reduce barriers to recovery, and designed as per her individual needs while taking into consideration her role in the society. Although medication is not used in pregnant women during the withdrawal process, the treatment program should involve therapy or counseling sessions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to focus on the underlying psychological issues responsible for developing addiction.

In case of babies born to mothers addicted to crack cocaine, treatment for addiction should start right after birth. A comprehensive treatment program may involve infant assessment, medication and nutritional counseling for mothers. Some of them are discussed below:

  • Assessment: The first step in treating addiction among babies is assessment, including his or her physical and behavioral evaluation. It should include an accurate assessment of an infant’s weight, length and head circumference. The assessment helps analyze the effects of cocaine exposure in infants and their response to external stimuli. It also helps investigate any possible abnormalities.
  • Medication: Although most cocaine-exposed infants do not require medication, it might be necessary in some cases where the infant is highly irritable. In most cases, the medication may be required only for a few days and can be stopped without tapering.
  • Optimal environment and nutritional counseling: As cocaine-exposed infants may be unresponsive to external stimuli, they can be provided individualized programs involving eye contact, social talking and other forms of physical contact. In addition, care should be taken to ensure the infant gets enough nutrition to ensure his or her healthy growth and development. Moreover, patients should also be provided adequate nutritional counseling.

Seek treatment to overcome repercussions of prenatal cocaine exposure

Besides impairing cognitive and social skills, prenatal cocaine exposure damages vital organs like the lungs, kidneys, heart and liver. Most of such children grow up in a chaotic and abusive environment that leads to physical and emotional abuse.  Therefore, their proclivity toward substance abuse increases manifold.

If a loved one is grappling with a cocaine addiction and you are scouting for a comprehensive treatment for cocaine addiction, contact the Florida Drug Addiction Helpline to find the finest drug rehab programs in Florida. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-982-2401 and chat online to access the top rehab centers in Florida.