Understanding Drug Dependence
Hundreds Of Babies Suffer Methadone Detox Because Of 'Harm Reduction' Programs
Harm reduction -- providing addicts with drugs and clean needles rather than drug detox and drug rehab programs that could achieve a drug-free life -- is far from an ideal solution. If you don’t agree, just look in on any modern city hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and see the soaring number of babies suffering hideously from methadone detox, because their mothers were on methadone during pregnancy.
Across the country, hundreds of jittery babies born with methadone addictions scream incessantly with a pitiful, high-pitched cry, have difficulty feeding, scratch themselves, and suffer tremors, vomiting and diarrhea. And medical science, which in effect is responsible for putting thousands of women on methadone as a so-called ‘replacement ‘therapy’ for opioid addiction, can offer nothing but morphine and Phenobarbital to try to stabilize the suffering infant during withdrawal -- often taking months.
Last year in Milwaukee, little Lola Lieb entered the world battling dependence on methadone, inherited from her harm-reduction, methadone-maintained mother. Three months later, little Lola Lieb passed away after her mother laced the baby’s formula with some of her harm-reduction, free-clinic methadone. The mother, Andrea P. Zalewski, has been charged with child neglect resulting in death, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
“The number of methadone-withdrawing babies has skyrocketed in the last four to five years,” said Dr. John Glaspey, a Milwaukee pediatrician and neonatologist, in a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article. “The problem right now is much worse than it ever was before.”
How many babies are born dependent on methadone? No one knows.
“The short answer is: too often,” Dr. Stephen Ragatz told the Sentinel. Dr. Ragatz, the medical director of a neonatal intensive care unit, said: “We currently have four babies withdrawing from methadone in our NICU. These babies are at times inconsolable.”
As well as trying to stabilize the babies with morphine and Phenobarbital after birth, they must keep the babies swaddled in dark, quiet rooms with little noise. Hospitals use a detailed scoring system to measure the babies’ distress, and decrease medication only when the scores drop below certain benchmarks. The process can take months.
Dr. Ragatz said communication must improve between doctors at the methadone clinics and those at the hospitals where the mothers have their babies. “I wish there were a way we could have a more unified approach,” he said.
Hey, how about knocking off the idiotic notion that replacing one addiction with another is some kind of solution? No one, and especially women of child-bearing age, should be prescribed methadone in some misguided idea of ‘harm reduction’.
Meanwhile, the Lola Lieb case is far from isolated. Every day in the media, we read reports of an infant, a toddler or a teenager somewhere in America dying from ingesting methadone. The drug was usually brought home by an addicted parent from some ‘harm-reduction’ methadone maintenance clinic, and left lying around where the kids can find it. These parents -- and all drug addicts -- should be sent to drug detox and drug rehab to recover their lives.
‘Harm reduction’ is a dangerous concept championed by people who cannot, or will not, confront opiate addiction for what it is: a curable condition. Recoveries happen every day, all over the world.
Replacing an addiction to heroin or some other opioid with methadone addiction is not a cure, and it certainly is not reducing any harm -- just listen to the babies.
Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.