Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

September 19, 2012

Babies innocent victims of pain pill addiction

LOUISVILLE — Mention prescription pain pill addiction in Kentucky and the image is of an eastern Kentucky adult or a fly-by-night physician cashing in on a drug epidemic. That’s not entirely accurate. The problem is statewide and both urban and rural.

But picture this: a two-day-old infant visibly in pain, crying without interruption, crying around the clock, its body rigid and its skin mottled and blotched.

It happens in Kentucky more often than people realize. Women addicted to painkillers become pregnant and if they don’t get treatment before birth, their baby enters the world an addict.

Mary Burnette, the program director at Independence House, a residential treatment program in Corbin for women with substance abuse problems, said 14 of her 15 current clients are addicted to pain medication.

She said she and her staff “prefer to get the women early in their pregnancy,” but that’s not always the case. If the mother comes in too late in her pregnancy, the child may be born an addict.

“The babies — they can’t say no,” Burnette told a committee of legislators overseeing the implementation of a bill to curb the illegal sale and overprescription of the drugs. “They don’t have any choice about what’s put into their bodies.”

A drug-dependent baby is better than one scenario, however.

Burnette told the story of a 44-year-old client who came to Independence House in the seventh month of her pregnancy. She’d received no pre-natal care to that point.

For the full story, read the Sept. 20 print or e-Edition of the Glasgow Daily Times.


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