Pregnant women who struggle with substance misuse run the risk of their baby (or babies) being born drug-dependent. Opioid addicted babies develop a condition called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Whether the opioid was prescribed or not, the effects on the fetus are the same. Babies born with NAS suffer from any or all of the withdrawal symptoms: fever, seizures, blotchy skin, continuous crying, rapid breathing, respiratory problems and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. Many babies’ symptoms require hospitalization, intensive care and medication(s) for several weeks to keep them comfortable and safe during the withdrawal process.
Let your loved one know that when she is ready that you have resources (treatment referrals and support in continuing that treatment) available to share with her. When she wants a change, acknowledge her strengths. She will need your encouragement and emotional support. Help her in orchestrating her own success by planning with her. Anticipate problems (triggers, social pressures that may lead to relapse, etc.) that will arise and discuss options with her for how she can choose to overcome those barriers. Help her make an appointment and offer to drive her there.
Acknowledge her success throughout the arduous process. Be sure to emphasize how she is helping her infant and herself. Offer to be available when she feels that she wants to use drugs again. Understand during this time that your support and that of others around her are essential to her remaining sober, but remember that you cannot do it all and professionals are there to help.
Recovery does not mean that your loved one is ‘cured.’ A person in recovery often relapses (starts using again). It is vital that you realize that addiction is a chronic relapsing disease. Remain supportive and encourage the woman to identify the steps she used to quit before. How did she deal with those issues in the past? Explore what worked and what didn’t work for her.) Offer to provide assistance in finding resources to help her return to abstinence. If relapse does occur, call the Tennessee REDLINE at 1-800-889-9789.
How can I do that?
Check out the Born Drug Free TN website to see what action steps to take next depending upon where your family member is in the process.