October 29, 2010

How Could You......Why Would You?

I know that in this complicated world there are many many reasons that people are unhappy. No matter what the reason, be it a bad job, a past trauma, a bad family life, a troubled marriage, etc, it's an interesting fact that there are people who turn to drugs for help. I say interesting because I just don't actually get why they do it. There's a whole campaign out there about telling our kids not to do drugs. Whether a parent does so or not, the school, the TV and the radio are all telling our kids the same things. The message is out there. The dangers of drug use are shown every day on the news, seen in movies, taught about in school. No one can honestly say anymore that they didn't know how bad drugs could be or how they would affect their lives.

While I do feel a certain amount of pity for those who can't seem to get off drugs or anyone who starts using them, the persons I feel the sorriest for are those who ARE completely innocent. The babies, who are born to mothers who did drugs either before or during pregnancy who now suffer for the choices that were made. Choices they had no part in.

I have been reading all this week in preparation for this blog post trying to decide what I wanted to focus on and how I wanted to write it. I finally decided the best route would be the one I can understand the best. Mother's and their children.

First, I don't see how any woman alive could be dumb enough to be a drug user. Sorry, I just don't. It turns a woman into something so ugly, so demoralized, so unnatural that they're almost unrecognizable. They're no longer themselves in any form. They're just an extension of the crack pipe or the needle they're putting into their arm. They are well and truly just a shell of a person living for the next fix and they LOOK like it. Sure, guys do the same. All the same things happen to them too, but they're guys. We women claim to be smarter......yet we get just as addicted. I'm not talking about prescription drugs either. That's a whole other ball game and I blame over prescribing doctors for much of that.

Lets look at methampetamine abuse for example. Do you have any idea what this drug alone can do to you as a woman? Let me tell you:

  • Psychosis that does not go away when you stop using the drugs
  • Tooth loss that's definitive and unstoppable. It's horrific to look at and even has it's own name. "Meth Mouth"
  • Mental and Physical exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
The list goes on and on and I haven't even included the financial strain that the drugs cause on a person. There's also a much higher risk of STD's in drug users due to the lack of care on their part. When you're high, apparently everything is fun. I'm glad I don't have any personal experience to relate here of my own. One of the best things my Mom taught me was "if you do drugs ONE TIME you will Die and there is nothing I can do to save you". She said that about snakes too and to this day I am terrified of drugs and snakes. Logically I know now that she wasn't telling the whole truth, but it was drilled into my head and the lesson was learned. In the end that's all that matters.

What I think bothered me the most in my research other than the effects on the children is how devastating this drug really is to a woman's body and her self esteem. Even if a woman stops using Meth, it's generally after her teeth have rotted away and she looks like death warmed over. I've heard women who say they had cancer and that's why they're so skinny. I have heard women say they have had some sort of mouth/sinus/cavity disease that made they're teeth rot away. Anything to keep from admitting that they were doing drugs and now they're facing consequences for their actions. I can't say I blame them, in all honesty I probably would too. After all, theoretically, as long as I'm the only one affected it doesn't matter right?

Here's the part that really makes me angry though. The same person who just wants to salvage some part of their dignity by not admitting that they did drugs, will also not tell a doctor everything they need to know to help the baby growing inside them or worse one already born. How could someone do that? There are ways to help babies/children who are affected by drugs. There are specific things that can be done to help minimize birth defects or counteract the ones that do present themselves, at least to an extent. How does a mother watch her child go into a seizure, knowing full well that the baby may have been exposed to a harmful drug and say nothing at all?? How does a Mother watch their child struggle to walk, run, talk, play, learn, be normal and never say a word just to preserve their dignity? I don't understand that. The only way a doctor can test t see if a baby has been subjected to drugs within the past 6 months is to get a sample of the very first stool the baby passes. After that, they can only tell if the baby has been exposed within the last 48 hours and this is all regarding babies who were exposed while the mother was pregnant. There are studies that show there are children affected who's mothers did drugs BEFORE they got pregnant. Unless the doctor is informed by someone who knows this, the doctor can only speculate. There are some tell tale signs, but not all children exhibit these. Without correct information, the doctors hands can be tied and the child may not receive all the benefits of the doctor's knowledge and modern technology.

Babies born to Mothers who use or have used drugs face many obstacles including but not limited to:

  • Seizures
  • Delayed Motor Skill Development
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Mental and Physical disabilities
  • Low Birth weight
  • Higher risk of miscarriage
Again the list goes on and on. How in the world could any Mother knowingly be a party to any one of these things.

Perhaps they feel that since the drug use has ended that there's no way that it could have affected the baby. Maybe they can't admit it to themselves. That it could be their choices that have affected the child. It may not necessarily be a selfish reason as to why they don't admit it but for the sake of their baby, shouldn't they say something?

I remember when I got pregnant with my first child, I confessed to my doctor that I had gone out and gotten extremely drunk with my aunt and uncle and wondered if my baby could be affected. It was before I knew I was pregnant and likely way before I actually got pregnant, but I was secretly convinced almost until he was born that I could have hurt my baby by drinking that one time. When he does stupid things now, I still wonder, but that's another story. The point is, I knew, even at 17, that drinking and drugs could hurt my child and I didn't do it. So if *I* can figure that out........I know others get it too. Yet babies are born everyday addicted to Crack, Methamphetamine, Alcohol, etc. The information is prevalent and free, so WHY??

I can admit that someone addicted may not be as capable as another of making sane logical decisions. I can admit that many drug users are not in their right mind anyway. They're self medicating and therefore not the best at making responsible choices. I understand that there are many many reasons someone might not be able to stop, but if you're pregnant..you have no right to continue. It's more than just you after you become pregnant. It's an unborn baby that deserves a better chance than hospitals, a lifetime of medications and the inability to bond. It's a child who deserves the joy of laughing, playing and running with the other kids. They deserve it because they are innocent.

I encourage anyone who is on drugs or knows anyone who is to help them stop. If you know someone who is doing drugs while they're pregnant and you don't help them, you are as responsible for anything that child faces as the person doing the drugs. If you know a child who has been affected by a parents use of drugs, help them! Give that child every chance to have the same thing other kids do. There are drug rehabilitation facilities that will help you! There are drug counselors that can assist! There are therapy groups who will listen! To find one in your area, visit local.com and get yourself or someone you know on the road to healthy and happy. America's children deserve it.

Nessa

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