Tag Archives: Tennessee

Tenn. mulls criminal charges for prenatal drug use

CSL2028Tennessee lawmakers have given the green light to a bill that would allow criminal assault charges to be filed against women whose infants suffer harm from their mothers’ prenatal drug abuse. The measure, which would allow prosecutors to press assault charges on women if an infant’s “addiction or harm is a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant,” has been sent to Gov. Bill Haslam for approval, according to this article.

Driven by the prescription drug addiction epidemic, Tennessee is seeing a dramatic rise in the number of newborns born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. In just slightly more than nine months last year, more babies in the state were born dependent on drugs their mothers took during pregnancy than in all of 2011, according to this article. By the first week of October 2013, 643 babies were born dependent, compared with 629 for all of 2011. The majority of these births involved a mother taking medicine prescribed by a health care provider.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother’s womb. Symptoms include excessive crying, seizures, vomiting, fever, and slow weight gain. Some NAS babies may need to receive fluids intravenously; others with more severe symptoms may require medicine to treat withdrawal.

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Drug-dependent newborn rate on the rise in Tenn.

babybottleDriven by the prescription drug addiction epidemic, Tennessee is seeing a dramatic rise in the number of newborns born dependent on drugs. In just slightly more than nine months this year, more babies in the state have been born dependent on drugs their mothers took during pregnancy than in all of 2011, according to this article. By the first week of October, 643 babies were born dependent, compared with 629 for all of 2011, and officials are projecting more than 800 drug dependent babies by the end of this year, the article says. The majority of these births involved a mother taking medicine prescribed by a health care provider, according to the article.

Newborns being born addicted to painkillers is yet another disturbing trend stemming from the rampant abuse of prescription drugs. Nationwide, the number of pregnant women who were dependent on or using opiates when they delivered increased from 4,839 in 2000 to 23,009 in 2009.

As a result, the incidence of babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a group of problems caused by maternal opiate use during pregnancy, has nearly tripled in the past decade. In 2009, the syndrome was diagnosed in newborns at a rate of 3.4 per 1,000 hospital births per year, up from 1.2 diagnoses per 1,000 births per year in 2000.

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Tenn. tops charts for pill sales, overdose deaths

Tennessee is ranked in the top one percent of states that sell prescription painkillers, and is also in the nation’s top ten for overdose deaths, according to this article. Since the state’s establishment of a prescription drug monitoring database in 2004, 1,059 Tennesseans died of prescription drug overdoses, the article says. Unintentional drug overdose is now the leading cause of death in Tennessee, exceeding death rates for motor vehicle crashes, homicides and suicides.

Meanwhile, doctors in Tennessee prescribed 17 retail pain prescriptions per capita in 2009, versus the national average of 12, the article notes. In fact, one of the state’s doctors wrote more than five million prescriptions for opiates like oxycodone among 3,600 patients in 2011.

Read more about prescription drug addiction in Tennessee here.

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Painkiller addiction in Knoxville, Tenn.

This is Part Two of an ongoing series by Cityview concerning the opiate addiction epidemic in Knoxville, Tenn. that explores where the painkillers that are flooding East Tennessee are coming from. The article points out that any licensed doctor can open and run a pain management clinic, even those without training in pain management – and doctors who prescribe opiates can make as much as $7,000 to $10,000 per day by billing insurance or getting cash from patients.

Read Part One of Cityview’s series, “The Faces of Addiction,” here.

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