According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug overdose deaths in Florida are up a staggering 265% since 2003. But it’s not just the deaths that have Florida officials worried; it’s the births.
“We saw the number of crack babies that died, and this is just another version of that,” Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti said. “We all need to be concerned.”
According to state health records, 635 Florida babies were born addicted to prescription drugs in the first half of 2010 alone. South Florida doctors and intensive care nurses report an dramatic uptick in babies born hooked on pills that their mothers abused while pregnant.
“They go through withdrawal symptoms,” said Mary Osuch, the head nurse at Broward General Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit. “They’re crampy, miserable. They sweat. They can have rapid breathing. Sometimes, they can even have seizures…”
Marsha Currant, who runs the Susan B. Anthony Recovery Center near Fort Lauderdale, says prescription drug addiction overtook crack in 2009 as the main problem afflicting the pregnant women who are treated there…
Currant says new mothers who are hooked on prescription drugs are often reluctant to seek help for fear the authorities will take their babies from them.
“We wanted to have a place where women didn’t have to chose between getting treatment and having their children go into foster care,” she said.
Compounding the problem, women who are addicted to prescription drugs and find themselves pregnant cannot safely go off the drugs without medical supervision. They need to be weaned off slowly, or the baby will go into withdrawal in the womb.
Yes, Florida has a Tea Party governor who made his billions dispensing drugs. He’s so “serious” about the problem that he actually says stuff about it. And had to be dragged kicking and screaming into signing a bill requiring a statewide database tracking pill prescriptions. He calls it an invasion of privacy.
Meanwhile, Florida is the pill center of America. A situation which reflects a lax medical community as a whole – and a governor whose walk-in clinics established the record for the largest fine ever paid for Medicare fraud.