Number of US Newborns with Drug Withdrawal Triples

Yahoo News recently ran an Associated Press article with the above heading.  Here are some quotes:

Disturbing new research says the number of U.S. babies born with signs of opiate drug withdrawal has tripled in a decade because of a surge in pregnant women’s use of legal and illegal narcotics, including Vicodin, OxyContin and heroin, researchers say.

The number of newborns with withdrawal symptoms increased from a little more than 1 per 1,000 babies sent home from the hospital in 2000 to more than 3 per 1,000 in 2009, the study found. More than 13,000 U.S. infants were affected in 2009, the researchers estimated.

Weaning infants from these drugs can take weeks or months and often requires a lengthy stay in intensive care units. Hospital charges for treating these newborns soared from $190 million to $720 million between 2000 and 2009, the study found.

What we are seeing here is one more example of the failure of the War on Drugs.

In the early 1900’s there was a popular movement in the US against alcohol, resulting in Prohibition, which became law in 1920.  However, it soon became clear that the evils of prohibition greatly outweighed the evils of alcohol.  This realization developed into a popular groundswell for repeal, which was successful in 1933.

The US government first started restricting use of certain drugs in 1914.  But the term War on Drugs was used by President Nixon, and the present War on Drugs started about 1970.  Within ten years it was clear that it was unsuccessful, and that it was spawning crime at an unprecedented rate.

The fact is that people like alcohol and other drugs, and will pursue these products even in the face of the most draconian restrictions.  It has been estimated that half of the individuals in American prisons are in for drug-related offences.  And yet the demand continues, even among pregnant women!

To date the War on Drugs has cost America over a trillion dollars in taxpayer money.  What a waste!  Elsewhere on the blog I have proposed a legalization of all drugs with certain basic safeguards.

The APA includes alcohol and drug abuse as diagnosable “mental illnesses.”  This decision lends passive support to the futile and destructive War on Drugs.  It ludicrously puts the War on Drugs on a par with disease eradication programs like the successful smallpox eradication program of the 1970’s and the present day malaria eradication drive.