Faces of Addictionby Representative Michael R. Turner
Posted on 2016-01-06
TURNER. Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Bipartisan Task Force to
Combat the Heroin Epidemic, I would like to thank our co-chairs for
arranging this special order to discuss the faces of heroin and opiate
The faces of heroin and opiate addiction are getting younger. In my home State of Ohio and across the country, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of infants born with opiates in their system and needing for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS. Tragically, these children are born addicted to drugs and have no voice or awareness as to why they are suffering.
The symptoms of withdrawal begin almost immediately. They may suffer from low birth weight, difficulty feeding or breathing, seizures, dehydration, tremors, and excessive or continuous high-pitched crying. Hospital personnel may spend ten hours in a single day to holding and rocking these newborns in an effort to console them, but over 80 percent of children with NAS still require medication to treat their withdrawal.
The toll that the heroin epidemic takes on these children can go beyond the terrible physical symptoms and complications, and the effects can be lasting ones. The faces of heroin addiction are young and they are fighting an incredibly difficult and painful battle without ever choosing to suffer. Through no action of their own, these children are victims of the heroin epidemic.
Parents who do not successfully treat their addiction have overdosed and died, leaving these children without their mothers and fathers. We must work to ensure that children are not born addicted and not left without a parent.
I would encourage all of my colleagues to do as I have, and go out into your communities and meet with your local hospitals, doctors, and healthcare professionals to see how they are dealing with the growing number of heroin and opiate addicted newborns. I have held multiple forums to better understand how we can begin to prevent addiction beginning at birth.
The faces of the heroin epidemic are not limited in age or gender. We know now that it can be anyone: a child born unknowingly addicted or a parent who does not know where to turn for help. We must remain committed to combating the heroin epidemic and the devastating effects it has on these children and families.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman from New Hampshire has expired.