Ba­bies never born ad­dicted

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

In to­day’s Guardian (Au­gust 2) there is a story about a cus­tody bat­tle for a tod­dler and the head­line de­clares that he was “born ad­dicted.” Be­cause the term ad­dic­tion has such a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion, is stig­ma­tiz­ing and is so widely mis­un­der­stood, I feel that the record should be set straight.

A woman’s re­cur­rent in­ges­tion of psy­choac­tive drugs such as alcohol, to­bacco, co­caine, am­phet­a­mines, cannabis and opi­oids dur­ing preg­nancy may have longterm neg­a­tive con­se­quences for the baby, but ba­bies are not born ad­dicted. Never! Ever!

If the mother was us­ing psy­choac­tive sub­stances just prior to the baby’s birth, the baby may very well be born with a phys­i­cal need for that drug. This is called phys­i­cal de­pen­dence, not ad­dic­tion. That baby may re­quire wean­ing off the drugs mother was us­ing dur­ing her preg­nancy (as­sisted with­drawal). Ad­dic­tion is a pri­mary, chronic dis­ease of brain re­ward, mo­ti­va­tion, mem­ory and re­lated cir­cuitry, which is as­so­ci­ated with a loss of the bal­ance between the brain’s re­ward and stress sys­tems.

It is char­ac­ter­ized by an in­abil­ity to ab­stain; im­pair­ment of be­havioural con­trol; crav­ing; di­min­ished ap­pre­ci­a­tion of sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems with per­sonal be­hav­iour and re­la­tion­ships; and dys­func­tional emo­tional re­sponses to stress. The term ad­dic­tion is not even men­tioned in the lat­est Di­ag­nos­tic and Sta­tis­ti­cal Man­ual of Men­tal Disor­ders (DSM V), the Bi­ble for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of men­tal ill­nesses. It has been re­placed by the term sub­stance use disor­der.

Des Colo­han, Charlottetown

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