What it’s like to give birth as a heroin addict

Posted on March 14, 2016 by Addiction Editor

prescription-drug-addiction-and-pregnancyThere have been several stories in the media about women losing their civil and constitutional rights while pregnant.

We don’t seem to hear about diabetics being detained by authorities for eating lollies and cancer patients are not shackled if they smoke a cigarette. So why are pregnant women who use drugs or have a history of drug use being arrested and forced into treatment?

Being pregnant and addiction will be discussed at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference 2016, themed Alcohol – Other Drugs – Behavioural Addictions, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery will be held on the Gold Coast from the 19 – 20 May 2016.

Susanne, 30, and Mike, 32, met when they were 16 and 18 respectively and both working at a Texas Dominos call centre. She’d never done any drugs in her life before they started hanging out, “but one night we were sitting in his room and he had some and he put it on his coffee table and that was actually the first time I’d ever done it too.” From there, they both became addicted.

Over the next few years, each of them overdosed and almost died. They were homeless and jobless, completely dependent on the drug. They began stealing from relatives (Susanne said her mom and grandma would hide their money when she and Mike came over: “It was kind of hurtful because I had realized how much they had grown to distrust me. But at the same time, I knew they had a reason to.”) and she got pregnant three times.

Though they both stayed clean during her first pregnancy, they began using immediately after their daughter was born. “In kind of a selfish way I sent her to my mom’s house, but at the time I kind of rationalized it by saying, you know, ‘If she’s with us, she’s a lot worse off ’cause we’re not gonna quit,'” Susanne explained. The second time she gave birth, she was in jail on possession charges: “I actually had him in jail. So I went from the jail to the hospital, in shackles, it was terrible.” That baby also ended up living with relatives.

The third pregnancy was different. Susanne and Mike were both taking methadone to ease the symptoms of heroin withdrawal and their doctor advised she actually stay on the opiate because it was easier to wean a newborn off methadone than it was heroin. They both say they haven’t used since their third baby (who has lived with them since the beginning) was born. To read more click here.

The Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference 2016, themed Alcohol – Other Drugs – Behavioural Addictions, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery will be held on the Gold Coast from the 19 – 20 May 2016. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE. Early bird registrations close Friday 8th April so be quick to receive a discounted rate.

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