Preventing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome within the Opioid Epidemic: A Uniform Facilitative Policy

33 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2016 Last revised: 14 Jul 2017

See all articles by Jeremiah A. Ho

Jeremiah A. Ho

University of Massachusetts School of Law

Alexander Rovzar

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth - University of Massachusetts School of Law

Date Written: September 21, 2016

Abstract

The United States is currently in the midst of an opioid epidemic that has hit states in the southern New England regions particularly hard — with Massachusetts as one primary example. One of the many unfortunate results of the epidemic is a dramatic upsurge in cases of opioid dependency by expectant women that result in children born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS is a clinical syndrome that occurs when a newborn suffers withdrawal symptoms as a consequence of abrupt discontinuation of prenatal substance exposure. The expenses of treating and rehabilitating these drug-dependent newborns, predominantly shouldered by state taxpayers, are extremely costly, with a mean cost per stay of $93,400 for pharmacologically-treated cases.

This Article illustrates a policy, grounded in facilitative principles, designed to reduce incidents of NAS. Key components to the solution’s success should rely on early identification of opioid abuse or dependence during pregnancy, as well as adherence to a standardized protocol implemented uniformly throughout public hospitals state-wide. The Article concludes by reemphasizing the importance of acting promptly and assertively to protect society’s most vulnerable members from the tragic epidemic.

Keywords: opioid epidemic, opiate(s), addiction and pregnancy, dependence and pregnancy, drug abuse and pregnancy, neonatal abstinence syndrome, NAS, substance exposed newborns, suboxone, methadone, heroin, morphine, addiction and reform, facilitative model

Suggested Citation

Ho, Jeremiah A. and Rovzar, Alexander, Preventing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome within the Opioid Epidemic: A Uniform Facilitative Policy (September 21, 2016). Harvard Journal on Legislation, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2842061

Jeremiah A. Ho (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts School of Law ( email )

333 Faunce Corner Road
N Dartmouth, MA 02747
United States
508-985-1156 (Phone)

Alexander Rovzar

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth - University of Massachusetts School of Law ( email )

333 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
United States

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