Pubdate: Mon, 03 Oct 2005
Source: Ada Evening News, The (OK)
Copyright: 2005 The Ada Evening News
Note: reprint of Tulsa World Editorial
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Women)
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Youth)


If Oklahomans needed any more evidence of the seriousness of substance 
abuse in the state, it was offered at a recent legislative interim study 
committee meeting.

The state's shockingly high rate of infant mortality and incidence of low 
birth weight are directly tied to maternal substance abuse, usually the 
highly addictive and extremely dangerous methamphetamine. The drug is so 
powerful women find it hard to kick during pregnancy and after giving 
birth, which sometimes even leads to the children being taken from them.

Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, wants lawmakers to delve into the problem 
of drug addiction among women and the effects on children.

State welfare officials long have said that substance abuse is one of the 
state's most serious problems, leading to high costs for health care, 
corrections, law enforcement and other disciplines.

Jan Figart, senior planner with the Tulsa Community Services Council, told 
the committee that perhaps 10 percent of the births in the state each year 
are affected by substance abuse. That translates to about 5,000 births a year.

The toll in human suffering resulting from substance abuse is unspeakably 
high, but the cost to treat these babies also is astronomical. In some 
cases they will be affected for the rest of their lives.

Statistics show Oklahoma is 38th in the nation in the incidence of infant 
mortality, reporting 8.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with a 
national rate of 7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Yet another problem with drug use during pregnancy is the fact 
mothers-to-be often avoid treatment for fear their babies might be taken 
from them.

Even if they do try to get treatment, they have few options. Currently 
there are only 106 beds available to drug users who have children. Tulsa 
has a new center that offers 52 beds.

The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services wants to 
add another 50 beds but will need an additional $2.5 million to accomplish 

Substance abuse affects every Oklahoman in one way or another. If the state 
does not get a handle on treating and rehabilitating these troubled 
individuals, we can expect the costs related to substance abuse to continue 
to rise. It's a matter of paying a little for treatment now, or a lot more 
later to deal with the consequences.

The Tulsa World
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