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Saturday, February 12, 2011

So Just What ARE some of the things that happen?

You have all heard me say that the babies are the true victims of heroin addiction. But how, you might ask?

Okay. Lesson.

Oddly enough, Heroin or opiates are the least Teratogenic (Able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus) of the mainly abused drugs out there. That being said, however, just being the LEAST doesn't mean there is no damage.

But, AFTER the baby is born, usually addicted, the hell starts.

The worst? Mom nodding off when bathing the baby, the baby drowns.
Long term. There is something called R.A.D. It is Reactive Attachment Disorder. It works like this.

A baby cries because the infant needs something. Held, fed, changed, has a fever, whatever. The caretaker comes immediately to the baby and picks up baby and comforts, kisses, and tends to the babies need. Baby learns her first lesson. I hurt, I cry, Mommy comes and make it all better. I LOVE MOMMY!!

With a drug addicted primary parent, this does NOT happen. So, no big thing right? Sometimes mom comes in, sometimes she sleeps through it. That's okay, babies need to learn to self comfort anyway right?


What this does to the developing infant brain is criminal. Even when the baby cannot formulate cognitive thought, this is what the baby learns.

Cry, hungry, wet, dirty, tummy ache, whatever. No one comes. Cry some more. Still no one comes. Cry harder, Nope.

This cycle repeated over and over and the baby learns that when hurt or uncomfortable happens, it is normal and learns (yes at 2 weeks) to stop crying.

Baby does not look to anyone to come and take care of problem. Baby has not developed the FIRST and primary thing necessary to good development. Emotional attachment to the primary caretaker. It is this first and most important lesson and developmental milestone that teaches a child what love is. Love begins with care. This baby doesn't know what love is.

Mom goes around telling everyone what a good baby she has. Why she hardly EVER cries, even when she's wet or sick or dirty or anything. Everyone tells Mom what a good mom she must be.

Segue about 8 years in the future. Baby has grown up into a really independent child who looks to no one to help her out. This is a good thing. Right?

No. It is not.

This child, raised by a druggie parent, has learned that no one loves her enough to come to her when she needs something. This child has learned that she can only rely on herself. This child see's adult situations all around her. This child does not know how to love, or receive love appropriately.

Segue about 5 more years. Now she is 12. She is facing adult situations, and adult problems, BUT, she is applying the intellect of a 12 year old's brain (which btw had pre-frontal damage from the opiates, and pre-frontal is what helps determine decision making), and this child is now trying to solve adult issues with a child's solutions.

This child now wants love, but doesn't know what it is, or where to find it.

A boy enters the picture. This boy seems to love this girl. This boy puts THE question to this girl, who thinks, OH! This is love then, and of course, succumbs to his plea's to let him prove he loves her by having sex.

Then, he drops her.

And, she cries. And starts looking for that elusive 'love' again.

And again.

And again.

And each time, she gets abandoned. She is emotionally and intellectually unable to either give, or receive love.

She becomes even MORE desperate. She NEEDS to be accepted and loved by someone, ANYONE. She has never had love, only palliative care. Her physical needs were met, sort of. Even if that meant opening a can of spaghettio's for dinner at age 5 by herself, so she didn't go hungry.

She is now old enough to make comparisons about the mother of her friends. About their family life. She knows her mom isn't the same.

She is now old enough to notice other moms don't nod off all the time. They don't disappear for hours at a time, with no one knowing where they are. They don't spend an hour in the bathroom with the door locked. and then come out acting weird.

She figures out what is going on. She is now having active sex, unprotected, and watching her mom use drugs, or at the least, knowing her mom is doing drugs.

She is very confused. Why does HER mommy do this. Other mommies don't. Other mommies take their girls to the mall, to beauty shops, to whatever. Her mommy just lays on the couch sleeping, then gets up and leaves, then comes back and sleeps some more. Sometimes Mommy is really sick, puking everywhere and just yells at her to go away and leave her alone.

She decides that she would be better off just leaving.

Now the scene can split a number of different ways.

She can get reported as a runaway and found, and put into foster care. The authorities have figured out what is going on, so she can't even see Mom anymore. She has a foster mother, who has kids going in and out of her life, and isn't really able to form a bond with the child, or tries to, but this child won't let anyone in, because she DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO LOVE.

Second scene. She doesn't get reported, because by then, Mom barely notices she is gone. She goes to the street, drops out of school and falls through the cracks. A pimp finds her and gives her what SHE thinks is love. He tells her what to do, when to do it and acts like he cares. He controls her every move and tells her if she doesn't do what he tells her, it means she doesn't love him. He is a predator with a ready made victim to prey upon.

Third Scene. She prostitutes on her own, and ends up feeling like crap. To feel better about herself, some of her friends tell her about this REALLY great stuff. Try it, it makes it all go away! She does, and then she realizes...

THIS is what my MOM had. No wonder she wanted this more than anything. this is GREAT

In a matter of 6 days, she is hooked. Two months later, at age 14, she is pregnant.

And, it starts all over again.

THAT is Reactive Attachment Disorder. Many children who are adopted from foreign countries who have been raised since birth in an orphanage also have RAD. They also cannot form emotional attachment to the primary caretaker. It disrupts more adoptions than you would ever realize. Go ahead. Google RAD. Read about it.

The effects of an addicts mother on a child are many and VERY far reaching. It is not just that the baby is born addicted, which is bad enough. Oh no. It goes MUCH further than that.


  1. Wow, this is very interesting. I was not aware of RAD. Thanks for bringing awareness to this problem children of addicts may suffer from.

  2. I once saw a 2 or 3 year old child in an East European orphanage and it was one of the most upsetting things I have ever seen.

    This kid had never been held or talked to or smiled at and was gazing catatonically out through the bars of the cot, utterly unreactive to TV presenter and camera crew

    the presenter started crying and so did i

    another time i saw this junkie mother ~ i was addicted to heroin too so i knew the situation and the issues ~ but she carried the baby full term the the child had to have morphine detox

    they don't give any morphine until full blown withdrawal develops

    apart from crying uncontrollably this kid was reaching out with both hands as if to grab something that wasn't there... and that pretty much says everything

    the mother was cooing "just a few days, it'll be over in a very short time" and i thought why didn't YOU do that then you bitch?

    of course you cannot detox in pregnancy it nearly always aborts the child

    yeah: what a wonderful world this is!

  3. The big picture is really quite devastating and sad. And when we are supporting/loving/detaching from our child that is addicted we (the ones that probably care the most about this problem) run out of energy in order to face the bigger picture, which is part of the story as well. No one really wants to take this on and make a difference.

  4. @Gled. you know, people say all junkies are the same. but, they are wrong. Guys, well you can choose to use, and it affects you, and your mom's and dad's, your sisters and brothers, of course. But all of those can be somewhat dealt with. I don't actually hate junkies. Everyone of course, because I am so harsh, thinks I do. but, I am just not that hateful.

    but, i do hate women who are junkies and then go on to have babies. yes. them, i do hate.

    I believe in personal freedom. If someone wants to shoot heroin, then I say, whatever. Ruin your life and your health. As long as no one but you gets hurt. Okay? It's YOUR thing, not mine, but whatever.

    But hurt babies? No. That's when the beast comes out, and once that beast is unleashed, it does not go away. Ever.

    So, I chose the babies over my daughter. Them, I could save. My daughter can only save herself.

  5. @Lisa

    I had to choose. My daughter, or my grandbabies. The babies won out. I quit putting any energy into my daughter, her recovery or lack thereof, and dedicated the rest of my life to saving her kids. It wasn't a simple solution, but it was the right one for me.

  6. This post is so informative and heart wrenching...but your comments are what made me cry. I have likened the choice that you speak of to "Sophie's Choice." I had to pick between my daughter or subjecting her life choices upon my other kids by allowing her to keep living here. It is an awful place to find one's self.

  7. @Annette. very much like 'Sophie's Choice'. I was also in THAT place as well, my junkie had two younger siblings. They didn't get the cars, they didn't get the vacations. The money went for their sister's rehabs. I wish I had known ME back then LOL. Since I am sort of one of the pioneer's..(going on 12 flippin years now), I didn't really have anyone to give me advice. So, I had to wing it. If I knew then what I know now? She would have been out of the house and on the street so fast it would have made your head spin!!! I enabled right up to the point of the third child's pregnancy. That's when reality hit me, and I was done. The other grandkids had been living with us anyway, but I had also been letting their mother live with us, still trying to save her. The day I found her shooting up in the bedroom, 4 months pregnant with my THIRD heroin addicted grandchild. I flipped. That day, love turned to hate.

  8. described it all so clearly and it's such a devastating, ongoing horror. :( Thank God the grandchildren have you.

  9. So very devastating. Your blog is so important, I hope lots of people find it.
    Like you said in the comment to Annette, its too bad you didn't have YOU back then. But you're helping others, and most important, have given your grandchildren LOVE.