According to this ABC Nightline report, 23 out of 58 babies in the East Tennessee Children's Hospital neo-natal intensive care unit "are going through withdrawal from prescription pills, including OxyContin, Vicodin and methadone." The report also says that the cost of treatment is $53,000 per infant and that 60% of them are on TennCare.

"When I started, you maybe had a withdrawal baby once in a while and then it was once a month, and then it was once a week and then it was once a day," [NICU head nurse Carla Saunders] said. "We got six this weekend, all at one time, within almost 48 hours."

ABC News: Hidden America

R. Neal's picture

This is sickening.

This is sickening. Pharmaceutical companies have taken over the heroin trade and are racking up huge "legal" profits at society's expense. Organized crime bosses couldn't make this stuff up.

R. Neal's picture

Also from the same

Also from the same report: Knox County, Tenn., foster care has jumped by 50 percent in the past three years. [DCS attorney Susan Kovac] said that jump is "absolutely" because of painkiller addictions.

fischbobber's picture

by my otherwise good doctor

I had a pusher as a doctor once too. It was cute until his nurse threatened have my job by turning over medical records that he had knowingly falsified unless I agreed to his demands. Now I have a new doctor and I'm getting the kind of whole life results one can expect with good solid treatment, sensible diet, and exercise.

I would guess who your doctor is, but sadly in this town, your experience is more common than not. My current doctor doesn't prescribe anything with street value. If he feels that may be called for, he will send you to a specialist for more specific testing and a second opinion. He also has pretty good knowledge of homeopathic remedies and has been known to suggest I try items found at my local health food store and vitamin counter. (i.e. flax seed oil, cinnamon, vitamin D. etc.)


Average Guy's picture

Doctors continue to treat

Doctors continue to treat symptoms instead of seek cures because of time and "cures" often expose them to more liability. Pharmaceutical companies invest a lot of time, energy and money in making sure that arrangement stays the way it is.

And because politicians get millions from said pharmaceutical companies, the "War on Drugs" continues without even the slightest recognition of America's real drug problem.

I commend the hospital and ABC for exposing the problem, but there's no money in fixing it.

redmondkr's picture

My cousin's wife was a nurse

My cousin's wife was a nurse in UT's Neonatal ICU for a time. She says you never forget the first time you hear the screams of a crack baby and you'll never want to hear such a thing again.

She was involved in an early morning incident in which KPD was called to respond to a fight between the fourteen year old mother's family and the crack baby's father who was the mother's uncle.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Some years back, a couple with whom I've since lost touch had just adopted two pre-school age boys, both of whom had been born addicted to crack.

The little boys were half-brothers and also first cousins, as their birth mother had been intimate with (but not married to) two men who were brothers.

The adoptive parents were told that all three of these adults had been drug dependent and that their offspring had already been through a succession of less than desirable home settings over the course of their tender years.

Knowing what I do about the adoptive parents--who were college-educated homeowners increasingly accomplished in their careers--I would expect to learn that this story, at least, had a very happy ending.

But how many more don't?

(I had not realized until reading this story that doctors do NOT advise expectant mothers to try to end their drug dependencies during pregnancy.)

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