New Hampshire health officials decided to prioritize a specific demographic this year when allocating scarce federal funds toward the opioid epidemic: pregnant and newly post-partum women.
The choice reflects stark statistics both in New Hampshire and across the country.
In recent years, the number of pregnant women struggling with opioid abuse has increased significantly. With that, the number of newborns experiencing symptoms of opioid withdrawal, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), has jumped.
One of the challenges in caring for this population is geography. Standard treatment involves regular doctor visits combined with regular doses of a medication, typically Suboxone or methadone, that blocks withdrawal symptoms, reducing risk of relapse or overdose. But access to clinics that offer this treatment can be limited, particularly in more rural areas.