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Addiction Services For Pregnant New Yorkers Focus Of State Initiative

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - The New York state health department has launched a campaign to raise awareness around addiction treatment services available to pregnant women.

The health department said Monday that women should know “it is OK to ask for help,” and that their doctors can help treat addiction.

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services said it oversees 40 residential addiction treatment programs in New York dedicated specifically to women, including several in western New York and the Finger Lakes.

More than a quarter of reproductive-age women nationally fill a prescription for an opioid from a pharmacy each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prescription opioids are a common way for people to become dependent on the drugs and start using opioids illicitly, the CDC and other doctors have said.

Babies born to women who have used opioids while pregnant are at risk of developing neonatal abstinence syndrome, which can result in seizures and difficulty feeding. Diagnoses of that syndrome increased more than fivefold between 2004 and 2014.

The health department said it will be distributing fact sheets and posters with treatment information to community centers and OB/GYN offices in the coming weeks.

“Mothers in recovery and their children need the resources to live normal lives, free from the oppressive bonds of addiction,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is a co-chair of the state Heroin and Opioid Abuse Task Force, said in a statement.

“I have heard from families across the state who have felt the impact of addiction, and we’re taking aggressive actions to support the recovery of individuals and families in our communities,” Hochul said.