Dr. Barry Lester talk at RIAIMH’s conference (2005) “Babies can’t say NO!” presented a summary of prenatal drug exposure and its effects on child development which discussed: Prenatal drug exposure as a serious public health problem, addiction as a disease that can be treated, risk factors, drug effects on neurodevelopment, social context, research findings, and some policy recommendations.
Substance abuse is an issue that has perpetually plagued society. Cost to society of drug use in the U.S. (crime, health care, reduced work productivity) is over $300 billion/year. We have made tremendous strides in the past 20 years when it comes to understanding drug addiction and treatment. We have the opportunity to keep families together today in ways that were not possible only a few years ago. We should be optimistic about our ability to reduce addiction and save future generations of children through treatment. Failure to take advantage of what we have learned is not only a missed opportunity but a giant step backward.