YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Professionals in York County say the effects of drug exposure on children can have short and long-term effects that are difficult to detect and treat.
WBTV asked what impact drug exposure can have on a chcild after four women in York County were accused of exposing children to drugs this week.
Katherine Zanowski is a victim’s advocate for the Rock Hill Police Department. She says when a mother or child tests positive for drugs, law enforcement and the Department of Social Services gets involved.
She says DSS will find another home for the child, whether that be with another family member or foster care. She says the child will be evaluated by medical professionals and DSS will coordinate treatment for the child, if need be.
Dr. Carlos Paxtor is a pediatrician at Piedmont Medical Center. He often treats babies who are born addicted to drugs due to their mothers abusing drugs during pregnancy. Many of them show signs of withdrawal like excessive crying, vomiting and diarrhea. He says addiction as a child does not mean they will be more likely struggle with addiction as an adult. He says disruptions to the child’s cognitive development is most concerning.
“Usually they will start showing those symptoms in school, with learning problems, attention problems, behavioral problems,” Paxtor said.
Keystone Substance Abuse Services provides treatment and therapy to adults and minors struggling with substance abuse in York County.
Licensed Professional Counselor Kevin Patton says in some cases the neglect a child experiences from their parents’ struggles with addiction can have long-term effects.
“If a person grows up in a toxic environment where there is physical abuse, neglect. Those issues can increase one’s propensity to drug addiction,” Patton said. “They are constantly seeking that love and it leads them to drugs and risky behaviors.”
Patton says they provide therapy session to children starting at age 12. He says they discuss triggers, what leads them to drug abuse, and how they can avoid it.
While Patton and Paxtor say there are therapies and treatments to help children overcome struggles after exposure, the best solution is to prevent the exposure from happening.
“The most important thing is to encourage new moms to abstain from drugs, illicit drugs,” Paxtor said.