Drug addicted mothers Legal/Ethical Dilemma Paper

Describe history and current status of societal dilemma

Drug addiction among mothers is a serious societal issue that exerts increased demands on the health, judicial and community systems (Lucke & Hall, 2012). Community members, health professionals and the judiciary alike are challenged when faced with drug addiction cases, and more so when the user is a woman with children. In the United States, drug addiction has a far-reaching effect on mothers and their families. Regardless of the latest improvements, the nation must continue to address the wide reaching implications of the problem. Drug addiction among mothers and the associated side effects continue to contribute to a perpetual cycle of drug use, domestic violence and poverty. These women use drugs ranging from legal substances to prescription drugs. Among them are marijuana, alcohol, narcotics and tobacco. Mothers are confronted with the challenge of overcoming drug addiction. It is argued that these mothers cannot provide good care for their kids when receiving the treatment they need. Despite the rising awareness, there is a need for treatment interventions that incorporate both the drug-addicted mothers and their children.

Describe how dilemma affects the practice of nursing

Drug addiction can produce destructive effects on the physical health of mothers (Lesieur et al. 1986). For instance, the physical effects of cocaine include respiratory failure, heart attacks, seizures and strokes. Similarly, prolonged use of methamphetamine results in hallucinations, psychotic behavior and stroke. Mothers who abuse prescription drugs are likely to experience dangerously high blood pressures, paranoia and irregular heartbeat.  For instance, in 2012, Mayo Clinic’s emergency unit visits were associated with alcohol and drug use. These visits were estimated to cost a total of $80 million. The US Drug Abuse Institute estimates that the death of mothers due to substance abuse amounts to $500 million annually (Fowler et al. 2014).

Substance addiction in mothers can lead to serious and developmental impairments to newborn children. In the US, the cost of drug affected birth is estimated at roughly $30,000 against the $9000 of normal births. Extra costs are expected to be manifested in the form of continued medical care that a drug affected kid may need. For a pregnant drug-addicted mother, the lifelong expenses of treating a kid born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is approximately $2 million. In fact, the Center for Disease Control conducted research which reports the presence of 2 cases per 1000 live births. This means that in the US, the number of FASD births stand at $30 million in lifetime costs.

Discuss pros and cons of the dilemma found in the literature

Current literature is rich with numerous pros and cons of drug addiction in mothers. Besides being one of the most widely used illegal drug in the US, Marijuana is associated with a raft of medical benefits. For instance, advocates of this drug claim that medical marijuana is allowed. For years, scientific researchers have demonstrated that the drug prevents PTSD, relieves chronic pain, controls nausea, stimulates the appetite for AIDS patients and treats opioid dependence.

Moreover, cocaine, which is the most widely used drug in the US can be used a stimulant. The drug accrued from coca has been credited with various health advantages. In surgery, cocaine is used as a topical anesthetic following its fast acting numbing elements. By mixing with other properties into a process called TAC, cocaine treats minor skin lacerations. As such, it has proven to be a successful vasoconstrictor, meaning that it is effective in narrowing blood vessels. For example, a study conducted by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine found that the coca leaf's molecular array contains 14 bioactive alkaloids. Further, this study illustrates that while cocaine acts as a gut stimulant, the other alkaloids act in a precisely opposite fashion. The outcome is an inhibition of the gut activity.

Drug addiction in mothers can generate various forms of disadvantages (Berube, 2010). It has been proven that this practice could adversely affect the appetite and health of mothers and in extreme cases cause death. For years, it has been proven that drugs like heroin, cocaine and marijuana could lead to different health issues. Moreover, the addiction to prescription drugs accounts for the destruction of many families and creating serious medical complications in mothers. These mothers succumb to the lure of drugs and they engage in incidents and crimes that lead to poor performance in the society. Still, these mothers are still consuming these drugs despite knowing the ill effects and the risks involved in consuming the drugs.

Theoretical perspectives

The dilemma surrounding drug addiction in mothers stems from three distinct ethical perspectives. The first one is deontology that in practice remains the guiding ethical theory for this dilemma leading to global prohibition. From this perspective, the consequence (ends) of drug use by mothers is seen categorically as wrong despite the outcomes that result from how the drug is used (means). The focus of this theory is on the duties and obligations to abide by the rules, allowing harm so as to deter more harm from occurring. The approach is primarily rooted on the wrongness of drug addiction in mothers and not the results of the said conduct  (Moseley & Bell, 1991).

The second perspective is utilitarianism. Unlike deontology, this school of thought argues that the consequences of substance abuse (ends) in mothers can justify the means even if the means is immoral. This rationalization means that we should not allow the great to be the enemy of achieving the good that is used to guide moral practice. The aim of this perspective is to set and achieve realistic cub-optimal goals. This perspective is justified by arguing that 80% of drug addiction in mothers is better than 100% drug addiction (Petrus, 2015).

The Catholic perspective holds an unequivocal stand against the “liberalization of drug use” among mothers. Proponents of this stance claim that allowing mothers to use drugs would cause the drug problems that are already ravaging the lives of young mothers to multiply exponentially. Liberalization of drug use would not achieve a reduction in the influence and spread of drug addicted mothers. In fact, while addressing drug addicts about the effect of “chemical dependence”, Pope Francis said the problem of drug-addicted mothers “requires of society as a whole an act of courage." This means that rather than allowing mothers to use and abuse drugs as a way of solving the problem, there should be a head-on confrontation with the issue at hand. This includes educating these mothers on the values that construct a life in the society (Hser et al. 2012).

Identify the conflicting ethical principles

We are living in a modern industrialized society that is not neutral to the voluntary nonmedical consumption of drugs. However, psychologists claim that individuals are brought up to value and desire the types of behavior expected by their social and economic system. Moreover, sociologist Max Weber holds that people should not be judged “good” “right” or “wrong” when achieving pleasure chemically (Narcisse et al. 2009). This implies that individuals must earn a legitimate earthly reward by hard work, striving, individual sacrifice and overriding sense of duty to one’s social order, country and family. It is believed that this orientation is fairly coincident with the requirements of industrialization.

Billions of drugs, both illegal and prescribed are manufactured and consumed daily. For example, tranquilizers and sedatives are responsible for roughly 20% of all physicians’ prescriptions (Moseley & Bell, 1991). On the other hand, the alcoholic beverage sector generates gallons of spirits and wines, as well as barrels of beers annually. Therefore, it can be concluded that we are living in a drug culture. This means the problem is not confined to drug addicted mothers alone; the prevailing attitudes are at the most minimum level, inconsistent, possibly hypocritical. People in the society tend to justify their own substance consumption but views mothers who use the same drugs as abusers who are undesirable and weak.  The society must understand that the social consensus concerning drug abuse and use by mothers is limited, inconsistent and conflict-ridden. The issue is not about inadequate information or facts but rather multiple objectives that presently seem unreconcilable.

Discuss the alternatives, including the legal implications of each alternative

Based on the above discussion, the relevant bodies must craft new alternatives to addressing the issue of drug addicted mothers in the US.  The past few years have been marked by a tough war on drugs, especially for mothers, but the situation remains the same. Such frustrations motivate the exploration of new alternatives for addressing this societal problem.

“Together” is the first approach. This alternative looks at drug addiction in mothers as part of the larger insecurity issue in the society (Narcisse et al. 2009). This means the state institutions are weak and unable to control organized crime, violence and corruption. This alternative suggests that the capacity of the public safety and judiciary institutions must be strengthened to guarantee security by collaborating with citizens, enhanced global cooperation and greater professionalism. This alternative furnishes possibilities for improved citizen safety, increased public confidence in state facilities and credibility in taxation. However, the implementation of this approach produces great challenges. Reconstruction of state institutions amidst opposition from entrenched interests and ballooning effect of drug use in mothers weakens this alternative.  

The other alternative is known as “disruption” (Nordlie, 2016). Here, we can look at the problem of drug-addicted mothers as a society where drugs are manufactured and transported is suffering unfair and unbearable costs. This means the government should ban drug production and transit within the national territory. This approach furnishes the chance to minimize violence, free resources spent on security enforcement and enhance attention on local rather than global priorities. The implication associated with this approach is that reduced reinforcement will expand the drug market and profits and possible disputes over infringements of global treaties. This alternative cautions of dangerous effects given that the government fails to revamp the current strategy to addressing the issue of drug addiction in mothers.

Discuss your personal values related to the dilemma

In my home, none of my family members has tried drugs but many extended family members and friends have. My position is not influenced by a moral framework of the law but rather a utilitarian view which I think is reasonable following the current state of the nation. Amidst an escalating federal deficit, I strongly argue for the legalization of drug use. Nowadays, millions of tax money are thrown via the justice system in the name of enforcing drug laws. By allowing mothers to use drugs, the country would legalize the trade thus automatically increasing tax revenue. Still, by government regulating the trade, revenue would increase even higher. Legalization of drug use among women is the smartest way for the government to solve the debt crisis. If it is legalized for a few years and the effects are found to be profitable, then, it could be adjusted accordingly.

Share your personal values and state a clear personal position based on the presented discussion

My personal value supports my argument for a provisional legalization of drug use among mothers. A drug market that is regulated by the government would ensure quality and control the volume while setting restrictions for individuals; in turn, this would discourage drug dependence among mothers. Provisional legalization would allow relevant authorities to evaluate the societal effects after some years and make necessary adjustments, like making drug use illegal for mothers. Above all, we are obliged to ensure appropriate moral foundations of the society for the sake of success.


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