NATIONAL - The U.S. government's Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides access to food and health resources to low income women and their children. But now, the program is also helping families in another way!
They are now offering free services and resources to women who are dealing with drug and alcohol addictions. The services aid both pregnant women and mothers who are struggling to get the help they need!
Why the added services are important
Substance abuse, specifically opioid use, has increased 400 percent in the U.S over the past few years. It is a health danger to both pregnant women and their children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that babies born with withdrawal symptoms due to their mother using drugs has increased 5 times from 2000 - 2012. Opioid use has resulted in 28,000 deaths in 2014 alone.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal every 25 minutes, leading to an average hospital stay of 16.9 days versus 2.1 days for a non-NAS child and to $1.5 billion in additional hospital costs.
Many women still not aware
Research shows that many women are still unaware of the program's new changes, and how it can help them with their addictions. So, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is urging state health officers to do their part in promoting the program. He is also encouraging the 1,900 local WIC agencies and 10,000 WIC clinic sites across the country to help make women more aware that help is available.
Women who are already taking advantage of WIC services and are also suffering from addictions will be first in line to find the resources, referrals and education that will help them. The program has been helping low-income women and children since 1974, and their web site provides toll-free numbers to call for eligibility guidelines and information on how to apply for help.
For more details, visit www.fns-usda.gov/wic/women-infants-and-children-wic