You Can Volunteer To Cuddle Drug-Addicted Babies To Help Them Heal

Volunteering with kids is perhaps one of the most rewarding things you can do. Take, for example, volunteering with some really special babies fighting for their lives. You’re basically being a grandma and aunt to kids who need it more than ever. You see, these special babies are actually addicted to drugs and the human touch could be the ticket to their healing.


Drug addiction is becoming a bigger issue across America. More babies are suffering from something called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Basically, these babies are born as drug addicts as a result of their parents being drug addicts while pregnant with them.

So when these babies are born, they need a special amount of care to survive the excruciating withdrawal process, including physical contact. It’s been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that NAS has increased 383 percent in the US since 2000. Jane Cavanaugh, a Pennsylvania nurse, knew that she had to do something because the substance-abuse rates were going up.

She told that she began a volunteer program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital to help out. She noted, “these babies going through withdrawal need to be held for extended periods. They need human touch.”


Maribeth McLaughlin is the chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh. She oversees a group of cuddle volunteers at Magee. McLaughlin notes that these babies who are going through withdrawal need less medication and go home much sooner, on average than those who aren’t.

She tells, “Cuddling is helping them manage through these symptoms. They are very irritable; they are hard to console. This is about swaddling them and giving them that comfort and safe, secure feeling.” Research has shown that holding a baby is far more crucial to brain development than most people thought.

Especially those babies who are going through withdrawal. Skin-to-skin contact between a newborn and parents has become commonplace in a lot of hospitals around the country. Check out the video below for more info on NAS babies and volunteering to swaddle them!

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