Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS): Implications for Mental Health

12/17/2021 - 11:00am to 1:30pm CST

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) occurs in babies that experience prenatal exposure to opioids. These substances could be prescription (e.g., methadone and oxycodone) or illegal (e.g., heroin) in nature. When the baby no longer receives the drug after birth, withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, seizures, sensory sensitivity, and loss of weight become apparent. This syndrome can have both short- and long-term developmental consequences. Concerns of NAS have increased with the opioid addiction crisis in the United States. In fact, research suggests somewhere between 25% and 30% of American pregnant women are prescribed opioids like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. This does not even account for instances where illegal drugs are consumed by pregnant women. Fueled by the consumption of these drugs, NAS has become one of the largest public health problems in the United States. For example, cases of NAS skyrocketed by approximately 400% from 2000 to 2012 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This leaves 3.9 out of every 1000 delivery admissions in the United States with NAS. Designed for professionals working within mental health and substance use treatment settings, this training will increase awareness of NAS and prepare attendees to address this public health crisis in the field. Specifically, the training will define NAS, explore the developmental and behavioral health consequences of NAS, discuss screening options, and identify evidence-based treatments and interventions for the baby and mother. Other relevant topics of interest covered in relation to NAS include the role and impact of prenatal alcohol and tobacco exposure and other prenatal and postnatal threats. Implications for child welfare workers and marriage and family therapists will also be discussed. All aforementioned discussions are grounded in empirical research findings.

Training Objectives:

1. Define Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and related terms

2. Develop a working knowledge of the developmental and behavioral health consequences of NAS across the lifespan

3. Discuss screening options to improve the identification and diagnosis of NAS

4. Learn about treatment and intervention options for NAS

5. Explore possible protective factors and prevention strategies

6. Learn about the role and impact of other prenatal traumas (e.g., prenatal alcohol and tobacco exposure)

7. Acquire a basic understanding of the existing empirical research on NAS


Jerrod Brown, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor, Program Director, and lead developer for the Master of Arts degree in Human Services with an emphasis in Forensic Behavioral Health for Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota. Jerrod has also been employed with Pathways Counseling Center in St. Paul, Minnesota for the past seventeen years. Pathways provides programs and services benefitting individuals impacted by mental illness and addictions. Through his work at Pathways, Jerrod has extensive experience working with clients diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders, serious and persistent mental health (SPMI) conditions, trauma and stressor related disorders, substance use and other addictive disorders, sleep disorders, and criminal justice-involved populations. Jerrod is also the founder and CEO of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS) and the Editor-in-Chief of Forensic Scholars Today (FST). Jerrod has completed four separate master’s degree programs and holds graduate certificates in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Other Health Disabilities (OHD), and Traumatic-Brain Injuries (TBI). Jerrod is also certified as a Brain Health Coach, Trauma Professional, Compassion Fatigue Professional, Youth Firesetting Prevention/Intervention Specialist, an Anger Resolution Therapist (CART), a Thinking for a Change (T4C) Facilitator, a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Trainer, an Autism Specialist, Digestive Health Specialist, Gut Health Specialist, Stress and Mindset Coach, Holistic Health Coach, Sleep Science Coach, Sex Crimes & Relational Paraphilic Attachments (RPA), Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider (CMHIMP), and a Problem Gambling Treatment Provider in the state of Minnesota. Jerrod has published numerous articles and book chapters. Email:

Jerrod Brown, Ph.D.
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