Who Is Impacted by Addiction: Pregnant Women

Addictions Content Team Info icon
Calendar icon Last Updated: 05/6/2019

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pregnant women are a group that is seriously impacted by addiction, mostly because of the multiple issues that can occur when an individual who is carrying a child uses drugs.

How Are Pregnant Women Impacted By Addiction?

According to the Archives of Women’s Mental Health, “Despite awareness and educational campaigns to reduce the rates of alcohol and drug use in pregnancy, 4% of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44 used illicit drugs during pregnancy and 11.8% used alcohol.” And not only is the individual herself affected by drug abuse but the fetus is often extremely affected as well, sometimes in ways that cannot be reversed after the baby is born. In addition, a pregnant individual puts themselves in much more danger abusing drugs than a person who is not pregnant, as so many complications can occur during this time, the likelihoods of which are all intensified as a result of substance abuse.

“Use of some substances can increase the risk of miscarriage,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The user is also more likely to experience seizures, migraines, and high blood pressure, which can all also affect the baby. Withdrawal and other issues can occur after birth, and long-term issues can also affect the infant, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, which occurs with the abuse of alcohol during pregnancy.

  • Some individuals even realize how dangerous substance abuse during pregnancy is but are unable to stop using drugs and alcohol.
  • In many cases, heavy drug abusers are likely to be more risky with their behaviors, including sexual activity. This can sometimes lead to unwanted pregnancies in those who are unwilling or unable to stop using, which only intensifies the issues caused by their addiction.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms that a Pregnant Woman Is Using Drugs?

The signs that a pregnant woman is abusing drugs should be taken very seriously, as both the woman’s and the fetus’ wellbeing is at stake. Unfortunately, most of the time, these signs are subtle, as many individuals are ashamed of this behavior. However, if you know that your friend or loved one is abusing drugs, drinking heavily, or smoking while pregnant, it is important to talk to them about the issue.

The signs of substance abuse in pregnant individuals are similar to those in other groups, but individuals who participate in this behavior will often be more likely to want to hide it. They will make excuses to use substances or be very secretive about their use, so much so that you may have to dig deeper into the situation to find out the truth. In addition, their health and the health of the child will also be put in jeopardy, especially if they use consistently and in large doses.

When Should I Seek Help?

It is important to seek help as soon as possible for someone who is pregnant and using drugs. The longer this goes on, the more dangerous the situation will become for both the mother and child. It is important to seek professional help in this case, as specific issues could occur that may be related to the pregnancy itself.

If you have been using drugs and you are pregnant, it is never too late to seek help. It is important to find a professional treatment program as soon as you can, though, in order to ensure the safest path possible for you and your child.

What Treatment Options Exist for This Group?

According to the NIDA, “Research has established the value of evidence-based treatments for pregnant women (and their babies), including medications.” Some pharmacological approaches are perfectly safe for the fetus and can help the pregnant patient avoid relapse. In addition, behavioral therapies can help immensely in teaching patients coping mechanisms as well as how to avoid triggers, recognize and understand the reasons for their drug abuse, and care for their children once they are born.

Start Your Recovery Today

Substance abuse during pregnancy can be devastating to many lives, especially to the pregnant individual and the unborn child. But with treatment, you can safely recover from this issue and start a better life for you and your child.