Pregnancy is one of the happiest but also most stressful times in a woman’s life. Being responsible for the health of a baby on top of her own is a heavy burden. Diets will improve, regular light exercise begins and drugs and alcohol become non-options.
The dynamic changes though when the mother is already suffering from substance use disorder related to drugs or alcohol. Abusing a substance over a long period of time changes how the mother’s body functions, changes that can occur in a baby if drugs or alcohol are still present during gestation.
The Risks Substance Abuse Poses for Pregnancy
How drugs or alcohol impact a pregnancy varies based on multiple factors. In order to consider the risks, the substance(s) being abused must be identified as well as the amount and frequency of consumption. Whether the substance was introduced before or during the pregnancy also has a part in which risks should be considered.
Due to the number of factors, the risks an addicted mother can range from mild to severe. The most common risks associated with substance use during pregnancy include:
- Slowed development
- Inadequate birth weight
- Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS
- Physical and mental defects
- Transmission of infections caused by sharing needles
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
A large number of risks are realized during pregnancy or at birth, but the impact drugs and alcohol have on development can lead to unforeseen consequences later in life. A child with a defective or underdeveloped brain may struggle to keep up in school and retain information.
Severe cases of addiction can even see the baby experiencing withdrawal symptoms at birth. During development, the fetus learned to function in the presence of drugs or alcohol. Once out of the mother’s internal environment, the baby’s central nervous system struggles to operate without alcohol influencing its processes.
The Impact Can Be Seen for Life
Stunted growth and difficulties learning will always be noticeable signs that there were issues during development. More severe implications of substance abuse, specifically alcohol, include various health problems and permanent disabilities such as poorly developed organs and chronic diseases.
Among these diseases is addiction itself as the cluster of genes responsible for addictive tendencies and behaviors can be passed on to the child. When children are born with a predisposition for addiction, their chances of turning to substance abuse increase substantially.
Mothers that continue to drink or use drugs after their child is born create additional risks through negative environmental influences. Factors such as normalized substance abuse, stressful work, financial struggles and social pressures are all part of the environmental factors that lead many to substance abuse.
Finding Addiction Treatment While Pregnant
A pregnancy will ideally be planned and time can be dedicated to substance abuse treatment if needed. Unfortunately there are many unexpected pregnancies where the mother is actively using drugs or alcohol. In these cases, getting treatment as soon as possible is crucial.
Starting treatment with a professional rehab facility rather than attempting to detox alone improves the chances of a successful recovery. The baby’s development and safety are also better preserved under the supervision of medical professionals.
Our team at America’s Rehab Campus stays current on developments regarding addiction treatment for expecting mothers. New medications are being researched specifically for use in pregnant women, providing better results than traditional options such as methadone. No matter which form of treatment is used, constant supervision is the most important step.
Any expecting mother struggling with addiction deserves professional treatment and compassionate care. America’s Rehab Campus encourages anyone in need of assistance to reach out today and speak with a recovery specialist. Treatment is available before, during and after pregnancy to help mothers in any situation.