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What You Want To Know About Being pregnant & Habit

What you need to know about pregnancy and addiction

What You Need to Know About Pregnancy and Addiction: Using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco can be detrimental to a person’s health. However, there are special concerns for a pregnant woman with an adolescent child. Not only is the health of women and children at risk, pregnant women can also have unique problems when addiction is a problem.

Approximately 40,000 cases of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) occur each year. A baby in this country is diagnosed with newborn abstinence syndrome (NAS) every 19 minutes. It was found that 15.9% of pregnant women smoked cigarettes; 8.5% alcohol consumed; and 5.9% had used illicit drugs – including opioids, cocaine, and marijuana.

While most expectant mothers avoid these substances, women struggling with addiction may have a harder time quitting – even though they know the risks involved.

Below are some of the challenges mothers face when they are addicted or in the process of recovery.

Pregnancy emotions and factors can exacerbate substance problems

Pregnancy can certainly lead to heightened emotions due to the hormonal changes the woman is experiencing. However, a woman who learns that she is pregnant may also be exposed to more stress and emotional upset about family or romantic relationships, preparing for a child, and even life situations or material conditions.

An unplanned pregnancy can put a heavy strain on an already difficult situation with a substance abuse problem. Women with an addiction can be exposed to several factors that increase stress and worry. These people may be dealing with the effects of addiction, such as poor personal relationships, financial problems, or health problems. This added stress can be a stumbling block in recovery and make relapse more likely, but it can also make it increasingly difficult for a pregnant woman to commit to sobriety despite the dangers she may fully understand.

Stigma and fear can lead to inadequate prenatal care

Social stigma and guilt are already important issues for addicts. During pregnancy, these feelings of guilt, shame, and the fear of being labeled can be even stronger. Expectant mothers with drug problems can be seen in a tougher light than other health care professionals. A certain level of bias among health care providers can only make a pregnant woman with a drug problem feel worse.

Some women may avoid using critical prenatal care if they have a drug problem for fear of judgment, loss of their child in childbirth, or even legal punishment in some states. In addition, a negative experience during pregnancy can prevent the woman from trusting professionals who offer drug abuse treatment.

Pregnant women may use self-medication drugs more often than most

Self-medication for past mental illness or trauma is common in addicts, but may be more common in pregnant women. In a study that expected mothers to enter a substance abuse treatment program, the following were found:

  • 73 percent had engaged in physical abuse
  • 71 percent had experienced emotional abuse
  • 45 percent had a history of sexual abuse
  • 36 percent were victims of all three types of abuse

Where and how to find help with addiction during pregnancy

The social stigma against expectant mothers cannot be justified. A lack of understanding of addiction often leads to unfair labeling and a worsening of the risk of substance use or abuse for the mother. A pregnant woman can be more motivated than ever to avoid drugs or alcohol. Some women may even be able to stop without treatment, but most need help.

If you know someone who is pregnant and addicted – or who is in this position – it is best to seek help from a qualified professional. Striving for recovery during pregnancy can give the unborn baby the greatest chance of survival. The mother gets a strong motivation to lead a sober life for the sake of her child. For more information, see the related resource.


Tammy Cate is the founder and CEO of Transformations By The Gulf, a leading drug rehab facility. Cate is passionate about helping others live sober, fulfilling lives. She maintains a hands-on relationship with staff and residents to ensure everyone can get a personalized experience.

Related Infographics About What You Need To Know About Pregnancy And Addiction:

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What you need to know about pregnancy and addiction

Drugs In Pregnancy, Illegal Drug Risks During Pregnancy Video, Heavy Drug Use Before I Knew I Was Pregnant, Newborn Abstinence Syndrome, Addiction and Pregnancy, Substance Abuse During Pregnancy Laws, Treatment For Pregnant Drug Users, Criminalization Of Substance Abuse During The Pregnancy,

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