Addiction can negatively affect the life of the suffering individual. But it also impacts the lives of the people around the addict. This is especially the case when the person with the addiction is a mother. This is because mothers are the caretakers and backbone of the family. Therefore, whenever a mother struggles to even take care of herself due to addiction, it can cause adverse effects on the lives of that mother’s immediate family, in particular her children.
As negative as the effects of addiction are on the living children of mothers, they can be even worse for an unborn child of an expecting mother. This is particularly true since rehab for pregnant women is not easily available.
To prove just how important rehab for pregnant women is, we’re going to go over the dangers and risks of suffering from addiction while pregnant. To help any pregnant women that are currently suffering from addiction, we’re also going to discuss the benefits of rehab for pregnant mothers.
Unfortunately, while it may seem abnormal to suffer from addiction while pregnant, it is more common than people may think. In fact, nearly 5% of women who enter rehab are pregnant. Most of these women had issues with drugs or alcohol prior to even becoming pregnant.
Because one symptom of addiction is reckless behavior, many women that are addicted to substances start exhibiting risky sexual behavior. As a result, many of these women have unplanned pregnancies while still suffering from addiction. This, in turn, causes many of these women to abuse substances while pregnant.
In fact, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between the years 2011 and 2013, 1 out of every 10 pregnant women consumed alcohol while pregnant. According to this same report, 1 out of every 33 pregnant women between the years 2011 and 2013 binged drank alcohol while pregnant. Also, according to a 2012 national survey, 9% of pregnant women used illegal drugs while pregnant, and 9% of pregnant women smoked cigarettes while pregnant.
When women suffer from addiction while pregnant, it may seem like there is no possible way to get help. These women may feel like everyone is judging them more intensely for having an addiction while being pregnant. All of these negative thoughts can overwhelm expectant mothers and cause even more substance abuse to occur. For most, the only way to get out of this cycle of substance abuse is to attend rehab for pregnant women.
There are countless dangers and risks to abusing substances while pregnant. Still, not all of these dangers and risks are created equal. The type of drugs that a person uses, the length of time they use them while pregnant, and the frequency at which they use drugs all play a role in what health dangers and risks that a woman exposes her child to.
When a woman abuses alcohol while pregnant, the baby may develop congenital abnormalities. This is because alcohol is a teratogen. A teratogen is an agent that causes malformation in embryos.
One part of the developing baby’s body that’s sensitive to the damage that alcohol teratogens can cause is the central nervous system. In fact, according to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, alcohol can cause more serious negative effects on a fetus than cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. As a result, alcohol abuse during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and birth defects in unborn babies in the United States.
The variety of different long-term developmental and cognitive disabilities that alcohol abuse during pregnancy causes are called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASDs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the abnormal characteristics and behaviors that children with FASDs exhibit include:
Unfortunately, many women are already in the depths of addiction when learning that they’re pregnant. Therefore, no longer abusing alcohol becomes an almost impossible task without rehab for pregnant women. The same can be said for women who discover that they’re pregnant while suffering from addiction to drugs.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse along with a national survey, common risks of alcohol or drug abuse to an unborn fetus include the following:
When a person chronically abuses alcohol or drugs while pregnant, the substances pass through the placenta and umbilical cord to the baby. As a result, the baby may experience withdrawal symptoms once he or she is born and is no longer consuming substances.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the withdrawal symptoms that babies may exhibit due to substance abuse during pregnancy include:
Abusing substances while pregnant affects unborn babies because it affects the mothers. This is because the mother is the person that the unborn baby is living and feeding off of until he or she is ready to enter the world. If this is so and the negative effects that such substance abuse can have on an unborn child are as extensive as they were listed above, one can only assume that the effects such substance abuse has on the expectant mother are also severe.
One of the negative effects that alcohol can cause expectant mothers is a lack of vitamins. This is partly because many pregnant women who abuse alcohol do not eat a well-balanced diet. It also doesn’t help that these women have babies inside of them that consume some of the vitamins that do come into their system.
Another negative way that alcohol abuse can affect expectant mothers is by causing a miscarriage or stillbirth. This is because the body isn’t running at its best when it’s consuming excessive amounts of alcohol each day. Therefore, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while pregnant can cause the body to not be strong enough to carry a baby to full-term.
Those who abuse cocaine while pregnant can experience seizures, hallucinations, trouble breathing, and heart problems in addition to miscarriage and stillbirth. Using cocaine while pregnant can even cause women to develop fluid in their lungs. They may also suffer from an abruption of the placenta prior to birth.
When an expectant mother uses heroin while pregnant, she is putting herself at risk to develop dangerously high blood pressure, an abruption of the placenta prior to birth, bleeding in her third trimester, or a breech birth.
Any kind of inhalant drug can cause a pregnant woman to experience life-threatening breathing problems, convulsions or seizures, or even a coma.
The abuse of methamphetamine can cause an expectant mother to experience miscarriage, an abruption of the placenta prior to birth, or even brain damage or a stroke.
Women that use PCP or LSD during pregnancy may experience confusion, delusions, or hallucinations. Pregnant women that use PCP or LSD might even overdose while pregnant.
Marijuana is known to cause premature labor. The effects of taking ecstasy while pregnant are still unknown.
To attend rehab for pregnant women, individuals must first attend detox. Detox is the process of removing all substances from the body’s system. If a woman attends detox while pregnant, it’s imperative that they have constant medical attention from a doctor while doing so.
If an addiction is severe or the individual suffered from addiction from a highly addictive substance such as opioids, patients may be able to use methadone during detox while pregnant. Only do so if it’s necessary though, as taking methadone while pregnant in detox will cause the newborn baby to suffer from withdrawal symptoms of the medication after birth.
Other medications that pregnant women can take during detox include suboxone, buprenorphine, and naloxone. In fact, withdrawal symptoms are less severe in newborns of pregnant women that take these three medications while in detox than they are with methadone.
Women should avoid taking any medications during detox for alcohol addiction while pregnant. This is because doing so can cause fetal/neonatal issues in newborn babies.
If you’re a pregnant woman attending rehab, you should attend inpatient treatment. This is especially true if you’re receiving detox or treatment for addiction to sedatives or opioids.
Inpatient treatment is the best form of rehab for pregnant women because the risk of miscarriage is high at this time. Therefore pregnant women in rehab need all the attention and medical care that they can get.
All pregnant women attending addiction treatment should also make sure that their rehab facility offers certain programs. For example, any rehab for pregnant women should provide pregnancy and parenting education. On top of that, it should include mental health and addiction treatment services, constant medical care, counseling, health and psychiatric services, childcare services, transportation services, and housing services.
All rehab for pregnant women should also include medical detox, specialized treatment plans, co-occurring disorders therapy, individual and family therapy, and prenatal care. Also, make sure that the treatment center that you attend as a pregnant woman provides aftercare services such as life skills workshops and 12-step programs.
At Free by the Sea, we understand how hard it is to find good rehab for pregnant women. That’s why we provide specialized treatment services just for pregnant women at our facility.
We even allow pregnant women to stay and receive treatment at our facility up until their 8th month of pregnancy. When it comes to rehab for pregnant women, this is as good as it gets! Especially since only ¼ of rehab centers across the country even offer addiction treatment for pregnant women at all.
Whether you’re looking to receive addiction treatment for alcohol or drug abuse as a pregnant woman, we can help you. To learn more about our rehab for pregnant women services, contact us anytime.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.