Alcohol and drug abuse in pregnant women is extremely dangerous. Many substances pass easily through the placenta, and infants who are exposed to these substances face severe, often lifelong consequences. Yet the journey to recovery for a pregnant woman suffering from addiction is not as simple as just quitting cold turkey. Prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol creates dependencies in the womb. And because the baby becomes dependent on these substances, the mother cannot detox until after birth. Retreat at Lancaster County has a full-time OBGYN on staff with years of experience in both addiction and obstetrics.
Effects of Drug Addiction in Pregnant Women
Equally damaging is the use of other substances, such as cocaine, heroin, and opioid painkillers. A baby may be born premature at a low birth weight, with birth defects, or with a small head circumference. Babies whose mothers abuse narcotics and other substances during pregnancy are also at high risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and addiction upon birth. For those babies born with substance addiction, withdrawal symptoms are intense and can happen immediately after birth or within the first couple of weeks.
Despite all of the risks, pregnant women suffering from addiction are often unable to simply quit on their own. Addiction is a pervasive illness that does not go away just because of major life changes or the prospect of a new life. It’s not that they want to harm their babies; their addiction is just too strong to overcome without professional assistance and oversight.
Retreat Behavioral Health is specially skilled to treat these sensitive cases and one of the few centers in the country to help with this problem. If you or a loved one is pregnant and struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, we urge you to get help immediately. A woman who is newly pregnant may be able to safely stop her substance use under the supervision of skilled professionals. If that isn’t possible or it’s too late in the pregnancy, our staff will do all that they can to carry the pregnancy through in the safest way possible and will treat the baby immediately upon birth.
Alcohol Addiction Effects
The effects of alcohol on pregnancy are well-documented, though the severity of the consequences depends on the extent of the mother’s addiction. Alcohol passes through the bloodstream from the mother’s system to the baby’s system, in turn causing damage to important cellular structures—most notably, cells in the brain and spinal cord. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) refers to a range of health consequences a baby who is exposed to alcohol in-utero may face, including birth defects, learning or social difficulties, stunted growth, organs that are not fully developed, and distinct facial features.
There’s another factor to consider when discussing substance use in pregnancy, which is how can alcohol affect a pregnant woman? In addition to harming her growing fetus, a pregnant woman who consumes alcohol may be less likely to care for herself in other ways. Alcohol can lead to poor nutrition, a lack of proper weight gain, and an all-around more difficult pregnancy.
Seeking Help at Retreat
We are always accepting pregnant women at our Pennsylvania, Florida, and Connecticut treatment centers. Admissions take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and ground transportation is available both to and from our facilities. For more information, please contact us at 855.859.8810 to learn about our admissions and recovery process for pregnant women and how to receive help for yourself or a loved one.