Pregnancy and Drug and Alcohol Addiction Help

Treating addiction is already complicated, but treating addiction in a pregnant woman adds even more complications and difficulties. The treatment has to involve caring for both the mother and the unborn baby. The mother will need care that addresses both the addiction and the pregnancy itself. It’s a delicate process, but with the right kind of care, both mother and child can receive help and eventually thrive. Below are some of the many things that addicted pregnant women and medical professionals should consider.

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Dangers to the Mother

During pregnancy, an addicted person needs a lot of support, education, and care. Unfortunately, some treatment centers are reluctant to accept pregnant women due to lack of education about proper procedures. California rehab centers are known to treat pregnant addicts.


Dangers of addiction during pregnancy are similar to dangers of addiction for non-pregnant people. Pregnant women risk overdose, seizures, heart attacks, painful withdrawal symptoms, and death from drug addiction. Other dangers depend on the mother’s drug of choice. Cocaine, for example, can cause high blood pressure, while sleeping pills can do the opposite.


Dangers to the Child

A mother’s drug addiction will impact the unborn baby as well. For example, a premature birth can happen as a result of drug use. A baby can be born before its brain and other internal organs have fully developed, causing long-term health problems and vulnerabilities.

Babies who were exposed to alcohol in utero risk developing a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD. FASDs are a set of lifelong conditions that result from a mother’s alcohol use during pregnancy. The most severe of these conditions is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. People who suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:


  • Atypical facial features
  • Learning disabilities
  • Behavioral problems
  • Delayed growth
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor cognition

Babies who were exposed to other drugs, especially opioids, in utero risk developing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS refers to withdrawal symptoms in infants who become addicted after exposure to substances through the placenta. NAS can cause the following symptoms.

  • Fussiness
  • Seizure
  • Twitching
  • Poor feeding
  • Fever
  • Stomach problems
  • Low birth weight
  • Jaundice
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Breathing problems


Certain drugs used by pregnant women can cause bad health problems for the fetus. Here is a sample of what some drugs and alcohol can do to the unborn baby:


  • Alcohol goes to the baby through her bloodstream and can cause abnormal facial features and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). This is a condition that can affect a child throughout life.
  • Amphetamines use during pregnancy has been linked to heart defects in babies born to their mothers who used them.
  • Cocaine use during pregnancy can cause bleeding complications and even premature labor, stillbirth, miscarriage, preterm birth, growth retardation, as well as birth defects.
  • Ecstasy use by pregnant women can cause babies to have learning and memory problems.
  • Glue and solvent sniffing during pregnancy may cause miscarriages, or birth defects including low weight, short height, joint problems, heart defects, and abnormal facial features.
  • Marijuana use during their pregnancy might cause impaired fetal growth and increases the risk of having a miscarriage, preterm birth, a baby with low birth weight, developmental delays, and even learning problems.
  • Narcotics such as heroin has been known to cause pre-mature labor, growth problems, and possibly even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). NA meeting topics can include these risks.
  • Tranquilizers such as Valium have been associated with birth defects and babies who undergo withdrawal symptoms after birth.

Are you worried about how your drug use may impact your unborn child? Rehab Info can help. Call 800-492-QUIT today.

Addiction Treatment During Pregnancy

Any addicted individual, including pregnant women, should seek treatment as quickly as possible to maintain health and minimize risk. Some rehab facilities exist especially for pregnant women and new mothers, and other facilities may have a person on staff who understands the special needs of pregnant women.


Often, treatment for pregnant women involves replacing a drug with another, less dangerous drug, gradually reducing the dosage until the woman can function without the drugs. Why not just quit all drugs right away? Because with some drugs, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous to both the mother and the child. The mother may have a heart attack or seizure, and the baby may be born prematurely. The tapering method, on the other hand, slowly and safely weans mother and baby off of harmful substances.

Treatment for the Baby

After the birth, the baby will need continued treatment for addiction and withdrawal. In the hospital, doctors may supply small doses of morphine or other medications for the baby, using the same tapering off method that they may have used on the baby’s mother. Recently, experts have started to recommend quiet, private rooms for mothers and infants with addictions so that the infants can heal in a peaceful environment. These same experts tend to recommend lots of physical touching between the mother and the newborn as both recover.

In 2012, a baby was born addicted to opioids every 25 minutes.

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Continued Help

For a person with an addiction, that addiction doesn’t end with detox. Addicted individuals must receive treatment that addresses the mental side of addiction, too. Pregnant women and new mothers are no exception. They’ll need lots of support to raise a child and deal with the lingering effects of drug addiction. Outpatient rehab can provide a great transition period in between inpatient rehab and re-entering day-to-day life. Furthermore, continued therapy can help a mother navigate all of the complications of addiction and raising a child.

Start With Rehab Info

As we’ve already mentioned, drug addiction becomes even more painful and complicated when you’re also pregnant. If you need more information about how to get the best treatment while going through a pregnancy, Rehab Info is here to help.


Call us anytime at 1-800-492-QUIT.

We’ll help you sort through your options so that you and

your child receive quality treatment. Call 800-492-QUIT today to get help.
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