Addiction Treatment for Pregnant Women
Pregnant Women and Addiction
The term “addiction” is common to the general public and is also prevalent among pregnant women. Estimates show that over 2% of pregnant women use addictive drugs.1 The effect of substance use in pregnant women cannot be overemphasized because of the various complications during and after pregnancy.
Prescription drugs are common among pregnant women since doctors may prescribe some vitamins and minerals supplements to help ease the discomfort that accompanies pregnancy. However, abuse of such drugs can cause complications in the mother and baby. Pregnant women and addiction are like parallel lines that should never meet because of the fatal implications it causes to the development of the fetus.2
Learning More About Drug Use and Pregnancy
Dangers of Drug Use During Pregnancy
The use of illicit drugs poses a threat to the health of pregnant women and infants.3 During the development of a fetus, oxygen, nutrients, and vitamins needed for nourishment come from the mother through the placenta.4 Chemicals from harmful substances such as cocaine, marijuana, and others can pass through the placenta easily and affect the fetus as it grows.
Common Addiction in Pregnant Women
Though defects caused by FAS might vary from child to child, these defects aren’t reversible. Exposure to alcohol causes a shortage in oxygen supply to the fetus causing brain damage. Other developmental issues also arise because the baby’s liver is not fully developed to process alcohol. According to Merck Manual, 50% of pregnant women exposed to alcohol experience miscarriages and are likely to give birth to babies with low birth weight.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is a substance in marijuana that causes harmful effects on the mother and the baby. Pregnant women and addiction have become a global issue mainly because of the threat it poses to the health of babies. However, more research is still being carried out on the side effects of marijuana use during pregnancy. National Institutes of Health Order Publications reports that women exposed to marijuana at the early stage of pregnancy have up to 2.3 times greater chance of having stillbirths.7 Due to this fact, pregnant women have been warned to refrain from using marijuana. Marijuana has also been said to cause slow growth and behavioral issues in babies after birth.
Substance use while pregnant has been said to cause an increase in the mortality rate among infants and children. Tobacco contains harmful substances that can disrupt the supply of oxygen to the fetus, leading to miscarriage. Substance use while pregnant can:
Cocaine is an addictive substance that can cause harm to the baby during pregnancy and even after pregnancy. It affects the central nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord. It can also affect the nerves responsible for touch and sight and the person’s behavior with the substance use disorder, causing a feeling of restlessness, anger, nervousness, and anxiety. Substance use while pregnant would have severe implications on the mother with the following symptoms:
Apart from causing harm to the mother, it also causes severe damage to the unborn baby. This is because some of these substances get to the fetus through the placenta. After birth, certain physiological and psychological defects arise, which might persist in the long run. Substance use while pregnant can cause the following implications to the baby:
This is an illicit drug that acts as a nervous system depressant. Pregnant women exposed to this substance are exposed to infectious diseases through shared needles. This substance can cause withdrawal syndrome in the unborn child after birth resulting from opioid dependency. It causes low birth weight and other birth deformities.
Prescription Drugs or Opioids
Risks of Addiction During Pregnancy
This is a sudden loss of pregnancy before the 20th week of the pregnancy. Symptoms include bleeding, abdominal pain, nausea, and leg cramps. This spontaneous pregnancy loss can cause emotional distress and a feeling of sadness. Exposure to alcohol and harmful drugs at the early stage of pregnancy cause toxic substances to get to the growing fetus, cutting the oxygen supply and leading to the death of the fetus.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
Substance use during pregnancy causes the baby to be exposed to certain chemical substances. This might result in NAS when the baby withdraws from these chemical substances. Withdrawal symptoms include seizures, diarrhea, etc. Research is still being carried out on pregnant women and addiction withdrawal symptoms management.
Birth defects associated with pregnant women and addiction to alcohol and drugs aren’t far-fetched. Addiction to alcohol and drugs during pregnancy can cause a wide range of defects, including small head size, low body weight, poor coordination, poor memory, vision problems, etc.
The Dangers of SUD and Childbirth
What Is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)?
Withdrawal Symptoms at Birth
What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome results from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. This condition causes growth issues, brain damage, and defects that are not reversible.10
Birth Defects Associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders (FASDs)
1. Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (PFAS): A child with partial fetal alcohol syndrome only experiences one or two symptoms of FASDs. It may include growth delay and damage to the central nervous system. It’s not as severe as FAS.
2. Static Encephalopathy: Static Encephalopathy is a chronic condition characterized by non-progressive brain disorders in children.
3. Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND): Children with ARND experience poor motor skills, poor coordination, hyperactivity learning, and thinking problems.
4. Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE): Children whose mothers were involved in alcohol intake during pregnancy are more likely to experience brain damage which could cause neurological problems in their behaviors.
Learn More About FASD
Risks for Children
Alcohol exposure plays a significant role in behavioral and cognitive problems in children, leading to difficulty in learning, antisocial behaviors, and depression.
Treatment for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)
It’s important to address each person’s specific birth defects as appropriate. There’s no known cure for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. However, research has shown that an early intervention treatment can improve the child’s growth and development. Such interventions include:
Types of Treatment for FASDs
1. Physical and psychological therapy: Due to defects in facial, general appearance, and brain damage, symptoms associated with FADS might be corrected.
2. Medications like antidepressants, stimulants, and neuroleptics can be prescribed to treat hyperactivity and poor concentration symptoms.
3. Protective factors: The use of protective factors can help to impact positive changes in children with Fetal Alcohol Disorder. These factors include:
Treatment for Addiction
Drug or substance addiction is a serious condition that would take a long time to treat. Treatment of substance addiction is often personalized as different treatment strategies are administered to different people. The next step for a person with alcohol or substance use disorder is to get treatment to avoid complications. There are four types of addiction treatments.
This is a first step treatment needed for people with a substance disorder. To get started with other treatments, the chemical substance accumulated in the body needs to leave the body over time. This would help the person cope with withdrawal symptoms and discomfort. This is possible with the selective use of some medications that would help reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Seeking professional help through hospitals and clinics is also essential for effectiveness.
Inpatient Addiction Treatment
This kind of treatment offers an intensive treatment service; it’s long-term and involves the prolonged stay of clients in the place of treatment. Treatment is highly structured with different activities to help the residents adopt a new life.
Outpatient Addiction Treatment
In this kind of treatment program, the individual only visits the place of treatment based on appointments. It costs less, and it’s recommended for people who have jobs, are self-employed, or people with external support. Many outpatient programs also offer counseling and medication supervision services. Therapy sessions are also an important part of outpatient addiction treatments. Having family members around during therapy appointments can also serve as a motivation to get over drug addiction.
Short-term Residential Treatments
Women should avoid alcohol and addictive substance use during pregnancy, affecting both them and their babies. Mothers need to be better enlightened on the complications of substance use during and before pregnancy. This article provides relevant information about pregnant women and addiction, including birth defects, risks, and complications associated with substance use. You’ll also find addiction treatment information and the next steps to take.