07 AUG 2022

Pregnant Women and Addiction

Substance abuse is harmful to our bodies, and it is particularly detrimental to the development of the baby growing inside a mother with an addiction problem. And we’re not just talking about illegal drugs — the use of tobacco and alcohol, especially in excessive amounts, is very dangerous to the growing fetus as well. While research has not been able to determine the precise amount of any substance that can harm the baby, it is generally accepted that even moderate use of some substances during pregnancy can negatively impact the health of the baby.

The attached infographic, Pregnancy & Addiction: What You Should Know, provides a brief overview of the excess use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs during pregnancy. It begins with a presentation of the problem: the percentages of pregnant women who smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol and used illegal drugs at this time.

The infographic continues on to show the effects that prenatal substances can have on the growing fetus, the newborn and then the child. Depending on whether the mother drinks, smokes or uses illegal drugs during pregnancy, the fetus can die, the baby can be born too soon, have birth defects, suffer from a number of syndromes, exhibit behavioral problems in childhood or have an increased risk for addiction later in life.

While abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs during pregnancy is a good idea and some women can quit on their own, substance abuse often requires professional treatment. But as is often the case, that is not the whole story.

Pregnant women who abuse drugs often suffer from mental health conditions or have suffered from past abuse, and these factors may have led them to or contributed to their current situation. In one study, approximately three-quarters of pregnant women entering drug abuse treatment programs had experienced physical and/or emotional abuse, almost half had been sexually abused at some point in their lives, and about a third of these women had been victims of all three. What this means is that these issues must be treated along with the substance abuse disorder, something that the highest-quality addiction treatment centers already know.

If you or a loved one are pregnant and smoke or drink too much or use illegal drugs, we hope this infographic serves as a jumping-off point. By reading about and understanding the potential impacts of addiction on the baby, we hope that you or your loved one will be motivated to stop. We understand how difficult this is, so if you need some help, please contact a local treatment center. Help — without judgment — is available from addiction professionals.

Good luck, and we hope you have a healthy, happy baby!

Scroll to see entire Information Graphic.

This infographic was created by Transformation by the Gulf, a holistic recovery center