We're Here to Help with Pregnancy and Substance Abuse

Main Image for Blog titled We're Here to Help with Pregnancy and Substance Abuse

Main Image for Blog titled We're Here to Help with Pregnancy and Substance Abuse

Pregnancy and substance abuse is not something anyone would encourage, as the risks are well known. However, pregnancy and substance abuse is undeniably on the rise. In 2003 in the United States, approximately 5,000 babies were born dependent on drugs and that number grew to 27,000 cases in 2013. This increase in the number of moms who are abusing substances demands attention. Of late, substance abuse treatment facilities feel they have seen increases in pregnant women seeking help for substance abuse because of efforts to encourage soon to be mothers to view treatment centers as safe, welcoming places where mom and her unborn baby can come to get the help they need without fear of judgement and consequence. If you or a loved one needs pregnancy substance abuse services, call Stepping Stones at 402-488-6511 or visit our website at https://www.steppingstoneslincoln.com/contact-us.

 In Lincoln, Nebraska, healthcare professionals know: Pregnant moms want and need help. Substance abuse is a medical condition which requires ongoing treatment. The babies affected by pregnancy and substance abuse have lasting, life-long effects. And the more help moms can get, the better the outcome will be for all involved. In fact, Nebraska is one of few states that does not consider it child abuse to abuse substances while pregnant. This is in hopes of encouraging addicted mothers to seek help. If you are a pregnant mother who needs help, seek it, and know that there are substance abuse treatment facilities that are confidential and free of judgment like Lincoln, Nebraska’s own Stepping Stones. Call Stepping Stones for an appointment at 402-488-6511, or visit our website: https://www.steppingstoneslincoln.com/welcome for more information. 

In the meantime, it is critical to consider the facts:

The Risks of  Stillbirth with Substance Abuse and Use during Pregnancy

  • Tobacco use—1.8 to 2.8 times greater risk of stillbirth, with the highest risk found among the heaviest smokers

  • Marijuana use—2.3 times greater risk of stillbirth

  • Evidence of any stimulant, marijuana, or prescription pain reliever use—2.2 times greater risk of stillbirth

  • Passive exposure to tobacco—2.1 times greater risk of stillbirth

Additional Risks

  • Birth defects

  • Low birth weight

  • Premature birth

  • Small head circumference

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

What to Avoid and Why

Frequent pregnancy substance abuse is always worse than one-time or limited exposure. However, it is always important to prevent fetal exposure to harmful substances by making sure to avoid substance abuse and risky, unplanned sexual encounters. If you think your child may have been exposed to a harmful substance or you plan to continue your use of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, here are the risks by substance:

  • Tobacco passes nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other harmful chemicals to your baby which limits oxygen and can cause stillbirth, early birth, or birth defects as well as death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Your baby would also be more likely to develop diseases such as asthma and obesity later in life. 

  • Drinking alcohol when you are pregnant, could cause lifelong Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders (FASD). Children with FASD can have a mix of physical, behavioral, and learning problems. There is no known amount of alcohol or period of development that is safe for alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

  • Marijuana is legal in some states, but like tobacco and alcohol, it is not good during pregnancy. During pregnancy, it crosses the placenta much like tobacco, but specific risks are inconclusive because women who admit to using marijuana also report use of tobacco and alcohol. 

  • Illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines may increase the risk of placental abruption, miscarriage, cause underweight babies, birth defects, or withdrawal symptoms after birth, as well as increased heart rate for mother and baby. Heroine has all the same risks and more, including: bleeding on the brain, low blood sugar, and difficulty breathing. Also, drugs used intravenously add the risk of the mother contracting HIV which is passed to the child. Methadone can be prescribed during pregnancy as a treatment. PCP and LSD are hallucinogens and cause mothers to behave violently, which can cause injury to the fetus. In addition, the baby will seem lethargic and may experience tremors as well as have poor muscle control and possible brain damage. 

  • Misusing prescription drugs, like opiods, can cause birth defects, withdrawal in the baby, or even loss of the baby. Make sure to carefully follow your health care provider's instructions. Never take more than prescribed or take anything not prescribed to you. And always make sure your healthcare provider knows you are pregnant.

What Does The Law Say?

The law in regards to pregnancy and substance abuse is not cut and dry from state to state and has been debated by policy makers since the 1980’s, however, according to the American Bar Association website, and an article published April 4th of 2019, titled: Illegal Drug Use While Pregnant is Not Child Abuse, reviewing a Pennsylvania case surrounding substance abuse and pregnancy reads: 

“In re L.J.B., 199 A.3d 868 (Pa. 2018). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a mother’s use of opioids while pregnant is not civil child abuse under the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL), which carries with it inclusion in a statewide database of child abuse perpetrators. Using statutory interpretation, the supreme court reasoned that the definition of “child,” under the CPSL does not include a fetus or unborn child, and a person is not a perpetrator of child abuse unless there is a “child” at the time of the act.”

This ruling was made largely to encourage mothers who were addicted to substances while pregnant to seek medical care for better outcomes. This was decided as necessary in the wake of our nation’s current opioid crisis and rise in babies born addicted to drugs. As of July 2019, according to guttmacher.org, you can see the breakdown by state to see how pregnancy and substance abuse is handled. Click on the link (https://bit.ly/2NOT6uD)  to see the specifics. 

How Can I Get Help?

You can get help from counseling, support groups, and treatment programs like Stepping Stones in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Numbers that can also help you locate a treatment center include:

  • National Drug Help Hotline 1-800-662-4357

  • National Alcohol and Drug Dependence Hopeline 1-800-622-2255

Are you pregnant, addicted to drugs or alcohol, and afraid of the consequences of seeking help? Stepping Stones encourages women who are pregnant to come in for a confidential, non-judgmental drug and alcohol assessment. We want to help you and your baby get proper care, so you can have a healthy, happy future. Call Stepping Stones for an appointment at 402-488-6511, or visit our website: https://www.steppingstoneslincoln.com/welcome for more information. If you are pregnant and abusing substances, get help. Your healthcare provider can recommend programs to help you quit. You and your baby's health depend on it.


Sources: 

https://medlineplus.gov/pregnancyandsubstanceabuse.html
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/substance-use-in-women/substance-use-while-pregnant-breastfeeding

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_interest/child_law/resources/child_law_practiceonline/january---december-2019/illegal-drug-use-while-pregnant-is-not-child-abuse/ 

https://www.drugrehab.com/guides/pregnancy/