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Dealing With Addiction during Pregnancy

Posted on :  September 2nd, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Both addiction and pregnancy are challenging on their own, but when combined, they present a unique set of problems that need to be addressed. The best way to deal with addiction during pregnancy is to undergo a comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment program.

Treatment of multiple issues

A comprehensive treatment approach deals with multiple issues. Obviously the mother’s addiction is a focus, but so is psychological support, as well as medical and prenatal care.

One of the first issues to tackle is substance abuse. This step involves weaning the woman off the addictive substance or giving her medication that acts as a substitute. In the case of opioids such as heroin or oxycodone, a client is often given methadone, which is steadily reduced during the withdrawal process. A health care professional will help determine the best course of treatment.

However, overall treatment goes beyond eliminating substance abuse. Psychological support through counselling is essential. Pregnant substance abusers suffer from a wide variety of mental and emotional issues. Pregnancy fears, anger, guilt and shame, are just a few common problems, not to mention the stigma of drug abuse among pregnant women.

Comprehensive treatment also takes into account medical and prenatal care. That means ensuring adequate nutrition, testing for HIV and other diseases, and monitoring fetal development.

According to a 2013 report issued by Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, multidisciplinary programs that address a variety of issues among pregnant substance abusers have many positive results. Noteworthy ones include a reduction in illegal drug use, greater retention in treatment programs, and improved infant mortality rates.

How addiction impacts pregnancy

Dealing with addiction early on in pregnancy can help reduce the effects of substance abuse and ensure a better start for both mother and child.

Addiction impacts pregnancy in a number of ways. It can cause miscarriage, premature birth, physical deformities, fetal developmental issues, as well as addicted infants at birth.

The toxic effects of drugs can affect the development of the placenta so that it does not adequately support the fetus, which can result in miscarriage, premature labour or other problems.

When a mother ingests drugs or alcohol, these harmful substances pass through the umbilical cord and placenta, eventually ending up in the baby’s bloodstream. Continued substance abuse does considerable damage to fetal development. Fetal alcohol syndrome, for example, causes facial deformities, damage to the baby’s central nervous system, as well as delayed physical and mental growth.

Sadly, a mother’s addiction can result in giving birth to an infant with the same addiction. This phenomenon is often referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), where the baby develops an addiction in-utero only to suffer through drug withdrawal at birth.

Why moms avoid seeking help

With all the benefits to be gained from addressing addiction, why do many expectant mothers avoid seeking help?

Pregnant substance abusers have the same reservations as any addict when it comes to seeking professional help. Excuses include denial, excessive financial cost, and lack of time to invest in therapy. Psychological issues such as shame and hopelessness are also involved in avoiding treatment.

In addition to these common reasons, pregnant women are also burdened with some unique troubles. Not only do they encounter the social stigma of addiction, being pregnant compounds it. Ignorant and judgmental people often view such women as uncaring monsters. This makes it all the more difficult for them deal with addiction by seeking appropriate care.

Many women are also worried about the consequences of admitting their substance abuse. Some fear that their child may be taken away from them or that they will be prosecuted, particularly if they live in certain areas of the United States, where health care providers are required to report drug use to authorities.

Understandably, dealing with addiction during pregnancy is not easy, but taking that first step can lead to a better life for both mother and child.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Towards Recovery Clinics Inc. (TRC) is an Ontario addiction treatment centre with the philosophy to help individuals take control of their addiction and help them rebuild their lives and careers.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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