Pregnancy and Drug Addiction

Substance abuse, while pregnant, is a serious health concern that is linked to several harmful consequences to the mother and the baby. Substances such as ranging from tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids all pose serious health complications and can tragically even result in death to the mother and/or baby. A statistic published in an article on NCBI says:

According to a national survey conducted in the United States in 2012, 5.9% of pregnant women use illicit drugs, 8.5% drink alcohol and 15.9% smoke cigarettes 3, resulting in over 380,000 offspring exposed to illicit substances, over 550,000 exposed to alcohol and over one million exposed to tobacco in utero.

Using drugs while pregnant can have severe consequences on the health of an unborn child. For some addicted women, it may be difficult to stay clean and sober throughout their pregnancy. Let’s explore the dangers of substance abuse during pregnancy.

Pregnancy and Drug Addiction

Dangers of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

Any substance you put into your body while pregnant crosses the placenta to your baby. It is important to know how some of these drugs will affect the development and health or your baby if you do not stop using it.


Marijuana contains toxins that keep your baby from getting the proper supply of oxygen that they need to grow. Smoking increases the level of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the blood, which limits the amount of oxygen. This can increase the chance of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature births, developmental delays, and behavioral and learning problems with the child.


Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to many Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD’s), including low birth weight, stunted growth, behavioral problems, underdeveloped head size, abnormal facial features, and impairment of the senses, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and even death to the baby.

Cocaine and Methamphetamines

Cocaine and Meth exposure during the early months of pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, heart defects, and birth defects. Later in pregnancy, it is linked to placental abruption, which can lead to severe bleeding, preterm birth, and even fetal death. Babies are also at risk of being born dependent on these drugs and suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, and feeding difficulties. Defects of the baby’s genitals, kidneys, and brains are also possible. It is even believed cocaine and methamphetamine use can lead to learning difficulties, as the child gets older.


Heroin and opioid use during pregnancy is possibly one of the most futile situations you can put your unborn baby in. Use during pregnancy increases the chance of premature birth, low birth weight, breathing difficulties, low blood sugar, bleeding in the brain, and even fetal and infant death. Babies can even be born addicted to heroin and suffer greatly from withdrawal symptoms including irritability, convulsions, diarrhea, fever, sleep abnormalities, and joint stiffness. Mothers who are IV users also increase the risk of passing HIV to the unborn child.

 Why is it Important to Get Help?

A developing baby is completely reliant on its mother for everything needed to develop fully and properly. Disruption of that development by any drug can pose short-term and long-term risks to both the child and the mother. Not only are you putting your own life at risk by putting these drugs into your body, but you are also putting your unborn child’s life at risk. A child that does not get any say as to what is entering its own body that causes unnecessary health risks that are completely avoidable.

From a legal viewpoint, some states, including Florida, consider prenatal substance abuse as part of their child welfare laws. This means prenatal drug exposure can be grounds for termination of parental rights because it is considered child neglect and abuse.

The best and safest option to getting off of and stay off drugs to benefit you and your baby is by the use of one of the many treatment programs we offer at Recreate Life Counseling. We offer partial care and outpatient treatment programs that provide therapeutic education and guidance for each individual in order to help them reintegrate into society in a safe way. With the help of our team of therapists, we offer one on one, group therapy, as well as many other specialized options to fit each person’s needs. We want to make sure you have the tools you need to avoid relapse in the real world.

Drug addiction isn’t an easy thing to face. Luckily you do not have to face it on your own. Our admissions counselors and professionals are available around the clock. We are ready to help you or a loved one overcome the disease of addiction for the sake of your unborn baby. Now is the time to change your life. Let us help you do it.