Prescription Drug Abuse During Pregnancy

Once a woman finds out she is pregnant, her life is going to change forever. A pregnancy forces many women to make serious changes to their lifestyle. Any woman who has an issue with prescription drug abuse during pregnancy needs to seek treatment immediately because a drug addiction compromises the health of both mother and child.

There are some major prescription drugs that are abused by pregnant women, and these drugs are opioids, stimulants and CNS depressants. Opioids are prescription drugs used to treat pain, and some of the well-known medications are oxycodone, Demerol, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine.

CNS depressants are usually prescribed for sleep disorders and anxiety. The two main categories are benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Some of the well-known CNS depressants are Librium, Ativan, Valium and Xanax. Stimulants are prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.

Some of the common names of these drugs are Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine. Statistics show that many pregnant women are abusing prescription medications, and it has become a serious problem.

The costs associated with treating this issue is extremely high. It’s estimated that nearly 13,500 babies are affected every year by this issue.

The exact condition that is caused by prescription drug abuse during pregnancy is called neonatal abstinence syndrome, and this condition can cause dehydration, irritability, tremors, difficulty feeding, breathing problems and seizures.

Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse During Pregnancy

Abusing prescription drugs always has the potential to cause emotional and physical harm. It can cause harm to the mother and her baby. The abuse of prescription drugs is so serious that it requires professional treatment.

When the person abusing the drugs is a pregnant woman, the associated risk is much higher. The drugs can cause serious damage to the unborn child. If a woman is expecting, it’s crucial to understand all of the different dangers of prescription drug abuse. When an individual consumes a prescription in a way that it wasn’t meant to be prescribed or doesn’t have a prescription for the drug, it’s considered to be prescription drug abuse.

It’s also considered abuse when a person takes a drug in a dosage that is higher than recommended. Statistics show that close to 5 percent of pregnant women abuse prescription drugs, which consists primarily of prescription medications. Some clinics have seen a 500 percent increase in the number of pregnant women found to be abusing prescription drugs while pregnant.

How Prescription Drugs Impact Mothers and Infants

When it comes to the health of babies and mothers, prescription drug abuse is just as bad as abusing illicit street drugs. For example, the health risks associated with prescription drug abuse are the same as those associated with heroin and cocaine.

When a pregnant woman is abusing prescription drugs, the drugs actually travel through the placenta and get fed directly into the baby, which can cause a long list of problems. An infant that is born to an addicted mother faces the risk of developing neonatal abstinence syndrome.

It doesn’t matter if the mother is abusing illicit or prescription drugs. An infant suffering from NAS will suffer withdrawal from any type of drug the mother is using. Studies show that opioid medications cause the worst withdrawal symptoms in infants.

This family of drugs includes Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycodone. When an opioid-addicted mother gives birth, her infant will suffer from withdrawal. When babies are born addicted to prescription drugs, they exhibit a high-pitched cry, and they have a greater sensitivity to sounds and lights. They also have a much lower threshold for agitation. Some other symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and rashes. These infants are also much more prone to seizures.

Newborns that are born addicted to prescription drugs can require additional time in the hospital. Some newborns will require weeks of additional time in the hospital while others might require months. The health risks of such a situation extend far beyond the initial withdrawal period.

Exposure in the Womb

An infant who is exposed to prescription drug abuse during pregnancy is prone to abnormal brain development, which can carry on through early childhood. Unfortunately, this exposure can set the stage for a wide range of problems, such as poor academic performance and learning difficulties.

It’s very common for children who have learning disabilities to be targeted by bullies. These children are also known to have self-esteem issues, which can damage every aspect of the child’s life.

Women who’re addicted to prescription drugs and don’t get treatment run the risk of causing severe harm to their child. Most mothers who have an addiction to prescription drugs are more likely to develop unhealthy parenting patterns. By themselves, these parenting patterns can cause significant harm to children. Mothers who have an addiction to prescription drugs should seek inpatient treatment. This form of treatment offers the highest chance for long-term sobriety.

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