Studies show that women are more susceptible to the effects of drugs and alcohol, and they tend to become addicted after a shorter period of use than men. Unfortunately, women are also considerably less likely to see treatment. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one important factor is that women who are pregnant or have just had a baby have special needs that not all rehab facilities can meet.

Though not always the case, women in substance abuse treatment tend to be single parents, have little or no support – financial or otherwise – from the birth father, are underemployed or unemployed, live in unhealthy or unstable environments, have no means of transportation, and lack childcare (often due to being unable to pay for daycare or babysitters).

Pregnant women also have certain medical needs that may require an OB/GYN. If a woman used drugs during pregnancy, the baby is at risk for myriad complications and even death. Research has shown that smoking tobacco or marijuana, taking prescription pain medications, or using illegal drugs during pregnancy can lead to double or even triple the risk of stillbirth. The mothers need periodic sonograms and blood work and have specific nutritional needs. They should also be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, because often these pregnancies weren’t planned.

If babies are born addicted to the mother’s substance of choice, there would have to be a doctor present who knew how to properly treat addicted children. Symptoms of drug withdrawal in a newborn can present themselves anywhere between immediately after birth to 14 days after, and include diarrhea, excessive or high-pitched crying, abnormal sucking reflex, fever, hyperactive reflexes, irritability, poor feeding, rapid breathing, seizures, sleep problems, stuffy nose and sneezing, sweating, trembling, and vomiting. Methadone is safe for women detoxing during pregnancy, but the baby could still experience withdrawal symptoms after it is born.

Being in a treatment facility during and after pregnancy can literally be a lifesaver for the mother and child. The staff will understand the needs of someone struggling with addiction and help without judgment. There will be other people there who have gone through the same thing, and group therapy or meetings provide an opportunity to get advice or simply unload some of the burdens. Relapse is all too common after a baby is born, because of the stress and sleepless nights. A good center will also have follow-up care and be able to provide some help transitioning back into normal life. This is particularly important for someone trying to prove that she’s a fit parent.

Ideally, all treatment centers should provide childcare, women-only group sessions, transportation services for outpatient programs (such as vouchers for buses and taxis), educational or vocational training, help dealing with finances, and care by a pediatrician after babies are born.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.



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