For most people, motherhood is a time to celebrate, and expecting a child is a joyous occasion. But for someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, news that you are expecting creates a whole wealth of problems and worries. What if the baby has birth defects? What if the baby is born addicted? What if the baby is taken away? Because of the stigma associated with pregnancy and drug use, women are often reluctant to seek help and fear that it will only complicate the problem.
Getting Tested to Verify
If you think you may be pregnant, your first step is a pregnancy test. We recommend getting this done medically at a doctor’s office. If you don’t have access to a doctor or just wish to take an at-home test, make sure to explicitly follow the instructions. If you suspect you are pregnant and get a negative result, wait another week and then try to test yourself again.
Many women would prefer to go to a doctor’s office, but they are afraid of being tested for drugs and getting reported to Child Protective Services (CPS). They’re afraid that their baby will be taken away once it’s born. If you go into a doctor’s office and you request a pregnancy test, that should be the only thing done. They should not do drug testing unless you’ve committed a crime and police have requested one or unless you go into the emergency room unconscious and it’s done as part of treatment, such as if you overdose. If it’s a voluntary visit, you’re in charge of the kinds of tests you take.
If you are worried about the repercussions in a doctor’s office, consider a service like Planned Parenthood. Not only will they guarantee your confidentiality, but services are provided on a sliding scale. Planned Parenthood informs people on their website that they use virtually the same pregnancy test that you can buy in stores, but you do get a trained professional to interpret the results.
Fear of Prenatal Treatment
Just as women are often afraid of going to a doctor’s office for pregnancy testing, they are afraid to seek prenatal care and sometimes with good reason. Each state has different regulations for doctors, but drug screening is not mandated for prenatal care in any state, according to a report by the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW.) That doesn’t mean there haven’t been news reports of doctors who choose to do drug screening and report results to agencies like CPS.
The reality is that you shouldn’t have to go through a pregnancy worrying about these kinds of issues if you get treatment as soon as possible. First of all, it’s the best thing for your baby and the longer you wait, the greater the chance of something going wrong. But second of all, if you get treatment and get clean as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, you won’t have to worry about being drug tested with prenatal care. That’s easier said than done, naturally, but with the baby on the way, this is truly a crisis that needs to be dealt with immediately. You want the best for yourself and you certainly want the best for your child.
Withdrawal from alcohol abuse should always be medically supervised for anyone, but especially for a pregnant person. Any kind of detoxification should be supervised by a doctor to protect you and your baby, but alcohol withdrawal has greater risks. This can be done by inpatient rehabilitation centers with doctor supervision. They can also let you know if you can take medications after detox to maintain your sobriety and any potential harm to your baby. Always consult a doctor before making decisions that affect your medical care. If you seek care from an inpatient rehabilitation unit, the doctors will have more knowledge about addiction treatment in conjunction with prenatal care than conventional doctors often have.
What Happens if I Don’t Get Care?
There are several consequences to not going through detoxification when you first find out you’re pregnant. The possibilities include:
- Premature birth
- Postnatal withdrawal syndrome
- Birth defects
- Low birth weight
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Heart defects
- Fetal alcohol syndrome
- Being born with a hepatitis C or HIV infection
- Infant withdrawal
If you think substance abuse withdrawal is difficult, try doing it as an infant. You are struggling with substance use disorder and you certainly don’t want the same fate for your baby from the moment it is born. Alcohol abuse, in particular, is the leading cause of developmental delays and learning disabilities as well as birth defects. The sooner you stop, the less likely you’ll experience its effects.
Women who are pregnant and still using face a crisis like no other. They may be afraid to seek the treatment they need and may feel stigmatized by society for both the pregnancy and their drug use. It is imperative to seek help and detoxification as soon as possible after you find out you’re pregnant–or even if you suspect it. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need the motivation of pregnancy to get help, but this may be a double blessing in your life by having a baby and finally getting the motivation you need to get clean. It is an opportunity to finally get your life back on track and give your baby the best start to life possible. At Everlast Recovery Center we can give you the help you need. Our Riverside, CA center offers inpatient detoxification supervised by medical professionals and there is no judgment or stigma here. Our home-like center offers you the compassionate care you need. Do yourself and your baby a favor and call us today at 866-DETOX-25