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The Sad Reality of Being Pregnant and Addicted

Your Addiction Doesn’t Care that You’re Pregnant

Imagine what it must be like to be pregnant and addicted to drugs or alcohol. No matter which way you look at it, being pregnant and addicted is a sad reality. This is because addiction doesn’t care. Addiction doesn’t care if you are pregnant. It doesn’t care if you have an innocent life growing inside you with no knowledge of what it means to be an addict. Addiction is not concerned with what you have to do to feed it. It only demands to be fed. Being pregnant and addicted is a nightmare for many expecting mothers. If you are pregnant and addicted, you are not alone. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You have the disease of addiction and it doesn’t care that you’re expecting an unborn child. What does matter is that you get help now. Maybe it will help to hear one woman’s story of being pregnant and addicted.

Meet Amanda, a Proud Mom of Two Boys

Hi, my name is Amanda J. and I am a recovering addict. I abused alcohol and prescription medications. My favorite pill was Oxy. On any given day, I was popping ten OxyContin and drinking two bottles of red wine. That was my thing. That’s what I liked to do – I liked to get pilled out and totally drunk. It’s no surprise that I am prone to addiction. My mom is an alcoholic and my dad was addicted to heroin for many years. I was 28-years-old when I found out I was pregnant – certainly old enough to know better. I was casually dating this guy and I wasn’t looking for anything serious. Neither was he. I found out I was pregnant because I threw up my guts one morning at work. My friend said, “Girl, you are pregnant.” I refused to believe it. Five home pregnancy kits later, I was convinced. And devastated. I had never thought about having kids, but there I was … with child. I called the guy I was seeing and his attitude was one of indifference. He said he wouldn’t help me until he saw a DNA test. Of course, that wouldn’t come for nine months. I was on my own. I didn’t believe in abortion, so I decided I was going to be a mom. I decided I needed to slow down on my drinking and drugging, but I convinced myself that if I moderated, it wouldn’t hurt the baby. Well, you know how addiction goes. Three months into the pregnancy, I was still popping pills and drinking way too much wine. I tried and tried to quit on my own, but I just couldn’t. I was totally ashamed of myself and I couldn’t tell a soul. My addiction had always been a secret. And, now I was pregnant. Finally, my best friend confronted me. Talk about tough love. She basically got in my face and called me a selfish good-for-nothing. She said I was the worst kind of woman – the kind who brings direct harm to her child. She was right. I was being selfish. I couldn’t stand the person I had become and I knew I was hurting my baby. I needed help and I needed it immediately. My friend helped me get into a detox program. I took a brief leave of absence from work and spent two weeks in an inpatient facility. Then I did outpatient and started attending 12-Step meetings. At first, it was so difficult. Not only was I detoxing off the pills and the booze, but my body was also changing and it didn’t care that I was trying to detox from drugs at the same time. Also, it was difficult facing other people in the early days of my recovery. Everyone judges the pregnant girl who couldn’t kick her drugs for the sake of her own child. Shame, shame, know your name! I had to ignore the people who judged me. I made the decision that I wasn’t going to shame myself. I felt good about the fact that I was doing the right thing – even if it took three pregnant months. I can say now that I broke my addiction for my son. I got help for me, but I did it for him. My son was born healthy and now I have a second child and I am married to a great guy. If you are pregnant and addicted, I want to encourage you to get help today. Don’t wait one more day. Don’t use the old excuse of “one more time.” Do something about your problem so you can feel good about yourself again.

Addiction and Pregnancy

Amanda’s story is not unique. Anyone who has struggled with an addiction knows the high cost of low living. Addiction slowly destroys the lives of everyone it comes into contact with. It will cause you to smoke the rent money. It will have you show up smashed to your kid’s ballet recital. Addiction will cost you your job, your home, and your family. Addiction will also insist that you abuse drugs and alcohol while you are pregnant. Remember, addiction doesn’t care about you. Addiction just wants more. Like Amanda, many pregnant women have an addiction to opiates and other drugs. Addiction and pregnancy is actually a lot more common than you might think. There are overwhelming statistics about pregnancy and addiction. Here’s proof:

  • Of pregnant women ages 15 to 44, an average of 5.4 percent reported themselves as current drug users in 2013
  • The same year, 9.4 percent of pregnant women ages 15 to 44 reported current alcohol use and 2.3 percent reported binge drinking
  • Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug during pregnancy
  • Approximately 4 percent of pregnant women between 18 and 44 reported regular marijuana use in 2013

If you are pregnant and addicted, you already know drugs and alcohol aren’t good for the baby. Nobody needs to tell you that. What may be helpful to know is that no matter how far along you are, getting help for your substance abuse problem immediately reduces the chances that any major harm will come to your unborn child. It is also important to point out that many states drug test newborn babies. If a newborn tests positive for drugs, the baby can be taken into the state’s custody and the mother can be forced to fight for rights. You don’t want this to happen to you.

Treating Addiction While You’re Pregnant

If you are pregnant and addicted, you please be concerned about the health of your unborn child. There is no shame in being addicted and pregnant. If there is any shame to be had, it is if you make the choice not to get help. Think you can’t afford rehab? You can’t afford not to go to rehab. Detoxing from drugs and alcohol while you are pregnant can be a complicated endeavor. Suddenly quitting any addictive substance cold turkey can actually be bad for your baby. The best way to stop the use of drugs and alcohol is with the help of a professional medical team that specializes in addiction and pregnancy. This happens at a detox program or an inpatient treatment facility. There is no known cure for addiction, but no matter how bad your addiction may have gotten, it can be arrested; and recovery is then possible. Have you ever been pregnant and addicted? Share your experience below.