How Society Pays
The Neurochemistry of Addiction
Addiction: A Genetic Disease
Female Issues

Alcohol and Drugs

General Trends

Medical Aspects


Psychological Differences

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Treatment for Addiction
Relapse: Sex, Love, and Relationships
Addiction and the Family

Pregnancy and Alcohol/Chemical Dependency

  • Alcohol causes more fetal damage than any other drug. Alcohol is a teratogen (directly causes birth defects, fetal death, neonatal death, SIDS). There is no safe level of drinking at any time during pregnancy.
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the leading causes of preventable mental retardation — 3 per 1000 births. Symptoms: growth deficiencies before and after birth, central nervous system abnormalities such as learning disabilities and lower IQ, mental retardation, and physical deformities of the face and head. Occurs most often with drinking during the first trimester.
  • Fetal alcohol exposure during the second and third trimester is the leading cause of birth defects and developmental disorders.
  • Alcohol Related Neurological Disorder children have learning & behavioral problems, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Drinking while breastfeeding affects continued brain development, slows psychomotor development.
  • Stimulants (nicotine, cocaine, amphetamines,) hallucinogens (marijuana) can cause pregnancy/birth complications, pre-term labor and low birth weight. Nicotine dependence is associated with ADHD conduct disorder and addiction in offspring.
  • Opiate dependent babies born to mothers on methadone maintenance can be withdrawn at birth with few consequences; whereas, abrupt cessation of opiate use can increase miscarriage and pregnancy complications.
  • Untreated addiction in the mother, even if the infant is not physically harmed, interferes with maternal infant bonding and adequate parenting.
  • Maternal grieving about how alcoholism or addiction affected pregnancy and mothering is a significant issue to be addressed in recovery.

Excerpted from Sheila Blume, MD "Women: Clinical Aspects," Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, Third Edition, 1997, Editors: Joyce Lowinson, Pedro Ruiz, Robert Millman, John Langrod and summarized by Eileen Beyer, Psy. D., CAC Diplomate.

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