Cocaine Addiction and the Effects on Pregnancy

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is one of the most highly addictive and dangerous drugs in the world. With more than 2 million people in the United States admitting that they have tried cocaine at least once in their lives, it is alarming to think about how many of the first-time users become addicts.

Cocaine addiction occurs when an individual becomes psychologically and sometimes physically addicted to cocaine. The desire to use cocaine is so overpowering that the individual does not think about anything else. They ignore everything and everyone in their life and focus solely on using cocaine and how to get more of it. The longer an individual uses cocaine, the more dependent the individual becomes. Individual has to increase their dose of cocaine, and the frequency they use, in order to achieve the desired effect. This puts the individual at high risk of developing a cocaine addiction.

Women who use cocaine while pregnant put their unborn infants at very high risk for life-threatening complications. In 1992, around 45,000 women in the United States admitted to using cocaine during pregnancy.

During the first trimester, using cocaine while pregnant puts the expectant mother and the unborn infant at risk for miscarriage. When used later on in the pregnancy, cocaine use during pregnancy could cause pre-term labor, stroke, irreversible damage to the brain, and even death.

Other complications associated with cocaine use during pregnancy include:

  • There is an increased risk of delivering an infant with low birth weight.
  • Babies born to women addicted to cocaine are more likely to have infants with smaller than normal heads and smaller brains.

Cocaine is said to cut the production of nutrients and oxygen to the unborn child. When this occurs, the infant is unable to get what it needs in order to develop completely, which is why there is an elevated risk of the infant being birthed smaller than expected.

The use of cocaine during pregnancy has also been known to cause the placenta to pull away from the uterus shortly before the expectant mother goes into labor. This condition is called placental abruption. This condition can lead to extensive blood loss, and it could become life-threatening for both the infant and the mother.

When infants are exposed to cocaine before being born, they are likely to have difficulty with feeding and sleep disturbances. Some infants who were born to cocaine-addicted mothers have normal intelligence levels, which many experts find to be encouraging. However, many studies show that the cocaine used during pregnancy has subtle effects on the child later on in childhood, mainly behavior and some intelligence issues.

The March of Dimes encourages cocaine-addicted women to stop using cocaine before becoming pregnant. It is more encouraged to hold off on pregnancy until the woman has been clean for six months. Women who stop using cocaine early on in pregnancy actually reduce their risk of delivering a pre-term, low birth weight infant. If you, or someone you know, is addicted to cocaine and pregnant, you need to seek help right now.


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