Drug addiction is a serious problem in the United States. If you’re smoking meth while pregnant, you’re not alone — and there is help.
Struggling with addiction is hard enough. But, when you find out that you’re pregnant during this time, you’re probably panicking. Will you go to jail for doing meth while pregnant? How can you protect your baby? Is there anyone who can help?
The first thing to do is take a deep breath. We know your situation seems impossible, but there are resources and support available to you. The best place to start your search is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP(4357).When you call this confidential hotline, you will be referred to local treatment centers and organizations that can help.
Meth use while pregnant can be very dangerous to both you and your baby. But, by coming to this article, you’ve already taken the first step to doing what is best for both of you.
Please note: While the information in this article may be helpful, it is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. Please reach out to a local medical professional for the support you need.
What Happens if You Do Meth While Pregnant?
Smoking methamphetamines has serious health risks. Meth is a powerful stimulant, and it affects your body in many ways. While the exact side effects you experience will vary based on your frequency of use, using meth has been linked with:
- Lower body mass index (BMI)
- Abnormally rapid heart rate
- And more
Pregnancy is complicated enough, but these side effects make it near impossible for you to have the healthy pregnancy you and your unborn baby need. And, when you’re pregnant, all of the health risks you experience are amplified and passed on to your baby.
According to a 2015 report, a baby is born with withdrawal symptoms every 25 minutes. They are affected by what’s known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). If you are using meth while pregnant, there’s a high chance your child will be born addicted to methamphetamines. They will go through withdrawal symptoms like:
- Excessive crying
- Seizures and tremors
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- And possible death
Some of the more serious effects of meth while pregnant include premature birth, stillbirth or miscarriage.
The good news? The side effects of meth while pregnant can be minimized by getting help. The less frequently you use methamphetamines while pregnant and the earlier you seek support, the less likely your child will experience long-term effects of this substance abuse during pregnancy.
Coming Off Meth While Pregnant: 3 Things to Know
If you are ready to quit meth during your pregnancy, we applaud your decision. Taking the first step toward sobriety is always the hardest but especially so when you are worried about the judgement from doing meth while pregnant.
That said, stopping meth use while pregnant is not as simple as throwing away your drug paraphernalia. Drug withdrawal comes with serious side effects, and they must be managed properly to ensure your safety and the safety of your unborn child.
Before you start coming off meth while pregnant, know these three important facts:
1. You Should Not Quit “Cold Turkey”
When you use methamphetamines, your body adjusts to the substance — and, as you know, becomes addicted. While stopping meth “cold turkey” may seem like a smart move, it’s actually incredibly dangerous.
Quitting drugs abruptly can send your body into withdrawal. These symptoms — fatigue, depression, psychosis, and more — can last for weeks. They can also impact the health of your pregnancy and the baby you are carrying.
Coming off meth while pregnant is a delicate process. It must be completed under the supervision of a medical professional. Do not attempt to suddenly stop methamphetamine use, especially while you are pregnant.
2. You Will Need Professional Help
But, how exactly do you go about coming off meth while pregnant?
The detox process is different for every woman. You’ll need a medical professional to evaluate your personal health and your usage history. They will help you detox slowly and safely, often with the assistance of medication. You can never know how you will respond to the detox process, so having a professional by your side will ensure you’re prepared for anything.
Sometimes, if you are too far in your pregnancy, a medical professional will advise against detoxing. The risks may simply be too great for the child you’re carrying. Instead, this professional will help you prepare for a safe childbirth experience and help you set up the resources you need postpartum to get clean.
At first, finding a treatment center can be difficult. Fortunately, there are many online resources that can help — for example, SAMHSA’s online directory. You might also talk to your obstetrician or another local medical professional for references to local treatment centers and organizations.
If you are worried about insurance coverage and costs, call the SAMHSA’s National Hotline for references to state-funded treatment programs.
3. You Should Consider Your Baby’s Future
If you are using or smoking meth while pregnant, it’s highly likely that your child will be born with methamphetamines in their system or experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Many medical professionals are legally obligated to report these situations, and your child may be taken into the custody of the state, for their own well-being.
We know this can be tough to hear. Addiction rates in the U.S. are rising, and more children than ever are placed into foster care because of a parent’s substance abuse issue. It can be a long journey toward sobriety and reunification, and your child will experience some degree of trauma along the way, regardless of how wonderful their foster parents are.
Fortunately, you can take the steps to avoid this in your child’s future. You have two other options if you are doing meth while pregnant prior to your child’s birth:
- A temporary guardianship: If you need extra time to sober up and prepare to be a parent, you might place your child in the custody of a loved one directly after birth. A legal guardianship gives your loved one the right to provide care for your child and, when you’re ready, you can retake custody and be the parent your child deserves.
- An adoption plan: If you are worried about your long-term sobriety, or if your child will be born with special needs from drug exposure that you aren’t prepared for, you might choose adoption. This is a permanent decision to terminate your parental rights and place your child with another family. However, it also gives you the chance to stay in contact through open adoption in the months and years to come. Reach out to an agency like American Adoptions to learn more.
Being a pregnant woman on meth is a situation you never imagined yourself being in. But, now that you’re here, it’s important you take the steps that are best for yourself and the child you are carrying. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to a local professional for help. The resources are there, and we believe in you.