Drug and alcohol abuse is a common problem in the UK and, unfortunately, many children are affected by the drug taking or drinking of their parents. In many instances, children are taken away from parents who are deemed unfit or unable to take care of them. These children are often placed in foster homes or, if they are lucky, taken in by another member of the family.
However, some children are affected before they are even born. Pregnant drug addicts or alcoholics who continue to abuse drugs or drink alcohol while they are pregnant put their unborn babies at risk of birth defects or developmental problems after they are born. In some instances, the pregnancy will end in miscarriage or stillbirth.
The Channel 5 documentary Benefits by the Sea showed a couple struggling with the effects of addiction on their family. Sarah and JP, who both struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, have two children being taken care of by Sarah’s parents, and now Sarah is pregnant again.
The pair moved to Jaywick to try to start a new life and get clean from drugs. Sarah had already taken heroin before she realised she was pregnant and is now worried that her addiction will result in her new baby being taken into care.
Sarah has been struggling with heroin addiction for fifteen years and is now trying to come off the drug by using methadone. JP has a drug and alcohol addiction and is hoping that by completing an intense detox, social may consider allowing their two older children to return to them. Sarah said, “The dream scenario is JP will go for his detox, stop drinking, I will reduce my methadone before the baby is born, and it will allow us to keep the baby together in a nice family home.”
Sarah was studying at the Royal College of Music when she was introduced to partying and drugs. She admits she went off the rails and became more interested in going out than studying. As she became addicted to drugs, she sold her possessions, including her performance flutes. She says, “I had everything going for me, it was a big shame, big regret.”
Drug addiction and living on benefits has taken its toll on the young family. Sarah and JP struggle with money and, as a result, can only make the trip to see their daughters around once every two weeks.
Sarah is not the first pregnant woman to have abused drugs. Many unborn babies are born addicted to drugs because their mother has abused the substance while pregnant. Babies who are subjected to drugs while in the womb can suffer from physical and mental health problems in later life. Unfortunately, many babies are born with addictions to drugs, and they will experience withdrawal symptoms after they are born. The type of symptoms the baby will suffer will depend on the drug that the mother has taken, but they could include fever, diarrhoea, excessive crying, irritability, rapid breathing, poor feeding, hyperactive reflexes, seizures, tremors, vomiting, sweating, and problems sleeping.
Addicted women who discover they are pregnant should seek help for their problem as soon as possible. There are many organisations throughout the UK from which help is available for those with addictions of all types. Rehab Helper is a free service working hard to put addicts in touch with treatment providers across the country.
Call today to speak to one of our dedicated advisors, who will then provide advice and support on how and where to get help.