Drug abuse is a scourge that is now a fact of life and has to be confronted as such. While it has, mercifully, remained a "minority sport", some communities in the UK and elsewhere have been quite significantly hit.
Pregnancy adds an important dimension to the whole issue of drug abuse. There are various groups of drugs that have different effects on pregnancy, some more serious than others. It is important to stress that no abused drug is considered safe in pregnancy. The management of a situation where a woman conceives while dependent on a substance will depend on the type of substance and the degree of addiction.
For some drugs, such as cocaine, which has several different effects on the central nervous system the only logical management option is withdrawal. Let's not kid ourselves; this may not be easy. In fact, it could be extremely difficult, needing the admission of the mother into a specialist detoxification unit. For Methamphetamine, more popularly known as Amphetamines or ‘Mets’, it is widely acknowledged that the most effective treatments for addiction are behavioural therapies such as cognitive behavioural and contingency management interventions. A typical therapeutic program may combine behavioural therapy, family education, individual counselling, a support strategy, drug testing, and encouragement for non drug-related activities.
For other drugs, such as heroin, various substitution-based options may be available, as detailed in this section.
Various other substances have also been dealt with here.
Substance abuse goes much further than the narrow perspective of what is likely to happen to the fetus in the womb. The wider issues are discussed here.