A pregnant woman holds her belly as another woman uses drugs

Drug and alcohol addiction negatively affects countless lives each and every year. Addiction does not discriminate or show mercy to anyone, and unfortunately, this includes countless pregnant women.

Some estimates even suggest that approximately 5% of pregnant women use one or more addictive substances during their pregnancies. (1)

Here we take a look at some of the most harmful drugs to pregnancies.


The complications to pregnancy caused by alcohol consumption are well understood. A person snorting a drug while pregnant

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy leads to a group of defects in infants that have been given the blanket term alcohol fetal syndrome.

These include behavioral and mood issues, changes to the face, heart defects, poor growth and muscle tone, and learning problems. (2)


Cocaine use during pregnancy has also been demonstrated to cause detrimental effects to both the fetus and the mother. Maternal migraines, seizures, and premature birth have been associated with cocaine use during pregnancy.

Babies born to cocaine-addicted mothers also often have low birth weights due to premature delivery. Cocaine use during pregnancy has also been correlated with behavioral problems and cognitive performance deficiencies. (3)


Heroin readily passes through the placenta during pregnancy to the fetus. This can result in a condition referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

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The symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome include crying, fever, seizures, irritability, diarrhea, vomiting, and may result in death. The infant is typically born addicted to opioids, and thus morphine or other opioid tapers are often used for treatment. (4)


Methamphetamine use has also been shown to cause numerous complications during pregnancy. Methamphetamine affects the development of the fetus’ brain, spinal cord, heart, kidneys, and may result in skeletal abnormalities.

High blood pressure caused by methamphetamine use may also cause the fetus to experience stroke or brain hemorrhaging.

The long-term affects of methamphetamine use during pregnancy include learning disabilities, mood issues, and attention deficit disorders. (5)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23314721
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007454.htm
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-effects-maternal-cocaine-use
  4. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/how-does-heroin-abuse-affect-pregnant-women
  5. https://www.ndhealth.gov/familyhealth/publications/MethamphetamineUseDuringPregnancy.pdf