Drug Use During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant it’s important to remember everything you take into your body, your baby takes in too. Illegal drugs (heroin, cocaine, marijuana) or legal drugs (nicotine, alcohol, inhalants) are going to be described as harmful chemicals. Helpful things like nutrients from food as well as harmful chemicals are passed through the placenta to your baby.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) include a wide range of birth defects caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. FASD symptoms range from mild learning disabilities and/or physical abnormalities to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause severe learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, abnormal facial features, and disorders of the central nervous system.

There is no “safe” amount of alcohol for pregnant women.

Alcohol use can make your methadone less effective and put you and your baby at risk for having withdrawal symptoms.


Nicotine, found in tobacco products including chew, snuff, or cigarettes, can cause problems for your baby.

When you smoke it reduces the blood flow to the fetus by up to 38%.

This means your baby is not getting all the nutrients and oxygen it needs and may cause your baby to not grow as quickly or as big as it should. Nicotine can also affect the development of your baby’s brain. Babies can experience withdrawal symptoms from nicotine. This could cause your baby to score higher on the Neonatal Abstinence Scoring System. Make sure you talk to your counselor, medical staff, and supportive people in your life about any drug use during your pregnancy.

Your Responsibility

As part of your treatment you provide a urine sample that will be tested for drugs, but it is up to you to tell your counselor if you’ve used any drugs or medications, even if your drug test is negative.

Make sure you talk to your doctor about any prescription or over the counter medication you are taking. They can talk to you about the safety of taking that medication while pregnant. Taking illegal drugs puts you and your baby at risk because you don’t know the purity of the drug or what it’s been cut with.

When babies have been exposed to harmful chemicals there are consequences for the developing fetus as well as long-term effects as the child grows up. In general, harmful chemicals may interfere with a baby’s healthy development.

A baby exposed to harmful chemicals could experience any or all of the following:

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Small head circumference
  • Reduced birth length
  • Increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)



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