You know that using methamphetamine (meth) or any illegal drug during pregnancy can be dangerous. But why, exactly?
Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant. That means that it stimulates systems and processes in the body. In the short term, using it can cause:
• Irregular heart rate (including the heart beating more or less than usual)
• Higher blood pressure
• Elevated body temperature
• Increased energy
• Feelings of euphoria
In the long term, abusing methamphetamine can cause dental problems such as “meth mouth,” heart problems, and even paranoia and other mental conditions.
Since pregnant women pass what they ingest onto their unborn children, people who use meth can pass meth and the symptoms of meth use to their children. Using meth before babies are born can cause:
• Shorter pregnancies
• Lower birth weights
The average pregnancy lasts around forty weeks. Babies born significantly born that period can experience severe health problems.
Simply put, if babies are born before their due date, their bodies and brains may not be done developing. This could cause different physical and mental problems in the short term and in the long term.
Also, babies exposed to methamphetamine (meth) in the womb might become accustomed to the drug. If they don’t receive this expected meth, they might go through withdrawal, just as adults who stop using meth might experience withdrawal.
They might feel physical pain, nausea, or struggle with other painful or uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms are known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
It’s better, then, for mothers and their unborn children to find assistance as soon as possible. But, quitting all drugs immediately – a process known as cold turkey – might be dangerous.
Some practitioners place prospective mothers on methadone, a drug that produces physical and mental effects similar to methamphetamine but could be less harmful to both mothers and their children. People can abuse methadone, though, so people should be careful when considering medications such as methadone.
As always, drug abuse and addiction affect more than the person using them. And as always, there is help to treat addiction.