International Drug Abuse Awareness Day

The 26th of June is International Drug Abuse Awareness Day, aimed at addressing the risks of drug abuse, removing the stimga people often face when admitting that they have a drugs problem, and at helping people to seek the best help.

As a parenting company, we’re committed to helping our followers to access the support that they may need, and this includes any parents who are in the grip of addiction. Sadly, there are still some in denial about the dangers, and who continue using even when carrying an unborn child, so this article will be aimed at both signposting addicted parents towards the right support, and highlighting the risks in black and white.

Sometimes it helps to see it in front of you to help trigger an epiphany that help is needed! It’s pretty serious stuff, but it’s such an important topic to open a discourse about.

What are the risks of drug abuse in pregnancy?

The risks of drug abuse in pregnancy are pretty significant, particularly for the growing baby in your uterus. All of your baby’s nourishment will be coming from your body, and if you’re abusing drugs, they will also be taken in by your baby, who has no say or control over it.

The risks attributed to alcohol, tobacco and cannabis include;

  • Higher risk of premature birth
  • Higher risk of low birthweight
  • Higher risk of breathing and feeding problems at birth

The risks linked to ‘Legal Highs’ such as MCAT include;

  • There has been limited research, but the side effects and risks are thought to be comparable to those involved with ecstasy and cocaine.

The risks connected to cocaine and methamphetamine;

  • Growth restriction
  • Higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth
  • High risk of early labour
  • High risk of placental abruption
  • These drugs cross the placenta, so your baby is very high risk for withdrawal symptoms when born. Our midwife mummies in our support community have told us that this is horrific to watch and deeply unpleasant for a newborn baby to experience.

The risks of taking Ecstacy/MDMA

  • This crosses the placenta. Studies have linked use in pregnancy with poorer mental and motor skill development.
  • Some evidence to suggest birth defects, but more research is needed.

What about Benzodiazepines?

  • These are often used short term as relief from anxiety which can be ok as long as they’re not taken long term.
  • They are addictive, if taken long term your baby is at risk of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Risk of breathing problems at birth.
  • Risk of temperature regulation problems at birth.

The risks of taking heroin and methadone when pregnant;

  • This crosses the placenta and is highly addictive. Baby is high risk of withdrawal symptoms, sometimes to a life threatening extent.
  • Risk of passing on diseases to your baby if dirty needles are used.

Where can I seek help for drug addiction/abuse?

With all these very scary potential risks in mind, there IS help out there if you’re struggling to overcome drug addiction. First of all, well done to you for making the hardest step, which is deciding to reach out! You CAN beat this. We know some mummies worry about potential social services intervention; their biggest aim will be to keep your family together and be as helpful as possible.

  • Speak to your GP or Midwife, who will be able to make the right referrals for treatment. You may need extra antenatal appointments to make sure baby is ok.
  • Contact FRANK for confidential, friendly advice.
  • Find more support here on the NHS website.

I took drugs before I knew I was pregnant – what do I do?

If you took a drug as a one off before finding out, it’s unlikely to cause any problems but it is still worth speaking to a medical professional.


We hope that this is useful information. Remember, you can do this – we have faith in you. Do it for your baby. Do it for you and your quality of life.

With lots of love, from Katie. Xx