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Women's Health
Quit street drugs

Overall, children exposed to street drugs don't do as well as children who weren't exposed. There are many reasons for this but using drugs (before, during and after pregnancy) is a definite factor. Research on pregnant women to test the effect of street drugs on babies is not ethical and is not done.

Marijuana

Marijuana (also called "pot" or "grass") contains almost 500 chemicals. The active ingredient is THC. THC crosses the placenta so pregnant women using marijuana also expose their developing baby to this drug. Marijuana is smoked or eaten in food for a "high."

What it may do to you:

  • Reduce your self control
  • Change your sense of who you are
  • Increase your appetite, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Put carbon monoxide (poisonous gas) in your blood
  • May lead to lung cancer with long term use

Used during pregnancy, marijuana may:

  • Cause the baby to be born too early and too small
  • Increase the risk for learning or behavior problems

If you want help quitting, call the Perinatal Substance Use Specialist at 1-800-688-4232.

Cocaine - Crack

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant.

What it may do to you:

  • Increase alertness, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Make you feel "high"
  • Reduce your appetite
  • Cause panic attacks, poor judgment, impulsiveness, paranoia
  • Cause stroke and death
  • Lead to a "crash" when the effect wears off

Used during pregnancy, cocaine or crack may:

  • Cause a miscarriage or early labor
  • Cause high blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Cause the baby to be born too small
  • Make the baby irritable, jittery and hard to comfort
  • Lead to learning and behavior problems for your child later in life

If you want help quitting, call the Perinatal Substance Use Specialist at 1-800-688-4232.

Amphetamines and Methamphetamines

These drugs act as powerful stimulants. They cross the placenta so pregnant women who use amphetamines and methamphetamines expose their developing baby to these drugs.

What they may do to you:

  • Make you feel alert, "high," and cause mood swings
  • Increase blood pressure, heart and breathing rates
  • Cause blurred vision, dizziness, sleeplessness, anxiety
  • Cause hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia with long-term use
  • Lead to violent behavior

Used during pregnancy, they may:

  • Cause placenta (afterbirth) to tear from the uterus
  • Cause internal bleeding and death
  • Cause the baby to be born too small for its age
  • Cause birth defects in the heart, brain, and palate (mouth)
  • Make the baby not respond well to its surroundings
  • Cause the baby to have poor coordination

If you want help quitting, call the Perinatal Substance Use Specialist at 1-800-688-4232.

Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive narcotic, usually injected, which gives feelings of well-being, euphoria, pain relief and sedation.

What it may do to you:

  • Cause sleepiness and "I-don't-care" feeling
  • Reduce physical activity
  • Reduce vision
  • Make you feel "high"
  • Lead to unpredictable menstrual cycles which can result in an unplanned pregnancy

Used during pregnancy, heroin may:

  • Cause the baby to be born too small or to die
  • Make the baby suffer from withdrawal symptoms
  • Causes baby to be restless, have tremors and a high pitched cry
  • Increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Increase the baby's chance of behavior and learning problems later in life

If you want help quitting, call the Perinatal Substance Use Specialist at 1-800-688-4232.

Inhalants

Inhalants are household chemicals, fuels, and cleaning products whose gases are breathed in to give a "high."

What they may do to you:

  • Give a sense of well-being
  • Reduce your self-control and coordination
  • Cause confusion, slurred speech, numbness
  • Decrease appetite
  • Lower heart and breathing rate
  • Damage your lungs, brain and liver
  • Cause drowsiness, loss of consciousness or death in large doses

Used during pregnancy, inhalants may:

  • Cause birth defects that affect the baby's central nervous system and face
  • Cause mental retardation

If you want help quitting, call the Perinatal Substance Use Specialist at 1-800-688-4232.

Barbiturates

Barbiturates are sedatives ("depressants") which slow down the body and may relieve anxiety and stress. When used with alcohol, barbiturates can cause death.

What they may do to you:

  • Make you calm and relaxed (small amounts only)
  • Slur your speech
  • Slow down your reflexes
  • Make you unsteady on your feet
  • Quickly make you addicted

Used during pregnancy, barbiturates may cause:

  • Delivery to be more difficult
  • Make the baby suffer from withdrawal symptoms
  • Make the baby have trouble breathing
  • Cause the baby to be born slow and tired
  • Make the baby unable to learn how to suck and affect their ability to eat
  • Cause birth defects

Don't quit barbiturates by yourself or stop all at once. Get help from a doctor or drug treatment center. If you want help quitting, call the Perinatal Substance Use Specialist at 1-800-688-4232.

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP make you unable to tell what's real and what isn't. You can easily hurt yourself or others when taking hallucinogens.

What they may do to you:

  • Change your sense of time, color, sound, touch, and movement
  • Cause illusions
  • Cause anxiety, depression or "flashbacks" for days or months later

Used during pregnancy, hallucinogens may:

  • Make the baby irritable and agitated
  • Cause the baby to cry a lot and be hard to comfort
  • Cause birth defects of the head, eyes and limbs

If you want help quitting, call the Perinatal Substance Use Specialist at 1-800-688-4232.

Other Links

North Carolina

Opens in new windowNarcotics Anonymous - the Carolina Region
or call 1-888-370-6262

Pregnancy Exposure Riskline - 1-800-532-6302

National

Opens in new windowSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - for treatment services

For more health information, search MedlinePlus

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

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Last updated: April 2013

 
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