Drug abuse has lasting effects, study after study has found. Not only does drug abuse affect the user, but also those close to the user, and in particular, the unborn babies of pregnant drug addicts.

Researchers at Brown University’s Center of the Study of Children at Risk recently published the findings of a study they did involving babies of meth users. The study, which was published in Pediatrics, was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Researchers found through this study that children born to meth users exhibit behavior differences that are “worrisome” compared to other children. Potential lasting effects on these children include anxiety, depression, and moodiness. This is the first study of its kind and more research will be necessary to make solid conclusions, especially to determine lasting effects.

Negative Effects of Using Meth

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that has a high potential for abuse. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked, and gives users a feeling of euphoria, as dopamine is rapidly released into the reward section of the brain. People who abuse meth quickly become addicted to the drug, and many addicts create meth labs in their own homes to manufacture the drug inexpensively. Meth causes adverse reactions such as reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning. Over time, it also causes anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and violent behavior. The problems associated with meth use can also affect the unborn babies of meth mothers, leading to long term conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression.

Effects of Drug Abuse on Children

Government data suggest more than 10 million Americans have used meth. (1) 1.2 million Americans age 12 or older said in 2009 that they had abused meth at least once in the previous year. (2) Fewer than 1 percent of pregnant women are users. However, more than half of the mothers who’d used meth during pregnancy also used it afterwards. These women also were more likely to use other drugs during and after pregnancy and to be single mothers. (1) This information suggests that not only do pregnant women on meth pass on the physical and mental effects of the drug to their unborn children, but that the lifestyle and health of these mothers pose a threat to their children. Children who are raised around drug abuse are more likely to suffer ill effects. They are often neglected or abused, they perform poorly in school, and they are more likely to use drugs themselves.

Not only is it important to help these mothers recover from their drug abuse so that they do not pass behavior problems on to their children, but we need to help them clean up their lives so that they can provide their children with a stable family life that encourages the development of mind and body.

Sources

(1) Study of ‘meth babies’ finds behavior problems

(2) Mom’s meth use during pregnancy causes kids’ behavioral problems

InfoFacts: Methamphetamine  

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