Deja Gilbert, PhD, LMHC, LPC

Drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy

Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a serious, potentially lifethreatening condition during any stage of a woman’s life. The disorder becomes increasingly alarming and problematic, however, when the woman is pregnant.

Drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy – and the devastating effects it can have on women, babies and their families – is not a new problem.

As rates of opioid addiction have begun to skyrocket in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now estimating that between 2 and 5 percent of all school children may be affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and has propelled the problem to the forefront of discussion and research.

“We have a serious problem in this country with pregnant women who are addicted to drugs or alcohol,” said Kristi Dively, D.O., who with her training in obstetrics and gynecology, leads the Pregnant Women’s Program at Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers. “And the tragedy is compounded because it is extremely difficult for these women to get the help they need for themselves and their unborn children.”

Caring for pregnant women addicted to drugs or alcohol is difficult, as both the physical and social needs of patients tend to be complex. Many practitioners and treatment centers are simply not equipped to deal with the multi-faceted and difficult problems of this population.

The consequences of not getting help, however, are not only disastrous for families, but carry with them an extraordinary societal toll.

Overall hospital costs for treating neonatal abstinence syndrome and the baby’s resulting withdrawal following birth, increased from $732 million in 2009 to $1.5 billion in 2012, according to a 2015 article in the Journal of Perinatology. Additionally, the lifetime cost of treating an individual suffering from FASD, one of the leading causes of birth defects in the United States, is estimated at $2 million.

Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers, with locations in Pennsylvania and Florida, specializes in treating pregnant women who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Women with any substance abuse disorder who need detox and/or residential treatment are accepted up to 32 weeks of gestation, which is a critical time for fetal development. Those beyond 32 weeks are considered on an individual basis for the program.

As recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Retreat offers medically-assisted detoxification and therapy. Dively, a board-certified OB/GYN on staff physician makes sure patients are monitored throughout their stay and have the specialized obstetric care they need including ultrasounds and lab work.

Patients also participate in counseling and educational programs in a compassionate, spiritual setting. Founded in 2011, Retreat accepts patients from all locations who are 18 or older and offers a range of treatments and services tailored to the needs of each individual.

Retreat’s specialized treatment program for pregnant women was started in April 2016 to provide a holistic treatment approach to care for their unique physical, emotional and psychological needs.

“There is a clear need to help women who are pregnant and struggling with addiction. Increasing their likelihood to stay sober will have lasting effects on the baby and the physical and mental health of their family,” said Dively.

According to Dively, of the babies born to date from mothers who participated in the program, each of the moms were sober before delivering – and remain sober today.

Deja Gilbert, PhD, LMHC, LPC is the Chief Business Officer at
Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Center
For more information on the prenatal program,
please contact Retreat at 855.859.8810.