Clean Start – Preventing Substance Abuse During Pregnancy
Substance Abuse in Pregnancy is a REAL Problem…
- Births by women in Sarasota who are misusing or abusing legal and illegal drugs who are receiving Healthy Start services accounted for 9% of all births in 2008-2009. There has been a consistent increase in substance abuse during pregnancy in recent years.
- According to the Florida Department of Health, the reported smoking prevalence in pregnancy represents over 12% of all births in Sarasota County in 2008.
- Substance misuse or abuse whether tobacco, alcohol, legal medications, or illegal drugs contributes to obstetric and pediatric complications, including fetal-alcohol spectrum disorders, prematurity, low birth weight, placenta implantation abnormalities and withdrawal for the infant.
- Outward signs of substance abuse may be subtle. Pregnant women may not present with the same stereotypical symptoms seen in an older or late-stage abuse population.
Your Intervention Can Help…
- Treatment for substance abuse during pregnancy is significantly more effective than at other times in a woman’s life.
- Attention to substance abuse problems during pregnancy is one area in which patient health can be improved and costs can be reduced.
- Quick, brief questionnaires have been demonstrated to be effective in prenatal care for assessing alcohol and drug use.
- Asking every patient questions in a health context lessens the stigma associated with the topic, and expresses concern for the health of the mother and baby.
- Many pregnant women will reduce their use of drugs and/or alcohol following supportive advice from a health care professional, even if they never disclose that use.
Helpful Tips for Screening for Substance Abuse During Pregnancy
- Incorporate a screening tool for misuse or abuse of alcohol, legal medication, illegal drugs, and smoking into every prenatal intake and history form
- Find an approach that is comfortable for you
- Be nonjudgmental and supportive when asking about use
- Become familiar with the risks of substance abuse and the benefits of stopping during pregnancy.
- Stress benefits of abstinence and offer to help the patient achieve it
- Know where to refer a patient for further assessment