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Recreational Drugs and Pregnancy

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What Are Recreational Drugs?

Recreational drugs (also called street drugs or illicit drugs) include substances like cocaine, meth, heroin, and marijuana.

People who use drugs over a long period of time can develop anemia, hepatitis, and different types of infections. They can become addicted to the drugs and feel very sick when they try to stop taking them (go through withdrawal).

Why Are Recreational Drugs Dangerous During Pregnancy?

Drug use problems are even more serious during pregnancy because they can affect the baby too. Using recreational drugs during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. It also puts the mother at risk for:

  • migraines
  • heart problems
  • seizures
  • high blood pressure

In the baby, it can lead to a higher risk of:

Many drugs pass from the mother’s bloodstream through the placenta to the fetus. Over time, the fetus can become addicted to the drugs too. Babies who are born addicted will go through symptoms of withdrawal after delivery when their bodies no longer get the drugs through the placenta. This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

What Else Should I Know?

If you’ve used any drugs at any time during your pregnancy, it’s important to tell your doctor. Even if you’ve quit, your unborn baby could still be at risk for health problems.

If you’re still using drugs, it can be very hard to stop without professional help. Sometimes it can even be dangerous. Talk to your doctor for help on how to quit. Health clinics such as Planned Parenthood also can recommend health care providers, at little or no cost, who can help you quit and have a healthier pregnancy.

For more information on treatment options, visit:

Date reviewed: January 2023