Abusing alcohol is dangerous for anyone. Consuming alcohol at a higher rate than your body can metabolize it often leads to serious health complications. This is especially true for women drinking during pregnancy who should not only be concerned for themselves, but who can cause serious harm to their unborn child.
Women in general are at a greater health risk when drinking than men. In fact, 5.3 million women in the United States currently drink in a way that threatens their health, safety, and general well-being. More populated areas like some in California have corroborating statistics to this fact. Alcoholism is dangerous for anyone, but drinking during pregnancy has a much higher risk.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Drinking During Pregnancy
It may come as a shock that as much as a single glass of wine can affect the fetus. Since any alcohol consumed passes directly through the placenta to the fetus, when the mother drinks, the baby drinks. The baby in utero is in a constant state of development, so any amount of alcohol can and does cause harm.
Now imagine how harmful and out of control alcohol abuse can be on both the mother and baby. Oxygen will likely be cut off to both the mother and unborn child, along with a number of other consequences. There are currently 40,000 birth defects associated with alcoholism, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which causes multiple different issues in development and survival.
The list can go on and on. Simply put, it is never safe to be drinking during pregnancy, and especially not in an abusive way.
Preparing for Pregnancy: How to Know if Your Drinking is Out of Control
For someone pregnant, drinking is not okay. As mentioned previously, if someone is drinking during pregnancy, alcohol passes straight through the placenta to the fetus. When taking this into account, it’s obvious that alcohol is not good to consume while pregnant. However, knowing something and being able to put that knowledge into action are two completely different things.
If, however, you or your partner are planning on getting pregnant, it may be wise to get ahead of the curb when it comes to being aware of your addiction and getting help. Some warning signs for alcohol addiction may include the following:
- Missed work days due to hangovers
- Worsening mental health issues
- Constantly thinking about your next drink
- Experiencing headaches while not drinking
- Experiencing nausea while not drinking
- Your decisions are made with alcohol at the center
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction happens when someone has an irrefutable longing to drink alcohol, so much so that it controls their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Alcohol addiction is so powerful that all someone is thinking about when they’re drinking is when they’ll get their next drink. Not only are they thinking this while they’re drinking, but they may also be thinking about their next drink at random points in the day.
It’s best to understand alcohol addiction completely so that you can look out for it. This is good to do before you’re pregnant and in the early stages so that you can get the best help to combat it. That being said, what happens when someone drinks alcohol, and how does it contribute to alcohol addiction?
When someone consumes alcohol, chemicals are sent to the pleasure center of the brain, as is the way with any other substance of abuse. When this happens, a person’s judgment, decision making, and desires begin to be manipulated. These desires are difficult to satisfy as time goes on, making it more difficult to become inebriated. As tolerance grows, so does the priority of consuming alcohol.
The Familial Impact of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction is destructive in any capacity, but even more so in a familial capacity. When someone is addicted to alcohol, it is not uncommon for them to put their addiction needs in front of the family. This applies to those who become pregnant and don’t stop drinking. Another word for it is neglect.
Am I Addicted to Alcohol?
For many, it may be difficult to discern whether they’re suffering from alcohol addiction, partly due to the denial they might be experiencing. The best place to start when figuring out whether or not you are suffering from alcohol addiction is to be objective; look for the signs and symptoms of addiction while evaluating your own life.
If you don’t know exactly what to look out for, it may be difficult to look for objective signs. For example, you may just really enjoy alcohol, have a high tolerance, and not suffer from addiction. Even still, it’s good to recognize the symptoms of addiction for the sake of yourself and your loved ones.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Suffering from alcohol addiction is not to be taken likely. This has the power to destroy the lives of many, including loved ones. When this is happening to someone, they may show the following symptoms:
- Lack of interest in most activities
- Lack of self-control when drinking alcohol
- Consistently drunk
- Perpetual lying
- Mood swings
One reason someone may steer clear of recognizing their signs and symptoms is that they’re scared of what the addiction is. Calling it what it is means accepting that there’s something wrong, and for many, this is a frightening reality to face. Sometimes fear can have a paralyzing effect on someone. Other times, fear takes over someone completely and is manifested through anger and denial.
Those who are trying to find help for their loved one must approach the process with love, understanding, and grace. Being loving and seeking to understand could mean the difference between someone reluctant to go to treatment and someone willing to go to treatment.
Risk Factors for Alcohol Addiction
Sometimes alcohol addiction could be the result of a particular circumstance or mental health disorder. Some of these external factors include the following:
- PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Peer pressure
- Marriage troubles
Alcohol addiction, as well as any other substance use disorder, doesn’t just show up randomly. Most of the time people don’t just wake up saying, “I wanna drink” when they haven’t had a drop in their lives. Other factors go into that decision. For those who are seeking to help their loved ones, it’s important to look for the cause rather than to get frustrated with the symptoms.
When someone is able to evaluate the cause of someone’s addiction, it makes for a much more successful recovery. Treating symptoms is easy and may feel right in the moment, but if addiction is not met with extensive care, the foundation that is built will be so fragile that anything built on top of it will crumble.
Is Pregnancy Enough to Make an Alcoholic Stop?
Time and time again, pregnant mothers wish to stop drinking but find that they can’t on their own. This is due to the powerful nature of alcoholism. Alcohol use disorder is characterized by an obsessive desire to drink combined with a physical craving for alcohol. Alcoholics who are in the throes of their alcohol abuse will often lie to themselves and rationalize their drinking. They’re actually considered insane when it comes to alcohol. They can’t think rationally or with purpose. Their addiction has complete control over their mind and body.
As heartbreaking as it is to watch, pregnancy is often not enough of a reason to get an alcoholic to quit drinking. For an alcoholic to really stop abusing, they must do it for themselves, or their sobriety will be precarious.
Alcohol Abuse Treatment in Palm Springs, California
California has some of the best resources and treatment centers around. In fact, the entire West Coast has seen an incredible surge in drug-related and alcohol-related deaths in the past decade, so the answer was to invest in licensed treatment centers that could really help get to the root of the problem.
More than anything else, we want to be there for you and your loved ones. Alcohol addiction is not easy to walk through, and it could have a detrimental impact on the future of your family. This is why we follow a method of individualized care. Many women have come to us for help, only to find a very safe and nurturing environment to recover while getting treatment that is safe for both mother and baby.
If you or someone you know are pregnant and can’t stop obsessing about alcohol, know that you’re not alone. At Phoenix Rising, our goal is to treat everyone on an individual basis to find the best treatment for them. Please contact us today if you would like answers for how to quit drinking during pregnancy. Our compassionate team of counselors is available 24/7 to take your call.