posted on Sep, 22 2006 @ 04:33 PM
I worked for 15 years as a therapist to people trying to recover from drug/alcohol addiction. For the last 8 years of that, I worked in a Perinatal
Program. This was a federally mandated program that every county in America was supposed to have. It was a special outpatient program set up for women
only who had had a child or was pregnant. Most of them were under the age of 35. It was an excellent program that got results until the administration
I worked for pretty much dismantled it.
I learned alot about pregnant women who drink and/or use drugs. First of all, a mother who is drinking while knowing she is pregnant, has problems
right there. Most of these moms came from homes wehre they were beaten, raped by male relatives, etc. THey never knew anything related to being
"normal". One client, when she was 4 y.o. was passed around BY HER FATHER to his friends for sexual abuse. How could anyone turn out normal under
those circumstances. Add to that, alot of these women currently lived with an abusive partner. How are they to escape when they have no money, no car,
and no job? We did manage to keep the pregnant women fairly clean and sober, though, I think they liked the sulpport and education they got about
alcohol/drugs and the friendship from the other women. So, our program worked. When a mother gave birth and had a positive test for alcohol/drugs, in
our county, the baby was taken away from her before she even had a chance to hold that baby. It wasn't returned sometimes until 2 years later, until
Child Protective Services was satisfied that this woman had quit drinking. What does that do to the bonding process between mother and child? It is
just as important for a child and parent to bond as it is for them to not have brain damage.
Punitive measures never work with addicts. What does work is trying to reach them, talking with them and helping them overcome obstacles so they can
show up for treatment. Sadly, though, many counties don't have any kind of detox facilities at all and for that I blame our politicians.
One more thing, there have been and still are, many doctors who tell their pregnant patients to "have a glass or 2 of wine every night, it will help
relax you." Yes, it's untrue, but that is the way it is. I have run into many women that tell me this.
So you put the mother in jail so she won't drink. Problem is, she hasn't committed any crime and what about the other aspects of pregnancy? For
example, prison food isn't all that healthy, too much starch and fat. That isn't good for an unborn child. What about getting exercise? That helps
to have a healthy baby, too.
And to tell you the truth, cigarette smoking can be just as bad for the unborn child as alcohol.
If you've ever tried to diet you know how hard it is. It's just as hard for an alcoholic to give up alcohol for 9 months. I'm not saying it's
right, just that that's the way it is.