The treatment of perinatal addiction. Identification, intervention, and advocacy

M Jessup
Western Journal of Medicine 1990, 152 (5): 553-8
Women of reproductive age who use and abuse psychoactive drugs and alcohol present a special challenge to primary care physicians. There are compelling medical reasons for identifying and intervening with pregnant women who are addicted or have alcoholism. The teratogenicity of all drugs of abuse and alcohol, the risk of infection with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and the potential for full recovery of a pregnant woman from addiction are some of the reasons that identification and intervention in the problem are indicated. Whether encountered in the clinic setting or in private practice, chemically dependent pregnant or postpartum women are usually responsive to appropriate physician interventions that include a detailed and caring confrontation- and advocacy-oriented support. Complex legal and ethical issues surround perinatal addiction including the role of toxicologic screening, reports to child welfare services, issues in noncompliance, and interdisciplinary case management.


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