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Prenatal alcohol exposure and likelihood of addiction
Posted in Addiction, Alcohol Rehab, Drug Abuse, Pregnancy - 1 Comments

Although the adverse effects of alcohol are similar for both the sexes, women are at a greater risk even at lower levels of consumption. In addition to this drinking during pregnancy may harm the fetus and result in a number of birth-related defects in the unborn baby. Since there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption, studies show that regular drinking may cause significant damage to the unborn child’s health.

A leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the United States, prenatal alcohol exposure can cause a host of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and may even increase the brain’s susceptibility to developing an addiction later in life.

According to an ongoing study being conducted by the Research Institute on Addictions and Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, amongst the many negative consequences of alcohol on the fetus is an increased risk of drug addiction later in life. The researchers are studying how alcohol alters the brain’s reward system and how the change continues throughout adulthood.

According to Roh-Yu Shen, one of the scientists, the key to addiction appears to lie with cannabis-like chemicals produced by the brain itself. “By understanding the role endocannabinoids play in increasing the brain’s susceptibility to addiction, we can start developing drug therapies or other interventions to combat that effect and, perhaps, other negative consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure,” Shen said.

Link between prenatal alcohol exposure and young adult drinking habits

Apart from increasing the risk of the child developing a drug addiction later in life, prenatal alcohol consumption has also been associated with an increased risk of developing alcohol addiction much later in life. In addition to causing development abnormalities, alcohol consumption during pregnancy may cause the unborn child to develop behavioral problems and also increase the child’s vulnerability to addiction.

An earlier study point towards a link between women consuming alcohol during prenatal care and alcohol-related problems in their offspring as late as 21 years of age. The 21-year longitudinal analysis concluded that while prenatal alcohol exposure was a risk factor for developing drinking problems in humans and significantly linked to the child’s alcohol problems at 21, the relationship persisted independent of other factors such as drug exposure, a family history of alcohol problems, other prenatal exposures and various postnatal environmental problems.

Women and alcohol: A complex relationship

Women drink alcohol for a variety of reasons including to relieve stress, to help sleep or to seek comfort during critical life situations or simply as a means of celebration or binge drinking with friends. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 60 percent of American women consume at least one alcoholic drink a year and among those who drink, 13 percent have more than seven alcoholic drinks per week.

Notably, alcohol affects women differently than men. As compared to men, women have less water in their bodies due to which their brain and other body organs are often exposed to more alcohol and its toxic byproducts. As women’s bodies do not tolerate alcohol the way men’s bodies do, it makes the fair sex more susceptible to the drug’s long-term negative effects.

Road to recovery

As a leading behavioral and mental health care provider, Sovereign Health understands that women are particularly vulnerable to the physical and psychological effects of abusing alcohol. A female-only residential rehab facility, our Chandler, Arizona center offers the highest quality care for mental health disorders, substance addiction and co-occurring conditions.

The women only alcohol program at our Chandler facility combines detox with behavioral therapies and counseling. In addition to offering evidence-based treatments, each of our patients is treated with experiential therapies, including yoga, meditation and equine therapy in a safe and supportive environment. For more information on our holistic addiction treatment programs or to locate our state-of-the-art center for alcohol treatment for women in Arizona, call our 24/7 helpline number. You can even chat online with our representative for further assistance.

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