Substance abuse has progressively become a growing epidemic in the United States, with an average of 23.5 million Americans addicted to alcohol and other drugs (Join Together Staff Writer, 2010). This is estimated to one in every 10 Americans, ages 12 and over who are struggling with addiction. Among those affected by alcohol and substance related dependencies are pregnant women with nicotine addiction.
Over the years there have been countless studies and breakthroughs on the substance of nicotine, pregnant women and their nicotine consumption. This paper will focus on the substance and population, as well as the short and long term physical effects it may have on both the individual and child. While it is crucial to understand what nicotine is and what it does to a woman during pregnancy, it is also important to recognize the risk and protective factors, in conjunction with the addiction and how it can be treated.
First, to fully comprehend the relationship between the user and the substance, in this case, the pregnant woman and nicotine, the substance must be examined and understood.
Nicotine is a chemical compound called alkaloid that consists of a colorless or yellowish oil that acts as the main ingredient in tobacco. Tobacco is a plant of the nightshade family and is grown in warmer climates mainly in the U.S and China and harvested for its leaves. Once the leaves have been dried out or fermented, they are prepared and readied for human consumption.
Most common tobacco products are sold legally in the United States in the form of cigarettes or dip. Cigarettes are rolled paper tubes filled with brown, dried leafy like tobacco and most times comes with a filter or butt attached to the base, however, ...
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... the short and long term effects, habitually using nicotine during pregnancy can also lead to social and emotional consequences. Present day maternal use of nicotine is not socially acceptable. Habitual use can lead to loss of social support, behavior changes due to short periods of withdrawing and loss of necessary income due to substance purchase. Emotionally this affects a pregnant woman greatly, the lack of social support can create a sense of withdrawnness, fear of judgment, embarrassment and social anxiety. While a woman is pregnant, her hormone levels increase rapidly, with the added addiction it can influence depression, mood disorders, and stress. Long term consequences include feelings of guilt, helplessness and loss of control, and these feelings may continue to get worse post-birth contributing to the experience of the baby blues or postpartum depression.
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