Not only do drugs potentially harm abusers, but also those around them – in a physical way. Aside from the fact that loved ones of drug addicts are mentally and emotionally affected by their actions, the consequences may be greater than expected.
The main physical effect that comes to mind is the impact of drug use on babies developing in the womb. If a pregnant woman uses drugs, there are various dangerous consequences not only to the woman but to the baby itself. Drugs such as heroin can cause the baby to become dependant as the substances cross the placenta to the baby. After the baby is born, they need to be eased off the drug and may suffer withdrawal symptoms, such as muscle spasms. This is a devastating way for a new born to begin life. If the mother has taken marijuana during the pregnancy, the toxins in the drug can prevent the supply of oxygen needed for the baby to develop and grow.
Meanwhile, cocaine (along with other drugs) can cause the possibility of brain damage as well as genital, brain and kidney defects. If the brain of the foetus is harmed by the drugs, it is likely the child will grow to have learning difficulties which can jeopardise their future as an adult. It is commonly known that drug use during pregnancy is likely to result in a low birth weight.
Recreational drug use can also result in issues further on in a woman’s pregnancy. The placenta can be greatly damaged given that there is a danger that it will come away from the side of the uterus, occasionally triggering severe bleeding. This is called placental abruption. Placental abruption is a serious condition and, because of the bleeding it causes, it can be life endangering to both the mother and the baby.
It also needs to be considered that not only can the foetus developing inside the drug user’s womb be severely affected but individual members of the family may also suffer physical damage. Children of drug addicts may be neglected, if all focus centres on the addict or the addict is not in the right state of mind to parent the children. This can result in children being deprived of meals, thus feeling hungry on a daily basis. Furthermore, lack of attention and care can result in poor hygiene, which can lead to embarrassing consequences for the children at school.
Parents of addicts may have more concern for their damaged son or daughter than themselves, and deterioration in their own mental and physical health may be seen.
Siblings may adopt the habit themselves if they have been introduced to drugs by another sibling that is an addict. The supply is easy to come by and there may be little guidance to direct them another way since the first sibling has got away with it in the first place. As a result, the family will begin to break down as more members become dependent on substances that will eventually cause anger, regret and upset. The dynamics of a family will potentially be destroyed as actions become uncontrollable and it is important to get the situation underhand as soon as possible.