Adolescent pregnancy

1) What are the Consequences of Adolescent (teenage) Pregnancy?

There are a number of areas of life which are affected by a pregnancy during the adolescent years for all involved.

a) Physical and Health

Early Signs of Pregnancy


There are a number of physical changes which might indicate that a woman is pregnant. Even if you have all of these symptoms listed below it is best to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. For more information please go to are frequently answered question on pregnancy.

  • If a woman’s’ monthly menstrual cycle is regular, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a light or missed period.
  • Feeling sick and vomiting commonly known as morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of the day or night normally starting during the second month. If you're being sick all the time and can't keep anything down, contact your General Practitioner (GP) or Family Doctor.
  • Feeling very tired especially during the first 3 months.
  • Feeling emotional and upset.
  • Changes in a woman’s breasts including the breasts becoming larger, feeling tender and tingling. The veins may be more visible, and the nipples may darken and stand out.
  • Urinating (peeing) more often including during the night.


Risks to the mother and child

There are health risks associated with adolescent pregnancy for both the mother and child. These range from normal changes to the body during pregnancy (see for more information) to risks associated with abortion, complications during pregnancy and child birth and future health problems for both mother and child. Specifically babies are more likely to be born preterm, be still born, have a lower birth rate or suffer from perinatal asphyxia all of which can affect their health and development. The mother is more likely to suffer obstetric fistula and a higher fertility rate meaning she is more likely to become pregnant again. In parts of the world were healthcare is more accessible and modern the above risks are less than in under developed countries.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)

If you have engaged in unprotected sex and are anxious you might have contracted a sexually transmitted disease please see a doctor or visit a sexual health clinic. The developing child can be affected by a woman having an STD however most of these problems can be prevented if the mother is tested and diagnosed early, treated, and receives regular care during pregnancy. Even in the case of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) the risk of transmission from mother to child can be as low as 2%.

Miscarriage: A miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks of gestation. Teenagers to do not appear to be at a higher risk of miscarriage. The warning signs are bleeding, vaginal discharge and cramps and please consult with a doctor or midwife if you are concerned. For further information please see our section on miscarriage.

b) Emotional and Mental health

During the adolescent years many are still finding out who they are and are curious about sexuality and are not supposed to be pregnant at such a young age. Hormonal changes can cause mood swings, crying, wanting to be with someone, irritability and worries about the unborn baby. For the views on the emotional side of being pregnant here is a link

Post Natal or Antenatal Depression (PND)

In some cases normal emotional changes in pregnancy can go further and depression called antenatal (before birth) or post natal (after birth) depression in pregnant women can develop. A women is particular at risk if she or her family has a history of mental health problems, misuse substances, is living in poverty or has a low social network size. If a woman is taking medication for a mental health problem and stops doing so during pregnancy this can worsen her depression both pre and post birth. 10- 15 % in developed countries and up to 25 % in developing counties women become depressed during or after their pregnancy. The signs and symptoms of PND are the same as that for depression occurring at other times in a person life for more information please go to are frequently answered question on depression. 2/3 of PND cases occur after birth usually within 2 months but it can start many months later the other 1/3 of cases occur during pregnancy and continue after birth.

Remember there is no need to feel guilty about being depressed, it’s ok to feel distressed, PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault.


Pregnancy can be a reason for suicide in women and according to a peer reviewed report from the Archives of Women’s Mental Health does not protect against suicide ideation. There are few statistics on the number of women who die by suicide during pregnancy. In Ireland it is not known how many pregnant women die by suicide. Data published in 2003 from the United Kingdom (UK) by the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths shows that suicide is the leading cause of maternal death and data from the United States of America  (USA) reports 2-3 suicides for every 100,000. A women is particularly vulnerable if she has a previous psychiatric history, or lives in a situation where there is domestic violence. There is emerging evidence that suicide during pregnancy is higher in adolescents.

c) Lifestyle and Social

Pregnancy as with any significant life change or event means a person needs to adapt to cope with the change in their environment Although becoming pregnant can be an enjoyable and exciting time a pregnancy there are a number of ways a girls social health and lifestyle factors can be detrimentally be affected. Like with all stressors the more aware we are of the potential consequences the more the father, society and others around the girl can do to reduce any harmful effects of a pregnancy on a girl’s lifestyle.

Given that in today’s society the woman is still perceived by many as the primary care giver a girl may need to drop out of school early leading to lower maternal education level and lesser chances of employment. As a teenager a girl may lose contact with current friends and need to find a new social network and engage in new interest to combine with her parenting role causing delays in her own personal development. Later in life a woman is more likely to live alone as she may find it difficult to find a new partner due to restrictions on her ability to work and socialise.

In addition in some cultures pregnancy provokes violence and there are incidences of homicide or murder linked to family honour.

There can however be many positives of a pregnancy in adolescence through there being less of a generation gap, having more years to spend with your children and grandchildren, being more energetic, more shared world events and technological changes. It might also be that you can grow and learn with your child or children offsetting having to leave school early. During your own child’s adolescence it might be you are more in touch with your child being able to remember your own adolescence easier.

d) Economic:

Later in life a girl who has become pregnancy during adolescence and any future partner is less likely to have a job standard of living and be more likely to live of welfare or benefits than her peers. In addition a woman who has a child during adolescence has lower lifetime earnings than those whom have children at a later stage of their life.

2) What are your Options if you or a Partner has become Pregnant or if you have had Unprotected Sex?

Pregnancy is a, life-changing event for both mother and father. It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself to maintain psychological and physically strength. If you have had unprotected sex please visit you’re GP / family doctor or a family planning or sexual health clinic.

a) How to Support yourself, a Friend, Relative or Partner during an Adolescent Pregnancy

There are a number of practical ways that one can lend assistance to a pregnant adolescent to help her maintain optimum physical, mental and social health both before and after the pregnancy.

Mental and Physical Health

  • Ensure she has access to information about pregnancy and childbirth and or antenatal classes. Whether you be her partner, friend or family member maybe you can go with her, take her there or meet up afterwards.
  • Familiarise yourself with the possible consequences of pregnancy and plan how to cope and adapt with possible outcomes and life changes, please see our section on coping strategies for ideas.
  • Are her appointments with her doctor or midwife regular? In some countries, adolescents are less likely than adults to obtain skilled care before, during and after childbirth this can be due to stigma. And basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care.
  • Self – help books or books about practical issues like baby names and feeding are available at various levels.
  • Help her to explore all of her options from can she continue with her education to sensitive issues like abortion or adoption.
  • Is a birthing plan in place has she explored and does she know all of her options for childbirth.
  • If there is a history of mental ill health in the family or there are risk factors such as isolation, poverty, physical ill health in the pregnancy adolescent encourage her to share this with her GP.
  • By offering support and being proactive with keeping in touch by making a phone call, sending a text or dropping round means you’re the girl won’t have to ask for help. Maybe you can go shopping with her to buy for the baby or accompany her on early trips out to build confidence. Social support both practical and emotional is a protective factor against stress and can help or reduce the risk of PND. It is important to help her remain empowered and in control of what is her responsibility to her with choice as to any support given.
  • Look out for any signs or symptoms of depression particularly if she has stopped taking medication during the course of her pregnancy
  • After the birth of the child ensure that she has access to post natal care which might include visits from a health visitor or nurse to access both mother and child’s physical health.
  • If she is suffering from PND is she in regular contact with a health visitor or in severe cases from a mental health service.

Welfare and Rights

In some countries there is assistance from the state for young single mothers as well as those whom are married.  Enquiring at benefits or welfare agencies in the will enable you to see if you are in receipt of all the assistance available to you / her. By getting applications in early this will mean any payments arrive in time for you to purchase necessary items.

Employment and Family Law

If a girl is already in work familiarise yourself with employment law in issues like maternity and paternity leave and pay. If you are planning on returning to work or education have you the information you need on childcare provision. If you are a father and are unmarried look into the laws regarding your rights to have contact with your child.

Social and Lifestyle

Decrease smoking and alcohol intake, exercise 3-5 times a week establish a regular routine, get adequate rest and eat healthy. Join parent and toddler groups and perhaps sign up to sites like to maintain contact with others and establish new friendships.

b) Self-care In taking care of yourself before the upcoming birth of your child or supporting a young girl who is pregnant it is important that you self-care. By learning to take care of yourself before you begin the responsibility of parenthood will have long term benefits for both yourself and the unborn child. As you take better care of yourself, you can make positive choices going forward. The supports listed below, or your doctor or midwife should provide you with all the information and advice you need to stay happy and healthy. Please see our section on acting as a carer or support for another if you are supporting a pregnancy adolescent.

c) Support: There are plenty of supports and advice available in many countries some are listed below including a blog which is worldwide. These should also provide links to welfare agencies, parenting classes and contraception.

Australia: : Pregnancy counselling link: 1800 777 690

Canada:; 1-800-665-0570


New Zealand: Healthline 0800 611 116;

United Kingdom: Sexwise 0800 282930. Care to learn 0800 121 8989 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting .Pregnancy line:  and for information 0800 0147 800.

United States:;


Interwoven in many societies

It is safe and enjoyable in moderation

Causes havoc when abused – both socially and emotionally

Also medically and personally

Alcohol stimulates the serotonin and dopamine mood cables and the pleasure bod – feelings of euphoria

It also stimulates GABA receptors – has the relaxing effect

Use in moderation:

Can be positive , enjoying each others company

If the mood is not balanced , can be detrimental

Alcohol affects the concentration , more likely to be impulsive – poorer control

Excess consumption

Loss of co-ordination , concentration and memory

Possibility of complete memory blackouts

Releases self control – can lead to violence and impulsive behavior

Can be particular dangerous to those suffering from diagnosed / diagnosed mood problems – can facilitate self harm / suicide

 Negative Effects

Increase in assault , rape , road traffic accidents and suicide

 Overdose of alcohol / drugs

 The attractions of alcohol :

Feelings of well being , relaxation

 Healthy drinking :

Avoid binge

Drink Slowly

What constitutes safe drinking

Do you feel guilt after drinking

Number of alcohol free days in a week


Avoid buying rounds

Don’t self medicate (stress , anxiety , low mood)

Review weekend drinking if Monday is difficult

Do not allow others to direct your consumption

Do not be afraid to say No

Better parenting in just twelve steps!

Better parenting in just twelve steps!

Many thanks to Phoebe for writing such a wonderful FAQ for us

© 2014 Phoebe Hutchison Author and good parenting begins with a strategy that ensures both the parents’ and child’s needs are met in a loving, mutually beneficial, relationship. If a good strategy is not in place, both can become frustrated, angry and disconnected, negatively impacting on the child, the parents’ relationship and the household. Feel free to use the following twelve steps to improve your parenting skills and your child’s future:

1.            Quality

time: Aim for 30 minutes quality time per day with each child. Children thrive on attention, and they need your attention more than anyone else’s. Give your child 30 minutes undivided attention per day, and watch your relationship

blossom.2.            Listen

attentively: If you can’t listen at that time, schedule a time to listen properly. Show your child that you are listening, by using listening cues, such

as ‘ah ha’ and nods. The more interest you show them and their world, the more you will enjoy them, and the more they will thrive!

3.            Praise:

Praise constantly. When you praise their strengths at any opportunity, you are increasing their self-esteem, which influences their ability to have

confidence, make friends, and feel motivated at school and succeed!4.            Criticizm:

Be critical of actions, not critical of your child. Children are quick to believe criticizm. When you are commenting on what they have done, be careful

you criticize their actions, not them! If you are angry, you may wish to calm down before you speak. Words can hurt and devastate children, as they often hear a parent’s words, and interpret these words as a personal attack -thus damaging their self-esteem. So criticize  the action; not the child.

Constructive Criticizm: ‘That was a dangerous thing to do, you could’ve been hurt’. Versus Personal Attack: ‘You

idiot. Why were you so stupid?’5.            Support:

Encourage autonomy (support child’s interests if safe and practical). Children are little adults in the making. Children do not ‘belong to us’. They are on

loan, for only 18 years, and then they have greater freedom of choice. When we support their interests, we show love. Children need to feel independent and set their own goals as this is character building and will help them later in life, in adulthood.

6.            Boundaries:

Children feel happier, more secure and thrive more, in a world of boundaries, rules and consequences. Boundaries may include household rules and routines such as bedtimes, appropriate language, respecting others, respecting property, sharing with siblings, allowing others to talk at dinner, completing chores, and having pocket money (only if chores are done). Think about cows that enter a new paddock. They walk the perimeter to ‘test the boundaries’ before settling down. Children will test the boundaries, giving parents the opportunity to reinforce using appropriate consequences. Studies show that your child will actually respect you more, enhancing this parent/child relationship, if you have provide them with healthy boundaries and rules.

7.            Consequences:

Children need consequences. Children learn, change and behave through a series of reactions in their environment. If they feel that their actions have no consequences, they will do as they please. The parent will feel a lack of control, leading to frustration which will only add to the disconnection and

anger in this relationship. Ironically, to have a close, loving relationship with your child, he/she must behave, or suffer the consequences (i.e. lose

pocket money, have iPod confiscated for a day, lose TV privileges, not be driven to the party Saturday). We shape our children when we praise and reward good behavior. We also shape our children’s behavior when we discourage negative behavior by giving consequences.

8.            Respect

your child, show them respect in every opportunity. I once saw a lady yell at her child, ‘stop yelling at me!’. I laughed to myself, as she was displaying

the type of interaction she did not want. Of course children copy. Children imitate TV show characters, cartoons, their friends, teachers, siblings. We are constantly showing them how to behave. So talk to your child lovingly, with respect, and if they yell, ensure that you tell them, ‘sorry, I am not talking to you until you talk respectfully’. We teach people how to treat us, so only tolerate, and display, appropriate behavior.

9.            Feelings:

Explain to your child that it is ok to feel angry, upset, frustrated, but it is not ok to throw things, hit people, or damage property. Show them appropriate use of feelings, including diarizing, talking about their feelings, and possibly discussing how thoughts turn into feelings, so they can examine, and maybe replace some ‘unhelpful thoughts’. You may wish to do this with a child counsellor/psychologist, if they have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings. Young children respond well to various cartoon faces, showing emotion, which can be found on the internet. Help children identify their emotions, why they feel that way, and help them channel these emotions in an appropriate fashion.

Normalize that it is ok to be angry, upset, scared and frustrated. Help them identify these feelings, and then use listening skills to help them discuss

these feelings. For example, tell them ‘If you are angry it is ok to tell your brother to stop if he is annoying you, or tell me, or walk away; it is not

appropriate to hit him’.10.          Attention:

If children do not receive enough quality attention, they will misbehave to get your attention. They would rather get your ‘positive attention’, but if that is not available, they will aim for your ‘negative attention’. Rats, in experiments, have been known to press a lever to have an electric current go

through them, rather than be bored. Children are no different, they would rather be yelled at, than bored…so don’t’ let them become bored! Pre-plan

activities so they have plenty to do. Also ensure you continue to give them your daily ‘positive attention’.

11.          Assertiveness:

Be assertive, not aggressive, to ensure all needs are met. Assertiveness is firmly ensuring actions are carried out, without angry voice tones, hostility,

threats or fear. Assertiveness is making sure boundaries are followed, chores are completed, homework is done, family members are respected, etc. It is not yelling; it is speaking up when something needs to be mentioned (or followed through). In relationships, people may be ‘walked on’, disrespected, anger can build, people can become angry and aggressive, and can eventually ‘snap’, and

become violent, if partners are not assertive. When I talk to couples, I recommend couples talk to each other in ‘mini-meetings’, stating ‘I want…’, ‘I

need…’ or ‘I feel…’, rather than talking in an accusatory style. An assertive parent can do the same. Instead of saying, ‘you never keep your room tidy’,

which may come across as a personal attack, an assertive parent could say, ‘I expect this room to be kept tidy, in order for you to earn your pocket money’. If a child is throwing a ball in the lounge room, the child needs a warning, ‘we respect the lounge room, or we will not be able to use the lounge room tonight’. If the child continues to throw a ball in the lounge room, the child needs to be told to leave the lounge room, and miss the family TV watching as a consequence. ‘If you cannot respect the lounge room, you need to stay out of

the lounge room for tonight.’12.          Self-Esteem:

When we praise, give attention, listen, love, support and encourage our child, we increase their self-esteem. When parents use emotional blackmail, are quick to criticize, control through excessive use of power, frequently put down and rarely praise the child, they encourage poor self-esteem, which leaves a child with feeling disapproved of, humiliated, insecure and inadequate, making the child’s life more challenging.

Every interaction you have with your child is either positive, or harmful, for their self-esteem. Because a healthy self-esteem equips your child with the many traits needed for emotional stability, EVERY interaction you have with your child has an impact on how they cope today, and how they will cope (and succeed) in the future.

Feel free to print this article out or give a copy to your friends so that more parents can benefit from a simple, but effective, strategy.

May your love for yourself, your life and your children, deepen daily.

Phoebe Hutchison (Author/Counsellor)

Brief Terminology List

Terminology for Treatments, Measures and Technology.

ACT - Acceptance & Commitment Therapy -

API – Addiction Potential Index

ASI – Addiction Severity Index

AZT –Azidothymidine

BAC – Blood Alcohol Content

BAI – Beck Anxiety Index

BID – Twice daily

BDI – Beck Depression Inventory

BP – Blood Pressure

CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CDS – Controlled Dangerous Substance

CPZ - Chlorpromazine

CT or CAT - Computerised Tomography Scan

CTU – Crisis Triage Unit

DAI – Drug Abuse Index

DBT – Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

DIS –Diagnostic Interview Schedule

DIZ- Diazepam

DSM-IV - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

DUI – Driving under the Influence

DV – Domestic Violence

ECT – Electro Convulsive Therapy

EEG – Electroencephalogram

EMR – Electronic Medical Record

EO – Equal Opportunities

HADS- Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale

Hx – History

HS- At Bedtime (Medication time)

ICU – Intensive care unit

IP – Inpatient

IV - Intravenous

MAOI – Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor

MBTI – Myers Briggs Type Indicator

MDA - Methylene-dioxy-amphetamine

MDI Bayley Mental Development Index

MDMA- Ecstasy

MDT – Multi – Disciplinary Team

MRT - Magnetic Resonance Tomography

Meds – Medications

MI – Motivational Interviewing

MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging

MRT - Magnetic Resonance Tomography

NE - Norepinephrine (noradrenaline)

NMRI - Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging

NOK – Next of Kin

OD – Once daily

O/D – Overdose

OP – Outpatient

PET - Positron Emission Tomography Scans

PRN – As and when

PCP - Phencyclidine

QDS – Four times daily

RISP - Risperidone

RPT - Relapse Prevention Therapy

Rx - Therapy or Treatment

SSRI – Selective Serotonin Reuptake inhibitor

SPI – Suicide Potential Index

TDS – Three times daily

TMD – Too many disorders

TMS - Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation

Tx - Treatment

< Less than


> More than


Terminology Related to Disorders and Illnesses

AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

AS – Asperger’s Syndrome

ASD – Autistic Spectrum Disorder

ASPD- Antisocial – Personality Disorder

BAD – Bipolar Affective Disorder

BDD- Body Dysmorphic Disorder

BED –Binge- Eating Disorder

BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder

CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

CNS- Central Nervous System

COD – Co-Occurring Disorders

DD - Dysthymic Disorder

DL – Dyslexia

DSH - Deliberate Self-Harm

EBD – Emotional Behaviour Disorder

ED – Eating Disorder

EID - Emotional Intensity Disorder

EUPD – Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder

FAS – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

GAD – Generalized Anxiety Disorder

HEPA – Hepatitis A

HEPB- Hepatitis B

HEPC – Hepatitis C

HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus

IED – Intermittent Explosive Disorder

LD – Learning Disabilities

MBTI Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

M/D – Mood Disorder

MDD – Major Depressive Disorder

MH – Mental Health

MI – Myocardial Infarction

NPD - Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

N/V - Nausea & Vomiting

OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

PAH - Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

PD – Personality Disorder

PG – Pathological Gambling

PMDD - Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Pn or Px – Pain

PS – Paranoid Schizophrenia

PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

RA – Rheumatoid Arthritis

SA – Social Anxiety

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD- Schizoaffective Disorder

SAD – Social Anxiety Disorder

SH - Self Harm

SIB - Self Injurious Behaviour

STD – Sexually Transmitted Disease


TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury

Child Sexual Abuse

What is Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)

CSA occurs when a adult uses his/her own power and authority to force or persuade a child to engage in sexual activities for his/her own sexual arousal.


What are examples of CSA

Sexual acts being performed in front of a child Intentionally touching of the child by the person or use of object Sexual intercourse with the child

Sexual exploitation- forcing that child into prostitution Making a child watch pornography


What are effects of CSA

Children can feel emotionally numbness, they do not play, smile, express emotion in any way

Children may feel guilt or blame, and think they are bad, and its their fault

Children may have a lack of trust and withdraw from their family and friends

Children may develop addictions to block out or cope with trauma they have experienced.


Signs of CSA

poor performance at school

Fear of undressing or changing his/her clothes

May be obsessed with body image, possible eating disorder

Have difficulty sleeping children often have nightmares

Social isolation- not wanting any affection or attention from those around them

Sometimes children will become hyper-sexualised, they may be overly affectionate with other children, may have knowledge about sex, that a young child would not know, or may draw or act sexual experience they had.


Who can a child talk to if he/she is being sexually abused.

Being abused can be a scary and upsetting experience, if a young person can find the courage to tell somebody, you will get understanding and support.

It is important the child knows he/she is not to blame for the abuse, it is not the child fault. The child should be informed, that he/she will not get in trouble, that it was a good thing the child has said something. There are services available for a child if it is being sexually abused. CARI, children at risk in Ireland, is the best well known service. The helpline is 1890 92 45 76, or email www.cari. ie


What is rape or sexual abuse. (SA)

This occurs when a person is forced to participate in a sexual act without his/her consent. Rape or (SA) are acts of violence, power and sometimes anger.

If a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can not give consent so it is still rape. If the person is feeling intimidated due to threats of violence, and feel they cant say no, that is considered rape. if the person is frozen, as in cant move or speech due to shock or fear, and cant say no, if the person is silent and doesn't say anything, that is still rape.


Feelings after rape/sexual abuse:

Anger, depression anxiety, fear, hopeless, confusion, guilt, blame


A rape victim may experience the following:

Intrusive flashbacks ( feels as thought he/she is reliving the experience)


very alert,

constantly looking around her/him cant relax

Withdrawal from loved ones, feeling they wont understand

There may physical injuries or internal issues The victim may struggle to accept what has happened and turn to addiction or possibly self harm. The person develop suicidal thoughts, because they have been abused and feel their live will never be the same. Often after a traumatic experience many victims develop PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, the person will have high levels of anxiety, depression, finding it very hard to relax or sleep, and they can also have flashbacks.


What can I do if I have been raped or abused?

You can contact a doctor or police or rape crisis centre, it is possible you feel overwhelmed by your trauma. So you may to contact a loved one, and bring them to one of these services. If you contact the hospital, they will bring you to SATU, sexual assault treatment unit. Here you will be offered a change of clothes and you can have a medical exam carried out on you by a trained nurse. They will look for evidence of abuser, skin cells, hair etc. This is entirely your choice, the evidence will be used, if you wish to charge the abuser. If you don't want the medical exam, you can speak with a nurse, she may offer medical assistance for your injuries, the morning after pill if there is a risk of pregnancy, and do a blood test for STDs. After this you can then meet with a rape crisis counsellor, who are specially trained in supporting women who have been abused. 1800 77 88 88 is the national rape crisis number.

Drug addiction and rehab

Understanding drug use, drug abuse, and addiction

People experiment with drugs for many different reasons. Many first try drugs out of curiosity, to have a good time, because friends are doing it, or in an effort to improve athletic performance or ease another problem, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Use doesn’t automatically lead to abuse, and there is no specific level at which drug use moves from casual to problematic. It varies by individual. Drug abuse and addiction is less about the amount of substance consumed or the frequency, and more to do with the consequences of drug use. No matter how often or how little you’re consuming, if your drug use is causing problems in your life—at work, school, home, or in your relationships—you likely have a drug abuse or addiction problem.

Drug addiction and the brain

Addiction is a complex disorder characterized by compulsive drug use. While each drug produces different physical effects, all abused substances share one thing in common: repeated use can alter the way the brain looks and functions.

  • Taking a recreational drug causes a surge in levels of dopamine in your brain, which trigger feelings of pleasure. Your brain remembers these feelings and wants them repeated.
  • If you become addicted, the substance takes on the same significance as other survival behaviors, such as eating and drinking.
  • Changes in your brain interfere with your ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, control your behavior, and feel normal without drugs.
  • Whether you’re addicted to inhalants, heroin, Xanax, speed, or Vicodin, the uncontrollable craving to use grows more important than anything else, including family, friends, career, and even your own health and happiness.
  • The urge to use is so strong that your mind finds many ways to deny or rationalize the addiction. You may drastically underestimate the quantity of drugs you’re taking, how much it impacts your life, and the level of control you have over your drug use.

5 Myths about Drug Abuse and Addiction

MYTH 1: Overcoming addiction is a simply a matter of willpower. You can stop using drugs if you really want to. Prolonged exposure to drugs alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit by sheer force of will.

MYTH 2: Addiction is a disease; there’s nothing you can do about it. Most experts agree that addiction is a brain disease, but that doesn’t mean you’re a helpless victim. The brain changes associated with addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise, and other treatments.

MYTH 3: Addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can get better. Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process—and the earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat. Don’t wait to intervene until the addict has lost it all.

MYTH 4: You can’t force someone into treatment; they have to want help. Treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary to be successful. People who are pressured into treatment by their family, employer, or the legal system are just as likely to benefit as those who choose to enter treatment on their own. As they sober up and their thinking clears, many formerly resistant addicts decide they want to change.

MYTH 5: Treatment didn’t work before, so there’s no point trying again. Recovery from drug addiction is a long process that often involves setbacks. Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment has failed or that you’re a lost cause. Rather, it’s a signal to get back on track, either by going back to treatment or adjusting the treatment approach.


Warning signs that a friend or family member is abusing drugs

Drug abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or family member might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:

Physical warning signs of drug abuse

  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination

Behavioral signs of drug abuse

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)

Psychological warning signs of drug abuse

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason


Getting help for drug abuse and drug addiction

Support is essential to addiction recovery

Don’t try to go it alone; it’s all too easy to get discouraged and rationalize “just one more” hit or pill. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Recovering from drug addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance.

Support can come from:

  • family members
  • close friends
  • therapists or counselors
  • other recovering addicts
  • healthcare providers
  • people from your faith community

But Don’t

  • Attempt to punish, threaten, bribe, or preach.
  • Try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to use drugs.
  • Cover up or make excuses for the drug abuser, or shield them from the negative consequences of their behavior.
  • Take over their responsibilities, leaving them with no sense of importance or dignity.
  • Hide or throw out drugs.
  • Argue with the person when they are high.
  • Take drugs with the drug abuser.
  • Feel guilty or responsible for another's behavior.

Five steps parents can take:

Lay down rules and consequences. Your teen should understand that using drugs comes with specific consequences. But don’t make hollow threats or set rules that you cannot enforce. Make sure your spouse agrees with the rules and is prepared to enforce them.

Monitor your teen’s activity. Know where your teen goes and who he or she hangs out with. It’s also important to routinely check potential hiding places for drugs—in backpacks, between books on a shelf, in DVD cases or make-up cases, for example. Explain to your teen that this lack of privacy is a consequence of him or her having been caught using drugs.

Encourage other interests and social activities. Expose your teen to healthy hobbies and activities, such as team sports and afterschool clubs.

Talk to your child about underlying issues. Drug use can be the result of other problems. Is your child having trouble fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress?

Get Help. Teenagers often rebel against their parents but if they hear the same information from a different authority figure, they may be more inclined to listen. Try a sports coach, family doctor, therapist, or drug counselor.

HELP? COUNSELLING? But is that not a waste of time ?


Certainly it is true that counselling is not a magic cure-all.  It will be effective only if it empowers a person to build the sort of relationships they need for long-term support.  It is not a "solution" in itself, but it can be a vital, effective and helpful step along the way.

Sometimes one may feel that their first experience with a specific counsellor isn't going to work for them. Like us all, counsellors are different and we may feel more comfortable with one and not another. We would always encourage anyone to seek additional external support and to try more than one counsellor or therapist should they feel the need to.


How do telephone counselling & suicide helplines work

Different services vary in what they offer, but in general you can ring up and speak anonymously to a counsellor about any sort of problem in a no-pressure context that's less threatening than a face-to-face session.  Talking the situation over with a caring, independent person can be of great assistance whether you're in a crisis yourself, or worried about someone else who is, and they usually have connections with local services to refer you to if further help is required.  You don't have to wait until the deepest point of crisis or until you have a life-threatening problem before you seek help.

Demand for telephone services vary, so the most important thing to remember is that if you can't get through on one, keep trying several until you do.  You should usually get through straight away, but don't give up or pin your life on it.  Many people that feel suicidal don't realise that help can be so close, or don't think to call at the time because their distress is so overwhelming.

Miscarriage ( Predominantly focusing on emotional aspect)

More than one in five pregnancies ends In miscarriage. The fact that you have had a miscarriage does not necessarily mean that there is anything medically wrong with you or your partner and does not mean you cannot have children in the future. The majority of women who have a miscarriage carry on in the future to have successful, healthy pregnancies and babies.

Each individual reacts differently to pregnancy loss and copes differently with grief. There is no right or wrong way to do it. We cope with it the best we can, in our own way, at our own pace. Besides the feeling of loss, a lack of understanding by others is often important. People who have not experienced it themselves may find it difficult to empathize with what has occurred, and how upsetting it may be. This may lead to unrealistic expectations of the parents' recovery. The pregnancy and the miscarriage cease to be mentioned in conversations, often because the subject is too painful

Miscarriage is a particular kind of loss and can bring particular feelings. After a miscarriage, you grieve for a person you never knew, and for a relationship that ended before it really began. You grieve not for a person who has lived and died but for the hopes and plans and dreams that you had for your baby and your family. You grieve for the loss of your future as the parent of this baby. You are sad not just because of what you have lost but because of what will never be. This is different to grieving for, say, an elderly person who has died, and it can be hard for people who have no experience of miscarriage to understand.

Another way in which grief after the loss of a baby is different to other kinds of grief is that you might be thinking about the possibility of another pregnancy in the future. So your feelings about what has happened may be mixed with anxieties about why it happened, whether and when you might conceive again, and if you do conceive, whether you might lose the next baby too.


Talk, Talk, Talk! How will that help ?

While it's not a long-term solution in itself, asking a person and having them talk about how they feel greatly reduces their feelings of isolation and distress, which in turn significantly reduces the immediate risk of suicide.  People that do care may be reluctant to be direct in talking about suicide because it's something of a taboo subject.

In the medium and longer term, it's important to seek help to resolve the problems as soon as possible; be they emotional or psychological.  Previous attempters are more likely to attempt suicide again, so it's very important to get unresolved issues sorted out with professional help or counselling as necessary.

Some issues may never be completely resolved by counselling, but a good counsellor should be able to help a person deal with them constructively at present, and to teach them better coping skills and better methods of dealing with problems which arise in the future.