Coping with Postpartum Substance Abuse

Many new mothers experience postpartum ‘baby blues’, which is a mild form of depression that typically presents as mood swings, increased tearfulness, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms usually begin within the first few days after giving birth and usually last up to two weeks.

However, some new mothers experience an intense, persistent form of depression called postpartum depression (PPD). This type of depression affects approximately 14% of women and can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, exhaustion, and hopelessness. These symptoms can interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself and her baby, and can last for several weeks or months if left untreated.

What Is Postpartum Substance Abuse?

A hallmark of postpartum depression is the belief of being an inadequate parent, leading to overwhelming self-doubt, guilt, and shame. These negative emotions can spiral into deeper depression and one may not know how to cope with it. This can lead to drinking or taking drugs as an attempt to feel better, a negative coping skill that can ultimately add more guilt, exacerbating postpartum depression symptoms.

Postpartum substance abuse is a serious and growing problem for new mothers. Research shows that approximately 14.9 percent of postpartum women engage in binge drinking and 8.5 percent use illicit drugs. The impacts of such behavior can be devastating, both physically and emotionally.

However, with increased public awareness and understanding of this issue, it is possible to help those affected by providing them with coping strategies and support so that they can lead healthier lives for themselves and their families.

Risks of PPD Substance Abuse

Substance abuse during the postpartum period poses a variety of risks for new mothers, including an increased risk for accidents or injuries caused by intoxication, as well as severe depression or even suicide if left untreated. The potential physical effects can also create further complications, such as physical dependence on substances or long-term health issues related to chronic substance use. For these reasons, addressing postpartum substance abuse is crucial to ensure that both mothers and their babies are safe and healthy.

Overall, while postpartum substance abuse may seem like an insurmountable challenge for many new mothers trying to adjust to life after giving birth, there are numerous methods that can be used by those affected – from professional treatment options to self-care routines – which will allow them to effectively confront this issue head-on and safely move towards a better future.

Recognizing The Signs

Many mothers don’t recognize the signs of PPD and perhaps even substance abuse. Therefore, it’s crucial that family members understand the signs of both, so they are better equipped to recognize when assistance is needed. Commonly observed symptoms include:

  • Changes in mood and behavior, such as deep depression
  • Lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Financial problems related to alcohol or drug purchases
  • More frequent trips away from home

Additionally, families should be aware of the risks associated with postpartum substance abuse, such as potential health complications for both mothers and their babies due to substance use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Postpartum Substance Abuse Risk Factors

There are several different risk factors that can increase a woman’s likelihood of developing postpartum substance abuse. Some of these risk factors include:

  • A history of depression or anxiety
  • A past or current substance abuse disorder
  • Stressful life events, including relationship difficulties or major changes in life circumstances
  • A lack of social support
  • Access to drugs or alcohol

These risk factors may not be directly linked to postpartum substance abuse, but can increase the likelihood of it occurring. It is also important to recognize that all women are at risk for developing postpartum substance abuse and should be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Postpartum Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies

There are several strategies that can be used to prevent postpartum substance abuse. These strategies include:

  • Creating a support network of family and friends who can provide emotional and practical assistance during this time
  • Limiting access to drugs or alcohol where possible
  • Practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors such as regular physical activity and getting enough sleep
  • Developing a strong relationship with your healthcare provider
  • Seeking out professional counseling if needed, such as therapy or substance abuse treatment
  • Developing coping strategies to manage stress in healthy ways
  • Taking steps to ensure your safety and the safety of your baby
  • Planning ahead for postpartum care – from identifying sleeping arrangements, to enlisting family and friends as extra pairs of hands around the house

These strategies can help to reduce the risk of postpartum substance abuse, as well as provide additional support during this time of transition.

Intervention and Treatment Solutions

Substance abuse can complicate the treatment of postpartum depression as it requires addressing multiple disorders. Women who struggle with both postpartum depression and substance use may be hesitant to seek treatment and may not be willing to share their struggles with their healthcare provider. The fear of being reported for child endangerment, especially if substance use occurred during pregnancy, can further discourage them from seeking help.

However, despite fear, admitting to others that you are struggling with depression or substance abuse is often a necessary step in the journey towards recovery. By reaching out to friends, family, or a mental health professional, you can receive support, guidance, and treatment options that can help you manage your symptoms and overcome your challenges.

Additionally, talking about your struggles can also help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and substance abuse, and encourage others to seek help if they are facing similar challenges.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum substance abuse, there are several options available for intervention and treatment. These include:

  • Seeking professional help from a healthcare provider, such as your OB/GYN physician, pediatrician, or childbirth educator
  • Seeking help from a mental health professional
  • Utilizing support services such as 12-Step programs, therapy, counseling, or substance abuse treatment center
  • Participating in support groups that provide peer support and guidance
  • Seeking out medical interventions, if necessary

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

Postpartum Support International (PSI) is a valuable resource for those affected by pregnancy and postpartum. They provide online support groups, a list of local resources, referrals to providers and professionals with knowledge of perinatal disorders, plus they offer a helpline if you need to talk. To learn more about PSI, visit their website at or call their helpline at 1-800-944-4PPD (4773). Please note this is not a crisis hotline and does not handle emergencies; for that please contact 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


Postpartum substance abuse can have detrimental consequences for mothers, babies, and their families if left unaddressed. Recovery is a gradual process that requires dedication and support. Do not hesitate to seek assistance if you or someone you know is affected by this issue. With adequate support and resources, women can successfully overcome postpartum substance abuse and regain their health and well-being.

    1. This statistics is alarming. I never knew that a greater number of mother’s experience postpartum ‘ baby blues’. I wonder what causes it. No wonder a lot of mothers drink alcohol excessively. It’s just a coping mechanism. Government should do something fast about postpartum substance abuse. The problem is really serious

  1. This is ubcommon to me at least. I have heard stories of women after giving birth going to depression? but never this until now.That being said it is not that far fetch after all you never know whar depression will make you do. As a woman I need to take mote of it..

  2. Great article, it is really educative, now I know what postpartum substance is and I can easily recognize the sign in someone.

  3. This is an educative article on postpartum substance abuse. I feel tutored on what and the effect of postpartum substance abuse and also this awareness will go a long way in saving th world.

  4. Postpartum substance abuse can have detrimental consequences for mothers, babies, and their families if left unaddressed. It’s great to stay Safe.

  5. Copying postpartum is not good. It has side effects. There are different ways to prevent it, such developing a strong relationship with your healthcare provider. Most mothers, babies and families suffer from it.

  6. This article is so informative and helpful. It will make people understand the risk they are putting themselves into.

  7. Postpartum depression is a condition that is still (at least where I am from) considered as something to the effect of society frowning upon mothers who “can’t be mothers towards their newborns” and as such, trying to say that it actually does occur and the new mother having the “blues” is only explained away as the new mother just being overly sensitive and “just someone who needs attention/focus only on her” just makes things worse. My mother was very lucky she did not suffer from it (though the stress of having to go to the wet market to buy vegetables and other things to cook food at home just after she gave birth and went home from the hospital made her extremely tired), and my heart goes to women who had to endure such suffering. Knowing the symptoms beforehand is really a huge help for families having to deal with this, and I really can’t thank you guys here enough in spreading awareness for this serious issue.

    1. This is so heartfelt and I completely resonate with your sentiments. Indeed, it’s great that the article is helping spread awareness about such an important issue in our society today.

  8. If untreated, postpartum drug misuse can have negative effects on women, infants, and their families. Recovery is a gradual process that needs commitment and encouragement. If you or someone you know is struggling with this problem, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  9. This is my first time of coming across this particular topic, postpartum substance abuse. Thank you for shedding light on the topic detox.

  10. Every mother should try and take note of the signs and ensure they seek help. Thanks to the detox to rehab for this great awareness.

  11. This is a detailed article. There should be a general sensitisation of every expectant mothers against this. Thanks.

  12. I have been a victim of postpartum depression and I know how easy people can be addicted through it. The bottom line is that everyone should always guard his or her heart

  13. This is an article that is informative and helpful. It will help People know the risk they are putting themselves with addiction.

  14. It’s the first time I’m hearing about postpartum substance abuse. This was very informative and I learnet quite a bit. Thanks.

  15. Developing new hobbies and interests can help a lot in preventing postpartum substance abuse. It’s always good to keep the mind occupied

  16. Thanks for touching on this sentive topic of postpartum substance abuse. I think the subject is not given the attention it deserves.

  17. Postpartum substance abuse can cause a mother to become negligent of their new born child. That can be detrimental to the child.

  18. Thank you for sharing the contact for the organization that helps people with postpartum substance abuse. This will greatly come in handy.

  19. A good support system is essential in preventing one from postmartum substance abuse. Such an environment should always be fostered after birth.

  20. I think professional treatment options are the best way to cope with postmartum substance abuse. They are simply more effective than most other methods.

  21. It’s indeed true that mothers don’t recognize the signs of PPD and perhaps even substance abuse. That’s why family always plays a crucial role in helping detect and mitigate these signs.

  22. The most affected individual by a postpartum substance abuse is the baby. It will grow up without the proper care it deserves.

  23. The fact that postpartum depression affects about 14% of women is a serious thing. More awareness should be spread about the subject.

  24. I think all mothers should undergo therapy immediately after giving birth. This can help a lot in preventing postpartum depression which can consequently lead to postpartum substance abuse.

  25. Carrying a child for nine months then going through labor pains during birth can be a lot to handle for any woman. This explains why some women go through postpartum depression.

  26. Thanks for sharing on coping with postpartum substance abuse. I think its important to know what to do when dealing with postpartum substance abuse. Thanks for the wonderful article.

  27. Postpartum substance abuse can have detrimental consequences especially for mothers,and entire famiy. At that time support. is highly needed.

  28. Thank you Detax to rehab for sharing these type of stories with all of us.These stories are really very much inspirational for many people.

  29. Postpartum disorder is not an easy stage or phase for women. I just hope they are able to keep themselves sane. May God bless all women.

  30. Thank you for the informative and interesting article. This is my first time hearing about postpartum substance abuse. After reading the article, it’s pretty serious and I hope that people that goes through this are helped

  31. It’s interesting that before this I had no idea what postpartum substance abuse was. I feel so much more knowledgeable after reading it and thanks a lot for this.

  32. What a thought-provoking article about substance abuse is this! This has exposed the dangers inherent in this bad and terrible habit. Detox deserves a round of applause for the write-up.

  33. Mothers who have just given birth need a lot of care an attention to help them maintain good mental health. That can go a long way in preventing postpartum substance abuse.

  34. I have heard of postpartum depression once in passing. Didn’t even know it has any form of relationship with substance abuse. This article has very much enlightened me. Well done.

  35. I was not aware if anything like Postpartum substance abuse existed because I have never seen or heard of anyone suffering from this issue. However, it could be that they are not aware of it and are treating it like a normal problem instead of seeking medical treatment or help. Thanks to my awareness of this issue, I can now help those in need and aid in early detection.

  36. Postpartum depression is real, and needs to be addressed. Women who suffer from this needs to be closely monitored and taken care of , so as not to result to getting addicted to substances which on a normal day, they may not subscribe to.

  37. Sadly this issue happens amongst a good number of women, this is why I always suggest a lot of support, care and love for women who has just had a baby.

  38. Many people believe that women faces the worst in the labour but actually they are emotionally vulnerable after birth… And have seen some fall into depression… I believe our care and love must be thorough and all encompassing.

  39. Many people believe that women faces the worst in the labour but actually they are emotionally vulnerable after birth… And have seen some fall into depression… I believe our care and love must be thorough and all encompassing.

  40. It is something that mothers can relate with. Definitely it is right to take precautions and also avoid these kinds of abuse.

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