Friday, 8 February 2013

Pregnancy and addiction - its a dangerous mix

News flash – the Queensland Police Union wants to introduce tougher laws for mothers who expose their unborn babies to potential health risks such as alcohol and drugs. Every unborn baby should have the right to be born free of the potential life threatening diseases and ailments that can result from their mothers engaging in unhealthy behaviours so watch out Mums – your smoking, drinking, druggy days could soon see you locked up!

It’s funny this news article appeared today as this issue has been predominant in Australian media this week. One of our tv and radio personalities was photographed by the paparazzi having a cigarette while pregnant with her third child. She tried to buy the photos to stop them being published, and when she couldn’t, had to confess to her husband, family and the Australian public. The widespread public outrage this caused was amazing. It’s not like we don’t see pregnant women smoking every day, but their faces aren’t plastered all over the news.

I get mad when I see women smoking and drinking while pregnant. I look at them and think I did nothing wrong and lost my baby and you’re so selfish that you don’t even care about your baby’s life. Yep, in those moments I judge and I judge hard. In my opinion, if you wouldn’t feed your baby cigarettes and wine when they’re born, why do you feed it to them before they are?

However, after seeing this woman interviewed, I can feel empathy towards her struggle. She spoke about the shame and embarrassment she felt, and the great lengths she went to to hide it from her family and friends – classic addict behaviour. She spoke about how difficult it was to give it up and how hard she tried – classic addict behaviour. She’s an addict – pure and simple.

I can empathise because I am a recovering addict too – my vice was food – so I could relate to her struggle to give it up. Addicts hide things and are riddled by shame and worthlessness. Addicts live  in a mouse wheel, constantly running around and around trying to beat the cravings. Addicts beat themselves up hard every time they fail in their attempt to give it up. Being an addict sucks!

In the end, addict behaviour is just a coping mechanism and you just have to make the decision enough is enough. One day, I just decided to stop over eating and loose weight. It was hard to say no to temptation but I had to. As a result, I lost 35 kilos and, 10 years later, I haven’t put it back on. It was hard, but the things in life we most need to do often are. But, I still classify myself as an addict because I can still easily revert to over eating as a coping mechanism. I have greater control over it now which is why I’ve kept the weight off, but the tendencies and cravings are still there – they always will be.

In the end, it’s all about willpower. Are we motivated enough to do what we need to do? It’s sad that it’s taken such public backlash for this woman to throw the cigarettes away, but if it has, then that’s a good thing. It’s also a good thing if it’s made other women throw their cigarettes away too. To me, the previous gift of being pregnant should be motivation enough to make better life decisions. Actually, just trying to fall pregnant is motivation enough for me! Bring on the carrot sticks!   

Image by digitalart
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