Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can be snorted, smoked, or injected by users. It is commonly understood that cocaine abuse comes with a range of negative consequences for both casual users and individuals completely dependent upon this substance. For decades, researchers have studied the specific impact of cocaine use by pregnant mothers on the fetus. It is well-known that any drug use by an expectant mother can damage the baby. However, a new study shows that cocaine abuse by the father of a child can harm a baby before it is born, as well.
How Does Cocaine Abuse in Fathers Affect Children in Utero?
Rats are often used in clinical studies because they share similar genetic and behavioral characteristics with humans, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. Because of this and other characteristics of rodents, they make ideal subjects for learning about human responses to changes in their environment, substances, and social relationships. Patterns detected in laboratory rats often reveal important information about patterns in human reactions and behavior. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania used rats in a clinical study that revealed new information about the effect of cocaine abuse by fathers on their children. The study found that cocaine use by fathers prior to conception of offspring resulted in their male children suffering from impaired memory and learning skills. Interestingly, this only occurred in the male children. Male rats whose fathers ingested cocaine prior to their conception struggled to remember the location of items in their environment and showed changes in the structure of the hippocampus area of the brain. Researchers believe that this is the result of chemical changes in the DNA structure passed on to offspring as the result of cocaine use.
Cocaine Abuse and Children
The information gleaned from this research study indicates that human fathers who engage in cocaine abuse before conceiving children may pass on learning disabilities or other cognitive impairments through DNA. This revelation shows that cocaine abuse by either parent, even prior to the birth of their children, can have long-lasting negative impacts on those children. Before this study was completed, it was already clear that cocaine abuse by parents can harm their kids. When a pregnant mother uses cocaine, it can cause serious complications for the baby in utero, including:
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
- Stunted physical growth
- Behavioral problems
- Cognitive processing impairments
- Trouble with learning, memory, and attention
While it is clear that any use of drugs by pregnant mothers can have a harmful effect on their children, what this recent study shows is that the behavior of the father can also impact that child even prior to their birth. Cocaine abuse by either parent can result in significant mental and physical impairments for their children.
The Overall Risks of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine abuse causes harm beyond that done to the offspring of cocaine-using parents. For individuals who use this drug, the side effects and consequences can be significant. Cocaine abuse can result in:
- Tolerance and addiction
- Damage to the blood vessels in the heart and brain
- High blood pressure
- Paranoia and anxiety
- Erratic behavior
- Heart attack or stroke
- Mood swings
- Impaired social relationships
- Organ damage
Cocaine abuse doesn’t just affect the user; it has destructive impacts on users’ social relationships, especially within the family. Like any substance dependence, cocaine addiction can lead to isolation, unemployment, the breakdown of family structures, problems in romantic relationships, and a host of other social consequences. Unfortunately, these issues can be passed along generations. One of the indicators of someone’s risk of developing an addiction is having a family history of the disease. For children of parents who engage in cocaine abuse, the consequences of that behavior reach beyond the users of the drug.
If you suffer from a cocaine addiction and want to prevent the consequences of the drug for you and for your family, help is available. Cocaine abuse and addiction are difficult to beat because the drug can take a powerful hold over individuals due to its immediate euphoric effects. However, comprehensive treatment can help those who suffer from cocaine addiction to get sober and live fulfilling and healthy lives. At Wellness Retreat Recovery, we specialize in treatment for stimulant addiction, and we use methods that have been proven effective in treating this specific disorder. If you’re ready to take back your life with the help of evidence-based treatment, call us today at 888-821-0238.