An individual’s coming-of-age experience is a period marked by making mistakes and learning valuable lessons. But regardless of whether it was planned or not, a teenage pregnancy should be a point in a person’s life that inspires more responsible thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, a dominant proportion of teen moms are bound to their risky tendencies. One of the latest academic endeavors has shed light on some dangerous trends that could threaten the livelihood of not only new mothers, but their children as well.
In 2015’s, “Substance use and teen pregnancy in the United States: Evidence from the NSDUH 2002–2012,” the study’s authors from the University of Texas and Saint Louis University observed the rate of substance use and cases of addiction among pregnant and non-pregnant adolescents. Out of a total of 97,850 participants between the ages of 12 and 17, 59 percent of the sample size reported the use of alcohol or other drugs in the past year. This prevalence is almost two times more than their non-pregnant peers, utilizing the data of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
“[The] findings point not only to a relationship between pregnancy and prior substance use, but also suggest that substance use continues for many teens during pregnancy,” explained study author Dr. Christopher Salas-Wright, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin.
Other sources propose that this could be due to the lack of and varying degree of sexual education that teens learn in school. For example, in Louisiana, legislation only emphasizes abstinence as a preventative strategy and forbids the distribution of any contraceptives to students. Also, the law prohibits any use material depicting homosexual acts, as they are deemed too explicit. Sexual education programs taught at schools vary greatly across America, depending on the district’s unique take on what is appropriate. Moreover, one of the current study’s most worrisome findings was younger pregnant adolescents were much more likely than older pregnant adolescents to use illegal substances.
State representative and public school supporter Patricia Smith said in an interview with The Advocate that the lack of education on sexual topics mandated by her home state is, “really a form of child abuse.” She added, “It is important that we give our children medically factual information so that they can make the right decision.”
If you or another teen you know is engaging in sexual activity without protection, having difficulty controlling sexual behavior or abusing drugs and alcohol while pregnant, it may be a sign of a behavioral compulsion or disorder. At the soonest indication of these symptoms, contact Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego online or call to speak to a member of our team
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer