Parental Instincts Limit Mothers’ Response to Drugs

By Staff Writer

While rehab facilities may be vital to helping expectant mothers quit their addictions before giving birth, the findings of a new study suggest that parental instincts may take over after mothers give birth and diminish their cravings for drugs.

Parental drug use is a major problem facing children, as individuals who grow up with an addicted parent are significantly more likely to struggle with chemical dependency themselves.

For the study, researchers provided pregnant female laboratory mice with access to cocaine. During pregnancy, brains scans showed mental activity that is commonly associated with addiction. However, after the mice gave birth, their brain activity changed and they no longer exhibited behaviors associated with addiction.

These changes were not permanent, though. When the addicted mothers’ offspring were removed, they showed renewed signs of addiction.

Researchers said that the presence of offspring appeared to cause changes in the way a mother’s brain responds to drug-related cues. Encouraging these parental instincts may help mothers who are addicted to drugs quit their destructive habits, which may benefit both the mother and her children.