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Skip Navigation LinksCurriculum for Addiction Professionals > Competency 5: Continuing Care of Families Affected by FASD > 8a. Role of Family in Preventing Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies

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Competence 5: Continuing Care of Families Affected by FASD

Continuing Care Issues for Families with an Individual with an FASD, Continued

Role of Family in Preventing Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies

Doctor providing consultation to pregnant woman

Women with an FASD are at risk of having children with an FASD. Although FASD is not inherited, women with an FASD may be genetically predisposed to alcohol problems and may have problems using birth control effectively. Families can create an environment that supports recovery and promotes alcohol-free pregnancies and safe sexual practices.

Need for Family To Accept Client’s Disability

Families may have difficulty accepting the individual’s FASD, especially if she has a typical IQ. They may think she is old enough to know better or wonder why she does not learn. Family members may be frustrated that the client relapses or returns to groups of friends who drink and use drugs. It is important to help them understand the woman’s cognitive and social limitations and find ways to cope. Their understanding can go a long way toward promoting ongoing recovery.

African-American woman holding smiling and laughing baby up in the air
Anger Toward Birth Mother

In some cases, the spouse and family may blame the woman for drinking during pregnancy.  The family may need counseling to work through their anger and possible feelings of guilt for not doing more to stop the woman from drinking while pregnant. If the client with an FASD is adopted, the family may be angry with the birth mother and resentful for not being told that the birth mother drank while pregnant.

These feelings may be difficult for the client to handle if she loves her birth mother. She may feel torn between her birth mother and her adopted family. She and her family may need counseling to address their feelings toward the client’s birth mother. Helping the client work through these issues with the family can help reduce stress and anger that can lead to relapse.




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