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Enlightenment moves forward

There was a time when we did not know the effects of certain substances on the human body. For instance, Coca Cola. When it was launched in 1885 the two main ingredients were cocaine (taken from the coca leaf) and caffeine (from the kola nut), explains NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse at its teen.drugabuse.gov web pages.

“When Coca Cola was invented cocaine was legal and a common ingredient in medicines. People thought it was safe to use in small amounts.”

This “patent medicine” was said to cure headaches, upset stomachs and fatigue. (Anyone remember Dr. Mom giving them coke syrup to stop vomiting?) Patent medicines “often contained ingredients we now know can be addictive, including cocaine and opium, as well as toxic elements like mercury and lead.”

By 1929, cocaine was no longer used in Coca Cola which then became a “soft” drink.

In some cultures, alcohol is believed to have medicinal purposes. I remember the doctor advised my maternal grandmother to keep whisky in the house for that purpose. In some places, drinking alcohol is encouraged for breastfeeding mothers; it’s thought to help produce more milk. But science has proven the opposite, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH.)

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advises that not drinking alcohol while pregnant or breastfeeding is the safest option. “Exposure to alcohol above moderate levels [one standard drink] through breast milk could be damaging to an infant’s development, growth and sleep patterns … It may also adversely affect the mother’s ability to safely care for her child.”

Alcohol levels can be found in breastmilk within 30 minutes and for two to three hours after just one drink. The more drinks with alcohol, the longer it is detectable: two drinks can be detected for four to five hours; three drinks, six to eight hours. Certain factors to be considered are: How much alcohol is consumed? How fast is the alcohol consumed? Is it consumed with food? What is the mother’s weight? How fast is the alcohol broken down in the mother’s body?

The CDC says higher levels of alcohol can interfere with breastmilk production and the ability to feed. Excessive consumption can affect the infant’s sleep patterns and early development.”

Can alcohol harm the unborn child? Yes. Check out FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.) Can alcohol harm a breastfeeding infant? Yes. How do you know your child can be harmed? Maybe you don’t. Are you willing to risk the well being of your child for a beer? Take it another step. What are your consequences for taking the chance? How would FASC affect the rest of your life if you had a child with FASD?

A wise woman told me (when I was growing up) to consider consequences before I decided to do something. Would I be willing to live with any of the possible outcomes if I had to? Wisdom. It comes from experience. Hindsight is 20/20. And I hate it when someone says to me, “You were right. I should have listened to you.”

It’s not about being right. It’s about caring, concern, and love … the strong desire to prevent adverse consequences that can be avoided.

Family Recovery Center helps families to find ways to navigate through the challenges we face. For more information about the agency’s treatment and education programs, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468, or email, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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