Breastfeeding and The Use Of Recreational Drugs

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What Are Recreational Drugs?

Recreational drugs are substances or medications that are taken when there is not a medical reason or need to use them. These substances can change mood, thoughts, and behavior. They can be obtained legally or illegally. They may be used occasionally, or they can become a severe addiction. Some of the most common recreational drugs include amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and prescription pain medications.

Can You Breastfeed If You Use Recreational Drugs?

It is dangerous to use any type of recreational drug during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Drugs do enter the breast milk and they will pass to your baby. This can cause serious damage to your growing, developing child.

Drugs Passed To A Baby Through The Breast Milk Can Cause:

  • Irritability
  • Sleepiness
  • Poor Nursing
  • Weight Loss
  • Neurological Problems
  • Behavioral Issues
  • Death

The use of recreational drugs can also affect your ability to take care of your child. When you abuse mind-altering substances, you are not physically or emotionally able to meet your child's needs. This can put your child at risk for injury and neglect.

Plus, street drugs are not pure. They can be contaminated with other dangerous substances that could cause severe health problems and even death. The use of illegal street drugs can put your life and the life of your baby at risk.

If you take any type of illegal or recreational drug – even just occasionally - the best thing to do for yourself and for your child is to stop using it. If you need help, talk to your doctor or health care provider for assistance.

Breastfeeding and Former Drug Use

If you are a former drug user who has recovered from your addiction, or you are currently in a legitimate methadone treatment program, you may be able to breastfeed.

Talk to your doctor and your baby's doctor about your situation and your desire to breastfeed.


In conclusion, the use of illicit drugs when breastfeeding or when parenting in general, is very dangerous. Drugs do enter the breast milk and will pass to your baby. Drug abuse not only affects your health but your baby's health as well. It can possibly lead to a lifetime of problems for your child including social, emotional and behavioral issues.


American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Riordan, J., Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2010.

Sachs, H. C., et al., Committee on Drugs. (2013). The transfer of drugs and therapeutics into human breast milk: an update on selected topics. Pediatrics, 132(3), e796-e809.

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