Drug and Alcohol Abuse after Abortion

From Life Insight, Vol. 11, No. 2 March 2000

The new website, www.hopeafterabortion.com, offers extensive research on the psychiatric and social consequences of abortion taken from journals of medicine, psychology and the social sciences. A new study, not mentioned on the site, was just published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. It breaks through the barrier of political correctness which seems to be the editorial policy of many American psychology journals.

Authors David Reardon, Ph.D., founder of the Elliot Institute, and Philip Ney, M.D. of the University of British Columbia, reported findings of a survey they conducted to measure the abuse of drugs and alcohol as a means of relieving stress among women following an abortion.

They found that "women who aborted a first pregnancy were five times more likely to report subsequent substance abuse than women who carried to term and they were four times more likely to report substance abuse compared to those who suffered a natural loss of their first pregnancy (i.e., due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or stillbirth)" (Emphasis added). Their findings support prior cited studies showing such a link.

The authors caution that the risk of drug and alcohol abuse actually may be much greater than revealed in survey responses for several reasons. Previous studies have shown that surveys seeking information about past abortions have a poor response rate and, even among those willing to participate, have a high "concealment" rate. Only 14.6% of the 1,526 pregnancies reported in the survey were reported as aborted, substantially below the estimated national rate of 25%. And "demographic comparisons of women who conceal past abortions or who refuse to participate in post-abortion research suggest that they are more likely to match the profile of participants who report greater post-abortion distress." The final survey question asked respondents if they found answering the survey questions "emotionally difficult or disturbing." Those who admitted having aborted their first pregnancy and those who reported substance abuse were far more likely to answer yes to this question.

The authors estimate that one can expect at least 150,000 American women yearly at risk for substance abuse, as a means of coping with abortion-related stress. Disclosure of this risk should be part of informed consent for women considering abortion, and physicians and therapists treating patients with a history of either substance abuse or abortion should be prepared to address both problems with the patient.

Return to Post-Abortion Healing