Treating Pregnant Women Addicted to Opiates
Pregnant Women Are An Underserved Addicted Population
Opiate addiction is a common problem in America today, and those who find themselves addicted need professional help. Treatment for opiate addiction becomes more complex when the individual in need of treatment is a pregnant woman, because of the potential complications to the mother and the baby before, during, and after treatment.
Heroin Abuse during Pregnancy
Even though heroin is a drug closely related to prescription painkillers, it has even greater impacts on pregnant women and their developing babies. According to the American Pregnancy Association, women who use heroin during their pregnancies expose their unborn babies to other problems, such as bleeding in the brain, breathing difficulties, premature birth, low birth weight, and low blood sugar. Heroin causes a high frequency of miscarriage during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, and it also leads to a host of other problems caused by improper nutrition, inadequate health care, and risky behavior on the part of the impaired mother.
Just as other opioid drug abuse can be treated in pregnant women, heroin addiction can be treated in expecting women. This type of rehab must be done with care, as the fragile life of the baby is at risk. Certain medications have been shown to be safe for managing withdrawal symptoms in pregnant women, and those who seek professional help for their heroin addiction are offering their child the best chance at a healthy life.
Breastfeeding and Opioid Addiction
Because breastfeeding is so beneficial to a developing baby’s immune system and strengthens the mother/child bond, it is generally promoted, even among babies going through neonatal abstinence syndrome. However, mothers that use opioids who want to breastfeed their baby after birth should talk to their doctor about the risks. These drugs pass through the breast milk into the baby’s system and depending on the drug and its dose, it may cause severe effects on the baby. In certain cases, the mother would be advised not to breastfeed because of the danger it would cause to the baby. When in doubt, the mother should consult her physician and follow his or her recommendations for whether or not to breastfeed.
Treatment for Opiate Addiction among Pregnant Women
There are safe and effective treatments available for pregnant women who are addicted to opioid drugs. Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone are relatively safe for the developing child and are widely used in pregnant women in rehab. In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Addiction Medicine support methadone and buprenorphine treatment as best practice for opioid use disorder during pregnancy. Women who are provided with medication-assisted treatment benefit in the following ways, according to NIDA:
Statistics Regarding Opioid Abuse among Pregnant Women
Because of the recent rise in opioid addiction in communities across America, there has been an increase in pregnant women who are addicted to opiates. This poses a great risk to the developing baby, and statistics show this trend could have lasting impacts on society.
- It is estimated that one infant is born exposed to in-utero narcotic abuse every hour in the United States.
- Neonatal abstinence syndrome increased nearly fivefold nationally between 2000 to 2012, coinciding with rising rates of opioid prescribing to pregnant women, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- According to the most recent data available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration., 5.4 percent of pregnant women aged 15 to 44 were reported to be current illicit drug users, and 9.4 percent reported current alcohol use.
- According to the Merck Manual, women who drink alcohol while they are pregnant are nearly 50 percent more likely to have a miscarriage and substantially more likely to give birth to a baby with low birth weight than other women.
- Over the past 10 years, the rate of pregnant women who are dependent on opioids has steadily increased in the United States. In fact, on average, about 21,000 pregnant women aged 15 to 44 misused opioids in the past month, according to combined 2007 to 2012 national surveys on drug use and health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- The CDC found that at least 33 percent of women of childbearing age (15–44) in the Medicaid program, and 25 percent of women of that age with private insurance, received prescription opioids every year between 2008 and 2012.
- 22 percent of pregnant women were prescribed opioids during their pregnancy, according to a 2016 study published in Science Daily.
The Ridge’s Opioid Treatment Program for Pregnant Women
The Ridge is equipped to assist pregnant women who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Our physician-directed program offers the safest, most structured form of rehab, in order to ensure the wellbeing of mother and child alike. We address the issue of pregnancy and opioid addiction through our therapy sessions, individualized care, and basic resources for those going through these major life changes. We enable mothers to take control of their own health, as well as the safety and wellbeing of their developing baby.
The recovery program for pregnant women at The Ridge utilizes Subutex to help manage cravings during pregnancy. We monitor expectant mothers closely during and after rehab and connect them with proper prenatal care. We also connect mothers with a support system they can be a part of throughout their pregnancy and afterward, in order to prevent relapse and encourage ongoing healthy behaviors.
M.O.T.H.E.R. Program at Northland
Northland Treatment Center is the partner organization to The Ridge and is located a short drive away in Milford, Ohio. Once an individual has completed residential treatment at The Ridge, our staff can help them transition to outpatient care at Northland. Northland’s M.O.T.H.E.R. program (Maternal Opiate Treatment and Healthy Educational Resources) is a state-of-the-art program that reaches pregnant women with healthy resources for recovery. This course, which is held once a week for ten weeks, offers expectant moms an additional option for education and support. The curriculum is based on Stephanie Covington’s A Woman’s Journal Helping Women Recover – A Program for Treating Addiction, and participants are encouraged to adopt the Journal’s Sixteen Steps for Discovery & Empowerment.
The program’s focus is on abstinence-based recovery with participants developing crucial maternal skills to achieve positive birth outcomes and lasting life changes for both mother and baby. The M.O.T.H.E.R. program guides expectant mothers through pregnancy and provides them with resources and tools for motherhood, all while helping them through addiction recovery.
M.O.T.H.E.R. Program Goals
In addition to improved birth outcomes and long-term recovery, the objectives of the M.O.T.H.E.R. program include:
The best thing a mother-to-be can do for her developing child is to get help for her opioid addiction as soon as she can. There are certainly risks for these women as they embark on withdrawal and recovery, but with the right kind of care, women can rest assured that they are doing what is best for themselves and for their baby.
If you are pregnant and struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we can help. The Ridge offers specialized treatment for pregnant women who are addicted to opioids. We offer structured detox and inpatient care, and we partner closely with Northland and their M.O.T.H.E.R. program. If you need help, please contact us today.