Addicted to Opiates and Pregnant? Learn Why Methadone (or Suboxone) Is the Best Choice for You and Your Baby.

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Opiate abusing women who get pregnant often feel enormous guilt and anxiety. Many women worry about the stigma of entering into an opiate substitution program while pregnant and also about the possibility that their newborn baby will suffer opiate withdrawals.

And while it is true that getting into an opiate replacement program does put the unborn child at some risk for neonatal withdrawal symptoms, the benefits of opiate replacement therapy far outweigh the risks of continuing opiate abuse.

If you are a pregnant opiate abuser, your doctor will probably counsel you to get into a methadone (or less likely, a Suboxone) treatment program. Here are some of the reasons why such therapeutic programs are recommended:

The Benefits of Methadone for Pregant Women

  • Opiate withdrawal is very hard on the fetus, and can cause miscarriage. The odds of completing the pregnancy to term increase dramatically if a woman participates in a methadone or Suboxone program. Detoxing can trigger spontaneous abortion, and while abusing short acting opiates, the user often cycles into early withdrawal symptoms.
  • The mother's withdrawal symptoms can also trigger early labor and a premature birth.
  • Pregnant women participating in a methadone or Suboxone program will come in frequent contact with health care workers, and are far more likely to receive appropriate pre-natal care. Women who continue to abuse illicit opiates during pregnancy will sometimes avoid going to the doctor out of fear.

  • Women who are actively abusing heroin or pills are more likely to abuse other drugs and alcohol concurrently – placing the fetus at risk of birth defects. People takes risks and make bad choices while high. Getting into a program can help women to act more responsibly and in a clear headed manner.
  • The continuing risk to mother and unborn child of HIV through unsafe injection or sexual practices related to drug abuse.
  • Women who enroll in a methadone program will feel their hunger return. Pregnant women in a methadone program are more likely to eat well and give the fetus the nutrients it needs.
  • Women who participate in an opiate substitution program during their pregnant months benefit from a long period of lucidity, allowing them to ready their lives for motherhood.

No women wants to put their newborn baby through the difficulty of withdrawal, but in a less than ideal scenario, getting into an opiate substitution program is the better choice.

Although methadone remains the advocated treatment of choice for opiate abusing pregnant women (due to its long history of proven safety to mother and infant) there are some that say that Suboxone is as safe and also less likely to cause infant withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone is a much newer drug and research continues to emerge. Talk to your doctor about your suitability for Suboxone, and about whether Buprenorphine containing Suboxone may be right for you and your unborn baby.

Comments 25 comments

aaronsgirl83 profile image

aaronsgirl83 7 years ago from Asheville, North Carolina

Thank you! Finally I have found the right web page. I am 5 months pregnant and i am in the process of switching from suboxone to subutex. I have taken suboxone for a couple of months without a prescription to help with my addiction. My fiancée started the treatment before i did and he has helped me with medication. When i found out i was pregnant, everyone said i can't take the suboxone, i would have to take methadone. I did research and called about 10 doctors and found out i can take subutex.


kerry BOSTON MASS 7 years ago

I WAS ADDICTED TO OXYS AND HERION FOR 11 YEARS, FOUND OUT I WAS REGNANT IN FEBUARY 06....i called my counselor, who at the time SHE and EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD THOUGHT I WAS TOTALLY CLEAN...NEEDLESS TO SAY OPENING UR mouth HELPS..A lot OF PREGNANT GIRLS ARE SO SCARED, i was PETRIFIED TO SAY ANYTHING, WHEN I MET MY SUBOXONE DR FOR THE FIRST TIME HE WAS CARING, CHECKED ME OUT 2x PER WEEK, AND THE OB TOOK EXCELLENT CARE OF ME WHILE I WAS PREG...TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT, I HAD a beautiful baby boy july of 06, and HE WAS BORN NOT WITHDRAWING!!!! SO PLEASE TAKE MY ADVISE, IF UR PREGNANT AND AN ADDICT, OPEN UR MOUTH, PEOPLE WILL HELP YOU!!! GOOD LUCK!! AND GOD BLESS


alize acs 6 years ago

wow! finally im only 2months pregnant and i am an opiate addict i take oxycodone and when i found out i was pregnant everyone said i had to stop taking them or my baby would suffer illnesses. i didn't know what to do because as everybody knows it is very hard to just stop expecially with tha withdrawling and tha sickness of pregnancy ! a friend of mine had methadone and said they weren't sure if it was safe but that it would help a lot if i took methadone when getting off roxys because it helps ur withdraws and shortly after i wouldn't have to take methadone when the withdrawls of the roxys are totally gone . ive been clicking site to site and finally i found an answer ! thank you so much and pray that ill get through this .


Jennifer 6 years ago

I just recently found out I was pregnant, I might be about a month, I was taking up to 160 mgs of oxycodone in two days. I was withdrawaling bad, I only have one connect for methadone, and its cheaper and easier than going to a clinic. My first appt. is april 5th 2010, I am going to be very honest! I wonder if he will help me! I am sooo scared, I need help. Anyone please email me, I need the support, jensAcutebutt@aol.com


Leigh 6 years ago

I am 6-7 weeks pregnant and have been on methadone for shortly over a year. I have a 2 1/2 year old baby boy. When I had him, I was still living the life of a heroin addict in very very active addiction. Somehow, when I found out I was pregnant I stopped using. My mother lives in a different county than me and the town she lives in is tiny, so when it got hard to be around all my friends and my sons father all using in front of me, I went and stayed with her until the end of my pregnancy... my son came out a perfect 7lbs 9oz and was absolutly gorgeous.. although i can not lie, right after i had him and the room finally settled down i went straight to the bathroom and snorted 3 bags... it was back on from that moment forward. i will be completely honest, i could have and would have been a much better mother if i was clean, but i never let my son need for anything and he was always, clean, happy, fed, content, and healthy... finally when enough became enough i got refered to methadone programs by lots of friends, and my brother so in jan 09, at 20 years old i got on methadone. i was really scared because i heard how it was just switchin one drug for another and how it was a million times harder to get off and the withdrawl takes twice as long at the least, but i needed to get my life in order and methadone seemed to be the best option at the time to help me do that. methadone maintenance is supposed to be a 2 year program, it is given so the drug addict can get stable on a dose and once stable start working with a counsler to get their lives in order, getting off other drugs, getting a job, home, whatever. after that your are supposed to taper yourself off with the guidance of your counsler and doctor at a rate that is right for you. well, i was stupid. the first clinic i went to charged me $95 a week and started me on 30mgs, after an hour i got another 10mgs, and the next day 50. Now, i truly believe that no one with an opiod addiction needs over 65mgs (really 50) but i kept going up simply because i was paying $95 for 50mgs wen the next guy in line was paying the same amount for 200mgs... so i got up to 95mgs at my highes and switched clinics to one that took my insurance andwas closer to home. since then i have been determined to get off methadone successfully. i got myself down to 45mgs and just found out i am pregnant. i always told myself that if i got pregnant i would not tell the clinic and continue tapering myself, i convinced myself that it would be better for the baby to withdrawl inside of me and with me rather than watching im/her detox and shiver and shake. it does make me sick that i am going to bring my innocent baby into the world in such a way, but i want this baby to live and even though ive asked around and read some things and blah blah blah, i just think the doctors know better than me. ive seen a lot of preganant women at gthe cinics around here, and even though i don't speak to them ive seen them back in the clinic after they've had their babies, with the babies with them so... the do survive. i know millions of people think pregnant women that are on methadone are cruel, but i believe that we are worried, and scared, and stressed and at a complete loss of wat to do, which is why as bad as its going to hurt me i am going to stay on my methadone and pray for the best for my baby. I live in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and around here methadone is the drug od choice for pregnant opiod abusers. it has been proven safest. one doctore once told me (and though i don't really agree with the way he put it it does make some sence) people who use drugs have an issue. because the drugs make the mentally retarded, so when people aply to be in the MMT program the doctor must determine that the patient is mentally retarded enough to be put on a drug that makes them mentally retarded. methadone is a drug. and methadone and i have a love hate relationship. i hate that i got on methadone, its terrible.. most clinics (at least the ones around here) are only open till 10 or 11 am which means its hard to get a regular job because u have to worry about going to get ur dose every morning, also it is harder to kick and it takes longer, its an inconvience and i hate knowing that i am dependent on this drug, though at the same time methadone saved my life, it did get me off the streets, i have gotten my life in order and gotten on my feet and i know that i will successfully get off of it, and in the begining how could i really complain about paying $95 a week when i spent 5 times that everyday, at the least. every woman who gets pregnant has their own unique journey, and the same goes with women on methadone. i don't knock anyone who tries to detox while pregnant, the only reason i didn't try is because im to chicken shit, and i wish everyone all the best whether u ontinue ur methadone or not. ENJOY UR LIFE N UR LITTLE ONES, THEY GROW WAY TO FAST, AND FUCK WHOEVER SAYS ANYTHING NEGATIVE TO U


shanna ann 6 years ago

my boy friend and I recantly got into a huge fight over me still using and being pregnnent I guess he just did not understand ib the four day that he had kicked me out of our home I went through verrry verry bad withdraws I ended up losing my hild so I suggest if you are one something get help quotting cold turky isn't the way to go trust me


Sarah 5 years ago

I just found out 2 weeks ago that i was pregnant. Im 21yrs old with a bad roxy addiction!! I have been on them ever since 2006... Its really hard to get off of them its more of a mental addiction rather than physically addicted... Im addicted to snorting the pills! I love the drip and the taste of the roxy!I don't really get the sweats and the cold chills any more! I do have pain all over but i was in a horrible car accident when i was 15... I am really scared of what kind of harm I am doing to my unborn baby! I was told you cant just quit cold turkey cuz that would cause the baby to go itno shock or some thing like that... I really need some kind of advice on what to do in this situation. So if any one could help me out that would be great! please email me at sgingerella@yahoo.com thank you so much


SABASHTON 5 years ago

WHY WOULD ANY WOMAN TRY TO GET PREGNANT KNOWING SHE'S AN DICT?


Rachael 5 years ago

Im a mother of 3 girls and I am 14 weeks pregnant I have been on methadone for 6 years due to my back my youngest 2 I took methadone while pregnant and my first did have mild detox my youngest had none my doctors told me this was the safest for me to take so I would say from experince this is better than having your baby suffer my childern have no mental or physical problems at all they are perfect just like the one Im carrying will be


Doreen 5 years ago

If you are using roxi's while pregnant can your baby have defects or mental retardation?


Heather 5 years ago

I am 8 months pregnant and i just recently stopped using oxycodone. I was using quite frequently, but not enough to have withdrawals myself. Will my child go through withdrawals at birth because of me using or no?


mrspoppyhead 5 years ago

first, notice that opiates have not been proven to cause defects in babies like alcohol or crack. the main problems are with the lifestyle issues that can go with addiction. DO NOT RAPID WITHDRAW WHILE PREGNANT. THE RISK OF MISCARRIAGE IS MASSIVE. slow tapering is best. the added responsibility of your child should really help with this. not all babies born to opiate mothers had withdrawal and some mothers continue taken opiates and use breastfeeding to wean their child....sounds harsh but we are dealing with damage limitation in a far from perfect situation. heather,don't use anymore and if you don't have w/ds you and your baby will be fine. remember opiates go through breast milk so try to stay off .....its worth it.


Crystalwilliams@yahoo.com 5 years ago

Im 2and a half months preg. And on suboxone. Should i quit.or keep taking it?


jennifer 4 years ago

i used oxycontin while pregnant very heavily during the first 4 months and i tapered myself off of the pills instead of going to a methadone clinic and my boy is 2 years old now and very smart and very healthy when he was born the nurses and drs had no idea i used when i was pregnant he had no withdrawls no defects or anything. my suggestions are to slowly take urself off the drug or use very little and when ur down to almost nothing take 10 mgs of methadone for 3 days and youl be goood that's what i did with no medical supervision but after i had my child i started using again and now im at the methadone clinc and its reallly helping me become a better person. good luck to everyone and please think of ur baby and be strong u can do it i did !!


Anonymous 4 years ago

I'm 1 1/2 months pregnant I have been off heroin for 3 straight years now.! I was doing bout 15-20 bags a day I joined the methadone clinic may 08 my starting dose was 70mg I weighed 80lbs at the time n im 4'11 Ft tall... After a month I wasn't happy @ 70mgs n e more cuz I wasn't feeling that buzz I felt when I 1st joined...so come march 09/over a10 month period I had gained 25lbs n weighed 105lbs n my dose was 160mgs

about two months of steadily being on 160mgs my sister who was paying my 80$ a week clinic just up n stoped paying so I rapidly detoxed come july i was no longer on the clinic..thankfully my fiancée was also on the clinic n was giving me some of his dose..so I didn't have to run to the city n buy dope..well it's been a while now n he is still helping me.! But we have just learned I am 1 1/2 months pregnant n I m a high risk pregnancy becuz I have several medical problems/conditions..I have suffered several miscarriages due to my medical problems this is the first pregnancy to make it past a week or two so we r very hopeful that god will bless us with a healthy baby but r fearful cuz we can't pay for 1 clinic bill let alone 2.! I'm told that if I go to the local clinic n explain my situation that I will b put on methadone 100% free of charge until I have the baby.! But I also no that u HAVE to test positive for opiates if opiates aren't in my system regardless of If I can pay or not they won't take me unless I'm positive for opiates n methadone

isn't n opiate so I was told I'll just

have to take half of n oxy 80 but

I'm scared it will hurt the baby.! I was told to just crush the pill n put it in my cup of urine n it will test positive.! Idk y I have to do n e of that just to get help y can't I just tell them I was using but found out I m pregnant n began buying methadone off the streets idk someone plz help.!

Also a lot of ppl r telling me not to have all the baby's shots done cuz they might b causing autisum.? Is this true.?


lostandconfused 4 years ago

Can anyone help answer my question? I am 33 weeks along in my pregnancy, I have used heroin maybe 10 times if that during the time, a bag pertime, I am considered an addicted because I use, but I am not dependent on it, I can go with out it, it is not on my mind but when things get really hard for me that is what I turn to to feel better, anyways, my question is being I myself am not dependent of the drug, is there the possibility that my unborn baby can still be born dependent on it? I have not had the drug in my system for over a month now, can it still be in my baby's system?


WOW 4 years ago

I honestly can't believe how many young girls are addicted to this crap and are pregnant... My advice to you girls who are actually my age... GET HELP its not worth hurting your unborn child who doesn't have a choice in the matter. The baby you're carrying didn't ask for a drug addicted mother or to be in pain there first moments in life... if you don't do it for yourself do it for the love of your child. I now understand why so many addicts get their children taken away.. it's because they have no will power to live for their kids instead they wanna depend on a drug. Get help girls... I'm not knocking anyone...I just hate to see a child suffer when it could have been prevented.


dex 4 years ago

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Grey 4 years ago

Great article -- hopefully this counteracts the ignorant opinions that most people hold about methadone and pregnancy.

For information on methadone, Suboxone and drug policy, check out

http://www.aboutmethadone.org


anonymous 4 years ago

No woman WANTS to get pregnant when they are addicted to opiates. It just happens. I got addicted after having my 1st child via c-section. My doctor put me on Roxy 10mg for the pain after surgery. After 2 weeks she put me on Vicodin 5mg. I never thought I'd EVER get addicted after such a short period of time...but I did. I felt my first withdrawal after my Vicodin ran out and all of a sudden the 'addict' in me kicked in...I HAD to have more. I started abusing Roxy's daily. I was only taking one or two 30mg tablets a day but it was enough to where I would hurt badly if I didn't have any. I was embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone, so I hid it. I went on like this for 19mth and that is when I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I was terrified and felt so guilty. It made me very depressed. I tried many times to taper down and wean off myself but it started causing problems--I was having severe cramping and even contractions throughout most of my pregnancy. I had zero luck in my attempts to wean off the Roxycodone. I knew my only chance in saving my baby and being able to keep him/her from being taken from me was to enroll in the methadone program. I started off at 40mg daily, then due to my having contractions and cramping they advised me to keep increasing my dose. I got all the way up to 120mg by the time my baby was delivered. The hospital I gave birth at was very discriminatory and treated me like shit. My baby was born healthy and it wasn't until 4 days later he/she started having mild tremors. He/she would clench hands and arms really tight to his/her chest. There was no fever, diarrhea, or any other signs of withdrawal. As soon as you swaddled him/her, all was fine and happy. He/she loved to be held and ate very well. Well the doctors didn't think my baby was doing good at all and admitted him/her to the NICU. They started him/her on a high dose of morphine every 3 hours and it wasn't until 2 weeks later did they start weaning him/her down. Every time he/her cried they would score against the baby and discontinue weaning for a day. Then after a month in the NICU they started him/her on Phenobarbitol. It helped a lot and he/she did great n weaned down off morphine in less than 2 weeks. But the entire NICU stay was a NIGHTMARE. I was so angry with the way they treated me. One nurse even told me if she see's me with my eyes closed while holding my baby I will be kicked out! Like I was going to nod off or something! My baby came home after 6wks in the hospital and has been great since. Has continued phenobarb until he/she was about 4 mths (it takes a long time to wean off--must be done very gradually) and I successfully weaned off methadone when my baby was 6 mths old. Anyway, the point of this is to say methadone DID save my life and my kids lives. I was able to get a job, a house, and able to save a lot of money and do fun things with my kids on a regular basis. I have been sober since quitting MMT for 2 years now...I don't drink, take ANY prescription pills, and I'm extremely happy about it. I only had a 19 month addiction to Roxy's but it cost me a year on methadone and dealing with mistreatment from everyone. My family did not agree with it and even though I was always a good mother (my kids NEVER went without and luckily I have a great husband who is a great father and provider)I felt so discriminated against. I thought methadone would be seen as treatment and a 'good thing' in the eye of those who have never experienced addiction or understand it...but instead they still treated me as an addict. So I had a LOVE/HATE relationship with MMT. There are many pro's and con's to this program...but the overall main fact is if you want sobriety you have to work hard for it, but you will reach it! I cried every night my baby was in the NICU. I prayed every night for his/her well being and health. I didn't understand why I would see every other pregnant woman at the clinic with their babies and they were all healthy with no w/d. Why did my child have to go through it all? There was a woman at the clinic on 300mg daily of methadone and her baby girl came out withdrawal free. To everyone here, where I live, 120mg is a very low dose (there was one mother on 500mg--I don't know HOW she didn't die! I'd overdose! But she had a bad heroin problem). I strongly believe that it depends on where you live and the percentage of addicts in your city--in regards to what will happen after your baby is born and how baby and you will be treated. My doctors over exaggerated my childs symptoms SOOOO much it was disgusting. EVERY person i would talk to at the clinic could NOT believe how high of a dose of morphine they put him/her on and how long he/she stayed in the hospital. If your doc never see's many mothers on methadone expect him to treat you like shit. I had to drive 3 towns over ever single day for my meds (i drove almost 3 hours round trip for meds, then 2 hours round trip to see my baby in NICU--EVERY SINGLE DAY!) and in that city they seen this issue much more--therefore they weren't as judgmental and they didn't keep your baby for a month in a half for mild tremors. The docs would send the mothers home with a little phenobarb to give once a day and finally wean them off. The babies were ALL fine. I am mad at myself for ever putting my kids through my addiction demons and for any suffering I may have caused them. I am making it up to them EVERY damn day now that I am sober. I live and breathe for my kids and anyone who judges those addicted to anything--FUCK OFF!. Because until you've walked in my shoes and lived the life i've lived you have NO IDEA what i went through. I love how people with zero knowledge about addiction always have the biggest opinions about it...and they are the ones who judge the most. I have no respect for mothers who refuse help and continue using after their baby is born--they are sick and selfish and should never reproduce, but those mothers who acknowledge they have a problem and WANT help are amazing and I think it really shows HOW MUCH they love their unborn baby! I am the end result in MMT, the happy ending and the start of a new sober life! --it does work but it is just that--WORK!! Good Luck to all the mothers on here. I hope everything works out for you and your baby!


Pharme478 4 years ago

Hello! dgcakeb interesting dgcakeb site! I'm really like it! Very, very dgcakeb good!


jgbn 2 years ago

what if the only option I have is at home detoxing from opiates while being pregnant?


girly 2 years ago

jgbn why is that your only option?


silent 2 years ago

Thank u


beebadazz28 19 months ago

I am 30 weeks pregnant and I am a heron. addict I am seining myself off of the drug and need to know will my unborn child still fail a drug screen for heroin if I stop using now please please give me some options and some advice ease

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