Addicted to Opiates and Pregnant? Learn Why Methadone (or Suboxone) Is the Best Choice for You and Your Baby.
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.
- Methadone Pregnancy Information
a forum of women discussing their experiences with pregnancy and methadone.