Pregnant Mothers and Opioid Dependence

Opioids belong to a class of drugs that are naturally found and derived from the opium poppy plant. Opioids are drugs that bind to the opioid receptors in the body. This includes illegal and prescribed drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. Addiction doesn’t just take a toll on your physical health; it also takes a huge toll on your mental health. Addiction affects your brain, and ultimately your mental well-being, more than you think. Substance abuse while pregnant is a serious public health concern that is linked to several harmful consequences to the mother and the baby.

Opioid use and abuse during pregnancy have escalated severely in recent years. According to the CDC:

According to 2019 self-reported data, about 7% of women reported using prescription opioid pain relievers during pregnancy. Of those, 1 in 5 reported misuse opioids which means getting them from a source other than a health care provider or using them for a reason other than to relieve pain.

Opioid use during pregnancy has been linked to many adverse health problems for both the mother and the baby. Most seriously, opioid dependence is linked to maternal death. For the baby, opioid dependence is linked to poor fetal growth, stillbirth, preterm birth, birth defects, and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Pregnant Mothers and Opioid Dependence

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

When an expecting mother abuses opioids while they are pregnant can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS. This consists of a group of conditions that happens when a newborn suffers withdrawal from certain drugs, including opioids. It is also sometimes called neonatal opioids withdrawal syndrome. Signs of withdrawal usually begin within 72 hours after birth. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Tremors
  • Irritability including excessive crying
  • Sleeping problems
  • Seizures
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Stuffy nose and sneezing
  • Poor feeding and sucking
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Loose stools
  • Increased sweating

These symptoms will vary in severity depending on different factors including the amount of the substance the baby was exposed to, the last time it was used, whether the baby was born full-term or premature, and if there were other substances involved.

Danger to Infants Exposed to Opioids

When an infant is exposed to opioids during pregnancy the likelihood of a few different things happening is much higher like being born premature, having poor fetal growth, being born with birth defects, having a longer stay after birth, and re-hospitalization within 30 days after they are born.

Stopping opioids quickly while pregnant is not recommended. In can result in serious consequences including preterm labor, fetal distress, and even a miscarriage. Rapid detoxification during pregnancy is not recommended either because it has been linked to intrauterine stress for the baby. It is recommended for pregnant women to participate in an opioids maintenance treatment with a long-acting synthetic opioid such as buprenorphine. This is because the likelihood of relapse is much higher.

Once you have given birth and have the safe option to get off of all opioids, including an opioid maintenance drug, you can take advantage of one or more of the many treatment options we offer at Garden State Treatment Center. With the help of our team of therapists, we offer one on one, group therapy, as well as many other specialized options to fit each person’s needs. We want to make sure you have the tools you need to avoid relapse in the real world and keep you and your baby safe.

Opioid Addiction Rehab at Garden State Treatment Center

Opioid addiction isn’t an easy thing to face. Luckily you do not have to face it on your own. Our admissions counselors and professionals are available around the clock. We are ready to help you or a loved one overcome the disease of addiction for the sake of your unborn baby. Now is the time to change your life. Let, Garden State Treatment Center, help you do it.