Pregnancy and Opiate Addiction
There’s little else more alarming than an opiate addict discovering she is pregnant. It's so easy for one and all to chorus, “just say no,” but the reality as it pertains to opiate addiction is that even with an ironclad commitment to quitting, the process of stopping opiates is extremely challenging and painful and can be especially dangerous for a pregnant woman and her fetus. Here's what women who are pregnant, or planning to be, need to know:
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the number of pregnant women abusing opiates at the time of delivery increased nearly five-fold between the years 2000 and 2009. This is thought to be due to the current opiate abuse epidemic where the problem is not that newly pregnant women start addictive drugs, it's that women often become pregnant while addicted to painkillers. Being pregnant makes getting off these potent drugs even more dangerous and challenging when a fetus is involved.
Danger to Baby
Opiates directly interfere with normal brain chemical functions to the point where the brain starts to depend on the drug's effects in order to carry out normal functions. Once drug materials cross the placenta, a fetus can be affected in different ways:
· Developmental delays
· Damage to the placenta material
· Abnormal uterine contractions
· Reduce blood flow to the placenta
The severity of the addiction and the type of drug used determines the extent of potential harm caused to the fetus. Even when a woman takes opiates for medical reasons, the drug's ability to alter brain chemical functions may impair her body's natural ability to nourish and grow a healthy fetus. Often, babies born to opiate dependent mothers start life as addicts and require immediate medical care.
Opiates have a cumulative effect on fetal development while also interfering with key developmental processes. Since fetal development takes place in stages, the stage in which a woman abuses opiates can have a considerable bearing on pregnancy outcome.
Get Help Today
It is absolutely critical that any woman pregnant, or planning to be, who also uses opiates, get immediate medical help. Pregnant opiate abusers have a much justified fear of Child Protective Services (CPS) who can and will take a baby from its mother if she is abusing opiates, but for the mother who is proactive and gets help, there is hope. To learn more about your options, call us at 1-866-734-2242. Get help today!