addiction during pregnancy

Choosing to stop drug abuse because of a newly discovered pregnancy is obviously a sound decision. For expecting mothers this process requires the help of a willing physician. Whether one believes addiction is a moral failing or a disease makes a difference in how these moms-to-be are treated. Currently, many practitioners are not equipped to administer opioid replacement therapy to moms and new borns. When dealing with addiction during pregnancy, it is dangerously difficult for an addicted expecting mom to find medical care. Only a handful of states provide the necessary level of care needed. When a pregnant heroin user stops cold turkey, she runs the risk of relapse and miscarriage. Without proper care, abortion rates for addicts also increase. While monitored by a physician, methadone replacement therapy will safely wean her off of heroin while pregnant.

“When a pregnant heroin user stops cold turkey…relapse and miscarriage.”

Effects of Addiction on New Born Children

The new born still has a 60-80% chance of being born opioid dependent. However, trained doctors and nurses are successfully weaning infants from methadone. Recently, doctors and NICU nurses have been trained to treat babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome differently than just 5 years ago. According to NPR Health News, nurses previously were told to separate the addicted mother from the baby.

New research and training has taught the medical community that providing a quiet room for the mother and baby to stay together is healthier for the child. More hospitals are adjusting to the new method of care by offering private rooms for weeks after baby is born. Mom is told to hold the infant as much as possible during the weaning process for a more successful outcome. Hospitals are also providing care through social workers, who set up intensive outpatient programs for the mother to attend upon leaving the hospital to assist with her drug addiction. Because of the better quality of care some hospitals are now providing, mom relapses have decreased and more babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome are healthy and thriving.

Helping Addicts During Pregnancy

Helping addicts during pregnancy is a new concept. Several states have actually invoked punishment for expecting addicts instead of caring for them. While, many other states are just not equipped to administer methadone replacement care yet. Thankfully, states like Ohio and Connecticut have been providing the most provenly effective care to addicted moms and infants over the last few years.