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Addressing Opioid Addiction During Pregnancy

When pregnant women are struggling with opioid addiction, typical forms of treating the addiction come into play. Pregnant women may be in fear of methadone treatment, but does it cause a negative effect?

The following are answers to common questions about opioid addiction and treatment for pregnant women:

"Are opioids safe to use while pregnant?"

If you use opioids while you are pregnant, you can expose your unborn child to considerable harm. This is especially true if you are abusing these drugs.

If you have been using an opioid for a legitimate medical purpose as directed by a qualified physician, you should immediately notify your doctor that you are pregnant. Your doctor can help you decide what course of action is best for you and your baby.

"How will my opioid addiction affect my baby?"

Opioid abuse and addiction can put your baby at risk for a wide range of serious problems, including improper development of the brain or spine, heart defects, preterm delivery, and stillbirth. Also, your baby could be born addicted to opioids, which will cause the child to experience painful withdrawal symptoms. This experience may be referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS).

"Can I get treatment for opioid addiction while I’m pregnant?"

Yes, you can definitely receive treatment for opioid addiction while you are pregnant. When you receive treatment at a center that understands the unique needs of pregnant women, you take an important step on the path towards a much brighter future for yourself and your child.

"How will withdrawal symptoms affect my pregnancy?"

Withdrawal can have a negative impact on your health and the health of your baby. For this reason, organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend medication-assisted treatment for pregnant women who have become addicted to opioids. This form of treatment allows you to end your opioid use without experiencing the pain of withdrawal.

"Will detoxing while pregnant affect my baby?"

As noted in the previous answer, groups including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advise that the stress of detox can pose significant challenges to pregnant women and their unborn children. Thus, medication-assisted treatment, which allows you to stop using opioids without going through detox or withdrawal, may be a better option.

"Is methadone safe for pregnant women?"

Decades of research have demonstrated that, when used as directed within the context of a licensed medication-assisted treatment center, methadone treatment is both safe and beneficial for pregnant women and their unborn children. Benefits of appropriate methadone use during pregnancy include decreased risk of NAS or NOWS, increased gestational age, and higher birth weight.

"Is naloxone dangerous to use while pregnant?"

Studies have documented the safety of medications such as Suboxone, which contains buprenorphine and naloxone, when used by pregnant women as part of a medication-assisted treatment program at a licensed treatment center. If you choose to receive care at a comprehensive treatment center, you’ll work with your treatment team to determine which medication is best for you.

"What opioid addiction medications are OK to use while pregnant?"

Methadone, buprenorphine, and naloxone are among the opioid addiction treatment medications that have proved to be safe for use by pregnant women in the context of a reputable medication-assisted treatment program.

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