Substance Abuse During Pregnancy: Detoxing Defined

March 7, 2023

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life. This is typically a time when she becomes more focused on her own health to support the health of her unborn baby. She may start to become more conscious of what she is putting into her body and how that may affect the child she’s carrying.

However, if the mother is addicted to drugs or alcohol, she may not have the same focus and possibly feel hopeless.  Help is available for pregnant women who struggle with substance abuse. Over the years, more and more rehabilitation programs have begun to incorporate services for pregnant women.

We are currently in the third part of a five-part series on Substance Abuse During Pregnancy. In this post, we will cover the topic: Detoxing Defined.  If you missed the first two parts, click here to visit our blog page, and make sure to come back over the next few weeks as we cover the remaining topics.

It’s imperative that anyone, especially a pregnant woman, be under a doctor’s care to detox from alcohol and/or drugs, both for her safety and for the health of her unborn child.  Detox methods ultimately depend on the substance that has been used, the level of abuse, and the mother’s health and psychiatric history.  Pregnant women, particularly those addicted to alcohol, should seek treatment in an inpatient setting due to the risk of miscarriage during detox.  Those addicted to sedatives and opioids should also consider an inpatient setting with 24-hour medical care.

In some instances, such as opioid addiction, substitute medications like methadone may be used during detox.  The use of methadone, combined with prenatal care, can enhance outcomes for mothers and their babies.  With that said, newborns exposed to methadone may still need treatment for withdrawal symptoms.  Some studies indicate that replacement therapy with buprenorphine (which is also available as Suboxone, a combination product with naloxone) may be associated with less acute infant withdrawal than methadone.

In the case of alcohol detoxification, the process may include the use of other prescribed medications when deemed necessary by a doctor. However, these should be used with caution, as typical medications used in alcohol detox, such as benzodiazepines, may themselves be associated with certain fetal and neonatal risks.  There is little research on other medications often used to augment the treatment of alcohol dependence, such as disulfiram (Antabuse), naltrexone, acamprosate, topiramate, baclofen, and ondansetron.

During the detox period, other recovery resources may be incorporated to help pregnant women learn to live drug-free lives.  While detox and medical stabilization are critical, they do not constitute drug addiction treatment alone.  Detox should be followed by comprehensive therapy to address the causes that led to substance abuse.

A newborn baby’s life is a time for celebration, just as much as each day of sobriety.  Pregnant women can enjoy this fresh journey in life with newfound sobriety and continued recovery.  Comprehensive care, along with a nurturing and supportive environment, offers the baby and mother the best chances for a full recovery.  At Options Health, we would be happy to come alongside you and connect you with the best treatment and rehabilitation centers in our area.

For overall parenting help, we have a wonderful program to help women as they navigate motherhood.  Earn While You Learn (EWYL) is a free program that provides education, emotional support, and material resources to expectant mothers through the toddler years of their baby’s life.  Once enrolled in EWYL, you will be connected with a mentor to guide you through an amazing curriculum of parenting classes where you earn credits to be spent in our Care Closet; where you can get diapers, wipes, baby clothes, baby furniture, and more!

Are you a father?  If so, we have an awesome program for you too!  FIT (Fathers In Training) is a free program that will challenge you to be the best father you can be by walking alongside you through our skill-building fatherhood classes and mentorship.

If you are interested in either of these free programs, please contact us today!

Options Health is a safe place where you can confidentially come and discuss sexual health, pregnancy, and relationship issues with one of our patient advocates.  Feel free to contact us today to take advantage of our free services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasound, pregnancy options consultation, STD testing, and abortion aftercareCall us or text us to schedule an appointment. We are here for you and ready to listen!