Substance Abuse During Pregnancy: Detoxing for Pregnant Women

March 21, 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 fourth part of a five-part series on Substance Abuse During Pregnancy. In this post, we will cover the topic: Detoxing for Pregnant Women.  If you missed the first three parts, click here to visit our blog page, and make sure to come back in the next few weeks as we cover the final topic.

If you’re a pregnant woman looking for help, please consider a rehab center that is well-versed in treating pregnant women.  Pregnancy necessitates specialized treatment during both detox and addiction treatment. Not all facilities are equipped to help pregnant women, so it’s important to confirm this area of expertise before enrolling in a particular program.

In a 2017 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 22.4% of rehab facilities offered specialized care for pregnant or postpartum women.  Additionally, studies suggest that women abusing substances are more likely to have medical and mental health problems, as well as a history of physical or sexual abuse, and therefore may require dedicated treatment to address these issues as well.

According to SAMHSA, a model detox and rehab program for pregnant women should include:

  • Pregnancy and parenting education
  • Staff with medical, mental health, and addiction treatment backgrounds
  • Continuity with counselors
  • Health and psychiatric services
  • Child care services
  • Transportation services
  • Housing services


Treatment can make a difference. One study found that substance abuse therapy for pregnant women led to increased fetal growth, which lowered the chance of negative neonatal outcomes.  In addition, methadone treatment can lower the risk of relapse, boost adherence with prenatal care, and lead to better outcomes for the newborn.

As discussed in the last blog, part 3 of this series, there are some risks in going through detox while pregnant, such as miscarriage and infant withdrawal symptoms from opioid replacement medications such as methadone and buprenorphine.

However, babies that are born to women on methadone are generally as healthy as other infants.  The long-term effects of methadone on children are unknown, but these babies are much healthier than those born to mothers using heroin.

Additionally, women who are on methadone and are not HIV-positive may breastfeed.  The advantages of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of a small amount of methadone entering breast milk, but any decisions about breastfeeding should be discussed with your doctor.

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!