Addiction Treatment for Pregnant Women
Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction during pregnancy is extremely harmful not only to the unborn baby but also to the mother. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug and alcohol abuse while pregnant can result in stillbirth, infant withdrawals, miscarriage, birth deformations and defects, premature birth, low birth weights, and even infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Addiction is known as a chronic disease that often times results in death or jail. The only way to properly recover from addiction is through medical and professional treatment. It is especially important that for pregnant women who are active drug users to receive treatment from an evidence-based treatment program. According to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports close to approximately 10% percent of pregnant women between 15 and 44 years old were active alcoholic drinkers, and over 5% were using illicit drugs. There is no amount of alcohol or drugs that has been deemed safe during pregnancy. Specialized treatment for pregnant women is needed to ensure the safety of the baby and mother during treatment for addiction. The goal of treatment is to purge all the initial drugs or alcohol from the users system and then with therapy discover the core root of the addiction through various therapeutic methodologies. There are many medical needs of pregnant women, and even more-so when dealing with someone who suffers from the disease of addiction.
Many addiction treatment services are provided for pregnant women including the following:
Pediatric care and obstetric care
Counseling and therapy
Transitional tools for continued sobriety after the birth and when treatment is completed
There is a large shortage of centers that accept pregnant women for treatment for drugs and alcohol. A main concern for women is also that legal troubles may come to them, or a loss of their child or children as a result of seeking treatment. Women should seek out addiction treatment themselves before there is a chance for the criminal justice system to get involved. By women taking the initiative to seek help, it often if the legal system is involved this will hurt their legal matters.
There are many qualified treatment centers that understand the many issues surrounding pregnant women who struggle with substance abuse. These facilities work with families, individuals, the legal system, schooling, and job training in order to set a solid foundation for the next chapter in a woman’s life. These programs are designed to help these women stop using alcohol and harmful substances, while developing healthy life skills while providing encouragement, continued hope, and supportive care for both mom and baby are highly beneficial in recovery.
Safe Medical Detox
With drug and alcohol addiction often comes physical dependence, meaning that if these substances are stopped suddenly, difficult and even potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms may ensue. For this reason, even when pregnant, individuals battling addiction are not encouraged to suddenly stop taking drugs or drinking alcohol on their own without professional help. Medical detox provides the safest environment and care for pregnant women as they work to stop taking harmful substances.
When a woman is using drugs and alcohol on a regular basis most of the time there is a physical dependance, this is why
a proper medical detox is needed for pregnant women. When substances are suddenly stopped, the body goes into a withdrawal and some of these symptoms can be life-threatening- especially for the unborn child. It is not encouraged for women to stop using drugs or alcohol without receiving a proper medical supervised detox. The intensity and duration of withdrawal can be variating because of the pregnancy.
Pregnancy alters a woman’s body chemistry and metabolism and can therefore impact withdrawal timelines. The intensity and duration of withdrawal also depend on how long a person has been using drugs; the type, amount, and method of drug abused; and several other biological, environmental, and genetic factors. The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (NY OASAS) publishes the following general timelines for the onset of maternal withdrawal symptoms:
Benzodiazepines: 1-12 days
Alcohol: 6-60 hours
Barbiturates: 4-10 days
Opioids: 12-72 hours
At the end of the day, all drug or alcohol withdrawals are different considering the drug of use, amount, and how long the addiction was. In order to receive the best possible care, it is important that the woman goes through a full medically supervised assessment before entering into a evidence-based treatment program.
According to the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), it is suggested that treatment should be no less than 90 days. In the case where the addict is pregnant, treatment should be longer. This does not have to be an in-house facility. In order to make sure the mother is receiving all the support she needs throughout the treatment and pregnancy typically her primary therapist at high levels of care would suggest to stepping down to an outpatient setting.
Outpatient is great when there are some aspects of treatment still needed such as counseling, peer groups, or additional medical care. In the outpatient setting, the client still meets with a counselor to make sure they are still doing well not only with their pregnancy but also with their recovery journey.
Treatment Programs Catering to Pregnant Women
Detox is not addiction treatment on its own; rather, it’s the first step in a complete addiction treatment program. After detox, individuals should enter into a specialized treatment program. Generally speaking, a residential treatment plan wherein a person can stay in a specialized facility to receive care and supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is preferable and considered to be the optimal level of care for pregnant women. These programs may also offer services for women after the baby is born, including housing and childcare options.
Outpatient programs may be more flexible, especially for women with other children or those who need to continue to work or attend school. In an outpatient addiction treatment program, women attend meetings and sessions during the day and/or evening and go home each night. Childcare and transportation services may be offered. A strong and supportive home environment is imperative for outpatient care.