Moms-to-be and addiction present special needs

Every day there are women who make the decision to stop abusing substances. Most women who use illicit drugs don’t plan to become pregnant. They may not even know they are, and those early weeks of pregnancy are crucial as the baby’s organs are developing. However, when she is addicted to those harmful substances, quitting isn’t easy. A pregnancy at that time adds to the risks already in place.

It is reported that the needs of pregnant women with substance use disorders often are difficult to meet. Insurers often make patients wait for days to get their addiction medications. Pregnant women who are dependent on drugs need bupronephrine. This drug helps the mom-to-be have a healthier pregnancy because it stabilizes her treatment through the pregnancy. Without it, she could relapse, go through withdrawal that could cause early delivery. The woman could lose her baby or expose the baby to infections, advises the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“It is important to closely monitor women who are trying to quit drug use during pregnancy and to provide treatment as needed,” says NIDA.

A recent news report related the story of a nurse who realizes the importance of getting the medications as soon as possible. As soon as she is aware of the delay of a patient’s access to the needed medications she is on the phone talking to pharmacy directors and insurance plan supervisors to expedite the authorization of the drugs.

“Research has established the value of evidence-based treatments for pregnant women (and their babies) including medication,” says NIDA. “Although no medications have been FDA-approved to treat opioid dependence in pregnant women, methadone maintenance combined with prenatal care and a comprehensive drug treatment program can improve many of the detrimental outcomes associated with untreated heroin abuse. However, newborns exposed to methadone during pregnancy still require treatment for withdrawal symptoms.”

Smoking during pregnancy can cause still birth, infant mortality (death under one year of age), sudden infant death syndrome, preterm birth, respiratory problems, slowed fetal growth and low birth weight, advises NIDA.

Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders leading to low birth weight and cognitive and behavioral problems that will last the child’s lifetime.

If the mother uses opioids while she is pregnant the infant is at risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). The infant may also suffer seizures, have respiratory (breathing) problems, feeding difficulties, low birth rate or die.

Some drugs cause birth defects involving the heart, brain, bowel or kidneys.

NIDA says buprenorphine has proven to produce fewer NAS symptoms in babies than methadone, resulting in shorter infant hospital stays.

If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you are pregnant, don’t drink alcohol. If you have an addiction, there is help for you.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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