17 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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When you are expecting a baby, you do not consume for two; you share whatever you eat with your unborn baby. If you use drugs, consume alcohol, or smoke while pregnant, harmful substances can be passed on to the fetus. If you become pregnant while regularly taking alcohol or drugs, do not let fear of judgment prevent you from pursuing treatment—there are a variety of empathetic treatment courses practiced and prepared to assist you through this tough condition. Pregnant women and moms in drug and alcohol rehabilitation have a safe environment in which to acquire the addiction management they need, giving you and the child the best opportunity for healthy gestation and birth.

Does Rehab Work?

Addictive behavior is not anything to be embarrassed about. It is a long-lasting condition that affects millions of people in the US especially pregnant women. More than 17 million people suffer from alcoholism, and nearly 25 million adults utilize illicit and prescription substances, according to research. Nobody intends to develop alcohol or drug addiction, but you can choose to get assistance and will not be on your own: According to data from addiction recovery and admissions, approximately 5 percent of pregnant women attend rehabilitation for alcohol or drug addiction.

Consequences in the Long Run. A ten-year study undertaken at the University of California demonstrates a strong association between a mother’s drug usage during pregnancy and the onset of serious behavioral issues far ahead in the baby’s development. This analysis sheds light on a distressing but unsurprising subject: the longstanding implications of expectant women’s substance abuse. 

What Is Postpartum Anxiety?

Any drug or alcoholic substance consumed during pregnancy, regardless of how it is consumed—whether by inhaling, sniffing, ingesting, drinking, or injecting—may pass to your fetus. Numerous drugs easily pass through the umbilical cord and placenta, which implies that if you smoke marijuana, your kid is effectively smoking marijuana as well. A recent study indicates that illegal drug use, prescription pain medication use, and tobacco smoking or marijuana while gravid will double or even three times the chance of stillbirth.

Pregnant women may benefit from drug rehab since it can help them avoid harmful dangers. Certain medicines can be lethal to an unborn child if used during pregnancy.  Others can impair prenatal growth or cause other types of long-standing impairment. Pregnant women who use drugs risk the following:

  • Birth weight is too low.
  • Obstetrical anomalies.
  • Withdrawal symptoms following childbirth.
  • The circumference of the head is small.
  • Premature birth.
  • SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Consistent drug usage through pregnancy may potentially trigger withdrawal symptoms in your baby after birth. The nature and intensity of symptoms of withdrawal that you and your infant may experience differ according to the substance of abuse and the frequency with which it was misused. Pregnancy drug rehab can help you avoid the following withdrawal symptoms once your baby is born:

  • Inconsolable infant
  • Skin discoloration.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Crying in excess or at a high pitch.
  • Fever.
  • Psychomotor retardation.
  • Inadequate nutrition.
  • Breathing rapidly.
  • Rapid heart rate or tachycardia
  • Convulsions.
  • Weight gain is slow.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages in pregnancy can potentially cause stillbirth, miscarriage, and a variety of permanent somatic, behavioral, and intellectual problems. Being an alcohol addict during pregnancy increases your risk of developing developmental impairments and decreases your odds of having a healthy child. When you drink alcohol while expecting a child, the substance of alcohol in the blood goes through the umbilical cord to your baby. These conditions are referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Kids with FASDs may exhibit the following behaviors and features:

  • Atypical facial features.
  • Cranium size is small.
  • The stature is shorter than usual.
  • Bodyweight is low.
  • Inadequate musculoskeletal coordination.
  • Excessive activity.
  • Attention-deficit.
  • Inadequate cognition.
  • Struggles with schooling and education (especially with math).
  • Incapacities in learning.
  • Delays in speech and language.
  • Cognitive impairment or low intelligence quotient.
  • Inadequate judgment and reasoning abilities.
  • As an infant, you may experience sleep and sucking difficulties.
  • Issues with vision or hearing.
  • Cardiovascular, bone, and kidney problems.

Substance abuse during pregnancy has an effect on unborn babies since it has an effect on the mothers. This is because the mother is the one who sustains and feeds the unborn kid until he or she is prepared to enter the world. If this is the case and the adverse effects of substance misuse on an unborn child are as broad as those stated above, one can only presume that the adverse effects on the expectant mother are similarly significant.

Adverse Effects of Alcohol on Pregnant Women. One of the detrimental consequences of drinking alcohol on expecting moms is vitamin deficiency. This is partly due to the fact that many pregnant women who drink alcohol consume an unbalanced diet. Additionally, it does not help that these women are carrying newborns who ingest part of the vitamins that do enter their system.

Alcohol addiction can also have a harmful effect on expectant moms by resulting in a miscarriage or stillbirth. This is because the body is not functioning optimally when it consumes copious quantities of alcohol on a daily basis. As a result, heavy alcohol use during pregnancy can weaken the body’s ability to carry a kid to term.

Adverse Impacts of Cocaine on Pregnant Women. Cocaine addiction during pregnancy can result in seizures, hallucinations, difficulty breathing, and cardiac difficulties, as well as miscarriage and stillbirth. Cocaine usage during pregnancy can also result in the development of fluid in the lungs. They may also experience placental abruption before birth.

Detrimental Consequences of Heroin on Pregnant Women. When a pregnant woman uses heroin, she increases her risk of developing dangerously high blood pressure, placental abruption before birth, third-trimester hemorrhage, or breech birth.

Deleterious Effects of Inhalants on Pregnant Women. Any inhalant medicine can result in life-threatening respiratory issues, seizures or convulsions, or even a coma in a pregnant woman.

Negative Effects of Methamphetamine on Pregnant Women. Methamphetamine addiction can result in loss of pregnancy, placental abruption early in the pregnancy, or even brain injury or a hemorrhage in an expectant mother.

Adverse Effects of PCP/LSD on Pregnant Women. During pregnancy, women who take PCP or LSD may develop disorientation, hallucinations, or delusions. Pregnant women who use PCP or LSD may possibly overdose.

Harmful Influence of Marijuana and Ecstasy on Pregnant Women. Marijuana has a well-documented history of inducing premature labor. The implications of ecstasy use during pregnancy are unknown.

Rehabilitation for pregnant women and girls is available. These include confidential and private programs, and clinicians understand the difficulties associated with alcohol and drug addiction. They are aware that roughly half of all pregnancies in the US are unintended, and hence will not pass judgment on your lack of preparation.  Pregnant women’s alcohol and drug recovery programs understand that pregnancy changes everything, as you are unexpectedly accountable for an additional life.

Additionally, rehabilitation can be a salvation for newborns and mothers. Even the most prepared parents find it extremely stressful to care for an infant. Many pregnant women who remain sober revert soon after the baby is born. Tension and tiredness are potent prompts for women to relapse into drug or alcohol use. Other variables, such as postpartum depression or psychosis, may contribute to new moms self-medicating with alcohol or drugs.

As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), new mothers must abstain from excessive consumption during breastfeeding to protect the baby’s health. Additionally, it is risky to consume alcohol abuse any illegal substance while nursing. While nursing, drug usage might result in convulsions, poor appetite, vomiting, and tremors in the infant. The superlative thing you can do for your baby and yourself is to enroll in pregnancy and new mother rehabilitation program.

Residential treatment for alcohol and drug addiction can be a major accomplishment on the path to recovery from substance abuse problems, particularly for expectant moms who are coping with serious addiction-related challenges and even some who are suffering from dual diagnosis mental health illnesses.

Residential drug addiction treatment programs provide twenty-four-hour supervision and care during your stay at the same treatment center. Inpatient programs located in hospitals provide round-the-clock medical treatment from healthcare professionals. Numerous residential programs that are not hospital-based also provide access to healthcare care when necessary.

If you’re looking for the finest inpatient residential rehabilitation center for mothers and pregnant women in your area, it’s critical to weigh the numerous treatment options offered to ensure that the requirements are fulfilled. The most efficient treatment is tailored to your unique circumstances, whether it is long-term or short-term, residential inpatient, outpatient, or dual diagnosis.

Based on your region, you may discover that there is no suitable management program for expectant mothers in your region. However, if nearby programs exist, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of admission to a local program vs. traveling out of state.

A specialist addiction treatment program can assist pregnant women in safely discontinuing the drug and/or alcohol use while also addressing their medical concerns.

Among the addiction treatment treatments available to pregnant women are the following:

  • Services for detoxification
  • Obstetric and child care
  • Pharmacological methods
  • Counseling and therapy
  • Education and training for parenting
  • Support networks
  • Transitional services
  • Programs for relapse prevention and aftercare

Till 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reported that just 19 states had pregnancy-specific addiction treatment programs. Women may fear legal complications or the loss of their kids if they seek help. Oftentimes, the criminal court system may compel women to seek substance misuse treatment if it is discovered that they are taking drugs while pregnant. Women should be motivated to pursue addiction treatment in order to improve their health and ensure a healthy gestation.

Treatment centers that are sensitive to the suffering of pregnant women can collaborate with individuals and families to provide the groundwork for recovery. Pregnant women have specific treatment needs, and specialized addiction treatment amenities with specialized programs designed to assist these women in quitting dangerous and addictive substances, and developing healthy life skills while encouraging and supporting both mother and baby are extremely helpful in recovery.

The first step toward rehabilitation is detoxification from drugs and alcohol. Detox is crucial for pregnant mothers-to-be because your baby is also detoxing. During detox, your body rids itself of the drugs and alcohol on which it has developed physical dependence. It is critical for pregnant women seeking detoxification to participate in a 24-hour medical institution, such as a hospital or inpatient program. Certain 24-hour detox programs offer continual supervision and care in a social context; while this is frequently helpful and safe for non-pregnant women with minor addictions, it is not a suitable environment for a pregnant mother-to-be. Pregnant women require round-the-clock medical care to avoid and treat problems.

Doctors and nurses supervise the detoxification procedure and handle withdrawal symptoms carefully. Doctors may prescribe medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings for the drug, depending on the substance being eliminated from the body and the intensity of the patient’s dependence. For example, if a pregnant woman is an alcoholic and is at risk of developing withdrawal problems such as grand mal seizures, benzodiazepines may be administered to keep her and her baby safe, but only on an individual basis. This is because studies on the safety of benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, during pregnancy tend to be equivocal. Having said that, if the possible benefits of providing benzos to a pregnant woman appear to outweigh the risk of adverse effects, benzos may be utilized.

Withdrawal from alcohol and narcotics can be extremely harmful, even fatal. Pregnant mothers-to-be drug and alcohol rehab programs have professionals that are educated to manage withdrawal symptoms for both mother and baby. Withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Tremors.
  • Aches and pains in the muscles.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Affective disorders such as anxiety and sadness.
  • Intolerance and agitation.
  • Delirium.
  • Seizures.

Physicians analyses each pregnant woman individually to identify the best course of treatment for her and her baby. They can assist in the management of possible dangers and problems, such as seizures and delirium. Certain pregnant moms will be treated with drugs to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, manage cravings, and aid them in remaining sober during their pregnancy. Pregnant women who are battling opiate addiction can use methadone safely during their pregnancy. Methadone alleviates withdrawal symptoms and protects against potentially fatal relapses. While methadone is safe to use throughout pregnancy, the baby may have withdrawal symptoms following birth.

Pregnancy modifies a woman’s body chemistry and physiology, which can impact the timing for withdrawal. The severity and duration of withdrawal also vary with a woman’s duration of drug usage, the type, amount, and technique of drug abuse, and a variety of other biological, environmental, and genetic factors. According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (NY OASAS), the following general timetables for the development of maternal withdrawal symptoms are published:

  • 8-60 hours for Alcohol
  • 14-72 hours for opioids
  • 2-12 days for benzodiazepines
  • 7 to 10 days for Barbiturates

According to NIDA, there are presently no FDA-approved drugs to explicitly treat opiate or other substance dependence in pregnant women; nevertheless, replacement therapies with low-risk factors are frequently effective during detox. Both buprenorphine and methadone, for example, are long-acting opiates that are routinely taken during detox to substitute shorter-acting opioids such as heroin or prescription medications. While these drugs still carry the risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) after delivery, the symptoms are often less and less serious than those associated with heroin.

Benzodiazepines are frequently used to treat alcohol withdrawal, and long-acting benzodiazepines may be administered in place of shorter-acting ones during detox. Typically, these narcotics are tapered gradually to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and additional medications are frequently effective as well. Medical practitioners engage directly with pregnant women to educate them about the hazards associated with drugs and withdrawal symptoms, as well as to help them strike a good balance. Medical detox can assist pregnant women in regaining bodily stability prior to entering a comprehensive addiction treatment program.

Complications of Pregnancy Detox

Detoxing from opiates is extremely risky, unpleasant, and may result in medical issues during pregnancy. Subutex is the simplest approach for opiates detoxification. Subutex is a synthetic medication that enables patients to gradually detox under the guidance of their physician. Using methadone, another medicine used to detox pregnant women poses additional hazards to the developing fetus and results in a prolonged detox period for both the mother and infant once born. Subutex is significantly safer than any other strategy for both mom and baby when it comes to detoxing from opiate addictions.

How Long Is Detox?

Detoxing with Subutex can take a few days to a few weeks in normal conditions. Federal guidelines mandate that moms be kept on a low dose until the risk of premature labor is minimized. Subutex detoxification will take longer during pregnancy. Detoxification during pregnancy must be closely monitored and controlled for the mother’s and unborn child’s wellbeing. Subutex dosages are administered at predetermined times in place of the medicine that is regularly used.

Pregnant women begin their stay in a medical facility to allow for evaluation and monitoring of both the baby and the mother. While in that medical setting, the mother is weaned off any opiates or benzodiazepines and began on non-addictive drugs.

Pregnant and addicted to drugs can be difficult situations to navigate. Emotions are at an all-time high, and emotional stability may be lacking. Pregnant women frequently struggle to cope with the additional stress or emotions associated with pregnancy. This is especially true for women who are addicted.

Addictions are genetic in nature and are born as a chronic brain disorder. Stress, emotions, despair, and worry are just a few of the reasons why individuals resort to drugs or alcohol for relief. Certain individuals may experience relief when they use an addictive substance, and the relief is so tremendous that they continue to use the substance. Eventually, the body requires increasing amounts of substance use to achieve the same “high,” at which point the body becomes hooked and requires substance use to function.

Alcoholics and their families must remember that addiction is a sickness with a cure. Women who are addicted can and do recover.

A medical detoxification treatment will be required if you are addicted to opiates such as heroin or OxyContin. Medical detoxification is a progressive process that is carried out under the direct supervision and care of a physician. A physician will develop a treatment plan specifically for the pregnant addict. We work with physicians who specialize in Subutex detox. Subutex is used to substitute the drug of choice and is scheduled to be taken at specific intervals throughout the day. Subutex will be tapered off gradually until it is no longer required. Additionally, the lady may require medication-assisted treatment until the kid is born.

There are numerous reasons why pregnant women who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction should seek treatment. Choosing an inpatient program that provides you with all of the benefits necessary to aid in your recovery is critical, and you should consider all of the considerations when selecting a rehab for pregnant women. Choosing one that is remote from home can provide you with a new beginning. It provides you with a new setting in which to go forward without being bound by enticing prior relationships. It may also provide a psychological reset.

Going to a drug rehab facility that is located away from home can also provide fewer distractions and a greater ability to focus. Because family and friends, particularly those who have aided the pregnant woman’s addiction by providing drugs or paying money for drugs or alcohol, will be far away, she will be able to concentrate totally on her recovery. This is critical not only for her but also for the future of her child. Regardless of their location, pregnant women can receive the greatest substance abuse therapy by selecting a rehab.

When picking a drug rehab for pregnant women, always choose a top-of-the-line facility with highly qualified staff and a high success rate. Always ensure that the establishment is not only state-licensed but also nationally accredited.

The ultimate goal is to reclaim a healthy lifestyle following a period of drug and alcohol addiction. This may entail developing new relationships with individuals who are sympathetic to her new recovery journey, returning to or completing education, and finding new employment. The possibilities are virtually limitless! The life skills acquired throughout substance abuse treatment will benefit her as well as an alumna of the program. Long-term sobriety is a realistic and achievable objective for any recovering addict who remains focused on the end goal: a new life free of drugs.

A thorough, evidence-based treatment program has been shown to aid pregnant women in recovering from addiction. Detox alone is insufficient to treat alcoholism and substance abuse problems effectively; it is merely the first stage in the process. Pregnant women and new mothers who are battling with a substance use disorder or misuse require a thorough treatment strategy that tackles their addiction’s fundamental cause. Individuals who exit detox without completing a long-term addiction treatment program run the danger of relapsing.

Individual counseling, community support groups, and group therapy sessions may all be included in a holistic, evidence-based treatment program. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of treatment that can assist pregnant women and new mothers in making more informed choices. CBT teaches patients to recognize maladaptive cognitions and develop healthy coping skills, equipping them to deal with issues without turning to alcohol or drug abuse.

You will encounter various difficult scenarios as a new mom. Acquiring the necessary skills to assist you in dealing with that stress is an excellent approach to looking after yourself and your baby. There are some things you can do as a pregnant lady to better prepare for your future position as a mother. Pregnant mothers-to-be alcohol and drug recovery programs may offer a wide variety of services to assist you in building a healthy family:

  • Counseling and instruction regarding pregnancy.
  • Parenting education classes.
  • Care during pregnancy.
  • Individual, group and family therapy are all available.
  • Workshops on life skills.
  • Job placement and training.

You can still benefit your kid if you are pregnant and have been abusing drugs or alcohol. Taking the first step toward addiction treatment today can make a difference.

Certain pregnant women may struggle with both substance abuse (such as alcohol or drug addiction) and mental health problems (such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder). A customized program can be developed to assist with the treatment of both, a process known as dual diagnosis treatment.

Dual diagnoses necessitate thorough therapy in order to adequately address and correct both diseases. This sort of treatment is provided by treatment clinics that specialize in substance abuse rehabilitation and mental health counseling. You may learn more about dual diagnosis treatment in our dual diagnosis treatment guide.

How soon should I seek medical attention?

The response is immediate. The longer you delay, the greater the risk of difficulties during pregnancy. The longer you delay, the greater the risk of birth abnormalities. If treatment is sought prior to the end of your pregnancy, your baby may be born sober and drug-free, reducing the risk of birth defects and providing your kid with the opportunity for a healthier life and the gift of a mother in recovery.

Infants and Illicit Drugs

Alarmingly, almost 3 million pregnant women take illicit drugs. This equates to 3 million kids born alive or stillborn in a world already fraught with dangers for a small child. Regrettably, the ladies are already addicted prior to becoming pregnant. An unexpected pregnancy mixed with a substance abuse problem might imply a long road to recovery for both the woman and the baby if she seeks treatment.

The Road Ahead for the Addictive Newborn

If the mother does not seek treatment and recovers, the path ahead for the drug-addicted newborn may or may not be a normal physical life. The child’s future is contingent upon the pregnant woman’s decision to keep the child and pursue a drug-free lifestyle.

Domestic violence is another frequently occurring complication of parental drug use. Children are frequently the victims, whether as passive observers or as direct victims of physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse. Stress and neglect can also have a detrimental effect on a child’s health.


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