Last updated: 04/30/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Substance abuse while pregnant carries many risks for both mother and child, and they often need to be addressed during the treatment process to avoid any further damage. Unfortunately, addiction rates among pregnant women have increased over the last few years.
A residential treatment facility typically is designed to provide round-the-clock care of patients. When a person first checks in, their condition is assessed and a treatment plan is established. Treatment will address all aspects of the person’s condition and will function with their needs and wants in mind.
The process can be customized, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it will usually begin with detoxification and withdrawal. Withdrawal can pose several problems for pregnant women, as it puts the body under severe stress that can cause miscarriage or early labor.
In an effort to ease the withdrawal process for both mother and child, maintenance medications like methadone, may be administered. However, medications may not be used by every facility as they do carry some risk for the fetus, which will still go through withdrawal symptoms at birth.
Extended Prenatal Care
Treatment programs, whether they are inpatient or outpatient, are designed to address all of the patient’s needs as they recover. Residential treatment centers that offer programs for pregnant women will have prenatal care that is specifically designed to handle the added issues that substance abuse creates during pregnancy.
As the amount of pregnant women with substance abuse issues increases, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates the amount of programs designed for their care increase. The pregnancy care available at a residential treatment center will be identical to what can be found in any obstetrician’s office or hospital.
A patient can expect their prenatal care will have the same level of priority as their addiction care.
Postnatal Withdrawal & Treatment
Many pregnant addicts will have children that go through withdrawal symptoms at birth. This process is called neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse terms it. NAS puts newborns at a higher risk of complications and difficulties, such as:
- Respiratory problems
- Low birth weight
- Feeding difficulties
Depending on how far along in their pregnancy a patient is, the center may have to address the possibility of NAS developing. A center that is equipped to handle pregnant addicts may have the ability to offer additional treatment for the child as it presents NAS symptoms.
The center may also have information on obstetricians who are experienced with NAS and/or may be better qualified to handle the condition if the mother is still pregnant upon the completion of her treatment.