Heroin Abuse During Pregnancy

Complications from Heroin Abuse During Pregnancy

Heroin is very addictive  and can have lasting complications for individuals who have trouble quitting. Pregnancy can further complicate things for an individual with heroin addiction as the drug can have serious side effects for the baby. Find out more on experiencing complications from heroin use during pregnancy and how to get help for addiction.

Pregnancy and Heroin

The number of people using heroin has skyrocketed more than fifty percent since 2007. Women start using heroin, on average, around ages 23 and 25 while it is also the optimal time for women to experience pregnancy. The overlap presents a problem whereby women who are using heroin are also getting pregnant. The effects of heroin use on a developing fetus can be detrimental to short and long term health for the baby.

Effects of Heroin on Baby

Complications for a child born to a mother who uses heroin can be serious. Withdrawal symptoms for a mother who quits heroin can also affect the unborn child while a baby born to a mother with addiction may also be born addicted. Health and lifestyle issues related to drug use can have adverse consequences for a developing fetus. Some of the other complications include:

  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) or fetal dependency and withdrawal. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, restlessness, seizures, sweating, sleep disturbances and ‘failure to thrive,’
  • Abruptly quitting heroin can result in fetal distress, preterm labor or death of the infant
  • Lifestyle related health problems such as Hepatitis or HIV passed to infant in utero

Treatment Options

Professional treatment is always recommended for drug dependency, particularly when pregnancy is a factor. Treatment centers exist with special programs tailored for pregnant women. Medically supervised detox is critical and ensures optimum outcome for both mother and child. Medication can be distributed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, support proper hydration and nutrition as well as monitor life-threatening events. Women may also be given health examinations and provided treatment where necessary for other underlying health conditions. Separating the pregnant woman from the environment where she may try to self-medicate can be helpful in supporting recovery. In addition, counseling can be helpful for women who experience addiction while pregnant and need help navigating responsibilities of life and motherhood after discharge. Mental and emotional issues, coping mechanisms and triggers are discussed, evaluated and supported throughout treatment. Counseling helps instill confidence in the woman’s sense of self and ability to parent the child without the use of drugs.

Aftercare programs can be especially helpful for women who are pregnant or have a child following heroin addiction. Programs, support and community can be a crucial component of recovery and prevention of relapse for the mother while supporting a healthy environment for the child as well.

Pregnancy is a challenging time. Treatment is a great way to receive support if you or someone you know may be pregnant and addicted to drugs or alcohol. The Villa can help guide you through the process of getting clean for the health of both mom and baby. Call us for more information.