Pregnancy comes with many inherent challenges and potential complications. If you're also struggling with substance abuse, the situation becomes even more stressful. Drug and alcohol use is known to harm an unborn child, but the detox process also involves certain risks.
How should women address a problem with drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy? In this post, we'll provide an overview of the detox process and weigh the benefits and risks for pregnant women.
What is Detox?
Detox is a necessary first step in the process of treating substance abuse and addiction. During detox, your body is cleansed of the chemical toxins that accumulate through drug and alcohol abuse. In some cases, a replacement medication acts as a short-term substitute to help you wean off the drug of abuse.
Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, but clients at detox centers are provided with medications to help them manage their discomfort. Health complications may occur during the withdrawal process, so close medical supervision is essential to keep clients safe and stable at all times.
Understanding the Risks
The detox process can be physically difficult in even the simplest cases, but pregnancy adds serious risks and complications to the situation. If a pregnant woman decides to move forward with detox, medical supervision would be the recommended treatment setting due to the round-the-clock monitoring and care.
However, many medical professionals discourage women from undergoing detox during pregnancy. A committee opinion published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated that abrupt opioid withdrawal in pregnant women could result in a number of serious complications, including premature labor, fetal distress and even pregnancy loss.
Pregnant women who are trying to overcome substance abuse face a number of difficult decisions. Detox may not be an appropriate course of action during pregnancy, but continued substance abuse is likely to harm the fetus.
In some cases, alternative treatment options are available. One study, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that buprenorphine was a safe and effective treatment for opioid dependence in pregnant women. Buprenorphine is frequently used in the treatment of opioid addiction. The medication blocks withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings for opioid drugs. Using this medication as a temporary substitute could allow pregnant women to postpone the withdrawal process until after they've given birth.
It's clear that substance abuse can be damaging to a fetus, but the detoxification process has its own set of risks and drawbacks. If you're pregnant and struggling with addiction, it's important to discuss your situation with a medical professional before making any decisions about detox. Your physician will be able to guide you toward the action plan that makes the most sense for you and your unborn child.