According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin use among women has increased by 100 percent over the last 10 years. Not only does this trend negatively affect women, but it can also lead to problems for their babies if they use heroin while pregnant.
A recent article from CBS details this issue, and the story of a woman who became addicted to Percocet as a teenager after having her wisdom teeth removed. The woman was taking a medication intended to keep her from using painkillers when she found out she was pregnant. When her child was born, she weighed only two pounds and experienced withdrawal from the drugs.
When a woman is pregnant and also uses heroin, the effects of the drug are transferred to the fetus, which can result in the fetus also becoming dependent on the drug. When this occurs, it is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). This syndrome can develop if a woman takes narcotic or opiate drugs while pregnant. These can include substances like heroin, methodone and oxycodone.
As a result of the mother's drug use, the baby will be born addicted to the drug. Since it will no longer be receiving the supply of the drug that it was previously receiving through the mother, the baby may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms anywhere from one day to a week after being born. Symptoms may include fever, seizures, poor feeding, rapid breathing, trembling, sweating and vomiting.
After being born, the baby must undergo treatment to help it get through the withdrawal stage, which will be dependent on which drug the mother had been taking during the pregnancy. Babies with NAS typically require hospitalization and medication to help them taper off of the drugs. They also may experience birth defects. Babies born to heroin-addicted mothers may be premature, have a small head circumference or low birth weight or experience sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies whose mothers took drugs while pregnant may experience developmental problems as they grow up. It is possible for women to be treated for heroin addiction during pregnancy, but different medications can have different effects on the developing fetus.
Whether it is heroin, cocaine, alcohol or another substance, using drugs during pregnancy can be detrimental to not only the mother, but the baby as well. Taking drugs during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, stillborn births, premature births and babies who are underweight. It additionally may lead to behavioral problems in children. Addiction requires proper diagnosis and treatment in order to make a full and lasting recovery. The dual diagnosis method plays a critical role in helping those suffering from addiction, as it works to identify the source of the addiction and treat it. This way, those experiencing mental health issues, which often occur in conjunction with addiction, can experience healing.
At Fairwinds addiction treatment centers, our highly trained and experienced clinical teams work with you or your loved one to create an individualized treatment plan addressing addiction and any other underlying factors such as mental health disorders. Founded by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef in 1989, our centers help to foster lasting recovery through clinical treatment, therapeutic counseling and support. Contact Fairwinds Treatment Center today to learn more about our comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment programs.