Methadone is an opioid medication that helps people recover from an opioid addiction without suffering intense withdrawal effects. Doctors prescribe this drug mostly for individuals stopping heroin, though it works for all types of opioid withdrawals. But like any other drug, methadone has its risks, particularly for pregnant women.
Let’s explore the health consequences of taking methadone while pregnant.
Why is Methadone Used to Treat Opioid Addictions, Even in Pregnant Women?
If a pregnant woman uses heroin during her pregnancy, she runs the risk of suffering a miscariage or premature birth. Babies can also be born addicted to heroin. This is why doctors will typically put the woman on a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program using methadone.
Methadone is a full opioid agonist that blocks the high from opioids like heroin. It prevents cravings and withdrawal effects and helps people sustain long-term success. Methadone is typically not a cure for an opioid addiction but rather part of an overall treatment plan. Because MAT is medically supervised, it is safer than using heroin during pregnancy.
Is it Safe to Get Pregnant While Taking Methadone?
Taking methadone while pregnant increases the risk for developing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). This condition happens when a mother takes drugs during pregnancy. Because drugs can flow through the placenta and reach the fetus in the womb, the unborn baby can become dependent on drugs, too. When they’re born, they must withdraw from the drugs, causing withdrawal effects.
Taking methadone in a safe, controlled manner may lead to minor NAS symptoms, which is less risky than having a baby born dependent on heroin. Also, NAS is treatable, so it typically does not cause long-term effects. That said, methadone can still cause minor NAS symptoms, especially if the mother is not using the methadone safely and correctly.
What are the Risks of Taking Methadone While Pregnant?
There are known side effects to taking methadone while pregnant:
- Risk of becoming drug dependent
- Withdrawal symptoms shortly after birth
- Respiratory effects like fast breathing or sneezing
- Nervous system problems such as decreased sleep or irritability
- Digestive system issues like slow weight gain, loss of appetite and poor feeding
Contact Drug Help Line Today
If you or someone you love is taking methadone while pregnant, know that help is available. Drug Help Line has a vast network of treatment centers that work specifically with pregnant women who need methadone detox. Contact us today to learn more.