Pregnant And Addicted To Opioids

Pregnant And Addicted To Opioids

People with an opiate addiction lack the ability to stop their compulsive drug seeking and use, even when they are faced with possible negative outcomes as a result. This means that opiate addicts will continue to use, regardless of the cost. Even when the cost is the health of their baby. According to findings published in the journal Anesthesiology, more pregnant women are abusing opiates than ever before.

The findings

A review of over 57 million women in the United States admitted for delivery revealed the number of pregnant women who were abusing opiates or had an opiate addiction had risen 127 percent over the course of 14 years. The research reveals opiate addiction, abuse, and dependence among pregnant women rose more than double between 1998 and 2011. Plus, the growth was even greater for women between 20 and 34 years old; for them, it rose 162 percent.

Possible risks

Opiates invite danger into the lives of every user, especially those with an addiction, and pregnant women and their fetuses are not exempt. Opiate use presents serious health risks for both, including the following.

  • Pregnant women with opiate dependence are two times more likely than non-dependent mothers to give birth to stillborn children, premature ones, or to babies who suffer poor growth.
  • Pregnant women with opiate addiction are three times more likely than non-addicted women to have their placenta prematurely separate itself from the uterine wall.
  • Pregnant women with an opiate addiction require considerably longer hospital stays than mother without an addiction.
  • Pregnant women dependent on opiates are almost five times as likely as non-dependent pregnant women to die during their hospitalization.

What can be done?

The lead study author and chief of obstetric anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Lisa R. Leffert, asserts, “there is an urgent need to understand the link with bad outcomes and to develop interventions to help prevent them.”

Much more research is still needed to effectively treat women who are pregnant and addicted to opiates. We hope that the ongoing focus on helping women, and specific new studies that focus on gender specific needs when it comes to addiction recovery become the basis of upcoming treatment changes.

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