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Heroin Dependency During Pregnancy

During your pregnancy, you and your baby share many things. The food you eat, the air you breathe and the blood coursing through your veins are all shared with your developing child. If you use heroin during your pregnancy, you may also be sharing your addiction with your baby. Heroin is known to cross the placenta from the mother’s body to the baby’s body, so each time you use heroin, your baby is using the drug too.

Issues for You

Heroin addiction can make it difficult for you to plan for the future and make good decisions. Heroin can also reduce your inhibitions, allowing you to engage in risky practices that can lead to pregnancy. For example, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, 25.8 percent of women addicted to heroin reported using contraception, compared to 48.5 percent of women who did not use heroin. It’s quite possible that you got pregnant without planning to do so, due to your addiction, and if that’s the case, it’s also quite possible that you used heroin in the early days of your pregnancy when you didn’t even know you were pregnant.

Many women attempt to stop using heroin on their own, but when they do, they develop unpleasant symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Involuntary jerking muscles
  • Queasiness

In addition to all of these symptoms, you might also feel a relentless desire to use heroin again. These cravings could lead you back to drug use, even if you never intended to use the drug again in order to protect your baby. Here’s Joanie’s story which emphasizes the need to seek the best exclusive inpatient addiction treatment before it’s too late:

*Joanie’s Story

“I didn’t know I was pregnant for almost three months. I wrote off my pregnancy symptoms as symptoms of drug withdrawal. Anyway, when I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified that I’d hurt my baby or that I’d get in trouble for having an addicted baby. My doctor helped me find a treatment program, and the staff was wonderful. I got the help I needed to save both my baby and myself.”

Issues for Your Baby

Your baby can also experience withdrawal symptoms during your pregnancy, although those symptoms might be hard for you to see or feel. If you allow the abuse to continue, however, your baby can experience much more severe consequences. For example, according to a study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, babies born to women who were addicted to heroin were significantly shorter and lighter in weight when compared to babies born to mothers who were not addicted to heroin. Some babies develop issues with their thinking and mental capacity, and those issues may follow them for the rest of their lives. Heroin addiction in pregnancy has also been associated with fetal death.

*Baby’s Withdrawal Symptoms

Babies born to heroin-addicted mothers display a cluster of symptoms of withdrawal, including:

  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Stiff joints
  • Convulsions

There Is Hope

Research suggests that the medication buprenorphine is safe for women to use during pregnancy. The drug can quell your cravings, allowing you to move forward with your addiction therapy and stop using heroin. The drug can also quell your baby’s withdrawal symptoms, allowing the child to continue to develop normally and avoid withdrawal symptoms after birth. You might also benefit from therapy programs that do not include drugs, if your addiction isn’t severe and you feel you can handle cravings with therapy alone. Call us today to find out more.