Pregnant woman suffering with headache and nausea

How to Do Drug Detox When You’re Pregnant

When nausea keeps you bellied over and all you want to do is lay in bed and hurl – and it’s 4:24 in the afternoon, the cause is pregnancy or withdrawals. For women who have a drug habit or alcohol addiction and expecting a baby, it’s hard to distinguish between the healthy signs of pregnancy and the need for drug use. For an addict, feeding the fix always comes before nurturing the unborn baby – until the expectant mother decides it’s time to come clean. And in that defining moment that could turn a dead-end road into a journey toward recovery, where would a woman go for gestational drug detox (drug treatment for women during pregnancy)?

Alcohol and Drug Treatment Withdrawals Complicate Pregnancy

The phrase often heard during pregnancy, “you’re eating for two” also applies to drug or alcohol intake and the removal of it, should a detox program be introduced at any point during the nine-month term before birth.

During the treatment and recovery process, the addict (pregnant or not) will undergo shocking and gradual changes to the body and the brain. The very aspects of substance codependency that lured the use in the first place – the ability to numb physical and emotional pain – will be unmasked as the toxins leave the system. With it, a person begins to feel again which can be discomforting.

Add pregnancy into the experience and thoughts or feelings come and go like tidal waves as hormonal fluctuations and bodily changes increase the stress of detox. In addition, these patients are needier than most as self-rediscovery is on a crash course to reality. The pain can be overwhelming but the rewards, magnificent!

If you or someone you care about is an expectant mother, wanting to get off alcohol, drugs or even Methadone or Subutex use for opioid addiction, don’t do it unless you’re under the care of a licensed, medical practitioner with the support of a quality, addiction treatment program and facility. Here’s why.

Dangers of Drug Use to a Baby

As fetuses go through the gestational period, their physiological development begins at different stages.

Bodily System Time Period
Central Nervous System 3 to 40 weeks
Heart 3.5 to 9 weeks
Eyes 4.5 to 40 weeks
Ears 4.5 to 20 weeks
Upper & Lower Limbs 4.5 to 9 weeks
Teeth 6.5 to 40 weeks
Palate 6.75 to 16 weeks
External Genitalia 7 to 40 weeks
Just as daunting as substance abuse during pregnancy can be to the wellbeing of the fetus, getting over addiction before birth also comes with health challenges.
The health of a fetus is tied in to genetics, the health of the mother before and during the pregnancy and the care of both throughout the term. When drugs or alcohol are present, the toxins they bring increase the likelihood of harmful conditions to arise including: birth defects, smaller-than-normal head size, diminished brain growth or function, heart defects, learning disabilities, mental and behavioral disorders, fetal distress, fetal alcohol syndrome (for alcohol use) and more.

Risks of Addiction Treatment to a Baby

The same trauma that an adult goes through during the detox and recovery process also happens to the fetus or baby. Violent shakes, nausea, vomiting and fever are the least of the discomfort. If the withdrawals take place too quickly, especially without proper medical attention and supervision, the baby may not get enough oxygen to the respiratory system, causing death.

For decades, the healthcare community would not endorse addiction treatment for both mother and her fetus until after the birth took place. The school of thought was immersed in misinformation and misperception. Until one doctor changed their minds.

New Approach to How Expectant Mothers Overcome Drug Dependency

When obstetrician Dr. Craig Towers of the University of Tennessee Medical Center and substance abuse coordinator Emily Katz teamed up, little did they know the substantial impact their work would make on the drug rehab business.

Expectant Mothers’ Rate of Opioid Relapse – 70%
Expectant Mothers’ Rate of Opioid Relapse Treated by Towers & Katz – 17%

Together, they treat expectant mothers who can’t seem to kick their drug habit, until they truly want to for the life of their child. Going against the grain of their industry peers, Towers and Katz offer a complete program to their patients that includes physical checkups for mother and fetus, information and insights on how to care for themselves and their baby after birth. But what’s most enlightening is the level of emotional support and aftercare that comes with the treatment – providing the most compelling reason why their rate of relapse into addiction is much lower than other programs.

A case study from the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology focused on the journey of addiction treatment and recovery during pregnancy. Their findings indicate a strong correlation between proper medical care and ongoing aftercare. They conclude with “Once a patient is drug free, intense behavioral health follow-up is needed for continued success.”

Hormones and Habits Increase Risk for Relapse

Hormones play a large role for increasing stress in the mother during pregnancy. Stress, for all addicts, is the leading cause for relapse into substance use. As a woman tries to kick their drug habit during pregnancy, the challenges that come with each trimester can ignite a desire to use. Numbing the body and the mind can alleviate the pain and the fear. This is exactly what one of Dr. Towers’ star patients, Jessica Hill, experienced.

Hill referred to Towers and Katz as a “Godsend”, sighting their compassion and commitment as instrumental in her overcoming her addiction to opioids and giving birth to her baby, clean and sober. At the time she started the addiction treatment program, she was taking Subutex as a harm reduction model of treatment to manage her opioid addiction and prevent relapse. But even the Subutex put her and baby at risk; Towers aimed to wean her off the drug delivering a baby to her as a drug-free patient.

Mother and Baby Deserve a Drug-Free Life

Similar to adults going through drug treatment, newborns require consistent follow up treatment to continue the recovery process and strengthen health and wellness.

America’s Rehab Campuses provides a tailored approach to medical detox and addiction treatment. We also offer specialized gestational drug detox for expectant mothers to ensure better outcomes for newborns and their future.
e gestational period, their physiological development begins at different stages.