The opioid epidemic has been a growing problem for many years now, having devastating effects on both addicts and those around them. Unfortunately, the problem is even more acute for pregnant women, many of whom struggle to find proper care and support during pregnancy.
Every 25 minutes, a baby is born in the United States with some form of drug withdrawal, primarily due to opioid dependence. As a result, more and more pregnant women are being hit with the reality that they are struggling with a drug addiction. In order to properly address this issue, health professionals must take the time to consider the specific risks and challenges when dealing with expectant mothers who suffer from addiction.
For starters, it is important to understand exactly why pregnant women struggle with addiction. Unfortunately, when facing an unplanned pregnancy, many women turn to drugs as a way to cope with the emotional and physical stressors associated with the pregnancy. Additionally, women who were addicted to drugs prior to getting pregnant are often vulnerable to relapse during this emotionally tumultuous time. Furthermore, two recent studies suggest that women who may have already have a history of addiction can find themselves increasingly addicted to certain drugs during pregnancy, due to the correlation between hormonal changes and drug cravings.
When addressing a pregnant woman dealing with an addiction, it is important to consider several factors. Firstly, health care professionals need to assess the woman’s level of addiction in order to create an appropriate treatment program. Treatment options range from inpatient rehab programs to outpatient counseling. While there are risks to both, care should be taken to match the more intensive programs with those who best need them.
It is also important to remember that many pregnant women face unique challenges when it comes to taking necessary steps for a drug-free lifestyle. For example, pregnant women often worry about the consequences of entering an inpatient facility, such as how their child will be taken care of, who will provide for the child, and the cost of their treatment.
Finally, health care professionals should take into account the psychological needs of pregnant women who are battling addiction. Many of these women face intense stigma in their communities, both from family and strangers. As a result, taking extra measures to ensure strict privacy can be beneficial for helping the woman feel safe and supported. Additionally, providing emotional counseling aimed at helping the woman find strength and hope can be invaluable to her recovery and wellbeing.
Addiction during pregnancy is an issue of growing concern, yet there are steps that can be taken to help these women get the care and emotional support they need. Despite the challenges they face, pregnant women who are struggling with addiction can and do recover. With this in mind, it is critical that health care professionals are prepared to provide an appropriate treatment plan and offer the spiritual and emotional comfort these women deserve.