People with opioid use disorders come from many walks of life. Pregnant women are no exception.

Numerous studies have linked drug misuse during pregnancy with severe birth defects and negative outcomes for both mothers and babies. Therefore, addiction treatment becomes especially important and time-sensitive when you are pregnant.

One of the treatments available for those with an opioid use disorder is methadone. But is methadone a safe addiction treatment option for pregnant women and their unborn babies?

What Is Methadone?

For decades, methadone has been used to treat those with opioid use disorders. Methadone is a synthetic narcotic that works by interfering with the ability of opioids to stimulate dopamine receptors in the brain.

This drug treatment method can help to block opioids’ access to the brain, thereby reducing cravings for the drug and minimizing withdrawal symptoms. Methadone can help those suffering from a substance use disorder to achieve and maintain sobriety.

Methadone’s Use in Pregnancy

It is important that a mother-to-be is examined by a physician before any specific addiction treatment plan is put into action. That said, methadone is relatively safe and effective during pregnancy.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), methadone treatment can help pregnant women avoid the highly uncomfortable and sometimes painful withdrawal symptoms that are common in those weaning off of drugs.

Withdrawal can be a dangerous situation for pregnant women because it can lead to miscarriage or premature birth as a result of the contraction of the uterus. Methadone can help pregnant women avoid these potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms and increase the odds of giving birth to a healthy, full-term baby.

Methadone treatment can also be effective in helping pregnant women stop their dependence and need to use opioids, which can be beneficial for both the mother and unborn child.

Pregnant woman holding a handful of pills

However, there is still a potential risk for pregnant women who take methadone. Although methadone has been shown to be relatively safe to take during pregnancy, there is no guarantee that no complications will arise as a result of its use.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), methadone maintenance to treat opioid addiction during pregnancy combined with proper prenatal care can reduce many of the hazards associated with methadone for both mother and baby. However, babies who are exposed to methadone throughout pregnancy often have to be treated for withdrawal symptoms.

Further, there are some potentially serious side effects of taking methadone while pregnant. More specifically, babies can be at an increased risk of:

  • Mortality
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Jaundice
  • Thrombocytosis
  • Reduced reproductive function in males

These side effects are potentially severe, but continuing to take opioids during pregnancy can pose an even greater risk for the baby. Whether you choose to use methadone as part of your addiction treatment plan or not, one thing is certain. Taking proactive steps to protect you and your baby can be an effective course of action.

Finding Addiction Treatment

If you have an opioid use disorder in Colorado, now is the best time to find addiction treatment resources available to you. Contact The Recovery Village Palmer Lake to discuss your particular needs and find the right treatment program to address them.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.