Improving Outcomes for Pregnant People with Substance Use Disorders

Published On: March 3rd, 2023Categories: Spectrum Corrections, Treatment & Recovery

When someone with a substance use disorder becomes pregnant, their circumstances can become complicated. They may be faced with decisions that they hadn’t anticipated, and the road ahead could be lined with physical and emotional challenges. But as with any other population, pregnant people have a right to recovery. And, despite the stigma and added hurdles they face, finding recovery from addiction while pregnant is very attainable.

Planning for the Right Outcome

Because not every pregnancy for people with substance use disorders is planned, the first major choice is whether the individual wishes to carry it to term. Unplanned pregnancies — especially those incurred through non-consensual sex or transactional encounters — may be unwanted. But regardless of the desired outcome of the pregnancy, it is always advisable that the individual consult with a medical professional to plan a course of action that meets their needs. These circumstances can induce difficult emotions, like grief, shame, doubt, and sadness, so it is important that the individual knows there are resources available to them.

For those that do wish to carry the pregnancy, the situation can still be challenging. To make not one but two massive life changes within the span of a few months may seem like an overwhelming prospect. Even though pregnancy can work as a powerful motivator for someone to seek treatment, they may still face challenges that require careful navigation.

Myths About Substance Use Treatment and Pregnancy

An unfortunate aspect of seeking treatment while pregnant is the judgement and stigma one may be confronted with. Expectations are often unfairly placed on pregnant people that they should be able to stop using out of sheer will. Sentiments like, You should be able to stop for the baby, are often passed but fail to achieve any results aside from making the individual feel ashamed. Families or partners may take the view that a pregnant person’s continued substance use can be attributed to mere selfishness, ignoring the fact that a substance use disorder is a disease, no different than depression.

Another common myth leveraged against pregnant people with substance use disorders — especially those with opioid dependency — is the belief that it is harmful to use maintenance medication. In truth, 85% to 90% of pregnant people with substance use disorders require medication at some point in their pregnancy to maintain their recovery. When properly managed under the care of a physician, medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is a safe and effective form of treatment for expecting mothers.

Managing Pregnancy and Recovery with Spectrum

At Spectrum Health Systems, we understand that navigating pregnancy while also suffering with a substance use disorder can be a strenuous experience. That’s why we offer a range of pregnancy-related services and provide treatment for the entire pregnancy cycle as well as the neonatal period.

Because pregnancies involving substance use disorders sometimes lead to involvement from the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Spectrum also works with parents and the DCF to ensure the best possible outcome.

Pregnancy can be an exceedingly difficult experience, especially for those with substance use disorders. But by following a plan that includes medical treatment, monitoring, and emotional support, expecting mothers have the best chances of delivering a healthy and happy baby.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or a substance use disorder, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab.

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