Is Methadone Harmful During Pregnancy?

What is methadone?

Methadone is an opioid medication used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and relieve pain for people suffering from addiction to heroin and other narcotics. Methadone is only available as a part of drug addiction detoxification programs, and from certified pharmacies. Methadone assists in making withdrawal more manageable, but without providing the same high as the illicit drugs themselves – the user generally just feels numbed and drugged.

Methadone is a long-lasting medication, used for the relief of severe pain. Unfortunately, many people abuse methadone in high doses to achieve a similar high to their preferred drug of choice. The irony in using methadone to cope with a narcotic addiction is that the users commonly become addicted to methadone as well.

Is Methadone harmful during pregnancy?

There is much speculation around whether methadone is safe for opioid dependent pregnant women. At Treatment Alternatives, a Boca Raton rehab center, we understand the concern that comes with taking any kind of medication during a pregnancy. If an expectant mother is using drugs, alcohol, or medication, these substances enter fetal circulation via the placenta. The fetus then becomes dependent on the substance as well. A baby born to a woman with an addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms at birth, and these can be severely damaging to the development of the baby. In some cases, the withdrawal can be fatal.

What does Treatment Alternatives recommend opioid dependent pregnant women do?

Our Boca Raton rehab center believes a drug should be used during pregnancy only if the benefit clearly outweighs the risk to the fetus. Suddenly ceasing intake of the medication is generally associated with a higher risk of relapse to the illicit drug use, so it’s important to talk to a doctor about maintaining and managing your opioid medication during pregnancy so that it’s as safe as possible for your baby.

A clinical trial conducted by NIDA, the Maternal Opioid Treatment Human Experimental Research study found that Buprenorphine is a safe and effective alternative to methadone for opioid dependent pregnant women. The findings showed that infants born to women receiving buprenorphine had milder symptoms of neonatal opioid withdrawal than those born to women receiving methadone.

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