Methadone Treatment vs. Going Cold Turkey: Which is Safer During Pregnancy?

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Pregnancy can be a difficult time in general, let alone having to struggle with an opiate addiction problem along the way. Someone who finds herself in this position not only contends with the addiction itself, but also the worry and guilt surrounding her baby’s health.

Unfortunately, opiate addiction is no respecter of persons, meaning both the mother and the developing fetus suffer the consequences of opiate abuse. Under these conditions, it can be easy to try to go cold turkey out of desperation; however, this approach can actually cause more harm than good.

In terms of safety and overall outcome, methadone treatment offers the best approach for stopping opiate abuse during pregnancy, as well as equipping you with the tools and supports needed to live a drug-free lifestyle for the long-term.

Call our helpline at 800-584-3274 for information on opiate addiction treatment options.

Opiate Addiction Effects During Pregnancy

Methadone Treatment

Methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms for both the mother and the baby.

More often than not, the health of a developing fetus depends on the overall health of the mother throughout the pregnancy term. This means, any adverse effects from opiate abuse experienced by the mother translate to the fetus in one form or another, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Opiates in general work to slow down the body’s major systems through their effects on the brain’s chemical activities. Before long, widespread chemical imbalances develop throughout the body. Over time, these effects hamper the body’s ability to grow and nurture a developing fetus.

Going “Cold Turkey”

As anyone struggling with opiate addiction well knows, reducing or trying to stop drug use altogether brings on a range of unbearable withdrawal effects. People going through severe withdrawal experience intense physical and psychological symptoms, some of which include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Body aches

What many expectant mothers may not realize is a developing fetus experiences withdrawal in ways similar to what the mother experiences. In some instances, a severe withdrawal episode can actually cause spontaneous abortion or premature delivery.

Methadone Treatment Components & Effects

Medication Therapy

Methadone exists as one of the few opiate addiction treatments approved as safe to use during pregnancy. According to the Journal of Addictive Diseases, methadone works by interacting with the same brain chemical processes as addictive opiates, and thereby meeting the brain’s need for opiate effects.

In the process, methadone eliminates withdrawal and drug cravings effects, allowing you to feel normal again, on both a physical and emotional level. Unlike addictive opiates, methadone treatment carries a low risk for abuse and addiction.

Opiate Addiction Treatment Options during Pregnancy: Methadone vs. Buprenorphine

Treatment Supports

The methadone treatment approach also includes a behavior-based treatment component that works to help you develop healthy ways of coping with life’s pressures.

Interventions commonly used include:

The ultimate goal of behavior treatment helps to equip you with the tools and skills needed to build a stable, drug-free lifestyle.

Overall, methadone treatment offers an effective treatment alternative that’s safe for use during pregnancy. Methadone treatment also helps a person break addiction’s hold over her life.

We can help you find needed treatment help. Call our toll-free helpline at 800-584-3274 to speak with one of our addiction counselors about methadone treatment options.


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