Do Pregnant Women Have Better Outcomes with Methadone?

Methadone is a treatment option that has been used for pregnant women who are addicted to opioids and attempting to end their dangerous drug abuse. This treatment has often been thought of as much safer for both the mother and the child, but do pregnant women really have better outcomes with methadone?

Methadone vs. Withdrawal

It is clear that continued drug abuse is not safe for pregnant individual nor for the fetus and that this harmful behavior should be treated in whatever way possible to reduce the chances of the individual relapsing or continuing to abuse opioids. However, many individuals believe it will be safer to merely stop taking opioids altogether than to go on methadone maintenance. This is untrue.

If you are dependent on opioids and you suddenly stop taking them, you will go through withdrawal. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Withdrawal for pregnant women is especially dangerous because it causes the uterus to contract and may bring on miscarriage or premature birth.” It can also cause a severe strain on the individual’s body, which will already be under a lot of pressure due to the pregnancy. In addition, individuals who stop abusing opioids but do not receive any type of addiction treatment are very likely to relapse and overdose. Therefore, it is much safer to go on methadone than to simply stop taking opioids at any time but this is especially true if you are pregnant.

Methadone vs. Buprenorphine

newborn buprenorphine

Buprenorphine causes less withdrawal symptoms in newborns.

Buprenorphine is another possible option when it comes to opioid addiction treatment during pregnancy. According to the Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice, “There is growing evidence for the safety of buprenorphine in pregnancy compared to methadone,” and it has been shown that the former medication is associated with fewer neonatal withdrawal symptoms. This can be much safer for the baby because the withdrawal syndrome for newborns is particularly intense.

However, buprenorphine has not been licensed officially for the purpose of treating pregnant individuals addicted to opioids. Because of this, it may be less beneficial to take buprenorphine during pregnancy. In addition, many of the studies associated with buprenorphine’s effectiveness for pregnant patients are “poorly powered.” As such, methadone is officially still the only medication approved to treat an individual in this specific case.

Does Methadone Treatment Create Better Pregnancy Outcomes?

For both the mother and the child, methadone can be a beneficial treatment that helps lead to safer pregnancies, safer births, and better overall outcomes for newborns. SAMHSA states, “The good news is that babies born to mothers on methadone do as well as other babies,” and while we do not know for certain what the long-term effects may be of prenatal exposure to methadone, we do know that babies born to mothers on methadone maintenance treatment are much healthier than those born to mothers on heroin. The treatment has also been found to be safer than serious withdrawal during pregnancy, and it is currently still favored over buprenorphine.

Are You Pregnant and Looking for Methadone Maintenance Treatment?

We can help you find a methadone clinic in your area where you can receive the help you need to stop abusing opioids. Call 800-891-9360 today.