Suboxone is commonly used to treat opioid use disorder. This FDA-approved medication can help those who are dependent on opioids begin the journey to recovery with a strong foundation. But people in recovery who are pregnant have a different set of health concerns. They want to keep both themselves and their child as healthy as possible.
Here’s what health experts know about the benefits and risks of taking Suboxone while pregnant. At Lotus Recovery Centers, we offer Suboxone treatment for Delaware residents who are ready to begin the journey to recovery.
Risks of Opioid Use During Pregnancy
Opioids include prescription and non-prescription medications with ingredients like fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, and morphine. These chemicals can provide temporary pain relief, but they’re extremely addictive and can be damaging and life-threatening.
If you use opioids while you’re pregnant, both you and the baby may experience severe health consequences like:
- Preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication
- Premature birth or stillbirth
- Poor growth of the fetus
Another possible outcome is neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, a condition often seen in infants who are exposed to certain substances in the womb.
When the child is born, they’re no longer exposed to the substance. The effect on their bodies is similar to the effects on an adult opioid user who suddenly stops taking opioids.
Since opioids affect the brain and nervous system, withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Infants with NAS may have symptoms like fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, tremors, or seizures.
To reduce the risk of NAS, it’s important for pregnant people with opioid use disorder to get help for their addiction. Unsupervised withdrawal from opioids can also be dangerous during pregnancy, since both pregnant people and their fetuses may suffer strong withdrawal symptoms.
Medications designed to curb the pain of opioid withdrawal, like methadone and Suboxone, are much safer than opioids themselves for pregnant clients.
How Does a Suboxone Treatment Program Help Fight Addiction?
Suboxone combines two chemicals, buprenorphine, and naloxone, which both work against opioids in different ways.
Buprenorphine binds to the same brain receptors that opioids do. Because of buprenorphine’s effect on the brain, it makes opioid withdrawal symptoms much less severe. Buprenorphine also suppresses opioid cravings people may experience during detox.
Naloxone reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. The presence of naloxone reduces the risk of damage if individuals overdose on Suboxone or take other opioids while using Suboxone.
In a Suboxone treatment program, clients take the medication under the doctor’s supervision. Clients work with the doctor to determine the right dosage and the length of time they should stay on Suboxone—which is safe to take for up to 12 months.
Can Suboxone Cause Side Effects in Pregnant People?
Buprenorphine, one of Suboxone’s active ingredients, is considered a partial opioid. It’s weaker than other opioids, but it still mimics opioids’ effects. Naloxone, the other active ingredient, has been associated with an increased risk for complications in pregnancy.
As a result, there are some risks to taking Suboxone while pregnant. Scientists and medical experts are still researching the full effects of Suboxone on pregnant people and infants.
Babies born to parents who are taking Suboxone may still experience NAS. However, their withdrawal symptoms will be milder than babies born to parents with untreated opioid addictions. NAS can be treated in hospitals, and most babies will recover with no long-term problems.
Some studies show that compared to infants whose parents take methadone (another common medication used in opioid treatment programs), babies whose parents take Suboxone are less likely to have NAS. Babies that do have NAS require less medical intervention and shorter stays in hospitals.
And if a client is taking Suboxone when they become pregnant, doctors may recommend they stay on Suboxone rather than switch to another medication. This helps keep the client’s health stable during the many transitions that pregnancy brings. Suboxone also has a lower potential for abuse compared to other opioid recovery medications.
Each client should work with their medical team to make a plan for their unique prenatal care needs.
Suboxone Treatment in Delaware at Lotus Recovery Centers
Our Suboxone treatment programs in Delaware and West Virginia consider all aspects of our clients’ health, including prenatal concerns. Programs combine medication-assisted treatment with primary care and behavioral counseling. Expecting parents who are recovering from opioid use will have a space for physical and psychological healing.
If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, you may have anxieties and fears about medication-assisted treatment. Contact the staff at Lotus Recovery Centers at 833.922.1615. We’re here to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and work with you to find the best path forward.