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Awareness Needed that Treatment Options Exist for Opiate Dependent Pregnant Women at All Stages of Their Pregnancy

EARLEVILLE, Md., April 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Recovery Centers of America -- It happens. Women who are addicted to alcohol or drugs become pregnant.

Nationally, hospitalization rates of women at delivery with opioid use disorder quadrupled between 1999 and 2014, with many states in the Northeast such as Maryland and Vermont hit particularly hard. The number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome also skyrocketed during this time period.  While no significant studies have been done since, with nearly 50,000 opiate overdose deaths in 2017, according to the United States Center for Disease Control, it's likely that the numbers of addicted pregnant women are even higher today. 

While many want to focus on outrage that a woman becomes pregnant while in active addiction, the focus should be on helping both child and mother.

Outrage is better served by targeting the greed that created thousands of Americans addicted to opioids; some -- women of childbearing age. Addiction is a mental health disease and special care is needed for the health of both the women suffering from addiction, and their babies.

Recovery Centers of America at Bracebridge Hall, has created a program with specialized treatment for pregnant patients. The program has a full team of medical providers, including physicians on staff, who provide individualized care for pregnant women with a substance use disorder.

For pregnant opioid patients, RCA's pregnancy and parenting program has evidence-based treatment for mothers up to the 32nd week of pregnancy. Two types of treatment exist for this patient. First, if the mother is admitted early in her pregnancy (generally before her second trimester), she can choose detoxification or medication-assisted-treatment during supervised residential treatment for her addiction. For patients further along in their pregnancy, however, methadone or buprenorphine treatment is the standard of care as detox carries too many risks to the baby after twelve weeks, according to RCA/Bracebridge Medical Director, Mark Harris, D.O.

Dr. Harris says many patients prefer detox because they want the best thing for their babies and their life as a parent moving forward. However, by the time they learn of their pregnancy and undergo tests needed for admission to treatment, it is often past the first trimester. Dr. Harris explained that medication-assisted-treatment is a safe option for opiate-addicted pregnant patients and their babies throughout the pregnancy. 

Prior to admission, pregnant patients must undergo a detailed medical evaluation, including a level two fetal ultrasound, lab studies, and review by an OB/Gyn.

"It's a tough situation and there is a lot of shame with these patients," said Dr. Harris. "We need to get the word out that the sooner these patients get into treatment, the more options exist for their children's health."

Methadone and buprenorphine treatment are supported by physician associations as best practice for treating opioid use disorder during pregnancy. Methadone has been used to treat pregnant women with opiate addictions since the 1970s. According to the National Institutes of Health (1998), methadone substantially reduces fluctuations in maternal serum opioid levels, so it protects a fetus from repeated withdrawal episodes. Recently, buprenorphine has been shown to offer additional positive results for the baby.

Families can break the cycle of addiction and begin living healthy happy lives. RCA's Pregnant and Parenting Women Program provides health and hope for mothers suffering from a substance use disorder.

Recovery Centers of America (1-800 Recovery) provides evidence-based comprehensive addiction treatment at six inpatient residential facilities in Pennsylvania, NJ, Massachusetts, and Maryland. RCA also provides a full spectrum of Outpatient treatment and Medication-Assisted-Treatment (MAT) at many facilities.

Contact: Terri C. Malenfant

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SOURCE Recovery Centers of America