Substance abuse and addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a medical condition — and there is treatment. If you’ve come to this article, you’re already one step closer to getting the help you and your unborn child need.
Before we get any further, know this: The information in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. You should never quit drugs “cold turkey” without first consulting a doctor.
Drug detox while pregnant is a serious and complicated process. It’s not one to take on your own. You’ll need the guidance of an experienced medical professional for a safe drug detox while pregnant. But don’t let this scare you. Many pregnant women have been successful in quitting drugs while pregnant. With a little bit of help, you can, too.
If you are wondering how to stop using drugs while pregnant, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). They will never judge you for your addiction; instead, they will connect you with local resources to assist you in your detox journey. You can also locate a treatment center near you online.
In the meantime, learn more about this process below.
How to Detox Drugs Out of Your System While Pregnant
There is no single answer when it comes to how to quit drugs while pregnant. Every person’s detox process will be different, determined by their drug usage (which substances, how long they’ve been using them, etc.) and their pregnancy. This is why you cannot safely try to drug detox while pregnant without professional help. There is simply too much risk and danger involved when it comes to how your body will respond.
Don’t be discouraged — you can take a drug detox while pregnant. The right professional will never shame you for your addiction, and they will work with you to find the right process moving forward. Your and your baby’s safety and well-being will always be of the highest priority.
Here’s how to detox your body from drugs while pregnant in a safe way:
Step 1: Contact a Professional
Before you try weaning yourself off substances or quitting drugs cold turkey while pregnant, please contact a medical professional. This is the only safe way to protect yourself and your unborn baby. A drug detox without medical supervision can put your life in danger.
Many pregnant women choose to undergo a drug detox at an inpatient facility such as a rehabilitation center. There, they can receive support and medical care around the clock, with trained professionals monitoring their health and the health of their babies. Inpatient facilities will typically accept pregnant women no matter what substances they’ve used. They will do everything they can to lessen the symptoms of withdrawal and support you in moving forward with your pregnancy.
You might also choose to undergo drug detox while pregnant at an outpatient facility. However, because of the risk involved in detoxing — compounded by the risk of withdrawal symptoms to your unborn child — it’s highly recommended to commit to a residential, inpatient program instead.
Inpatient facilities often accept insurance, if you have it, or will work with you regarding costs if you don’t have insurance. They also vary in how far in pregnancy they will start a drug detox but, regardless, they should be able to refer you to the help you need.
Find a treatment facility near you with this directory.
Step 2: Be Honest About Your Drug Usage
Once you have found a treatment facility, you will need to be 100 percent honest about your substance addiction. Admitting you have a substance abuse problem is not easy for anyone but, when you’re pregnant, you may feel especially ashamed and worried about your baby being taken away from you should you admit to drug use.
Know this: You have nothing to be ashamed of and, in the vast majority of states, there are no legal actions that can be taken against you while you are pregnant. By asking for help, you are taking the first step toward being the parent your child deserves — and securing a healthy future for the both of you.
Therefore, you need to be completely honest with your healthcare professional. Only that way can they create a plan for stopping drugs while pregnant in safe and efficient manner. Everyone’s detox process will be slightly different, and your doctor needs all the details to determine the best treatment for you.
Step 3: Undergo a Personalized Drug Detox for Pregnant Women
Once your doctor has created a plan for your drug detox while pregnant, you will get started. Detoxes can take anywhere from three to 10 days, depending on the recommended course of action. You may be provided certain medications to manage the side effects of withdrawal. Your doctor will choose medications that have the least chance of affecting your unborn baby.
Sometimes, women are too far along in their pregnancy to stop their substance abuse completely. Instead, a doctor will work with them to lessen the effects of slower withdrawal and protect their baby’s health. Once the child is born, a mother will be able to start a more aggressive detox or be referred to an addiction specialist.
When quitting drugs while pregnant, you should know your doctor will be there to help you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions along the way. Knowledge is power, especially in this important journey to sobriety.
Step 4: Stay Committed to Sobriety
Quitting drugs while pregnant is only part of the process. Once your child is born, you will need to stay committed to sobriety. Your child deserves a parent who can be there for them — practically and emotionally — in the years to come.
A treatment facility can refer you to an addiction specialist or therapist to keep you accountable. Relapses are common after detox, so take the steps to protect yourself and your child. An addiction specialist can help you manage the stressors of postpartum pain and emotions, as well as the new challenges of raising a child and caring for yourself.
If you are concerned about caring for your baby after birth, you have a few options:
- Temporary guardianship: This legal process allows you to temporarily place your child in the custody of a loved one. This may give you the time to solidify your sobriety and improve your situation, so that you can be the parent your child deserves.
- Adoption: If you are concerned about your child’s future with you, you could make the selfless choice to place them for adoption. When you choose this path, you choose to terminate your parental rights — but you also get to choose your child’s parents and stay in contact with them through open adoption. Adoption can be hard, but it may provide a security that your addiction does not allow for. Contact an agency like American Adoptions to learn more.
The Dangers of Quitting Drugs “Cold Turkey” While Pregnant
If you’re committed to the health of your unborn baby, you may be motivated to stop drugs completely. While this is a notable thought, you should never try to break off your substance use totally and abruptly. This can be an extremely dangerous situation for both you and your unborn baby.
If you try to stop drugs after a history of addiction, you force your body to quickly restore balance and adjust to the lack of a substance it has become accustomed to. This can lead to severe physical and psychological symptoms, like:
- Muscle and joint paint
- Sweating and chills
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Severe depression
- Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
- Miscarriage, preterm birth or stillbirth
These effects, in turn, can cause the following in your unborn baby:
- Respiratory distress
- Cognitive and behavioral problems
- Prolonged prenatal hospitalization
- Developmental delays
- Learning, memory and motor difficulties
- And more
While any drug use will affect an unborn baby, a doctor may determine that those risks are smaller than the distress caused by detox and sudden withdrawal. However, every person’s situation is different — which is why you need to work with a medical professional for your drug detox while pregnant, not attempt this journey by yourself.
Whether you are considering quitting drugs cold turkey while pregnant or detoxing from drugs while pregnant, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional today. You will never be judged or shamed for your decision. These professionals are there to help and support you in the months to come, so that you and your child can have the best chance at a future together.
The information in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. Please reach out to a local medical professional for assistance.