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Drug Rehab for Pregnant Women

Last updated on: Friday, 8 March 2024

Drug rehab centers for pregnant women in Canada provide specific support and care. It should not be a challenging task to find a program that can assist while pregnant. Treatment for pregnant women needs special care and attention with different aspects of withdrawal, care for the baby to come, making sure the mother gets proper nutrients, and more. Drugs can harm the baby so much that it can be irreversible.


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Pregnancy is a different experience for every woman, and women tend to become more focused on their health to support the health of their unborn baby. Women may start to become more conscious of what they are putting into their bodies and how it may affect the child they are carrying. However, when a mother becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, they place themselves at risk and place the child at risk. Drug rehab programs for pregnant women offer specific support and medical care for pregnant women.

A drug rehab center for pregnant women is likely a residential treatment center. There are medical professionals and support staff available to monitor the patient through treatment. Some of the drug rehab centers that treat pregnant women provide childcare support and specific recovery support options after treatment. There are significant risks with abusing drugs or alcohol while pregnant. In addition, women who have children already may need help support while they attend drug rehab.

Overall, many factors play into the risks associated with consuming drugs or alcohol while pregnant. In addition, there are substance-related developmental consequences that could become significant issues later in life. Drug rehab centers for pregnant women help them manage these problems and ensure they have a successful recovery. Women face unique issues when it comes to drug addiction. There are differences based on biology and differences based on culturally defined roles for men and women.

Generally, women use substances differently than men, and it takes less time for them to become addicted. Women respond to substances differently and may have more cravings and more likely to relapse. Sex hormones, for example, can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of drugs. Women who use drugs also experience more physical effects on their heart and blood vessels. In addition, women are more likely to go to the emergency room or die from an overdose or other effects of certain substances.

When Should Pregnant Women Consider Attending Drug Rehab?

There is no bad time for a pregnant woman to consider drug rehab. Any drug that is used while pregnant will pass from the mother to the baby. Street drugs, for example, are particularly troublesome and cause numerous problems and complications for the baby. Mothers that use drugs and experience these complications need medical help and drug rehab. Some of the common complications include placental abruption or premature detachment of the placenta. Miscarriages and preterm labor miscarriage are common, along with premature labor, premature birth, and low birth weight.

The child is also at risk of reduced head circumference and developmental delays. Babies exposed to drugs might be slow to develop and have problems eating, sleeping, seeing, hearing, and moving. Drugs also expose the child to birth defects that alter the shape or function of the baby’s body. Infections are also common, and this can lead to fetal death or maternal death. The baby might be born or addicted or dependent on drugs that the mother has used, and this is referred to a neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Struggling with drug addiction and finding the right help is not easy. Most pregnant women that are addicted to drugs avoid treatment because of the fear of losing the child or children they already have. There is no bad time to consider drug rehab, and drug rehab centers for pregnant women are tailored to the needs of each patient. No matter which type of drug rehab program is chosen, treatment should take the time needed to address all the problems the mother is struggling with.

How to Drug Rehab Programs for Pregnant Women Operate?

The drug rehabilitation process for pregnant women involves different steps. Overall, drug rehab centers for pregnant women are not much different than other forms of treatment. However, drug rehab centers for pregnant women offer support and care tailored to the needs of women struggling with drug addiction. While participating in a drug rehab center for pregnant women, patients can receive obstetric care, prenatal checkups, and any necessary medical treatment. In addition, they have access to nutritional services, healthy diet plans, and structured sleep schedules are maintained.

The first step with drug rehab is a drug detox to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Typically, the severity of withdrawal and drug addiction determines what method of drug detox is needed. Pregnant women experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms would require a medically supervised drug detox program. Medical support and supervision make it possible to safely withdrawal and transition to a drug rehab center. The next phase of drug rehab involves attending a residential or outpatient drug rehab center. Residential drug rehab programs are the better option for pregnant women because more support is provided.

Physical and psychological healthcare is also an integral aspect of drug rehab. For example, this may include individual and group therapy sessions. Behavioural therapies delve into what may have led to substance abuse and help patients learn new ways of thinking that support healthy behaviours and habits. Common behavioural therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy, 12-step facilitation, motivational enhancement, or family-based therapies.

Additionally, peer support and recovery support are essential. Peer support groups for pregnant women provide encouragement and mental strength for maintaining long-term abstinence. Some peer support groups are specifically designed to foster a healthy social and peer network for pregnant women who struggle with drug addiction. These groups can also provide emotional support and understanding from others in similar situations. Overall, transitional programs and aftercare services can offer educational programs, vocational training, relapse prevention, childcare services, and housing options for women and their newborns.

Are There Alternatives to Drug Rehab for Pregnant Women?

Some of the alternatives to traditional drug rehab programs are self-help groups, such as Women for Sobriety. Recovery programs like these offer education and help tailored to the unique and emotional needs of women. In addition, one on one sobriety coaching is a good option to consider. Sober coaches offer 24-hour support and help during recovery and help each patient discover new routines and practices to prevent their clients from giving in to temptation. Outpatient drug rehab programs are also effective options and an alternative to traditional residential treatment.

Outpatient drug rehab services allow for pregnant women to still care for their children and access support while they live at home. It is not always easy to commit to residential drug rehab. Some pregnant women are not in a position to make that commitment. Outpatient drug rehab programs provide individual and group counselling, educational tools, and aftercare support. Overall, no one form of drug rehab is right for every person. Treatment settings and interventions should meet the needs of the patient attending treatment.

Substance Abuse Among Pregnant Women

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, women’s drug abuse is a major public health problem in Canada. Survey data gathered at the time of this report indicated that 10.5% of women smoked cigarettes daily or occasionally during the last three months of pregnancy. In addition, 10.5% of women reported drinking alcohol during their pregnancy, and one percent used street drugs during pregnancy. Other survey data indicated that around 11% of pregnant women consumed alcohol, and 13% smoked cigarettes during the past month. In addition, 5% of pregnant women also reported illicit drug use during pregnancy.

Some reports have indicated that not all women who use substances during pregnancy have a drug addiction. In Canada, over the past 15 years, girls’ and women’s substance use has been on the rise. Alcohol is the most commonly used substance by girls and women, and women, more often than men, abuse prescription drugs. In addition, more women tend to cope with emotional or relational problems by using substances. Parenting or pregnant women often face unique struggles on top of their substance-related difficulties. Stigma is the most common reason why so many pregnant women do not seek help for their drug addiction.

Ask a Professional

  • What is a drug rehab center for pregnant women?

    These are drug rehab centers for pregnant women addicted to drugs or alcohol. Using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy exposes not just the woman but also her developing fetus. It is critical to have adequate medical support while pregnant women undergo therapy.

  • Do drug rehab centers for pregnant women provide detox and therapy?

    Yes, detox and therapy are provided with adequate medical supervision. The physiological changes that occur during pregnancy give rise to unique medical and psychological complications, leading to specific needs for pregnant women during detox and therapy.

  • What type of help is provided for pregnant women at drug rehab?

    These drug rehab programs work to address women’s needs from a holistic perspective and strive to reduce barriers to accessing care. In addition, there is medical support and other behavioral therapies. These programs have shown significant success in engaging women early in their pregnancy.

  • Does drug rehab for women help the client keep their child?

    Yes, these programs have shown success in helping women complete their treatment and increasing the likelihood that the patient will retain custody of their child.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from DrugRehab.ca’s “Ask a Professional” are answered by Nickolaus Hayes. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at N.hayes@drugrehab.ca.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.