Monday, 11 April 2016

Methadone: Is It The Answer For A Pregnant Heroin Addict?

What are the long-term effects of babies born addicted to methadone?

Is Methadone a substitute for Heroin?

Is it safe to use during pregnancy?

These are the most common queries asked by the mothers about Methadone Maintenance Therapy. Also, there are a whole other bunch of controversies surrounding the use of Methadone to combat addiction, especially its use by pregnant women. Methadone baby long term effects and the safety of the unborn child make all these questions almost necessary.
Most people discourage mothers from using methadone. Often prescribed to those battling heroin addiction, the powerful drug is not known to come without long-term side effects.


What is Methadone?


Methadone is a synthetic opioid narcotic drug, originally developed in Germany in World War 2. It was first used as a long-acting painkiller in both surgical and cancer patients. From the 1950’s onward, it has been used as a treatment for opioid addiction.
The human body produces its own opiates called Endorphins which sit on special receptors and block pain signals to the brain. Opioids also fit on the same receptors but have a more potent effect. Methadone acts by occupying these receptors and relieving many symptoms of Opioid withdrawal. That’s why it is usually prescribed to expecting mothers who are struggling to give up their drug habits.

Heroin and Methadone


Methadone is a last gasp effort as far as treatment and prescription by a health professional go. If  medical professional feels that prescribing methadone to a pregnant woman will be more in the favor of her health, it means that the benefits outweigh the risk. You have to remember heroine addiction is nasty, methadone may also be nasty, but it is still better than heroine.
According to the National Institute of Health, for pregnant women, it is much safe to use Methadone than to continue with their heroin habit.
As one mother addicted to methadone stated “Heroin is too unpredictable and too lethal also, we struggle with it”.
In pregnancy, a number of over the counter, prescribed and illegal drugs are not allowed but methadone is safe to use. Long-term effects of babies born addicted to methadone are pretty much unheard of.
Although notorious for causing NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome), the long-term effects of babies born addicted to methadone are not major. Risks to the unborn child such as spontaneous abortions, low birth weight, and developmental delays are common in heroin addicts and can’t really be attributed to methadone.
Heroin users also share needles which put the fetus at risk of contacting various infectious diseases like HIV, Hep C, and AIDS, etc.

Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT)


With careful monitoring, methadone can be prescribed long term for the elimination of cravings for illegal and harmful opioids like Heroin. The most effective methodology for the treatment is to combine methadone use with counselling but it requires the patient to come to the clinic daily for their methadone dose. Sometimes this daily hassle is off-putting, but it is better to have methadone baby long term effects rather than heroine baby effects.