Navigating the Challenges: How to Safely Detox and Seek Treatment while Pregnant

Pregnancy is a precious time in a woman’s life, but it can also be challenging, especially for those struggling with substance use disorders. The stigma surrounding addiction during pregnancy can make it difficult for individuals to seek the help they need. However, it is crucial to prioritize both the health of the pregnant person and the unborn child. In this article, we will explore the dangers of substance use during pregnancy, the risks associated with different substances, and the importance of seeking treatment. We will also discuss detoxification during pregnancy and the available treatment options.

The Dangers and Risks of Substance Use During Pregnancy

Using substances such as alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, or misusing prescription medications during pregnancy can have severe health consequences for both the pregnant person and the fetus. These substances can easily pass through the placenta and affect the developing baby. The risks depend on the type, amount, duration, and frequency of substance use during pregnancy. Let’s examine the specific effects of different substances:

Effects of Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of chronic behavioral, physical, and cognitive disabilities in the developing child known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Some symptoms and effects of FASD include facial differences, smaller head size at birth, poor coordination, hyperactive behavior, difficulty with attention and memory, speech and language delays, and vision or hearing problems. It is important to note that there is no safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Effects of Opioid Misuse During Pregnancy

Opioid misuse during pregnancy can lead to serious risks for both the parent and the fetus. These risks include maternal death, poor fetal growth and development, premature birth, stillbirth, birth defects, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which causes withdrawal symptoms in infants. It is essential for pregnant individuals struggling with opioid misuse to seek treatment to ensure the health and well-being of both themselves and their babies.

The Effects of Stimulant Misuse During Pregnancy

Misusing stimulant drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, and prescription medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can pose significant risks during pregnancy. These risks include premature membrane rupture, placental abruption, potential cardiovascular issues, preterm labor and birth, and spontaneous miscarriage. It is crucial for pregnant individuals using stimulants to seek professional help and support to minimize these risks.

The Effects of Misusing Sedatives During Pregnancy

The use of sedatives, including benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, and Valium, during pregnancy has become increasingly common. However, using these medications during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, floppy infant syndrome, and withdrawal symptoms in the infant. Pregnant individuals who are using sedatives should consult with healthcare professionals to explore safe alternatives and receive appropriate care.

Effects of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

Marijuana use during pregnancy has been on the rise, and it can have adverse effects on the baby’s growth. Frequent marijuana use during the first and second trimesters has been associated with long-term neurodevelopmental problems in children. Risks associated with marijuana use during pregnancy include stillbirth, low birth weight, altered responses to visual stimuli, increased trembling, and a high-pitched cry in infants. It is crucial for pregnant individuals to avoid marijuana use to ensure the best possible outcomes for their babies.

Effects of Nicotine Use During Pregnancy

Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products, e-cigarettes, or vaping during pregnancy can have detrimental effects on both the pregnant person and the fetus. Nicotine easily passes through the placenta, increasing concentrations in the fetus’s blood. Smoking and vaping can also interfere with the fetus’s oxygen supply, leading to conditions such as birth defects of the mouth and lip, premature birth, miscarriage, low birth weight, brain damage, lung damage, and an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Stopping Substance Use During Pregnancy

If you find yourself struggling with substance use during pregnancy, it is important to seek help and support. However, suddenly stopping or drastically reducing the amount of a substance can be dangerous for both you and the unborn child. It is advisable to consult with healthcare professionals who specialize in addiction and maternal fetal medicine specialists before quitting or cutting back. They can provide guidance and ensure a safe and effective approach to stopping substance use during pregnancy.

Drug Detox During Pregnancy

In some cases, undergoing detox while pregnant may be necessary but poses potential risks. Pregnant individuals may require pharmacological treatment during detox for substances such as benzodiazepines, alcohol, or opioids. Medication-assisted detox ensures that both the pregnant individual and the baby receive controlled care from qualified healthcare professionals. This approach can help improve outcomes for both the pregnant person’s health and the comfort of the unborn child.

Treatment for Substance Use Disorders During Pregnancy

Seeking appropriate treatment for substance use disorders during pregnancy is crucial for minimizing health risks for both the pregnant person and the baby. Pregnancy-specific addiction treatment programs provide comprehensive care, including prenatal care, childcare, parenting classes, pregnancy education and counseling, life skills workshops, and job training and placement. Treatment can occur in various settings, such as inpatient or residential treatment centers and outpatient programs. Intensive outpatient services, which offer a high level of care while allowing individuals to live at home or in a sober living facility, have been found to be effective for pregnant individuals. Federal law also prioritizes pregnant women for admission to government-funded treatment programs, ensuring immediate access to care when a bed becomes available.

If you are seeking substance use treatment while pregnant, reach out to American Addiction Centers (AAC) for help, support, and a path to recovery. AAC’s compassionate admissions navigators can guide you through the treatment admissions process, verify your insurance coverage, and help you find the best treatment program for your needs. Contact AAC’s free, confidential helpline today to take the first step towards a healthier future.


Navigating the challenges of detox and seeking treatment while pregnant can be overwhelming, but it is essential to prioritize the health and well-being of both the pregnant person and the unborn child. Substance use during pregnancy can have severe consequences, but with the right support and treatment, recovery is possible. By seeking professional help, pregnant individuals can access the care they need to ensure the best possible outcomes for themselves and their babies. Remember, you are not alone, and there is hope for a healthier future. Call us now at 855-334-6120.