Is Methadone Treatment for Pregnant Women Equal to Child Abuse?

pregnancy As unbelievable as it sounds, a lower court in New Jersey ruled that the use of methadone to treat opiate addiction in pregnant women is tantamount to child abuse. In response, 76 different health experts and organizations joined together to convince the New Jersey Supreme Court that it was not only dangerous to the mother but to the unborn child as well to allow her to continue abusing street drugs like heroin unchecked during a pregnancy or to advocate for her total and immediate abstinence, both of which could end in a miscarriage or loss of the mother’s life.

The Benefits of Methadone Treatment

Because methadone is itself a controlled and addictive substance, many believe that it is just as harmful as untreated opiate addiction even if dispensed in a therapeutic context. However, it is far less dangerous for a patient to take a small and measured dose of methadone in liquid form in front of a substance abuse treatment professional while meeting regularly with a case worker (as is the standard for methadone treatment in the United States) than it is for someone to manage their own use of toxic drugs that they purchase on the street. Especially for pregnant women, methadone treatment can provide them with an intermediate measure of safety, allowing them to continue getting the regular prenatal care that they need and giving them and their baby the best possible chance of survival. It also allows the new mother to clear her head of the addiction enough to learn how to be a positive parent when the baby is born.

The Risks of Methadone Treatment

Methadone is not a cure for opiate treatment, and it is possible to abuse the drug and continue taking other opiates while taking methadone. Additionally, the baby will certainly be born addicted to methadone and go through withdrawal symptoms upon arrival. Many believe that these two issues preclude methadone from being a viable treatment option for pregnant women. However, the fact is that most babies recover from withdrawal symptoms with the right medical care and thrive in childhood with far fewer effects than if their mother were to continue using heroin throughout pregnancy. The risk of the mother abusing methadone treatment puts her and her baby in no worse danger than if she were left to her own devices in active addiction, but methadone treatment provides opportunities for healthful living that come with recovery.

What Is Right for Your Loved One?

In the end, like everything else about addiction, the final decision on what type of treatment will be most effective is determined on a case-by-case basis. What you or your loved one will need to successfully combat heroin addiction can be determined when you embark upon a comprehensive treatment program. Call us at Axis today and find out how we can help.