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Detoxing From Drugs While Pregnant

What are the Potential Complications of Detoxing From Drugs While Pregnant? Understanding The Medical Detox Process. How to Detox Drugs Out of System When Pregnant? Potential Complications of Withdrawal During Pregnancy. Security and Safety Provided by Medical Oversight During Medical Detox.

Understanding The Detox Process

Detoxing from drugs or alcohol during pregnancy can be dangerous for the expectant mother and unborn baby at all stages of development. However, it can be done safely, under proper supervision and monitoring. Medical detox is a supervised process in which healthcare providers monitor clients and offer medications and supplements to ease withdrawal symptoms and detox as safely as possible — medical drug detox while pregnant should also include a practitioner familiar with OB/GYN practices to ensure that any prescribed medications do not result in complications to the pregnancy.

How does drug and alcohol detoxification work? Drug and alcohol detoxification programs, also known as detox, can help people with substance use disorders begin this journey by providing them with the clinical support they need. Drug and alcohol detoxification is a process that is necessary for anyone who has become physically dependent on a substance. This can develop through chronic or heavy substance use. If you seek out a medical detox program, this process will begin with a clinical assessment, during which time you may be asked questions about your drug use history and health.

Important Disclaimer

We Level Up is a primary medical detox & inpatient alcohol and drug rehab offering dual diagnosis treatments. Please connect with us for medical detox and inpatient rehab when pregnant. Programs, services, and treatments vary. Call to learn more.

detoxing from drugs while pregnant
Medical detox, especially in programs specifically tailored to pregnant women’s circumstances and needs, is often considered the most comfortable and safest way to stop taking alcohol or drugs.

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How to Detox Drugs Out of System When Pregnant?

It may be tempting for a woman to simply stop any and all drug use immediately upon discovering a pregnancy; however, this can be incredibly distressing to the mother and to the fetus. Instead, a medical detox program can help the expectant mother discontinue drug use safely and manage any potential withdrawal symptoms.

Depending on what is needed or deemed necessary, medical detox can be provided in an inpatient program or an outpatient program, but generally, inpatient medical detox is recommended for pregnant women. The risk for seizures during alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal is particularly concerning to both the fetus and the mother.

Dehydration and depletion of essential vitamins and minerals can be side effects of alcohol dependence that need to be closely monitored during detox, as they can be harmful to both mother and baby. Medical detox can provide around-the-clock monitoring of vital signs and mental health to ensure safety and security as well as keep individuals from self-harm.

detoxing from drugs while pregnant
When you are detoxing from drugs while pregnant, it is very likely you will experience strong cravings. 

Detoxing from Drugs While Pregnant

Alcohol or drug withdrawal can be extremely rough on the body and mind even in clinically “perfect” circumstances. Detoxing from drugs while pregnant can worsen these withdrawal symptoms and the consequences can become significantly heightened. While withdrawal symptoms differ from one substance to another, the physical and hormonal changes undergone during pregnancy can make withdrawal more disruptive to both the mother and the child.

Undergoing medical detox in a supervised manner while pregnant may significantly reduce the overall risks to both the mother and child. Continuing to consume alcohol or drugs while pregnant will significantly increase the chances of a negative outcome, and having medical help and supervision throughout the medical detox process will minimize the risks as much as possible.

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Potential Complications of Withdrawal During Pregnancy 

Most substances can transfer through the placenta and enter the brain and body of the growing fetus. This may cause severe, lifelong repercussions for the child and subsequently increases the risk of miscarriage, fetal growth delays, birth defects, and a whole host of health complications for the mother. Some of these risks which endanger the mother as well include premature birth, placental abruption, and heavy postpartum bleeding.

For an in-depth look at the specific risks of detox from different drugs during pregnancy, let’s look at few in turn:

Meth Detox

Methamphetamine, more commonly known as “meth,” is an illicit stimulant that can cause rapid dependence in individuals who use it regularly.

Meth detox may cause anxiety, depression, substance-induced psychosis, and cravings strong enough to cause a person to return to meth, in the absence of clinical support.

Some of the most common effects on the children of mothers who meth use during pregnancy result in:

  • Increased risk for ADHD
  • Lethargy and lower levels of stimulation in general
  • Increased stress response and overall stress levels
  • Delayed motor skills (children are late to crawl and walk)
  • Cognitive and behavioral problems

Cocaine Detox

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that can cause a “crash” and withdrawal symptoms in individuals who use it regularly and become physically dependent.

Cocaine withdrawal is not generally dangerous or very uncomfortable physically. However, it can cause psychological symptoms and intense cravings for cocaine.

Babies born to mothers who use cocaine during pregnancy are often prematurely delivered, have low birth weights and smaller head circumferences, and are shorter in length than babies born to mothers who do not use cocaine.

Benzodiazepine Detox and Withdrawal During Pregnancy

Benzodiazepines (benzos) are prescription drugs commonly used to treat anxiety disorders and it is known that acute benzo withdrawal can be life-threatening. They can produce physical dependence within weeks of regular use and the effects of even minor withdrawal are quite unpleasant.

While studies vary greatly, there are several health complications that are often seen linked with benzo use during pregnancy. Some of these include:

  • Cognitive Deficits
  • Increased Risk of Spontaneous Abortion (miscarriage)
  • Low Birth Weight (this usually normalizes by 1 year)
  • Microcephaly
  • Small Head Circumference

How dangerous is Valium? While diazepam (Valium) is the only benzo studied thoroughly concerning pregnancy, it shows some worrying characteristics. Namely, diazepam more easily binds with the fetus’ blood protein than it does with the mother, leading to higher levels of diazepam in the placenta and fetus’ body than in the mother. This increases the risk of toxicity and other congenital disabilities even when it is administered to the mother in therapeutically safe doses.

Alprazolam, sold under the brand name Xanax, is a Bezos that treats anxiety disorders and panic disorder. Can you take Xanax while pregnant? Studies have classified Xanax to be a category D drug for pregnancy. A category D drug is one that is highly potent and can cause harm to the developing fetus. Thus, it is recommended to consult your doctor before taking such medicines.

detoxing from drugs while pregnant
Anyone who struggles with alcohol misuse during pregnancy may benefit from medical detox since no amount of alcohol is determined to be safe during pregnancy.

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Alcohol Detox

Alcohol use disorder, or a pattern of problematic drinking, can lead to severe alcohol dependence, which will require a detox program to safely overcome. Alcohol detox programs last anywhere from three to seven days, on average, and can provide medical support for severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. People who are physically dependent on an alcohol run the risk of experiencing confusion, hallucinations, seizures, and deliriousness during alcohol detox.

Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Children with FASDs might have the following characteristics and behaviors:

  • Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)
  • Small head size
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Low body weight
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Difficulty with attention
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty in school (especially with math)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech and language delays
  • Intellectual disability or low IQ
  • Poor reasoning and judgment skills
  • Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Problems with the heart, kidney, or bones

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Opioid Detox And Withdrawal During Pregnancy

Opioid withdrawal, while not life-threatening, is an extremely painful and exhausting process. Opioid withdrawal has been described as an awful case of flu. The effects this causes on the body are profound, and can often require medical treatment. The biggest health risks due to opioid withdrawal are dehydration and insufficient nutrition. When someone detoxes during pregnancy these risks are increased.

There are opioid receptors not only in the brain but also in the gastrointestinal tract which help to moderate digestion in the intestines. During opioid withdrawal these receptors temporarily lose the ability to slow digestion, resulting in diarrhea, severe abdominal cramping, and dehydration. Due to the increased nutritional stresses of pregnancy, this may increase risks for mother and child.

The CDC reports that long-term opioid use during pregnancy could result in poor fetal growth, preterm birth, stillbirth, and specific birth defects. Opioid use from a pregnant parent could result in a newborn experiencing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), also known as neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. For a newborn baby, opioid withdrawals can be deadly and fatal, so they would need respiratory support.

Security and Safety Provided by Medical Oversight During Medical Detox

Having around-the-clock supervision by medical providers can allow individualized planning and care for someone detoxing from drugs while pregnant. When someone discovers they are pregnant, the immediate reaction may be to stop using any drugs or alcohol. However, when a person is physically dependent, stopping quickly can put too much stress on the individual and the fetus, resulting in a miscarriage or other distress.

Other factors that may affect the fetus, as a result of substance withdrawal, are dehydration, malnutrition, and loss of vital vitamins and minerals. In addition, a person experiencing withdrawal is at high risk for suicidal ideation, and having 24-hour supervision may help navigate mental health issues and keep the person safe.

As mentioned above, We Level Up does not provide medical detox and inpatient rehab for pregnant women at this time. However, if you or a loved one just gave birth and needs to safely detox from drugs or alcohol, then we can definitely help. 

Detox Treatment

The first step in treatment is medical detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to heroin abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. 
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs treat both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

If you or your loved one is suffering from alcohol or drug addictions, indeed, help is just a phone call away. Professional addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. Contact us today at We Level Up treatment facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We offer an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

detoxing from drugs while pregnant
When you are detoxing from drugs while pregnant, the health and safety of both the pregnant individual and the fetus are most important.

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[1] NIDA –
[2] CDC –,are%20known%20as%20fetal%20alcohol%20spectrum%20disorders%20%28FASDs%29.
[3] Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Adults – We Level Up NJ

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