A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health detailed a rise in the use of meth by pregnant women. Much of the use has been linked to rising use of opioids. Women will use an opioid as a painkiller along the lines of prescription drugs like oxycodone, and they counteract the ‘down’ and drowsy feeling with an amphetamine such Adderall or Dexedrine to pick themselves back up for the day’s schedule. Those who have long term addiction which graduates to non-prescription drugs may take heroin as their opioid and counteract it with methamphetamine, a stronger version of amphetamine commonly called ‘crystal meth’.
The study showed that the rise in amphetamine use in pregnant women began around 2008-2009 with over ten thousand users by 2015. The lead author of the study, Dr. Lindsay Admon, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, and her team had identified 82,000 deliveries that were affected by amphetamine use disorders, the clinical term for meth addiction. By 2015, the study goes on, 1% of all deliveries involved amphetamine use.
The effects of long term use increases risk of a variety of serious illnesses and death for women carrying a child. Women can die during or after childbirth, suffer from heart failure or cardiac arrest or even suffer from seizures due to eclampsia, a severe form of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia itself is an indicator of increased risk of heart attacks and strokes later in life.
Risks to the baby include premature birth and placental abruption, which cuts off oxygen supply to the fetus and causes internal bleeding in the mother.
The most devastating aspect of this uptick of meth addiction is the fact that unlike most other drugs, there is no medical treatment to curb the addiction. Opioids, alcohol and other drugs have proven medications which can reduce the effects of the drug in the user or decrease cravings, making treatment of addiction easier to manage when help is sought. Meth has no such drugs with similar effects. When trying to quit taking meth, users will feel depressed, unhappy and ill at ease, due to significant decreases in neurotransmitters responsible for people’s well-being and happiness. Thus, treatment requires very careful behavioral therapy as well as treatment for the mental health issues that arise as the result of withdrawals.
Because of stigma surrounding illicit drug use, women are more likely to not seek treatment even if they want it. Doctors may threaten to report them to authorities, furthering their aversion to seeking help. Feeling vilified for situations in which their actions aren’t completely in their control will repel people from feeling like they have an option to get clean.
Addiction treatment in Pennsylvania can offer help. Pennsylvania drug rehab centers like Philadelphia Counseling Center offer treatment options including IOP (intensive outpatient) in Philly. Call 610-298-1999 if you or someone you know might be suffering from addiction.