Heroin is an extremely addictive opiod, used illegally by many due to the intense feelings of relaxation and euphoria it produces. Once a tolerance is achieved, users will require more of the substance to ensure the same experience.
When pregnant women use heroin, the drug is absorbed by the child via the placenta. As such, it’s not uncommon for babies born to heroin users to become addicted to the drug before birth.
An unborn child of a mother struggling with a heroin addiction holds a heightened risk to experience complications, premature birth, or even stillbirth. However, even considering the severity of these risks, addicted mothers are encouraged never to attempt detox without first consulting a certified physician.
Babies who are exposed to heroin are placed at high risk for an array of afflictions following birth, including intracranial hemorrhage, hypoglycemia, premature birth, low birth weight, and breathing issues. During the withdrawal process, babies will commonly experience a variety of symptoms ranging from moodiness and aches to seizures, vomiting, and fever.
Methadone works to alleviate or even completely eliminate an addict’s heroin cravings while blocking the effects. This allows users to make the transition from heroin addiction to sobriety without the severity typically experienced during withdrawal. This is extremely important in the case of pregnancy due to the fact that withdrawal symptoms may potentially lead to uterus contractions, premature birth, or miscarriage.
Long Term Effects
Little is known regarding the long-term effects that methadone and heroin have on children. Many babies born to addicted mothers must attend special education classes at school, and others may be forced to repeat a grade or two. Whether these results are due to drug exposure or other factors is unfortunately unclear.