Opioids are the Leading Cause of Pregnancy-Related Deaths
“Death is the tip of the iceberg for moms who deal with addiction, these are the women that we can see. The point of this study is to determine when our moms are most vulnerable, and it’s the postpartum period.”
-Dr. Marcela Smid, M.D., M.S., M.A., Assistant Professor of Maternal and Fetal Medicine, University of Utah Health
Are new mothers at greater risk for painkiller addiction and overdose?
According to new research conducted in Utah, drug-induced deaths were the leading cause of pregnancy-related death in Utah for the period between 2005 and 2014. In fact, there were as many drug deaths among postpartum women as there were from the next two causes combined.
Significantly, 3 out of every 4 deaths involved opioids. In Utah, a surprising 42% of expectant mothers are prescribed opioid painkillers for such headaches, migraines, joint pain, abdominal pain, or back pain.
This study specifically looked at deaths that occurred within one year of the end of the pregnancy, and the results were concerning. Dr. Smid says, “80 percent of deaths were in late postpartum period after mom has finished her last check-up with the obstetrician. We need to really look at fourth trimester care and how to enhance this care, especially women with substance use.”
Why are New Mothers More Likely to Overdose?
Most of the women included in this study had a history of drug abuse or addiction in their medical files. Of concern, however, none of them were screened for drug use during their prenatal, delivery, or postpartum care.
The vast majority of women will decrease or completely stop their substance use during pregnancy. But they are also particularly vulnerable to relapse after giving birth. This is because they have to deal with hormonal changes, postpartum depression, sleep deprivation, stress, strained intimate relations, loss of insurance and lingering pain
But abstinence during pregnancy means a loss of tolerance. This means they cannot safely handle the same dosages that they were once used to.
What Does this Mean to YOU?
There are several important takeaways from this study:
FIRST, Drug abuse touches EVERYONE, even new mothers.
SECOND, Even legitimately-prescribed medications can be deadly.
THIRD, and perhaps most importantly, drug screening and treatment services are absolute essentials for anyone at risk. Only 40% of these women received a visit from a social worker, just 26% had mental health counseling, and none were taking any medications to treat opioid addiction.
Drug treatment saves lives.
If you live in the San Diego area and you or someone you care about is abusing painkillers or any other substance, help IS available. Lasting Recovery is the top outpatient rehab in San Diego and can help you safely regain your sobriety and live a drug-free life.
To get the immediate help you need, contact Lasting Recovery TODAY.