Rehab for Pregnant Mothers

Last Updated: November 3, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Substance abuse during pregnancy carries major risks for both the mother and baby. Rehab for pregnant mothers can help provide a safe medical detox for pregnant women.

Addiction is dangerous no matter what. But when a pregnant woman is addicted to a substance, the dangers of addiction are shared by the mother and her unborn baby. Understanding how to treat addiction while pregnant and ask for help is important if you or a loved one is struggling with substance use while pregnant.

Pregnancy and Addiction

Addiction is a major risk to the mother and unborn baby during pregnancy. Women abuse different substances while pregnant, including:

  • Alcohol abuse by 10.6% of pregnant women
  • Tobacco abuse by 8.4% of pregnant women
  • Illicit drug abuse by 8.3% of pregnant women
    • Marijuana is the most common illicit drug abused by pregnant women, with 8% of pregnant women using the drug.
    • Illicit opioids are abused by 0.4% of pregnant women.
    • Cocaine is abused by 0.3% of pregnant women.

Substance abuse carries significant risks for both the mother and the baby. More than 11% of pregnancy-related deaths are due to substance abuse.

Risks of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

Substance use in pregnancy can be dangerous for both the expectant mother and the baby. The substance can be hazardous or toxic to the baby. Some complications of substance use include:

  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS): Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy put their babies at risk of developing FAS, a lifelong condition linked to mental and physical defects.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): Babies of women who abuse substances of all kinds during pregnancy have a higher risk of SIDS than other babies.
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS): Babies whose mothers use substances late in pregnancy are at risk of a withdrawal syndrome called NAS once they are born.
  • Preterm birth: Babies whose mothers abuse substances while pregnant are more likely to be born prematurely, which can lead to several medical complications.
  • Stillbirth: Babies whose mothers struggle with substance use are more likely to die in utero before birth.

Comprehensive Addiction Treatment for Pregnant Mothers

Addiction treatment for expectant mothers is vital. Women who struggle with addiction while pregnant are likely to have more medical and mental health complications during pregnancy and are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care. Even for mothers who can stay abstinent during pregnancy, relapse is common within the year after the baby’s birth. For these reasons, addiction treatment is crucial for the mother’s and baby’s health.

Addiction treatment options for pregnant women include:

  • Medical detox, where the mother is weaned off the substance while under medical supervision. However, medical detox is not appropriate for all addiction types during pregnancy.
  • Rehab, where the pregnant woman learns coping skills outside of substance use and works on her physical and mental health while in a sober environment. Rehab can be inpatientoutpatient or a mix, such as intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization.
  • Aftercare, where the pregnant woman maintains her sobriety and focuses on recovery by attending therapy meetings and support groups.

Detox for Pregnant Women

Many pregnant women who abuse substances may wonder how to detox their bodies while pregnant. However, it is crucial to not attempt a detox before talking with your doctor and only to take part in detox under medical supervision. This is because some experts advise against attempting a detox during pregnancy. Instead, they recommend other strategies to protect the mother and fetus against addiction. 

Risks of Detox During Pregnancy

Attempting a detox during pregnancy can be very dangerous. Without medical monitoring of the mother and fetus, withdrawal symptoms are a significant risk for both. Withdrawal symptoms can be deadly for a fetus, particularly with opioids. In addition, one of the biggest risksof withdrawal is relapse, which can be dangerous for the mother and baby. 

For this reason, experts advise against opioid detox during pregnancy. Instead, experts recommend medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as medically appropriate for mothers. In the case of an opioid use disorder, buprenorphine and methadone can be prescribed as part of a comprehensive rehab regimen to help pregnant women overcome their addictions.

Find Substance Abuse Rehab for Pregnant Mothers in New Jersey

Being pregnant while struggling with substance use can be scary and overwhelming. But help is here for both you and your baby. Finding the right rehab center with the necessary accommodations and experience helping pregnant women is important, and The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper can help. Our addiction experts work to keep you and your baby safe during pregnancy and beyond. Our medical detox, drug rehab for expectant mothers, medication-assisted treatment and aftercare options offer a continuum of care to keep you sober during and after pregnancy. Contact us today to see how we can help.


McCance-Katz, Elinore F. “The National Survey on Drug Use and Health: 2020.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, July 2022. Accessed September 5, 2022.

Prince, Mary K; Ayers, Derek. “Substance Use In Pregnancy.” StatPearls, January 3, 2022. Accessed September 5, 2022.

Ward, SL; Bautista, D; Chan, L; et al. “Sudden infant death syndrome in infants […]ance-abusing mothers.” Journal of Pediatrics, December 1990. Accessed September 5, 2022.

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “ACOG: Pregnancy-Associated Deaths Due to[…] States, 2010–2019.” January 6, 2022. Accessed September 5, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Substance Use During Pregnancy.” May 23, 2022. Accessed September 5, 2022.

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “Public Policy Statement on Substance Use[…] Emphasis on Opioids.” January 18, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2022.

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