Doctors identify substance abuse in pregnancy as growing concern

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It’s an alarming trend you may not be hearing about when it comes to the opioid epidemic in our country. Pregnant moms and women just after childbirth getting addicted to these powerful pills.

That’s one topic that was addressed Wednesday at the annual Perinatal Conference at UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s.

Dr. Bonebrake, a perinatologist from Omaha, says doctors are seeing as many as four-times as many pregnant or post-partum patients with addiction problems compared to 15-20 years ago. And, some are hard to spot because this affects women across all socioeconomic groups. 

So, how do you treat these women? Dr. Bonebrake says is a delicate situation.

Dr. Robert Bonebrake says, “We need to treat them very compassionately, non-judgmentally, and in a caring situation, and it’s got to be a shared decision-making [situation] between the medical community and the patient.”

Dr. Bonebrake says successful treatment can include both medication and counseling and other services. He believes the doctor-patient relationship could be the most crucial piece of solving these problems affecting families.

Dr. Bonebrake says, “They know inherently what they’re doing is not good for their baby and they have an overwhelming guilt and shame about that. I don’t need to beat them up about that, and there’s no doubt that doing that is going to potentially drive them away or put a division between us and not help them work with us to enhance the care for them and their baby.”

When it comes to warding off opioid dependency after child birth, Dr. Bonebrake encourages physicians to think carefully about when narcotics are needed and, if so, how many need to be prescribed.

Jackson Recovery Centers in Sioux City has a Women and Children’s Center that specializes in providing inpatient addiction treatment to pregnant women and women with children.   

You can call (712) 234-2300 or 1-800-472-9018. Your family doctor or OBGYN is always a great place to start to get help.

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