Identification and Management of Prescription Drug Abuse in Pregnancy

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Abstract

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States and many other countries. Estimates of prescription drug abuse rates during pregnancy range from 5% to 20%. The primary prescription drugs designated as controlled drugs with abuse potential in pregnancy are opiates prescribed for pain, benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety, and stimulants prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Prescription drugs are obtained for abuse through diversion methods, such as purchasing them from others or by doctor shopping. The use of prescription drugs puts both the mother and the fetus at high risk during pregnancy. Identification of women who are abusing prescription drugs is important so that treatment can be ensured. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to use a multidisciplinary approach and be supportive and maintain a good rapport with pregnant women who abuse prescription drugs. Management includes inpatient hospitalization for detoxification and withdrawal symptoms, and in the case of opiate abuse, opiate maintenance is recommended for pregnant women for the duration of their pregnancy to reduce relapse rates and improve maternal and fetal outcomes. Other recommendations include referral for support groups and supportive housing.

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