Sovereign health group blog

Reach out to us today! Most Private Insurance Accepted
Study finds women of childbearing age using opioids nonmedically
Posted in Addiction, Children, Substance Abuse - 0 Comments

A study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finds that women of childbearing age use opioids nonmedically. These women lag behind nonchildbearing-age women in this respect; however, the SAMHSA findings are cause for concern.

Using while pregnant

On average, over 20,000 pregnant women aged 15 to 44 used opioids nonmedically in the month prior. Within this group, the highest rate of use was among women age 15 to 17; the second highest rate was among women age 18 to 25. These rates equate to 2.8 percent for the youngest, 1.5 percent for the 18 to 25 age group, and 0.5 percent for the 26 to 44 age group.

According to the report, nearly 23 percent of pregnant women used heroin; 28 percent admitted to abusing non-heroin opioids.

Born opioid-dependent

The number of infants born opioid-dependent has increased proportionally. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of infants born addicted to opioids increased from 1.19 to 5.63 per 1000 hospital births. This constitutes a fivefold increase.

Dearth of available programs

SAMHSA’s National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services report (2012) notes that only 13 percent of outpatient treatment facilities offered programs specific to pregnant and postpartum women. Residential treatment centers fared no better; only 13 percent of these offered special services.

Opioids and pregnancy

An article appearing in the Journal of Pediatric Genetics (February 2015) notes babies born opioid-dependent are prone to a number of health issues. These include:

  • Altered fetal growth. Babies with low birth weight or whose birth length is less than average are more likely than normal babies to develop health issues later in life (and are at risk for a shorter lifespan)
  • Preterm birth, which is any birth occurring prior to 37 weeks gestation. A study in Ontario with Native American women found preterm births were associated with oxycodone use. A Swedish study found a slight increase in preterm births among women who use Tramadol when pregnant
  • Birth defects. Studies involving opioids and birth defects are not as conclusive as other investigations involving the drugs. According to the Journal article, while there exists an increase in birth defects among women who abuse drugs during pregnancy, it is negligible with respect to opioids. Further study is warranted.

Seek treatment

Sovereign Health of Chandler, Arizona, is a safe haven for women with behavioral health issues, such as prescription or illegal opioid abuse. Our facility is female-only. Many patients arrive having escaped domestic violence. Other patients seek treatment for substance abuse. Some battle co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. Whatever your reason for seeking treatment, we are glad you are here. Our staff and clinicians are specifically trained to deal with problems specific to our clientele. For more information or to speak to our helpful staff, please contact the 24/7 helpline listed on this webpage.

About the author

Darren Fraser is a staff writer for Sovereign Health. He worked two and half years as a reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at


Subscribe to the Sovereign Health Group Newsletter

Get the latest news on program developments, behavioral health news and company announcements

Call Now Button