Taking Naltrexone During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
Can you take Naltrexone while pregnant?
Naltrexone is a prescription medication which is used to help people treat their alcohol or drug addiction. Common side effects associated with using Naltrexone include headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, tiredness, and trouble sleeping. All of these should go away with time as your body adjusts to the medication. If they do not go away or get any worse, let your doctor know. In addition, you should notify your doctor as soon as possible if you notice the following effects right after using Naltrexone: abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, joint/bone/muscle aches, anxiety, confusion, extreme sleepiness, hallucinations, and runny nose.
Currently, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has classified Naltrexone under the pregnancy risk category C. This category means there have been adverse effects on the fetus in animal studies. However, there is not enough research on human subjects to confirm these findings. For this reason, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid using Naltrexone while pregnant. However, some women may be approved to use it if the benefits of the medication outweigh the risks to the fetus.
Do you or someone you love have questions or concerns about a pregnancy and don’t know where to turn for help? Get support and answers at the American Pregnancy Association at 1-800-672-2296.
If you are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant and wonder if you can use Naltrexone during your pregnancy, schedule a meeting with your doctor to discuss all your options. Your doctor will be able to determine whether the benefits of using Naltrexone make the medication right for you in your situation. An example of when using Naltrexone would be appropriate is if a pregnant woman has a severe drug addiction. Rather than letting the woman suffer from addiction and the substances she ingests negatively affect the development of the fetus, doctors will approve Naltrexone for use during pregnancy. In this situation, there is more risk associated with a pregnant woman abusing drugs than with being prescribed Naltrexone.
If you are currently using Naltrexone and you become pregnant, notify your doctor of the pregnancy as soon as possible. In most cases, using Naltrexone while pregnant is not medical grounds to terminate the pregnancy. Also, you should never change your Naltrexone dose or treatment schedule without your doctor’s supervision. If you no longer wish to use Naltrexone during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor about tapering off the medication. This strategy will help you avoid withdrawal symptoms associated with Naltrexone. Withdrawal symptoms of Naltrexone include gastrointestinal upset, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue, trouble falling asleep, runny nose, coughing, and sneezing.
When a woman becomes pregnant, everything she ingests can affect the fetus developing in her womb. This is true for foods and beverages and even medications. All of these products can cross into the placenta, the fetus’ main source of food during pregnancy. If the fetus ingests these chemicals, there may be developmental problems in the fetus for the remainder of the pregnancy. For this reason, it is recommended that pregnant women monitor everything they put into their system and remain as drug-free as possible during pregnancy. This includes abstaining from using prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances. However, some women may need to remain on certain medications throughout their pregnancy if they depend on medications to function in their daily lives. Other women who are pregnant may be approved to use prescription medications if they suffer from severe symptoms.
Currently, there is not enough information on using Naltrexone while pregnant to deem the medication completely safe for use. Larger, well-controlled studies need to be conducted before the FDA and other agencies consider Naltrexone safe or unsafe for use during pregnancy. Because of this lack of research, always consult with your doctor if you are considering using Naltrexone, or any other medication, during your pregnancy.
If you intend to use Naltrexone while pregnant, make sure your doctor is aware of all the other prescription medications, herbal supplements, and other drugs you may be taking. Naltrexone may interact with these substances, causing negative health effects for you and the fetus.
In animal studies, rats and rabbits have higher rates of miscarriage when given high doses of Naltrexone. Other studies have indicated that using Naltrexone during pregnancy can result in alterations in brain size, opioid receptor expression and function, and altered neuronal development in animal subjects.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, seek professional treatment as soon as possible. The Recovery Village has many resources and treatment programs available to those looking to live a happier, healthier, substance-free life. You can even get started today by searching for treatment programs in your local area here. For more information on everything The Recovery Village has to offer, you can visit online at www.TheRecoveryVillage.com or call our 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 855-548-9825. Although recovery isn’t easy, The Recovery Village will be with you each step of the way.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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