Stopping or reducing your opioid use can be hard

Important Factors

Drug use and mental health are linked in a complicated way.

In some cases, the use of drugs can affect a person’s mental health and, in others, vice-versa: mental ill-health may contribute to how and why a person uses drugs – whether prescription or otherwise.

People who use drugs often have higher levels of mental ill-health than others.

Make sure that you’re taking care of your mental health and have any concerns about it addressed. Counselling and peer support networks are good ways to take care of your mental health and can provide referrals to other services.

Traumatic, extremely upsetting experiences, especially in childhood, can contribute to a person taking drugs.

If you’re pregnant or think you might be, talk to a health professional about your drug use. This could be a drug worker, a nurse or a doctor. They’ll be able to give you some advice on next steps.

If you’re using heroin, medication- assisted treatment (methadone or buprenorphine) is a much safer alternative for you and your baby.

Do not stop using without first consulting your doctor. Going into withdrawal puts your baby at serious risk.

Opioids like heroin may accumulate in breastmilk, though the science is not yet clear about whether there is a noticeable effect on an infant.

The decision about whether to treat a breastfeeding mother with opioids will depend on the age of the infant, whether they are exclusively breastfed, the clinical need for opioids and the type of opioid being prescribed.

You should advise your drug worker or doctor that you’re breastfeeding if you’re taking opioids so that you can discuss the best approach.

MAT is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers, though if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding when you’re given your prescription for MAT, make sure you tell your doctor.