Mental Health & Parenting
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.
Traumatic, extremely upsetting experiences, especially in childhood, can contribute to a person taking drugs.
For some people, emotional or psychological suffering may be hard to separate from physical pain. Opioids produce a pleasant feeling (‘euphoria’), so some people may take them to deal with psychological or emotional pain. This should be avoided.
If you’re taking medication for your mental health, make sure you tell your doctor this before beginning any other medications. Opioids can be harmful if taken with some mental health medications such as antidepressants or other sedatives.
Even if you’re not taking medication for your mental health, it’s important that your doctor knows your mental health history before they begin prescribing medications like opioids and other medications that may be risky for your mental health. If you’re seeing a mental health professional, it’s important to be honest about any medications or drugs you may be using and their effect on you.
If you’re currently taking medications and planning to have children in the near future, speak to your doctor about the effect that your current medications might have on your plans. If you need to stop taking a medication before you become pregnant, your doctor can help you do that.
If you’re currently pregnant, you should see a doctor before beginning any kind of medication, including those you can get without a prescription. If you’re pregnant and you currently take prescription medication, it’s important to consult with both your normal doctor and an obstetrician to discuss this with them.
If you’re pregnant and currently using opioids, do not stop taking them without consulting a doctor. Going into withdrawal places your pregnancy at serious risk.
Using drugs and alcohol is a risk to unborn children at all stages of pregnancy and should be avoided. Consult with a doctor (preferably a specialist) about how best to manage your drug use during your pregnancy.
Pharmacotherapy is generally recommended to women to manage opioid dependence and addiction during pregnancy. Pharmacotherapy is recommended for pregnant women with opioid dependence. The risks to unborn children of being on pharmacotherapy are much smaller than the risks of using other opioids or going through withdrawal.
Opioids may be prescribed to a breastfeeding mother, particularly following a caesarean delivery or other surgical procedure following birth.
Opioids may build up in breastmilk, though the science is not yet clear about whether there’s 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’re exclusively breastfed, the clinical need for opioids and the type of opioid being prescribed.
You should advise your doctor that you’re breastfeeding if you’re taking opioids so that you can discuss the benefits and risks.
Pharmacotherapy is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers, though if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding at the time of undergoing pharmacotherapy, make sure your prescribing doctor knows.