Opioid use in pregnancy: the North Carolina grassroots response

  • In November 2012, a multidisciplinary workgroup of stakeholders from across the state came together to discuss opioid use in pregnancy.
  • The workgroup formed in response to the concerns voiced by many types of providers and communities and out of a desire to collaborate and coordinate efforts and responses.
  • Disciplines represented on the workgroup include obstetrics, neonatology, pediatrics, treatment for substance use disorders, social work, care management, behavioral health and pharmacy.


NC Opioid Use in Pregnancy Stakeholder Workgroup Key Messages

  • Workgroup members built consensus around key messages related to opioid use in pregnancy.
  • Key messages were developed with a focus on women of childbearing age who are taking opioids, pregnant women with opioid dependence, providers who care for these women, and providers who care for opioid-exposed newborns and their families.
  • For more info on members of the stakeholder workgroup click here.


Types of Opioid Use

Women may be taking opioids in a variety of circumstances, including:

  • By prescription for the treatment of pain
  • Through medication-assisted therapy (either methadone or buprenorphine) for the management of opioid dependence
  • Taking medications that were prescribed for another person or that were obtained illegally
  • Using heroin, or other illegal opioids

Opioid medications may be known by such brand names as Percocet, Dilaudid, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Lortab, and Fentanyl or generic names like morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and oxycodone

People who take opioids, whether by prescription or illicitly, may become physically dependent on them

  • Dependence means that the person will experience unpleasant physical withdrawal symptoms if the opioid is abruptly discontinued

Some people who are physically dependent on opioids may also have an opioid use disorder/addiction that may be mild, moderate or severe

  • Opioid use disorder can be treated through a range of treatment modalities