By Dan Glaun
January 08, 2017
This is first in a MassLive special report on the the impact of the opioid crisis on children in Massachusetts.
Jaclyn Alexander and her daughter Ella Donna, who has neonatal abstinence syndrome. Alexander developed an opioid addiction after being prescribed painkillers in the military; she is now clean.When Jaclyn Alexander returned to the United States from military service in Iraq, her war was just beginning.
From an airbase nicknamed "Mortaritaville," to nerve damage in her back, to oxycodone, to morphine, to addiction. From addiction, to motherhood, to theft, to heroin, to detox and dope sickness, to recovery, to the Baystate Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she sat holding her second daughter, quiet and calm but born dependent on the suboxone keeping her mother from relapse.
It has been, she said, a long road.
"I could not be in a better place. If you asked me a year ago if I would be right here right now I would absolutely have said no," Alexander said, amid the soft whooshes and mechanical chirps of the medical ward. "It's a phenomenal turnaround."
Alexander's baby, Ella Donna, is one of the growing number of children born dependent on opioids - what doctors call neonatal abstinence syndrome. It is a condition that requires special care, but is treatable, with approaches that have been refined as Massachusetts' addiction crisis has given the state one of the highest rates of NAS in the country.
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