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Mother talks about difficult journey to sobriety

December 21, 2023

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Alycia struggled with her use of fentanyl. Repeated attempts to kick her habit were unsuccessful because the Suboxone treatment helped with the withdrawals, but not the cravings. 

Her drug use ultimately contributed to the state taking custody of Izabelle, her infant daughter. 
They spent four months apart. During that time, Alycia (whose last name we are not using to protect her privacy) saw Izabelle only through supervised visitation. 

“She changed so much each time I saw her,” Alycia said. “To know I missed out on a lot of that time is hard.”

Alycia was able to overcome her addiction and chart a new path thanks to her involvement with Project Nurture, a Health Share of Oregon program that provides prenatal care, inpatient maternity care, and postpartum care for women who struggle with addictions as well as pediatric care for their infants. The Legacy Midwifery Clinic at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center participates in the program.

During the first few days of Izabelle’s life, Alycia ate something she was allergic to causing her to throw up. A social worker came to evaluate her ability to pursue treatment and remain with her daughter at the time of the episode. Based on Alycia’s physical state, the social worker determined Alycia was not ready and unable to adhere to treatment. 

Alycia lost her residential treatment bed, starting a hard period for her. Izabelle was placed in foster care instead of going to residential treatment with Alycia and it took two more weeks to find another open residential bed. Despite these setbacks, Alycia remained committed and when a Volunteers of America bed came up, she went. 

But the setting wasn’t ideal. 

“The windows of my first room in treatment were at street level, which was hard,” Alycia said. “The father of my baby was bringing me drugs. I called Julie (a Project Nurture doula at Randall Children’s Hospital at Emanuel) for help.” 

Julie connected Alycia with Project Network. Alycia again began treatment for her addiction, but this time with Methadone. Her body reacted in a way it never did with Suboxone.

“It was the first time I didn't feel the cravings,” she said. “It was the first time I was able to think about the possibility of not using.”

Alycia also began attending group meetings, participating in evaluations by the Oregon Department of Human Services and weekly drug testing. She leaned into the support network at Project Nurture and similar organizations. Her resolve was further tested after she tested positive for COVID. 

“I had to be in isolation for 10 days,” she said. “That was such a hard time. My mood was so down. I was crying every day.” 

Alycia felt the staff members were sometimes rude and she had trouble making friends. She had to find a way through, and it wasn’t going to be easy. She didn’t feel hope for a long time. But she persisted.
“In the end, I appreciate how strict they were, but it was so hard. I knew if I left, I would lose so much more time with my daughter. I couldn’t miss any more.”
Day by day, step by step, Alycia changed her life. When Izabelle was four months old, she came to live with Alycia in her sober living house. Alycia describes it as amazing and scary.

“I was sad to have missed out on her little baby stuff,” said Alycia. “It was so good to finally be with her.”
Alycia and Izabelle have become a family. They soon will move with Alycia’s parents to a new state, providing an opportunity for another phase of life where Alycia, Izabelle, and their extended family can spend time making a life together. 
“I am thriving,” she said. “I am playing sports and making art. I have an Etsy shop. I sell my art at markets. I have hope. Nothing can take away my peace.”

The journey was difficult, but Alycia’s perseverance now gives her hope. 

“This is going to be a fresh start for me,” said Alycia. “A clean slate. I spent a lot of time away from my family and I missed out on a lot of things. I am hoping to catch up on that.”

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