In some states, mothers of newborns with drug withdrawal are arrested and jailed, but Valdez said addiction is a brain disease that should be treated like other illnesses, not stigmatized.
Aileen Dannelley said she started abusing drugs after an adult neighbor introduced her to crack when she was 14. She said she would "never have touched it" if she had known how addictive drugs can be.
She said she has abused Vicodin, which a doctor gave her to treat back pain from sitting all day at an office job, as well as other prescription painkillers and heroin.
Dannelley was still abusing drugs early in her pregnancy but decided in December to quit, vowing: "I'm not going to go back to that lifestyle. There's a baby inside me."
Now she is trying to get her life back on track. Estranged from her husband, she is living with her parents and just signed up for nursing classes at a local junior college. She visits Savannah every day. The baby has been in the hospital since she was born in early April, and her mother hopes to take her home soon.
"I am doing so good for the first time in my life," Dannelley said.
Methadone information: http://1.usa.gov/n6b5Fn
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