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New Mothers Overcoming Addiction Face a World of Obstacles

Last June, Dajia Brown embarked on a dangerous phase of life — so dangerous that many in her situation do not survive.

It started when she gave birth to her daughter, Brooklyn, several months after entering treatment for addiction to fentanyl pills.

The postpartum period, a tough time for many women, can be particularly challenging for women with opioid use disorder, putting them at high risk of relapse and overdose.

In Massachusetts, according to the state’s analysis of overdose deaths, nearly four in 10 deaths among women who gave birth between 2011 and 2015 were caused by opioid overdoses, compared with two in 10 among women who did not give birth.

Against the odds, Brown has stayed sober and is raising a healthy baby in Somerville, an outcome she attributes to the help she received at a Boston Medical Center clinic established for women like her and their children. But that clinic started only in July, and such programs are few and far between. More commonly, advocates say, new mothers struggling with addiction get little attention.

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