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Our Patients. Their Stories. Ashley Raymond

Ashley Raymond with her husband and children

Having an addiction, you’ve got to be ready and want the help, otherwise it’s never going to work.

Ashley Raymond

Ashley Raymond compares opiate addiction to a game of chase.

“You’re constantly looking for something to take the sickness away. You’re constantly broke. Constantly on the phone looking for something,” she says. “You get a paycheck Friday, and it’s gone Friday night, and you still don’t have the diapers you need for your kids because you spent every bit of it on drugs.”

Raymond began taking pills recreationally when she was 14. “My friends were all doing it and it felt good,” she says.

Her pill use escalated quickly through high school, to where she was taking anything she could get her hands on; not caring where they came from. “I remember one day, a friend told me to hold out my hand,” recalls Raymond, “and she literally filled my hands will all sorts of different pills that she’d stolen from her grandma.”

Continuing into adulthood and through the birth of her first child, Raymond’s “game of chase” led her on May 22, 2016 to a jail cell in the Grafton County Department of Corrections in NH.

Without a valid driver’s license, eight months pregnant with her daughter and in search of her next high, she was walking down the road when an Enfield, NH, police cruiser stopped her. She had a warrant out for her arrest, because she had gotten into some trouble in February of that year.

While in the jail cell Raymond realized the chase was over and that she was ready to get help. “I was done. Sitting in jail, I knew I’d reached that point,” she says. “I wasn’t about to lose both of my kids just to get high.”

Two days later, although technically still incarcerated, she was admitted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) for a prenatal appointment, and simultaneously received buprenorphine, a medication designed to assist with the immediate effects of opiate withdrawal.

After leaving jail a few days later, Raymond began her journey with the Moms in Recovery Program (previously referred to as the Perinatal Addiction Treatment Program) at DHMC.

Formed in 2013, the Moms in Recovery Program closes a crucial gap in care for pregnant women and new mothers who struggle with substance use disorders. Comprised of an integrated team of care professionals, the program gathers into one setting a range of services that include prenatal and postpartum obstetrics, family planning, well-woman care, psychiatric care, individual and group counseling, and medication-assisted treatment of opioid dependence.

In addition to providing prenatal care, Raymond began taking medication to help with her cravings and started attending group therapy. She says, “They did everything they could to make sure I knew what was going to happen, from the time I was put on medication to the time I had my baby.”

Each week leading up to her baby’s delivery in late July, and still today, Raymond has participated in group therapy for addiction treatment. Although she felt certain she would never fall back into drug use, the sense of accountability to others strengthened her resolve. “You don’t want to go into the group and admit you relapsed, and then have everyone asking why,” she says.

Raymond adds, “Having an addiction, you’ve got to be ready and want the help, otherwise it’s never going to work.”

A year and a half after her arrest, she remains substance free. As a result of her decision to seek help through the program, her partner, who was also an opioid user, joined an addiction treatment program. Together they have managed to repair their home life, securing steady employment and their own place to live. “My kids are my ultimate motivation,” Raymond says.

Raymond has even gone back to school. “I’m going for a bachelor’s in health administration,” she says, “because one day I want to open an addiction treatment center. I want people not to have to wait, but to be able to show up and get help the same day.”