Motherhood a motivation to fight addiction
Center helps moms tackle drug issues
ROANOKE, VA. | For nearly a decade, Maddie Ross was addicted to alcohol and opiates.
The first half of her 20s was a blur of rehabilitation facilities, mental hospitals and homelessness fueled by prescription painkillers, alcohol and heroin.
The plump baby boy with dark eyes, a smattering of brown hair and a heartwarming smile is Ms. Ross’ only child. His first birthday is this month.
Ms. Ross, 28, is a graduate of Bethany Hall — a residential treatment center located in a threestory brick home in Roanoke’s Old Southwest neighborhood. The women in Bethany Hall battle addiction with their greatest motivators and most vulnerable dependents: their babies.
For more than 45 years, the facility has served as a residential treatment facility for women, particularly those who are pregnant or postpartum. It is one of three such drug and alcohol treatment facilities in Virginia and about 150 across the country.
As the opioid epidemic grows in Virginia, so does the number of pregnant women addicted to prescription painkillers and heroin.
Concerned that their drug use might harm their unborn children, these pregnant women enter treatment either by choice or court order.
“I think it really did take Dexter coming into my life to really let me see the world in perspective, because I used to tell myself I was probably going to die by 27 and I had in my head the only way that wouldn’t happen was if I had a child,” Ms. Ross said. “When I was 26, I got pregnant.” Parenting gives them a reason to live. Ms. Ross checked into Bethany Hall on her birthday. The Franklin County native celebrated turning 27 with lists of rules to follow, someone searching through her belongings and an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty.
Days earlier, Ms. Ross had threatened to kill herself. She had been staying at Trust House, an Elm Avenue homeless shelter, for three weeks, trying to detoxify from drugs and alcohol, when she relapsed.
Drug use is not permitted at the homeless shelter, and its leadership gave her two options: Go to Bethany Hall or back out on the street.
Ms. Ross didn’t like either so she threatened to kill herself, which for a person with a diagnosed history of mental illness secured her a ride straight to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. From there, she was transferred to Carilion St. Albans Hospital — an inpatient mental health treatment center.
When she was discharged at about 32 weeks pregnant, Ms. Ross voluntarily entered Bethany Hall.
Having been to six other rehabilitation facilities, she didn’t know what to expect.
“I’ve been to so many rehabs and so many psych wards and everything that I am somewhat institutionalized in a way, because that’s what I run back to whenever I’m feeling nervous or like the world is going to crash in on me,” she said.
Signing up for the residential treatment program comes with rules. Participants aren’t allowed cigarettes, caffeine or sugar. Use or possession of drugs and alcohol are dischargeable offenses.
Residents undergo four hours of emotionally draining group therapy Monday through Friday in addition to less frequent individual therapy sessions.
Life follows a regimented day-to-day, weekto-week schedule.