Moth­er­hood a mo­ti­va­tion to fight ad­dic­tion

Cen­ter helps moms tackle drug is­sues

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY HEATHER ROUSSEAU

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.

Un­til Dex­ter.

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.

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