NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The opioid epidemic knows no boundaries.
It doesn't discriminate against age, gender, race, or economic background.
A treatment facility in Northampton has a unique approach to help mother's recovering from addiction and their children.
Inside a Northampton home, Meaghan Hamel is busy preparing lunch for her 4-year-old son, Brady.
Meaghan and her three children have lived here since December, working together to overcome past troubles and move forward in life.
"I come from a dark past, like traumatic," Meaghan tells us.
Meaghan tells Western Mass News she grew up in Athol.
"Both of my parents are recovering addicts themselves," says Meaghan.
After dropping out of high school at 14-years-old, she found herself hanging out with the wrong crowd.
"I started partying with friends. That's when I started the party scene. From there, it was on and off. I was just always partying, so I wouldn't consider myself an addict then, because I could always stop when I wanted to," continued Meaghan.
Meaghan says she continued to struggle with substance use between her two pregnancies and her kids early years.
"Then I went from being addicted to opiates, like percocets, to using heroin, because it was cheaper. Being on my own, with three kids, I needed something to just make sure I wasn't sick that day, so I could take care of my kids, so that's what it was for about seven months. I was using enough to wake up every day and not be sick for my children and take care of them, and bring them to school and play with them. It was just sad that that was my living, to have to wake up and make sure I had something in my system to raise my own three kids. They're just, like, so beautiful to not deserve that," continued Meaghan.
It wasn't until Meaghan's life took another dark turn and she lost her kids last September before she tried to get help.
"I was very suicidal one night in Worcester and I walked into the hospital of UMass, and they asked me what was wrong. I told them I was basically ready to end my life and I told them the whole situation. That I was an addict and had just previously lost my children, and I didn't feel like I had anything to live for," said Meaghan.
That night changed everything for Meaghan.
She was sent to a women's addiction treatment center in New Bedford.
Then, over to Taunton for two more months of treatment.
In December, she got the call from the Center for Human Development's Grace House, immediately moved in, and was joined by her three kids within a few weeks.
"It's great structure, good routine, and it's very supportive with all the girls here. It gets hectic. Some days are rough, some days I want out of here, but I'm so grateful to have all the girls that I do with the support and the support from the staff too," says Meaghan.
Grace House is the only family residential treatment facility in western Massachusetts.
"We want to make sure that they live as if they were in their own home. We want them as independent as possible. We don't want to be so stringent, that, when they leave from here, they aren't able to live successfully. So the women cook their own meals for their children. They do have to do household chores as if they were at home. They have to get up at a certain time in the morning. They have to go to bed at a certain time in the evening," Lisa Allen, the program director for the Grace House, tells us.
Grace House currently has eleven women and their children working with their clinical director, family therapist, and early intervention team.
"Some used while they were pregnant. Some gave birth here with children that were addicted to substances. We want to make sure that they're successful when integrating back into the community, with their children, and that the children feel this is their home as well," stated Allen.
Meaghan continues to be successful in recovery and hopes to complete the program at Grace House by the end of the Summer.
"It just like feels good, all these accomplishments, where, nine months ago, I would have never pictured my life where I am now. I had no idea how long it was going to take me to get my kids, if I was going to be able to get them back," added Meaghan.
If you or someone you know is a mom struggling from substance use and would like more information on Grace House and their services, you can click or tap here to learn more.