Support Group Helps Mothers Affected By Opioid Crisis

By Victoria Kim 06/29/18

“Families that are battling this disease, we suffer in silence. The fact that we can have love and kindness from somebody makes a world of difference.”

women talking a small group

For families affected by opioid use disorder, support groups can be their only outlet. More have cropped up amid the national epidemic of chronic opioid use and death, allowing parents, sisters, brothers, friends, and more to share their pain, frustration and loss with others who are going through the same thing.

One such group, based in Plainville, Massachusetts, brings together mothers who meet every Saturday to talk about how opioid addiction has affected their lives.

The group, called Unconditional Love, first began meeting in June 2014 at Plainville United Methodist Church. The women come from every stage of addiction and recovery, whether they have children with years’ worth of sobriety or whether they have lost them to addiction.

“Families that are battling this disease, we suffer in silence,” said founder Robin Hamlin. “The fact that we can have love and kindness from somebody makes a world of difference.”

“They all had their own journey and their own ways of dealing, and I got something from each and every one,” said Linda Irvin, who lost her son Danny. “It helped me get up in the morning and do something, even if it was just get up.”

Hamlin, 56, started Unconditional Love four days after the death of her son Brian, who suffered a seizure with one year sober, according to The Sun Chronicle.

Brian first became hooked on painkillers that were prescribed for an injury during college. Thirteen years later, he committed to sobriety. He was very active in his recovery, Hamlin recalled. He managed the sober home he was living in and would help his mother plan support group meetings.

Hamlin not only runs the support group, she also visits recovery centers to share her story. Her long-term goal is to open a recovery center in Brian’s name.

“I’m trying to have this make a difference. Is it going to change what happened to our children? No,” she said. “But it’s going to help other people, and that’s what we fight for. Because when you can talk about it, save a family or give an addict hope, then it’s a beautiful day.”

According to the women in the group, letting go of blame, and realizing that addiction is a family disease, made it easier to cope with their pain and loss.

“We’re all in that war, and have beautiful families that are devastated. And it needs to stop,” said Hamlin. “You work on your family your whole life and this disease comes in and slowly takes everything apart, and that’s why it’s a family disease."

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr