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Monday, September 26, 2022

‘You Give me Hope’: Christina Barbosa Finds Healing in Helping Other Mothers Touched by Addiction

This is part III of a series highlighting Catholic Charities Boston’s programs for those with a loved one affected by substance use disorder, in light of September being National Recovery Month.

“My daughter was 19 years old when I found out she was a heroin addict,” said Christina Barbosa.

The year leading up to this life-altering discovery was coincidentally the same year Barbosa says she restored her relationship with God.

“Looking back now, I think God was training my spirit for what I would need to get through this battle,” she said.

Barbosa credits Catholic Charities Boston’s Hope and Healing Retreats for her newfound resilience. Led by Sister Maryadele Robinson, Outreach Social Worker for Catholic Charities Boston’s Recovering Connections program, the biannual weekend retreats are opportunities for mothers with a child with substance use disorder to come together and forge comforting connections with other women going through similar experiences. This September’s retreat, held in Centerville, MA, was Barbosa’s fourth.

“No matter how many times you read and pray about addiction, you’re always going to have those fleeting moments where the guilt is going to come rushing back to you,’” she said. “But now they are just moments, whereas they used to be debilitating days and even weeks.”

For years, Barbosa felt imprisoned by her daughter’s disease, haunted by the notion that she could have done something differently that might have prevented the addiction from transpiring.

But now, Barbosa draws strength from her understanding of three key principles Sister Maryadele teaches at her retreats, deemed the Three C’s: You did not cause this, you can’t control it, and you cannot cure it.

In addition to group meals, prayer circles, and discussion groups, the women have the opportunity to listen to a guest speaker during each retreat. The most impactful guest speakers Barbosa can recall were two women who were both living in long-term recovery from substance use disorder and now living happy, full lives.

“I was able to ask them questions as if they were my daughter,” she said. “I would ask things like, ‘Why wouldn’t you have called me?’

Barbosa’s latest prayer has been asking God to assist her in helping other mothers whose children are grappling with addiction.

“I used to come to these retreats thinking, ‘What can I get out of this?” she said. “Now, I go, and I think, ‘What can I contribute?’

“One woman, during this last retreat, came up to me and said, ‘You have no idea how much I look forward to seeing you. When you speak, it gives me hope,’ said Barbosa. “I knew then my prayer had been answered.”

For individuals affected by substance use disorder, who are seeking mental health services, Catholic Charities Boston’s Department of Basic Needs offers a range of counselling services, including the program, ‘Recovering Connections,’ for children and families of those with substance use disorders. To learn more, please click here:

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