Nine Franklin County women share addiction stories for health competition

  • Nine Franklin County women who were involved in recording personal stories from their addiction recovery efforts spoke and screened their stories at Greenfield Community College on Tuesday night. Contributed photo

  • Mary Paterno

Staff Writer
Published: 7/19/2019 6:46:07 PM
Modified: 7/19/2019 6:45:53 PM

GREENFIELD — A local storytelling workshop for women recovering from addiction could influence how addiction is treated at the national or state level.

The project is coordinated by Mary Paterno, a midwife at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Nursing.

Paterno is also trained in digital storytelling. She has led two other storytelling workshops for mothers recovering from addiction over the last three years. Women who participated found the process therapeutic, Paterno said, but some also wanted to use their stories to connect with and inspire others in similar situations.

A competition by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) may provide a way to do that. It asks for technology-based methods for improving support and access to treatment for mothers and pregnant women recovering from opioid addiction.

As a submission for the competition, Paterno worked with nine Franklin County women this May to record themselves telling personal stories from their addiction recovery efforts, which are accompanied with pictures, videos and music. The group is one of 10 teams around the country that received funding from HRSA for a proposal.

On Tuesday night, the women spoke and screened their stories at Greenfield Community College, then asked the audience for feedback on how the recorded stories might be used in clinical or other settings.

Because the task of the group is to address concerns of recovering mothers and pregnant women, most of the stories involved family relationships. One woman told how her adult children inspired her after she relapsed. Another recalled telling her father about her drug problem.

The group is now developing a discussion guide to go with the stories, Paterno said. In September, Paterno will present the group’s project to HRSA in Rockville, Md. If the competition judges like it, they will grant more funding for wider testing.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.

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