PLAISTOW — Going to First Baptist Church gives Sharon Bilodeau, 58, hope in more ways than one.
The church helps people who are affected by addiction.
Since November, the Rev. Aaron Goodro has been working with other organizers to help addicts, their families and friends through special church services.
"Certainly, the problem spans all communities around us," he said.
The services, he said, provide a safe place for anyone impacted by addiction — with no shame or judgment attached.
The special services feature music, prayers geared toward addiction and recovery, and some informal networking. The services usually last about an hour.
Goodro helped organizer the services after meeting Doug Griffin.
Griffin's 20-year-old daughter Courtney, a Newton resident, died from a heroin overdose in September. Her funeral was held at First Baptist.
Bilodeau knows the benefits of the services firsthand. She has attended the past three services and plans to attend Sunday.
About four years ago, when Bilodeau's daughter was 17, she had gallbladder surgery. A year later, she had her wisdom teeth removed. Painkillers were prescribed in both instances.
Bilodeau said her daughter's heroin addiction started with painkillers.
"I think it escalated from there," Bilodeau said.
Her daughter moved away, but returned home in 2013.
Her daughter went through a detox program at Hampstead Hospital in December 2014.
At the time, Bilodeau said, she didn't know her daughter was addicted to heroin or why she was at Hampstead Hospital.
"Honestly, I thought she was there for her depression and anxiety," she said.
For about a year, Bilodeau said, her daughter hasn't used heroin but has been on Suboxone, a drug similar to methadone.
That's problematic, Bilodeau said.
"It's a nightmare in and of itself," she said. "It's not meant for long-term use; it's to help with cravings."
Knowing there are other people going through the same struggle is helpful and comforting, Bilodeau said.
"It's just a nice place to be where there's no judgment," she said.
Bilodeau has lost others to addiction. Her nephew died of a drug overdose in July.
"I went to four funerals in less than seven weeks," she said.
Not all were family members.
One of them, Bilodeau said, was for Courtney Griffin.
Doug Griffin helped organize the church services.
"They don't pound religion at you a lot," he said. "They try to lighten the mood as much as possible."
About 50 people have attended the other services, Griffin said.
No matter how many people show up — or if they ever come back — every person matters.
"They may or may not come back to the next (service)," Griffin said, "but at least they come home with some ammunition to start the fight."
The church offers free specialized Bibles, with prayers geared toward those in recovery, Goodro said.
The message he wants to send to those who need it is clear.
"To remind people God's not done with them," he said, "no matter what the issue is in life."
People exchange resources and offer support to one another, a type of informal networking, Bilodeau said.
"It's just a very hope filled environment," she said. "You leave there filled with hope."
The fourth service is set for Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 122 Main St.