By Juli McDonald


NORTH READING (CBS) — A Massachusetts mom and daughter who have been to hell and back are getting the most priceless gift of all– a Christmas together.

“Four or five I wasn’t here because I was either using or in treatment. I couldn’t stop using drugs,” said Kaitlin Harvey.

“There were Christmases that were brutal because we missed her so much,” her mother, Maureen Cavanagh recalls.

Theirs is the same devastating story happening in every town across our state and throughout country. Kaitlin had it all, until she was offered drugs one time in her early 20s.

“Then six months later I’m shooting heroin. It’s unbelievable,” Harvey said.

“I thought that I could fix her, and after I realized I couldn’t fix her then I thought I could love it out of her,” Cavanagh said. “It just doesn’t work like that.”

Kaitlin Harvey and her mother Maureen Cavanaugh. (WBZ-TV)

After years of anguish and many overdoses, the monthly medication Vivitrol has given Kaitlin her life back.

“It’s so worth it. To be there for your family and yourself, your friends,” Harvey said. “I go to church. I’m there for the people at church. I pray. I feel like I’m someone God can be proud of again.”

Cavanaugh wrote a book about their journey, titled “If You Love Me.” She also created an organization called Magnolia New Beginnings. There are 25,000 members in her online support groups.

She said the best gift anyone can give is checking in with friends who are struggling, as well as their families, who also need support:

“There are many people I know that won’t have their child or loved one at the table,” Cavanagh said. “I know how lucky I am.”

Juli McDonald

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