Treatment Talk: What I’ve Learned

Note:  This post is reprinted with author Cathy Taughinbaugh’s permission; it first appeared on her blog Treatment Talk and is posted here in honor of National Recovery Month.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  ~ Melody Beattie 

When substance abuse knocked at our door, unfortunately we opened up and let it in.

Since that day our life has changed forever

Many days were a struggle, a challenge and felt painful.

At times I felt manipulated.

I could feel myself enabling, but couldn’t stop.

On occasion, the fear engulfed me as I lay awake with my eyes staring at the ceiling watching each hour pass by until dawn.

I muddled through as best I could. Some days were filled with forgiveness, love, joy and gratitude. On other days, I felt the sting of addiction.

I’m on an ongoing, life long journey of change, understanding and compassion. I have to find my strength and learn to forgive myself and others. I am grateful my life, and embrace the changes I have made.

This journey has taken me places I would never have expected. There are the people that I have met, and stories that I have heard that have been a gift. There is that driving force that has compelled me to channel my energies and kept me putting one foot in front of the other. I’m still standing because I know and feel more that I ever imagined.

I’ve learned many things through this process. Addiction and recovery will forever be part of my life. It may be gone in it’s most fiery form, but it lies dormant, waiting to find that crack in the resistance, that opportunity to seep through if given the chance. It is a force to be reckoned with, one with no pity or shame.

Through this process of dealing with the health issue of family addiction, I’ve learned many things.

Here are just some of the things I’ve learned from this experience.

I’ve learned that:

I cannot control others. I can only control myself.

I need to give myself the respect and attention that I deserve.

I can forgive myself for the mistakes and misjudgments I’ve made in the past.

Joy lies just below the surface. I can be happy regardless of what is happening around me.

Addiction is a force to be reckoned with.

To save myself, I must be strong.

I don’t have to explain anything to another parent with an addicted child.

The stigma of addiction and recovery can sting.

We have to find our own reasons for wanting change.

Making time to breathe each day brings a haven of calm.

There is always a reason to feel compassion.

This insidious disease of depending on drugs or alcohol can go on for decades.

No matter how much it hurts, sometimes we have to let go.

You can make a mistake and come back from it. It’s called recovery.

When addicts recover, they can go on to live beautiful lives.

When we find support, we can begin to feel again.

My expectations are meaningless. I must accept reality.

Recovery is a lifelong journey.

Gratitude can bring me peace of mind.

With continual practice, I can conquer my fears.

There are new ways to practice patience.

I need to save myself and not let addiction engulf me.

Denial prolongs the problem.

Enabling prolongs the pain.

This is a family disease and behind every great addict is a great codependent.

When I let go of codependency, I can let go of reacting and responding to other people’s problems. I can think about what I want.

I need to be compassionate and supportive of my loved ones.

It is important to make the best decisions that you can when you have the chance, because after your child is 18, it is out of your control.

The addict withdraws into a world that is closed to anyone who tries to help.

Real power comes when you acknowledge that change is needed, and you are able to make that change happen.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so we can live the life that we now have.

I can forgive others and I can forgive myself.

We can choose how we react to other people and to any situation.

As parents we can always be more informed, educated and involved.

There is always hope.

Only when we are not longer afraid, do we begin to live. ~ Dorothy Thompson

There are no guarantees, but here’s what you can do to help prevent substance abuse from knocking on your door:

Educate yourself and educate your children.

Communicate often about the dangers of drug abuse.

Know who your childrens’ friends and their friend’s parents are.

If you are a parent, lock up your prescription drugs and alcohol.

Don’t ever allow yourself to think that addiction couldn’t happen to your child.

If you’ve been through addiction and recovery in any form, what have you learned? Tell me about it in the comments!


Cathy Taughinbaugh is a Life Coach, former teacher and mother of a crystal meth addict who has been in recovery for over 7 years. She writes on addiction, recovery and treatment at Treatment You can also follow her on Facebook at Treatment Talk and twitter @treatmenttalk.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Beth,

    Thank you so much for sharing my article. When any family finds themselves faced with addiction, it is a journey to get their life back and find recovery. It seems to be that our family was meant to have this experience.I hope there are others that can share what they have learned as well. Happy Recovery Month to you! Be well my friend.

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