How My Drug Addicted Daughter Found a Miracle

Our guest today is Cathy Taughinbaugh from Treatment Talk. 

I know Cathy from the A-list blogging Club. Cathy is a mother, a wife and a former teacher. Her family has been on a journey through the depths of addiction, finding hope, recovery, and miracles along the way.

"The lady I met with was very nice and told me that she thought I was ‘fabulous.’”

I had to pause and take a breath as I thought about my daughter’s words. I know she is fabulous as all moms think their kids are wonderful. 

I emailed her back, “You are fabulous, so glad she saw that.”

She is in a good place right now, interviewing for jobs, and trying to make a move to northern California. She is employed in the field of her choice, and is in no rush to find a new job. Both of those things, besides being “fabulous” are in her favor.

 

This hasn’t always been the case for my daughter. 

 

She started out life as a typical little girl growing up in a suburban neighborhood in northern California. She excelled in school during her elementary years. 


As she entered middle school, her grades started to slip just a bit. She had many friends, tried different activities to participate in and seemed well adjusted.

 

When high school began, she had a good first two years. She joined the water polo and swim team which kept her busy after school. She continued to be very social and had a “nice” group of girlfriends. 

The last two years of high school, the grades started to slip again. Not dramatically, but we noticed. She kept her curfew, many of her friends remained the same, although there were a few news ones that made me a bit curious and concerned.

Her father and I prodded her onward and encouraged her to do better, monitored her whereabouts, and tried to be on top of all that was going on. Graduation came and went.

She left one August morning with her brother and I on the flight to Colorado, to the college of her choice. Things went well for maybe a month. Her boyfriend at the time moved back to be with her. He was not attending college and did not have a job at the time. This was a red flag to me, but wanting her to have a college education was important to us, so we thought we would take the wait and see approach.

A year and a half later, when she had dropped out of college, could not keep her job and was out of rent money, I went back to see what I could do. We had made the decision that we were done sending checks. She needed to own up to her life choices.

The rug was pulled out from under me when she finally admitted she was addicted to drugs. I should have known, and wondered why I didn’t know. 

I know now. I was in denial.

 

She made a good choice at that moment in Colorado. She made the choice to come home with me. She made the choice to make a change and find a better way to live.

The three of us, including Bella, her recently acquired Rottweiler made the flight back to California. Within one week she was on yet another plane to Utah to attend a Wilderness program for five weeks, and then on to Southern California where she was in treatment for another three months and in a sober living home for six months. After leaving the program, she remained in southern California, and has lived in apartments with wonderful young women from her program.

A local junior college in southern California is where my daughter started college again. She graduated from the state university in 2009. A job in a grocery store helped pay expenses while going back to school. After graduating, she sent out applications for nine months until she found her present position. She has been promoted twice in the year and a half that she has been employed with the company. 

She has made the decision that she is ready and wants to come home to live closer to her family. She has come full circle.

My daughter is not the only young woman who has successfully completed a treatment program that is fabulous. They all are. 

Mature beyond their years, these young women are insightful and have embraced a spiritual component to their lives. They are humble and grateful for what life has to offer them. They appreciate the simple things, like their warm bed every night.

These young women, who often seem invisible, know that life can be hard due to poor choices and the disease of addiction.They also know that there is always hope. 

 

Your life can change when you dig deep, overcome your fear and take on the challenge to begin again. 

 

"It's never too late to be who you might have been." ~  George Eliot

Cathy Taughinbaugh is the mother of a former crystal meth addict. She writes on addiction, recovery and treatment at Treatment Talk.org. You can follow her on twitter @treatmenttalk. Please email this post to the mothers and daughters that you know are struggling with addiction.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Leah McClellan July 10, 2011, 1:16 pm

    Wow–What a great story. I can picture the scene all too well. Where I grew up–a rural area near a small town–drugs were everywhere. I left the area when I was really young (17) partly because of that; I just couldn’t handle being around so many drugs and drug addicts anymore (I had my foot in that door for awhile and knew I had to get it out). Some people, some much older than me, got into crystal meth and all that, and a bunch of people I used to know are doing long jail terms now for dealing. It’s a terrible scene.

    Your daughter is so very lucky to have a supportive mom, even with that little spell of denial (normal, seems to me, but at least you saw it). I knew parents who were in complete denial of just about everything around them and never got out of it–they were too wrapped up in their own problems or their worlds and didn’t look very deep at much of anything. Where I grew up, there was never any involvement or help in so many kids’ lives, in any way.

    So nice to hear such a happy story–thanks for sharing!

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 10, 2011, 3:06 pm

      Hi Leah,

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, I feel very grateful that her story turned out as well as it did. I’m so glad to hear that you realized before it was too late, that drugs were not healthy. Some kids think they are experimenting and before you know it, they crave the drug and become addicted. I hope that with continued awareness, parents will become more proactive with their children and we can prevent kids from going down that path.

  • Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition July 10, 2011, 2:06 pm

    Cathy,
    I’m so glad you shared this story about your daughter. I’m even happier that she is now well into her recovery. I’ve had a number of family members and friends who had substance abuse problems and it is a nightmare for them and for the family. You have a lot to be proud of with your daughter’s recovery –

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 10, 2011, 3:10 pm

    Hi Angela,

    Thanks so much for your comment. I am proud of her, as she has come a long way. Sometimes it takes an event like this to really look at your life and begin to make positive change. It affects the whole family. This has been a life lesson that has changed us all for the better.

  • Lance July 10, 2011, 7:57 pm

    Cathy,
    Thank you for sharing the journey your daughter (and your family) has been on. It makes me think about my own three kids – middle school and high school aged – and am I noticing what’s going on…noticing “beneath the surface”?

    And know I’m thinking of your daughter as she continues to create her own meaningful life…for her…

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 10, 2011, 8:20 pm

    Hi Lance,

    When my kids were that age, we discussed the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but to be honest, it never occurred to me that any one of them would actually become addicted. No one in my family had this issue, so this was new to me. What I have realized is that addiction does not discriminate. Lovely couples that I have met, who seem to be wonderful parents have a child who surprisingly becomes an addict. But there is hope for anyone in this situation. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Ken Wert July 11, 2011, 12:09 am

    I think that in many ways how someone responds to poor decisions that have knocked them down says about as much about a person’s character as avoiding such poor decisions in the first place. It certainly says a lot about resolve.

    The wonderful thing about life is the opportunities it provides us to learn from our mistakes and move on … a little wiser, a little more humble, a little more hopeful, a little more compassionate and a little more able to overcome the next challenge life has for us.

    Thank you for the poignant and inspiring story of your daughter!

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:05 am

      Hi Ken,

      I agree. There definitely has been a learning lesson in this experience. I don’t wish it on anyone, as it can be dangerous, but for us, I feel we all came out a little wiser and more grateful for the little things in life. I have learned so much and continue to do so regarding addiction. My daughter is a changed woman, as are her friends, and all for the better. Thanks for your comment.

  • Hilary July 11, 2011, 1:04 am

    Hi Tess and Cathy .. thank you for telling us about your daughter and her circle of life – so pleased she’s back and settled .. it’s good to read about your experience .. as we can all learn so much. Good to meet you ..

    Have good weeks – Hilary

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:07 am

      Hi Hilary,

      It feels like she has come full circle and that is wonderful feeling. I meet people who are just starting out in their journey through recovery and I feel lucky, my situation turned out as well as it did. Thanks for your comment.

  • Joy July 11, 2011, 1:38 am

    Hi Cathy,
    Thank you for sharing this empowering story! My brother had been addicted to drugs half of his life..in and out of various treatment centers and programs..addiction wreaks havoc on all involved. I love to hear “success” stories, such as yours and your daughter’s..
    And these words say it all, affirming that whatever we have that is fear based doesn’t have to control our life: “Your life can change when you dig deep, overcome your fear and take on the challenge to begin again.”
    Thank you for the inspiration, and the insights..

    • Joy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:14 am

      Hi Joy,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. It can be emotionally exhausting for the family when the addicted person continues to relapse. For so many the fear of being sober is overwhelming and sometimes the newly recovered feel uncomfortable in their new life. There is hope for everyone, and know that you are not alone. There are many in your situation. My best to you and your brother. I hope someday he can find lasting recovery. Thanks for your comment.

  • Betsy July 11, 2011, 5:17 am

    Kathy,
    I’ve been to your blog several times but this is the first time I’ve read your daughter’s story. It’s very moving! I’m so glad her story has a happy ending.
    Tess,
    Thanks for another interesting guest post!

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:21 am

      Hi Betsy,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. We are grateful everyday for how well this has all worked out. She know has the skills to live a meaningful life. Thanks for your comment.

  • John Sherry July 11, 2011, 5:28 am

    Cathy, a poignant reminder of the gradual slip into drug dependency. Life’s pressures leave many looking for outlets that still the pain or take the mind into another place away from the stress. I applaud you for your tough love stance as it’s no less a love but more strong a stand against what isn’t right and isn’t going to lead to anything but an ultimate demise. I wish your daughter well and to all those in treatment seeking their life back again. Love to all.

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:26 am

      Hi John,

      Many do look for drugs or alcohol to ease the pain they feel from childhood or just an internal feeling of insecurity. Many kids, as we know experiment, but it is always a gamble for you never know who from the group has the potential to become addicted. It’s a challenge for all, but hopefully with continued awareness parents can be proactive at the critical time. Thanks for your comment.

  • Amanda Thomas July 11, 2011, 5:30 am

    Thank you for your sharing yours and your daughters story. I always find the route to Recovery fascinating and truly inspiring, especially as I am part of the journey – working in a rehab. I also really appreciate your honesty, in the UK there is so much stigma that few feel able to stand up and say.. “hey look its happened to me, we are a normal family and it can happen to you, and you know what there is recovery!” I wish you all the very bestest with your ongoing journey

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:36 am

      Hi Amanda,

      That is wonderful that you work in a rehab. I am so appreciative of those people that make recovery their life’s work. Yes, there is a stigma about addiction in the US as well, and my hope is that with more of us online and willing to talk about it, people will begin to feel more safe about admitting that this has happened to their family as well. When people who have suffered from addiction in any form become visible it will become more clear about how many families this disease has impacted. Thank you for your comment.

  • Melody | Deliberate Receiving July 11, 2011, 6:58 am

    Hi Kathy,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. A lot of people think that drugs and drug addiction only happens to families that are clearly “at risk” somehow, and there’s often such a stigma of shame involved. It doesn’t occur to them that normal, everyday people and families can be afflicted. There’s nothing shameful about drug addiction. Drugs are a tool to feel better, just like many others tools. They just carry a very high price. No one ever chooses to be addicted to drugs. They choose the short term effects – relief from suffering. The real addiction (aside from the physical one) is that drugs make you feel worse after they wear off than you originally did, which makes you come back for more and gets you stuck in that cycle.
    Anyone who is in enough pain (and that’s relative) and who isn’t aware of their options to feel better in that moment can make this decision.
    Your daughter found a healthier, alternative method to escape her negative feelings and partly through you, she serves as a shining example for others who may not yet have found the same truth. Thank you again for sharing your story so courageously and honestly. I’m sure that a lot of people will benefit greatly from it.

    Hugs,
    Melody

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:46 am

      Hi Melody,

      People often think of addiction as the homeless person on the street, which can be true in some cases. But it also effect middle class families as well, many of whom feel they did all the “right” things. The pressure for kids to experiment in schools can be overwhelming. Also I have noticed many families can get their kids through high school, but it all falls apart when they leave home for college or to a job. They were not yet strong enough inside to meet life’s challenges. The more we discuss and get this problem out in the open, the better chance we have of turning it around. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com July 11, 2011, 7:42 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your and your daughter’s story, Cathy. It helps other parents and other young drug addicts/alcoholics “see” there is a way out and that life can be better than imagined even though the path taken is nothing like they’d initially envisioned.

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:50 am

      Hi Lisa,

      There is a way out and hope for everyone. You are absolutely correct, it can be much more difficult than many realize. That’s why prevention is the key! Addiction is forever, and like any other chronic disease, must be managed. The experience can bring all involved to cherish life as never before and to have compassion for those still in the struggle. Thanks for your comment and for all you do over at Breaking the Cycles.

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 8:17 am

    Hi Tess,

    I appreciate your words. It’s been a journey, but an interesting one. I feel like we are all where we are meant to be. Thanks so much for having me as a guest on your amazing blog! Take Care.

  • kim box July 11, 2011, 9:51 am

    Wonderful inspiration and hope – thank you for sharing!

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 11:23 am

    Thanks for the comment, Kim, and appreciate all that you are doing at Pathways to Prevention as well!

  • Galen Pearl July 11, 2011, 12:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, and like others, I’m glad your daughter is doing much better. I appreciate your sharing something of how she grew up. So many people think that a child in trouble is a direct result of parenting failures. And while it is certainly true that poor parenting can lead to problems, it is just as true that kids raised by loving parents with good rules and boundaries, still lose their way sometimes. We all do our best as parents, but our kids have their own paths to follow, and sometimes those paths are not what we would choose for them. Your story will be a comfort and a ray of hope for many.

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Hi Galen,

    Absolutely. So much plays into what path our children take. We try to make sure we guide them the best we can, but as many know who have several children, they can all have the same experiences, and because of genetics or various other reasons, take different paths in life. I do feel it is important to share stories of hope, and to let parents and family members know they can reach the other side of this journey as well. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Susan King July 11, 2011, 2:57 pm

    Hello, Cathy,

    Thank you for bringing up the hidden blessings of addiction—the humbleness, the appreciation for a warm bed. Those are some of the gems to be discovered along the rocky road of recovery. But addiction is a journey best to be avoided, which is why are intent upon educating parents and teens at PathwaytoPrevention.org. All the best–Susan

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 11, 2011, 3:31 pm

    Hi Susan,

    There can be a silver lining with difficult experiences. It becomes a life lesson for us. Prevention is the key and hopefully, with more awareness like the great work that you are doing, we, as a society will be able to get a handle on the disease. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • parisko July 11, 2011, 6:49 pm

    Sometimes, we thinks we know our kids very well only to end feeling so disappointed…
    Once they meet friends that are in no way do them any good, they are bound to misery…and worst addiction to drugs..which is something that mother can never tolerate. The painful thought of having a child addicted to drugs is already a burden going on in your mind, what else is there if it’s found out to b e real…
    This is really fearful and yet we have to prevent from happening…if we have overlook, we must better do something now.

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 12, 2011, 9:21 am

      Hi Parisko,

      Prevention is so important. Parents during those middle and high school years would be helping their family by being proactive. But we also have to understand that sometimes this happens regardless of our best intentions. Parents and family members play a part, and it is so helpful when you educate yourself about the disease so that you can control your actions and take steps that will hopefully lead to recovery for your family member. Thanks for your comment.

  • Clark Minn July 11, 2011, 6:50 pm

    This story can inspire a lot of people…Thanks Cathy for sharing your story with us…

    • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 12, 2011, 9:06 am

      Hi Clark,

      I hope that as we share our stories to others, it helps to give hope. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Beth Wilson July 11, 2011, 7:32 pm

    Cathy,

    I deliberately saved your post until the end of my work day because I wanted to savor the sweet words written by a mother about her recovering addict daughter. Your pride is evident and you’ve given me more reason to ponder another mother/daughter relationship today: mine.

    It was one year ago today that I saw my mother for the last time before she passed away on July 21. It was a happy occasion; I was in town for a wedding and Mom was thrilled to see her baby dressed up, having fun and in love with life.

    Our relationship wasn’t always like that, especially during the first few years of my sobriety. Mom didn’t understand alcoholism. She thought I was forcing her to choose between her sober daughter and her drinking husband, my father. But during that wedding weekend last year–nearly 20 years after I first told her I was an alcoholic–I saw the love in her eyes, and like your daughter, Cathy, felt my mother’s pride.

    Addiction is like that, isn’t it? It can tear families apart and also seamlessly weave them back together. The miracles of recovery continue to amaze me–thank you for sharing your daughter’s story so I could share a bit of mine. I’m missing my mom so much tonight and it has helped to hear a bit of her heart in your words.

    Love and blessings to you and your daughter.

    P.S. Thanks to you, Tess, for choosing a fabulous guest writer!

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 12, 2011, 9:15 am

    Hi Beth,

    How wonderful that you were able to reconcile with your mother. Addiction can definitely tear families apart. As I learn more about alcoholism and addiction, I realized that this is not just about someone who is weak, or making poor choices, but about a disease that needs treatment. I also find myself very touched by other people’s journeys. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Brena Fint July 12, 2011, 6:38 pm

    This story really gives hope to all people…have always faith and be very hopeful and always be inspired…

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 12, 2011, 8:19 pm

    Hi Brena,

    My desire is that it does let people know that there is hope for anyone in this situation. It is emotionally exhausting for families, but can have a happy ending. Thanks so much for your message.

  • carly July 12, 2011, 11:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing that touching story. It hits home. My older sister’s husband started taking meth about a year ago. Her marriage fell apart and her little daughter really suffered through a lot with an absent dad. He’s in rehab now and we’re all praying for recovery. Your daughter’s story is truly inspirational.

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 13, 2011, 10:34 am

    Hi Carly,

    I’m sorry to hear about your sister’s husband. Unfortunately this is all too common in these times. It is difficult when addiction affects family members, especially children. I’m glad to hear that he is in rehab and hopefully will find lasting recovery. It is possible, so know that many others have gone on to live a meaningful, drug free life. Thanks for your comment.

  • Richard July 18, 2011, 7:31 am

    I’ve always thought that one of the biggest problems that drug addicts can have coming off drugs is that society can really stigmatise them, rather than to try and understand how they got there and help appropriately.

    I really don’t believe that anyone chooses to become an addict, often drugs are an escape from a different issue.

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 18, 2011, 11:36 am

    Hi Richard,

    You have made a good point that society does stigmatize addicts, and that is why many call it the invisible disease, or really the invisible recovery. Many people don’t realize that anyone can become addicted, addiction does not discriminate. It is important to have a support system in whatever form that takes, so that you don’t feel alone and can let go of the shame.

    Substance abuse can lead to the disease of addiction. Genetics, poor choices, low self esteem and shame for various reasons as well as environment can all play a part in why someone becomes addicted. There is continually new information and treatment methods to help those with the disease. Thanks for your comment.

  • t.d. July 28, 2011, 10:26 am

    Cathy,
    Thank you for the parents’ perspective on this. I think denial is where most parents find themselves in relation to their children’s behaviors. I am glad your daughter found a safe and healthy solution. I know this isn’t always the case. I believe that most of us struggle with addiction- food, sex, gambling, substances, relationships, etc. and not everyone knows that there are other ways to live. I know that as a young, and not so young, adult I put my parents through many sleepless nights and worries. Today, as I read your article, I am proud and blessed to say that I am one of those fortunate women. Thank you for reminding me that the life I have today shines bright.

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk July 28, 2011, 10:53 am

    Hi t.d.,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am very grateful that my daughter made the choice to find recovery. I know of many parents who spend years worrying about their children who are addicted and are unwilling to seek help. It is an ongoing problem, but with awareness regarding prevention and treatment, we can help kids lead healthy lives. So wonderful that you are doing well.

  • Robin August 10, 2011, 6:31 pm

    Hi Cathy…This is not an easy situation and if this happens to me, i really don’t know what to do…I still admire you because you have survived it…This is really helpful for all mothers who are hoping to have their siblings fight until the end…

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk August 11, 2011, 2:36 pm

    Hi Robin,

    Until we are faced with the situation, most of us don’t know how we would handle it. Prevention is really the key, and the more kids we can protect from substance abuse, the better. We do seem to find our strength when faced with challenge. Thanks for your comment.

  • Laura August 16, 2011, 10:29 pm

    Hi Cathy…I am really glad that you have surpassed this situation…You are a model!!

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk August 17, 2011, 8:22 am

    Hi Laura,

    I have learned so much from my experience. I do believe that addiction and recovery are life long journeys, but we are all doing well at this moment in time. Thanks for your comment.

  • Tess August 17, 2011, 10:15 am

    Cathy,
    I can’t agree more on that life long recovery…in fact isn’t everything??? Because we’re imperfect human beings.

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk August 20, 2011, 10:33 am

    Hi Tess,

    Being a life long learner in every sense opens up all possibilities for growth and leaves every door open. When we start on the journey to recovery, whether it is the addict themselves or the parents, for many, the initial hope is to have this problem fixed, so that we can move on and put this behind us. Being in the midst of addiction can certainly be in the past, but there is never a finish line and always more to learn, as well as the opportunity to help others in this or any challenge that you find yourself dealing with. We are all imperfect, but it does make life interesting, doesn’t it? Take care!!

    • Tess August 20, 2011, 11:40 am

      Cathy,
      “there is never a finish line and always more to learn,”
      This is the title of a book, post etc!

  • Alexis August 29, 2011, 12:11 pm

    You have a very inspiring story… I am glad that you manage to take all of this and I hope everything will be okay soon…

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk August 29, 2011, 4:30 pm

    Hi Alexis,

    We are all doing well now, and I’m grateful that things turned out in a positive way. It was a life lesson for all of us, and we can now go on feeling stronger and more confident. Thanks for your comment.

  • MumsyT October 3, 2011, 2:48 am

    What a wonderful post…your story sounds similar to mine beautiful young daughter who became addicted to alcohol and drugs at a very young age but was willing to get help and make a change. Today she is 20 and clean and sober for 18 months and just started back at university. Could not be prouder of who she is today and all that she has accomplished and yes wise beyond her years…I have learned so much through her. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk October 3, 2011, 9:31 am

    Hi MumsyT,

    Our stories do sound similar. How wonderful that your daughter is doing well today. I feel grateful for experiencing the whole process, (although I do not wish it on any parent and highly recommend prevention) and know that it has changed both of our lives for the better. Thanks for your comment.

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