Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

havest thanksgiving holiday season“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

Gratitude and Trust for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Relapse and Rebound, RepurposeSinger-songwriter Paul Williams and screenwriter Tracey Jackson have written a book together about recovery called Gratitude and Trust…Six Affirmations that Will Change Your Life.  The book includes affirmation and inspiration to keep you gratefully in the moment and trusting of the future.   I haven’t read it, but I will.  Every parent of a chemically-dependent child needs to learn how to stay in the moment and trust the future:  those are our marching orders if we ever want to get better from this family disease.

Paul’s in recovery after misplacing several decades of his life, and Tracey has witnessed the power of recovery among many of her friends. She notes, “I always felt everyone should have to go through recovery because we all have something to recover from. We can all use the basic principles of human kindness, self-responsibility, saying ‘I’m sorry,’ being grateful, the higher power.“If we all just invoke these things on a daily basis, how much better would the world be? And how much better would all of our relationships and interactions and lives be?”

This book sounds like a step in the right direction to reclaim gratitude, to believe in a power more powerful than ourselves, and, simply, to be kind. We cannot control a child’s recovery, but we can enrich our own by taking small steps like these.

Giving Thanks for the gifts in my life

havest thanksgiving holiday seasonThis Thanksgiving day I have so much to be thankful for but I will focus on one very special gift. I am thankful for having my family together, healthy and whole. Before my daughter found her way to sobriety I wondered when I would ever have a holiday when I wasn’t sad, I longed for my family to be together and happy again. Yet piece by piece here we are. My daughter is over 5 years clean and sober. We are all healthy. This is a joyful time for our family.  I realize that life is constantly changing, whether you want it to or not so I relish these moments. I am so filled with gratitude.

Also on this day I pray for those loved ones who have not found their way to recovery. I pray for their safety and that they find their way to recovery and back to the ones that love them so dearly. I pray that even if for just one moment they have the clarity that they need to want sobriety no matter how difficult the journey. I pray for those in recovery that they stay strong in their commitment to a life of sobriety.  And, lastly, I pray for the parents who have lost those they hold most precious. I pray that they find comfort, healing and support.

Pain into gain for parents of addicts and alcoholics

reaching the final strawAddiction can be a transformative experience. I never imagined that I would give thanks for the gifts that addiction has given me, but I do. I give thanks, and I am grateful for the experience (although I would never wish it on my worst enemy). My son’s illness puts many things into perspective or shines a new light on gifts previously unseen or unappreciated. Here are some of the items on my thanksgiving list:
Support from friends and strangers who became friends
The opportunity to meet wonderful people in the recovery community
Compassion for others
An appreciation for each and every day
A kinship with other parents
Gratitude for guidance along the way
Appreciation for resources to smooth the path to recovery
Some very good reasons to stop judging others

Straw into gold, pain into gain….what’s on your list?

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

storm of addiction“A lot of things are inherent in life -change, birth, death, aging, illness, accidents, calamities, and losses of all kinds- but these events don’t have to be the cause of ongoing suffering. Yes, these events cause grief and sadness, but grief and sadness pass, like everything else, and are replaced with other experiences. The ego, however, clings to negative thoughts and feelings and, as a result, magnifies, intensifies, and sustains those emotions while the ego overlooks the subtle feelings of joy, gratitude, excitement, adventure, love, and peace that come from Essence. If we dwelt on these positive states as much as we generally dwell on our negative thoughts and painful emotions, our lives would be transformed.”

- Gina Lake, What about Now? Reminders for Being in the Moment

Are You Ready to Forgive Your Addicted Child?

This is a guest post from Cathy Taughinbaugh of

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. – Mahatma Gandhi

Has your child put you through the heartache and emotional exhaustion of their addiction? Do you find it difficult to forgive them?

We live in anguish wondering how far down our addicted child will go before they realize the life consequences of their addiction. This may affect your life and the lives of other family members in many ways. Sleepless nights, anxiety, fear, embarrassment, broken promises and commitments left unfulfilled are just some of the things we may have may experienced as we deal with our addicted child.

After a period of time, forgiveness may be something we consider, but may be difficult to really feel and carry out. We are burdened down by the addiction and what it has done to our lives.

Is there a payoff for not forgiving? One payoff may be that we can continue to feel miserable and blame our misery on our addicted child. That allows us to continue to blame others for our unhappiness and not take responsibility for our own lives. But we can learn to forgive. One way is through compassion.

Step 9 States: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

When we forgive we give the other person room to make amends and it allows us to let go of past wrongs that we feel were done to us. We may make amends to others that we have wronged, and equally important is to make amends to ourselves.

Sometimes we blame ourselves or our life circumstances for the addiction of our children.

As parents, we may look back on our parenting years, and ask ourselves, what did I do to cause this addiction? We can be filled with regret, and relive what we could have done differently. We hear that we didn’t cause the addiction, can’t control it and can’t cure it, but we may not quite believe these words because we can’t quite forgive ourselves.

When we realize our children are addicts, many parents blame themselves, and yet as time goes on regardless of the outcome, it is important to forgive not only our addicted child for the pain they have caused us, but ourselves as well for our part in the addiction.

A 2006 study from A Campaign for Forgiveness Research “shows that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. The first study to look at how forgiveness improves physical health discovered that when people think about forgiving an offender, it leads to improved functioning in their cardiovascular and nervous systems.

Another study at the University of Wisconsin found the more forgiving people were, the less they suffered from a wide range of illnesses. The less forgiving people reported a greater number of health problems.”

The research of Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University found that people who are taught how to forgive become less angry, feel less hurt, are more optimistic, become more forgiving in a variety of situations, and become more compassionate and self-confident. His studies show a reduction in experience of stress, physical manifestations of stress, and an increase in vitality.

We would all agree, I believe that forgiveness is included in most religions. In Buddhism, forgiveness is seen as a practice to prevent harmful thoughts from causing havoc on one’s mental well-being. Buddhism recognizes that feelings of hatred and ill-will leave a lasting effect on our mind karma.

Alcoholics and addicts feel guilt, shame, remorse and self-loathing. Knowing that they are forgiven is another step on their journey to sobriety.

Here are some additional reasons to forgive our children and ourselves.

1. Forgiveness does not mean that you condone the action.
2. Forgiveness means regaining a sense of wholeness and peace.
3. To withhold Forgiveness, means you remain the victim.
4. When you Forgive, you do it for yourself, not for the other person.
5. Forgiveness means focusing your energy on the healing, not the hurtful action.
6. Compassion leads us to Forgiveness.
7. Healthy relationships need Forgiveness.
8. To be present and available, you need to heal the hurt from the past, and Forgive.
9. Forgiveness allows you to move on with your life.
10. Forgiveness lifts anxiety and depression.
11. Forgiveness means restoring yourself to basic goodness and health.
12. Forgiveness can enhance your self-esteem and give you hope.
13. Forgiveness allows us to restore faith in yourself.
14. Forgiveness is a journey and does mean that you will forget, but you can still forgive.
15. Forgiveness means we give up resentment, revenge and obsession.
16. Forgiveness allows us the freedom to begin many new and healthy life choices.
17. Forgiveness allows us to let go of the past hurts, as well as confusion.
18. Forgiveness does not mean you must continue a relationship with someone causing you harm.
19. Forgiveness allows us to let go and detach with love.
20. Forgiveness keeps ourselves in the flow of good.
21. No one benefits more from Forgiveness that the one who Forgives.
22. Forgiveness is the key to our happiness.
23. Forgiveness helps us make peace with the past.
24. Forgiveness helps us create a new future.
25. Forgiveness is a gift that one gives another.
26. Forgiveness helps us on our path to serenity.

“…ultimately, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Bitterness and anger imprison you emotionally. Forgiveness sets you free”~ Victor Parachin

Cathy Taughinbaugh is the mother of a former crystal meth addict who has been in recovery for over 6 years. She writes on addiction, recovery and treatment at You can also follow her on Facebook at Treatment Talk and twitter @treatmenttalk.

Helping Shatterproof Help Addicts and Alcoholics

Reflections on Motherhood and a child with AddictionThe Shatterproof Challenge is headed to San Jose on December 2.  Shatterproof is dedicated to raising awareness and funding to advance the mission of protecting our children from addiction and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.

What’s the Shatterproof Challenge?  Check it out!   (Hint:  if you are afraid of heights, be sure you are sitting down).  The cause is great, and limited spaces to participate are still available. For more information about the event, visit

Denial is a way to cope for parents of addicts and alcoholics

Denial, Hear nothing, see nothingThis is a guest post from Will Wooton, Director of Pacific Treatment Services

Most people believe that recognizing a drug problem in an adolescent during times of crisis (arrests, problems at school, defiant behavior at home, even overdose) may appear to be easy. Television dramas and reality shows make it seem ever more commonplace.

However, every day we are dealing with families that, even though they are in the midst of crisis, fail to see these behaviors and warning signs for what they are. Denial, this hugely destructive force, can hamper effective treatment at any point in the process. The denial of a parent, for teens that need help, can be the deciding factor for long term success or failure.

In the early stages of treatment (and before seeking help), it is most common to have parents wanting to believe that their child is going through a phase. They desperately want to believe their family can return to normal after some short-lived consequences. Or, that this is no different than their use as a teen and their child will “get over it.” This is a normal desire which comes from a defensive drive that has helped humans deal with extreme stress and trauma that otherwise might be debilitating. The denial reflexive defense helps give the mind the time needed to absorb a traumatic event or help cope with prolonged stress. It does serve a purpose and in some cases can be helpful in the short term.

However, in the case of adolescent substance abuse, early intervention is always better. Waiting until the crisis is so bad that it is undeniable can have catastrophic consequences, reinforcing to the teen that their behavior is “OK” often is easily implied by waiting to act. Commitment to early change is essential; the sooner a pro-active stance is taken, the sooner help is sought out, and the sooner the change can begin.

Once the initial process of change has started, and the teen is no longer using and the crisis has died down, is where it really gets tricky. This is where TV reality shows and dramas fall short of the mark. It’s easy to portray an intervention or a crisis. It makes great, entertaining, and sometimes educational television or movies. But the smoke has cleared and there are no more signs of trouble. Lulled into a false sense of confidence, many parents begin to let go of the structure and honesty that helped put out the fire in the first place.

The most common mistake we see is this lack of follow through. Much like any other disease, a lack of symptoms is not equal to a cure. The attitudes and beliefs that lead teens to use drugs and alcohol are pervasive.

In order for a family to recover, a new way of thinking and interacting must be adopted. Parenting teens with substance abuse issues is different from parenting normal teens. Seeking help from professionals and peers who understand this process is essential. They will provide not only support and education, but also a mirror.

Denial can only be addressed with a clear, honest picture of what is actually happening. The traumatic events that lead a family to help are easily forgotten or minimized in a short time. What do a few good weeks matter with a year or two of drug use and defiant behavior?

The process of recovery, for a whole family, is a long road. It is a lifestyle change. Support and honest feedback for parents is as essential as it is for the adolescent. Too often we work with families who see some positive changes and want to believe that everything will be OK from there. Unfortunately that can result in massive backsliding. Stay realistic, stay vigilant, and keep honest and knowledgeable people involved.

The upside of addiction for parents of addicts and alcoholics

Letting GoThis is a guest post from Will Wooton, the Director of Pacific Treatment Services and co-author of “Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink.”

I receive emails daily asking questions about addiction. Most can be answered with a brief reply but on occasion I have to take time to formulate a response that makes a difference. Not knowing specific details can make it difficult but one mother’s email last week seems to be a common issue for parents of active or newly sober addicts.

To summarize her question, she asked how a mother could ever be at peace knowing her son was an addict. The guilt and sadness of thinking that her son would forever struggle with depression and getting high was almost more then she could take. Addiction affects every family in some way and no one would wish a life of struggle and daily fighting that addiction causes.

Addiction can be a nightmare for families and often will tear them apart. How could anything good come from such a tragic situation? Maybe what recovery stands for is a bright ending to what are often years of pain.

In order to understand why recovery works, you must first understand what active addiction can do. As simply as I can make it, addicts continue to abuse because the relief from using outweighs the consequences that could occur. As abuse continues, values and morals fall as the need to use increases. Denial hardens and defenses justify how behaviors really are not that bad or they deflect them towards others. This spiral continues until, at some point, a major shift happens. This shift or change can come from a 12-step recovery, church or social settings, therapeutic sessions or any other recovery program.

The one commonality that all recovery programs share is a level of self-reflection. This allows for bettering one’s self and that giving to others is better then selfish acts. Loving your fellow man/woman above what you want in the moment. Breaking the cycles that allow you to hurt, steal from and blame the people who care most for you. Turning their selfish living into living as part of a community. Being part of the human race not against it. This all starts from small actions in the beginning and working their way up. Breaking selfishness is the key. Terms like character defects are assigned to personal traits that continue to allow arrogance to rule supreme. A life of lying and constant scams results in a disconnect with any spiritual path.

Recovery is the opposite of addiction not just in meaning but also in how someone lives his or her life. Becoming a recovery-focused person forces them to redefine their values. The great outcome is that through living for others and working on yourself daily in whatever recovery program you choose will result in something amazing happening. The addict begins to actually realize what drugs had initially done for them as happiness begins to overwhelm them. I know hundreds of young men and women who, while they were using, would be a perfect fit for prisons but now that they are sober, they will take time out of their day to help another. Young people in recovery that spend each day focusing on others will fine more contentment then partying and using could ever provide.

Addiction is a horrible thing that will always be part of this world but through the process of recovery and the hard work and selfless acts that it involves will come a happiness and peace that few non-addicts will ever know. My words to a mother who can’t find a way to deal with and accept that her son is an addict is to remember that with recovery can come a lifetime of joy and a feeling of being centered in this world. What addiction can take, recovery can give back 10-fold.


No Excuses for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Photo of Ricki TownsendA while back, Parent Pathway Expert Ricki Townsend sent a powerful e-mail to some of her friends after reading Wayne Dyer’s children’s book, No Excuses.    Ricki wrote, “We must remind ourselves and our children that they can become anything THEY want to be at any time in their lives.  Too often, we start to get in the muck with them instead of surrounding them with love and light and the possibilities of who they can be.  I love this children’s book because it prompted me to remember that I need to hold that vision for our children when they are forgetting it.  The journey is THEIR choice to make.  They must want the new improved life for themselves more than we do.  No, it doesn’t happen overnight, but with each step they can grow, head in the right direction and find peace.”

Thanks, Ricki, for sharing your wisdom on this critical point.  I’ve  now tatooed a note to myself on my forearm:  keep out of the muck, stay out of the way, leave it up to my son to learn what it’s like to be dirty—or clean; to be addicted—or to be free.