Real People, Real Stories:
Many thanks to our good friend Cathy Taughinbaugh
for sharing her story with us.
As she says, “There is always hope.”
A Mother Reflects on Her Daughter’s Addiction
~ by Cathy Taughinbaugh
“I got the job!”
I had to pause and take a breath as I thought about my daughter’s words. I was thrilled that she had been hired for a new job and was now moving to northern California close to home after six years.
This hasn’t always been the case for my daughter.
I clearly remember the day when I discovered that my daughter was a crystal meth addict. She would not show me her arms because they were riddled with needle marks.
I was devastated.
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.
It was during middle school that I noticed her grades starting to slip a bit. She had many friends, tried different activities to participate in and seemed well adjusted.
Her first two years of high school went smoothly. She joined the water polo and swim team and made some close friends. I knew most of her friends’ parents.
The last two years of high school were a bit more rocky. 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.
“It wasn’t long before things started to fall apart.”
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 on the flight to Colorado to start her life as a college student. It wasn’t long before things started to fall apart.
She was on probation after her first semester and needed to attend summer school after her first year to remain enrolled.
After the fall semester of her sophomore year, she was done. She could not continue her undisclosed drug habit and remain a student.
I flew back to see what I could do. We had paid a few rent checks because after taking a part time job, she was also unable to continue working.
“I know now. I was in denial.”
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.
Within one week she was on a 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 amazing young women from her program. Several remain close friends.
Her program included getting a job and/or attending college. She did both and graduated from a local state university in 2009. A part time job in a grocery store helped pay expenses while going back to school.
“I felt the shame of addiction.”
She worked full time at the store until she found her present job in advertising.
She is now ready to come home to live closer to her family.
Being addicted is not what any mom dreams for her child. This is the last thing I expected. The emotional exhaustion sends you down a devastating path and it is a challenge to find your way back. The financial costs took my breath away.
As a parent we had the weekly calls from the wilderness camp, the weekly reports from her treatment center. I tried counseling, A-Alanon and Naranon in my efforts to find support.
I thought about who I would tell. I felt the shame of addiction. I also felt guilty, frustrated, angry and afraid.
“She has come full circle.”
My daughter has come full circle. She is now mature beyond her years. She is insightful and has embraced a spiritual component to her life. In some ways, my daughter’s past is invisible.
She has moved on with her life, and doesn’t discuss her past often. She knows, however that life can be hard due to poor choices and the disease of addiction. She also knows that there is always hope.
She realized that her life could change when she was ready to dig deep, overcome her fear and take on the challenge to begin again.
Bio: Cathy Taughinbaugh is the mother of a former crystal meth addict.
She writes on addiction, recovery and treatment at Treatment Talk.org
> Maggie M’s story of hope for parents of an addict.
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