Over the last few years, Cathy Taughinbaugh has helped her daughter through a tough road out of drug addiction. As a parent, Cathy had to learn how to be there for her daughter and how to support her through the recovery process. As a result of her journey, she founded Treatment Talk.
TreatmentTalk.org is an active website where Cathy is able to not just post stories about her own journey, but where others are able to also share their paths. Cathy has established a resourceful site where people can find information about addiction and recovery. The outreach that Cathy has worked on provides a forum for those that need support to care for themselves or their loved ones.
Cathy’s numerous articles and eBooks are available, providing inspiration to all out there who are going through same or similar challenges in their lives.
We're fortunate to get this chance to interview her. Enjoy!
1.Hi Cathy. Your family’s journey of fighting addiction led you to Treatment Talk. Would you mind sharing, briefly, the path that brought you to the creation of the organization and website?
My daughter began using drugs in high school, but we did not realize the path she was taking until she was 19. She had been a college student living in Colorado at the time, but was unable to hold down a job or attend school. Thankfully, she did agree to come home with me to California to begin a treatment program. She was in various forms of treatment and a Sober Living Environment for about one year.
What I realized from this experience is how much in denial, unprepared and uneducated I was on the dangers of experimentation, substance abuse, dependence and addiction. I literally did not know where to turn for help when I discovered my daughter was addicted to crystal meth. Fortunately I was able to connect with an addiction counselor who got us all started on the journey to recovery.
Treatment Talk, my website, began in May 2010, which was an idea I had to help other parents become more aware of the dangers of experimentation and to provide resources for parents in a similar situation. It has been an outlet for me to express my feelings on the topic.
2.It must be very difficult to be a parent, watching your own children suffer. What words of wisdom do you have for parents who are in the same boat?
It is very difficult to watch your children suffer from addiction. You feel helpless, which is an unnatural feeling for a parent. What helped me was to seek support from support groups, professionals, friends and family. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed by your situation. Do not let the stigma hold you back. Addiction happens to a wide range of families. By hiding the situation is where parents get stuck. Reach out for help when you feel the need.
3.What advice do you have for parents who are walking the fine line between being too hands-on and too hands-off when it comes to building an open relationship with their children?
As our children grow, we need to slowly “reel out” the kite string that bind us to our children. I have learned how important it is to let my children take responsibility for their lives. It can be painful to watch at times. I remind myself to notice if I am doing things for my children that they should be doing for themselves. Situations continue to come up where I have to decide if I’m enabling or helping my adult children.
4.How do you cope, as a parent, with the fact that your children will make up their own minds about their lives?
I’ve learned, probably the hard way, how important it is to let go of my expectations. There is great value in allowing your children to discover their strengths and to tailor their life around them. I don’t believe people can be truly happy when they have been pressured into living their life for their parents.
5.Where do you turn when you are in need of support, so that you can be there for your daughter?
Al-Anon, as well as other family support groups is a great place to start. I have found a wonderful Parents Group of Addicted Children that I still attend even though my daughter has been in recovery for 8 years. The group helps me let go of my expectations, codependency and to find joy in life no matter what my children are doing. I’m still learning and growing and this group helps me to stay centered. I have also sought therapy from a counselor specializing in addiction when I need help coping with the stress of having an addicted child.
6.Your website is actively maintained with resources for people who are seeking help. Where do you find the resources to share with others? How do you make sure they are of high quality?
Many of my resources are through personally connected with someone from the organization. Others have come from organizations or websites that have been in existence for many years, and have a good reputation. There are a few that I researched or added because they were part of a post that I wrote. From looking at their information, I felt they would be a good addition to my page.
7.What inspires your blogs?
So many things, that it’s hard to pinpoint just one! Sometimes parents’ comments or emails will be a source for a topic. I will be inspired by topics that I find online, or from information that I read about. People send me articles that also inspire me. I keep a list of ideas that is ongoing, so I have plenty to choose from each week.
8.You have written a book, Beyond Addiction, which you give away for free on your website. Tell us a little bit about it.
Beyond Addiction is a short ebook to give parents or other family members who are dealing with addiction, some ideas on how to cope and help themselves. They include writing a journal, support groups, being still each day and of course exercise. It is so important to take care of ourselves when we are in a stressful situation.
9.What other eBooks or books have you written?
I have also written “101 Natural Highs for an Amazing Drug Free Life.” This is another short ebook listing 101 activities that you can embrace that may be your passion or just an interest to help get your life back after addiction or instead of addiction.
10.You have also written numerous articles which are published throughout the Internet. Where do you get your topic ideas? What inspires your writing?
I am inspired by what I read or hear about online and also from in person situations. I may hear something at my Al-Anon meeting, or from an email that a distressed mother has sent me. I also survey my readers from time to time to see what they are interested in and that inspires me as well.
11.It seems you have dedicated a lot of time and energy into helping others who are in the same shoes, particularly parents who are trying to help their children. How much time do you devote to working on your life’s passion of helping others?
Writing about addiction and recovery is a way to express my feelings and help others. I spend several hours a day trying to accomplish my mission. I enjoy being able to direct my own time, and work around other activities in my life. I love what I am doing and have met so many amazing people. This experience has been meaningful and fun for me.
12.What motivates you to continue to seek answers and give advice to others about addiction and how to cope?
I recently received a heartfelt email from a parent who did not know where to turn or how to deal with her son’s addiction. I don’t have all the answers, but I can point people in the right direction, and remind them that they are not alone and to seek outside help. Another mom recently wrote to me just wanting to talk because she has recently lost her son to an overdose. We chatted on the phone and she was now going to attend a local grief support group. It motivates me to feel that I have helped even a few mothers.
13. Your daughter is very lucky to have you as part of her support system. What do you say to parents who wish they had the relationship you have with your daughter that they don’t have with theirs?
My daughter and I are close. I feel I have grown by listening to other parents and learning from their experiences. I try to remember that my children have their own lives to live, and how important it is to hold back from giving unsolicited advice. I may not always agree with everything my children do, but I do need to respect them and allow them to learn and grow by taking responsibility for their own lives.
14.What is the biggest lesson you have learned as the mother of a drug addict?
I think the biggest lesson I have learned is to be proactive when you suspect that there is drug use. Do not allow yourself to be in denial and assume that their experimentation will go away with time. What parents do when they discover drug use with their teen can be a life saving decision. I am grateful everyday that my daughter made the decision to seek recovery.
15.What are your plans for Treatment Talk? Will it continue to be a resource for others facing the same challenges, or do you have plans to expand it in other directions?
Treatment Talk will go on being a resource for parents, but I do have plans to expand. I am a Life Coach and plan to go on and become a Recovery Coach. I hope to work with parents who are struggling with their children or people new to recovery to help them build a better life for themselves.
I am also very excited to be working with two colleagues and friends to present a live workshop this October in the San Francisco Bay area for mothers who are concerned about their child’s experimentation or substance abuse. Moms that are interested can find out more about the workshop on my website.
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 Talk.org. You can also follow her on Facebook at Treatment Talk and twitter @treatmenttalk.