Author Archives: Magnolia Beginnings

About Magnolia Beginnings

Just when you think you have it all down it changes again or... “Reshaping life! People who can say that have never understood a thing about life—they have never felt its breath, its heartbeat—however much they have seen or done. They look on it as a lump of raw material that needs to be processed by them, to be ennobled by their touch. But life is never a material, a substance to be molded. If you want to know, life is the principle of self-renewal, it is constantly renewing and remaking and changing and transfiguring itself, it is infinitely beyond your or my obtuse theories about it.” ― Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

Double Edge Sword.


Magnolia New Beginnings


Addiction is a disease like none other. A double edge sword. It tears families apart. It bonds strangers forever. I never wanted to play this role in life. I was happy being a NICU nurse. Helping families cope with a premature or very sick newborn was what I did. It gave my life meaning and purpose. I was happy with my life and saw the world through rose colored glasses.

That was until my son became an addict. My handsome, life loving son became a victim to a horrible disease. There were no instruction manuals to prepare me for this journey. No section in the bookstore on What To Expect When Your Child Becomes Addicted. I was left to figure this out the hard way. It was an education I didn’t sign up for but could not escape.

I had no clue that Matt would come to depend on the…

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Redemption And Freedom


Magnolia New Beginnings

Photo Credit: Randy Mason Photo Credit: Randy Mason

My daughter Angie told me once that she hated NA meetings because pimps, dealers, and strung-out junkies just itching for their next high often attended them. But in her case I don’t think that’s true. I think she didn’t go to meetings because she needed to deal with her addiction her way, and not be told by anyone else what to do: CSR—compulsively self-reliant—just like her mother.

Or maybe she just wasn’t ready to embrace recovery at all, a painful possibility I had not yet considered. I was still determined, at that point, to believe that she was going to beat her addiction and that I, of course, would be the glorious savior she would spend the rest of her life thanking, handing me my redemption on a silver platter.

I would finally, thank God, let go of the oppressive burden I was placing on my…

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Magnolia New Beginnings

brewster-015 Photo Credit: Randy Mason

An excerpt from S.O.B.E.R.* written by a mother and son

An acronym for Son Of a Bitch Everything’s Real


When we arrived at the family treatment program, I finally started to understand and believe that addiction is a disease. I was more than a little nervous, wondering how my son’s brain was ever going to be normal again. Was he up to this daunting task? There was no surgery for this illness. There was only a lot of hard work and the desire to change. I was cautiously optimistic. Only time would tell.

I was getting more and more anxious about seeing him for the first time. My husband and daughter were excited and hopeful. I, sadly, didn’t feel that way. I didn’t trust my son anymore and wondered if I ever would again.

Sunday morning, we were all led into a very large nondenominational…

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To Be The Mom Of An Addict


Magnolia New Beginnings

Welcome Sandy Swenson to Magnolia New Beginning’s Blog

Photo Credit: Randy Mason Photo Credit: Randy Mason

Once upon a time I was just a mom.
A regular mom.
When I held my little miracle in my arms for the very first time, I rubbed my cheek on his fuzzy head and whispered, “Joey, my beautiful son, I will love and protect you for as long as I live.” I didn’t know then that my baby would become an addict before becoming an adult, or that the addict taking his place would shred the meaning of those words to smithereens.
When Joey tumbled into my world, he arrived without an instruction manual, but I was the best mom I could be as someone with good intentions and no experience. I stumbled through parenthood like everyone else — rocking my baby to sleep, kissing the scraped knees of my little boy, setting unwelcome limits for…

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Do Something…anything!


It’s important to take action–any action–on a daily basis. It does not really matter whether your action is successful or not. What matters is making a decision, a choice and acting on it in some way. This fights feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Taking action empowers and affirms our ability to influence others, life and […]


Peace In The Storm


Magnolia New Beginnings

Photo Credit: Randy Mason Photo Credit: Randy Mason

The road to my spiritual life began when I was a young child growing up in an alcoholic family. But I didn’t start to walk this road until halfway through my life when my daughter fell ill with drug addiction.

I was very unhappy growing up. It’s a classic story of family dysfunction that many of us have experienced as children. But back then I didn’t have Alateen to go to. My father was never treated and died prematurely because of his illness.  I, too, was untreated for the effects of alcoholism, and grew into an adult child.

Many of us know how rocky that road is: low self-esteem, intense self-judgment, inflated sense of responsibility, people pleasing and loss of integrity, and above all, the need to control. I carried all of these defects and more into my role as a mother to my sick…

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From Substandard to Comprehensive,Changing the Way We Treat Addiction


Magnolia New Beginnings

by Marybeth Cichocki

How do we change addiction treatment from being substandard to being effective at saving lives?  First, the stigma must die.  Second, those suffering from the disease, the addiction professionals, the insurance industry and society must  rethink the concept that addiction treatment consists of a 30 day in-patient or intensive out-patient level of care.  That this chronic, treatable disease will go away and stay away after a mere thirty days of treatment.

We as a society need to understand that if we are going to overcome this horrific addiction epidemic, we need to start by looking at the model of care for addiction treatment that is being used today and admit it is a failure.  We need to examine and acknowledge the research that states addiction is a brain altering disease that requires long term intensive treatment allowing the damaged brain the necessary time to heal.  We need…

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Magnolia New Beginnings

Thank you Marybeth Cichocki for joining the Magnolia New Beginnings blog! We look forward to seeing your posts!

After losing my son, Matt last January I feel like I’ve inherited the elephant.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The elephant in the room that no one will acknowledge let alone talk about. This elephant follows me around like a lost dog except he’s so much bigger and harder to ignore.

I inherited this elephant shortly after the death of my youngest son.  You see, Matt died from an overdose of prescription drugs.  He never touched street drugs and I never thought he would die.

So now I’m left behind.  Trying to come to terms with this tragedy and attempting to navigate this new life without my son.  Mothers are not supposed to bury their children.  It goes against nature.  Shattering our dreams of the present and our hopes for…

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Accepting Addiction As A Disease


Magnolia New Beginnings

Is it a disease or a choice? I’ve entered into this debate many times.

Drug addiction is so shrouded in shame and stigma that talking about it in any random group of people often invites conflict. Many, many people still believe that drug addiction is a sign of moral failure, a conscious choice to self-destruct.

If we insist that our loved ones are choosing to be addicts, that they want to stick a needle in their arm and live in a gutter, then we feel justified in our anger and our bitterness. If we keep feeding those feelings, they will consume us.

I choose to believe that my daughter is wired differently and is prone to addictive disease. That’s no surprise, since four generations in my family have all had addictive disease in varying degrees. For whatever reason we still are unsure of, whatever life stresses beckoned her into that…

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