My Commitment to Our Children

I am committed to reversing the devastating effect of

drug abuse on our children and our society in general.

I believe that the best way to do that is to include the family

in the recovery process, and to treat drug addiction

as that which the AMA has said it is –

‘A Medical Illness’

I do not believe in a phony War on Drugs –

The chief accomplishment of which has been to:

Incarcerate or kill our children.

Our Children Are Not Expendable!

In Store Price: $AU21.95
Online Price:   $AU20.95

ISBN: 1-9208-8446-7
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 164
Genre: Non Fiction/Self Help


Author: Susan Koningen
Imprint: Zeus
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2004
Language: English




Since 1995 over 700 families have sought and received information, guidance and support from my group work.  I want to take this moment to thank each member most sincerely, for their many contributions and insights, which have made this program possible.  Bless you for your courage. 

To the other miracle in my life, my daughter Naomi, thank you for walking hand in hand with me through this minefield.  Your strength, courage, compassion and ongoing love and support, which you continually give to us, have been an inspiration.   

To my very dear friend Greer Smith, your willingness to look within for your treasures, your uniqueness, and your value, never ceases to amaze me.  Thank you for your ‘off the wall humor’ and friendship.  To Sheleagh White, you have been my rock and sounding board to bounce my theories off, thank you for listening and sharing your knowledge with me, and to Terry Dixon, thank you for always believing in me.   

So many people have helped me along the way however, the one person that I am truly grateful to is my son Brett, for without his illness, I would never have chosen this road of self-discovery.  Nor would I have met so many wonderful people. I have thanked him on many occasions, (and meant it) and told him what a diligent, patient, and at times despairing teacher he has been in my life! 

He taught me to own my feelings and behaviors, not his. To be responsible for my own actions and reactions to the numerous situations which have occurred because of his addiction, and to find peace and balance in my own life so that I could be the strong, ‘stable bow’ mentioned in the ‘Prophet’. 

Above all, he taught me the true meaning of love, compassion and acceptance - of myself and others. 

God bless you Brett – you most precious soul. 

Now that I have taken responsibility for my life and my life issues, he is able to work through his own issues himself, and focus on becoming the person he needs to be in his life. 

Thank you my son. 

Bless you all.




One of the greatest fears we face as parents is the premature death of our child. 

Be it death through illness, suicide, a motor-vehicle crash or some other trauma, this fear remains often dormant in our subconscious mind. 

The fear that we may lose our child to drugs is particularly prominent in our society.  This fear is enhanced by the media and also by our politicians.  They tell us that there is an ongoing “war against drugs.”  (Sadly, the lines become blurred and at times this war becomes a war against our own children.) 

When we discover our child is using illicit drugs what can be done?  Where can one get help?  To whom can we turn? 

When I became medical officer to the Detoxification unit at the Gold Coast Hospital in the 1980’s I discovered that I needed a lot of assistance to help my patients.  There were very few medical experts in the field of addiction. 

In time I found that a wealth of information and expertise was present within the community of recovering alcoholics and addicts and those members of their family who had also suffered. 

Sue Koningen is one such expert. Since 1995, Sue has assisted over 700 families. 

Parents and relatives of drug affected children referred from Fairhaven Salvation Army and Mirakai on the Gold Coast have also benefited. 

Sue has the understanding and the practical knowledge gained by walking the long and arduous path of personal suffering.  “Empowering Families” is a map of this pathway. 

Sue’s program is designed to give insight into the destructive behavior that we as parents demonstrate to our children.  It explains and clarifies the paradox “to help another you first must help yourself.” 

“Empowering Families” illustrates how to re-establish and maintain communication.  It describes boundaries and the formulae for setting boundaries so that you are able to effectively indicate your dislike for certain destructive behaviors whilst still communicating your love. 

By confronting and overcoming her own fear, Sue has provided a means for others to walk this path with safety, reassurance and compassion. 

I commend to you “Empowering Families” by Sue Koningen. 

Graham Sivyer.  MBBS (hons) Dip. RACOG FRACGP AMSAD (cert)

Introduction (sample) 

While support in the chemical dependency field is improving, help focuses on the addict.  Literature and training on family therapy is still scarce.  Their needs and wants are not being met, and yet I believe the family, indeed society, must be viewed as an integral part of the recovery process for any long term solution to be effective. 

Alas when families attempt to find ‘outside’ support to help them understand what is happening to their child, they soon realize that they are caught in a therapeutic void between the drug and alcohol, and mental health fields.  This is resulting in millions of parents feeling isolated and alienated from society, and totally powerless to support their child’s recovery. 

Add this to the fact that many are no longer able to draw on the generations of experience previously available through the extended family, and it’s easy to see why the assumption that the family’s mental health will just magically happen is proving to be incorrect. 

Increased numbers of drug abusers, youth suicide, child abuse, bullying, sexual abuse, domestic violence, family breakdown and divorce all have one common thread – an inability to communicate honestly and effectively about feelings, needs and wants. You’re not listened to nor heard. This is further compounded by a sense that the individual is not valued as a member of neither the family unit nor our society.   

With the limited number of educational programs available for parents of children using or abusing drugs, Empowering Families has been developed to support the recovery of our society’s most precious unit – The Family.  Through validating their needs and wants, empowering them with new skills and awareness, and valuing them as an integral part of the recovery process. 

I believe that each individual has the power to change their situation, given sufficient awareness, information and support.  It is my hope that this book will help you to: 

¨      Stop blaming yourself for your child’s addiction

¨      Understand the many life experiences, which influence and impact on your child’s life.

¨      Learn about addictions, rehabilitation and the recovery process.

¨      Become more aware of your actions and reactions to their drug use.

¨      Communicate more effectively and honestly with your child.

¨      Base your value on who you are, not what you are or what you have.

¨      Value yourself for the miracle you are.

¨      Teach you child how to value themselves.

¨      Empower other members of the family to take responsibility for their lives.  

As you become more aware of the important role you can play in your child’s recovery from this illness, your relationship will grow and develop in a very special way, because it will be based on honesty, respect, humility and love.  As you increase your awareness of the problems associated with drug addiction, rehabilitation and the family’s role in the recovery process, you will be empowered to: 

¨      Develop strategies that create positive changes in family and addict behaviors.

¨      Re-write your life story of who you are, and what you want out of life.

¨      Empower your children to do the same.

¨      Re-unite the family unit.

¨       ‘Minimize’ the lapse/relapse potential of your child in recovery.

¨      Prevent younger siblings taking up drug use.

¨      Love yourself and your family more honestly and openly. 

Why am I so passionate about empowering families to support their child’s recovery?  Here’s a glimpse.

I woke in the middle of the night to the sound of someone pounding on my door.  Not the usual tap tap tap of someone trying to gently stir you at that hour of the night, but a forceful rat tat tat that stated ‘get up – this is important!’ 

My first thought was who the hell is this?  Then with a rush, the events of the past couple of days came flooding back to me and my whole body filled with fear.  Another knock, this time more forceful demanding me to get up.  I recognized that impersonal order to attend, and with a rush I grabbed my dressing gown and bolted for the door.   

The past three weeks had been hell, and all I could think of was ‘What have they done now!  Dear God, please let everything be OK.’ 

I opened the door and was faced by two policemen.  I froze.  In that split second a million scenarios flashed through my mind, but none came even close to the reality of why the boys in blue were calling on me that night.  One of the officers spoke.  ‘Do you have a son called Brett?’  I answered ‘yes, I did.’  Then, ‘Do you know of an Amy Johnston?’ again I answered ‘yes, she is my son’s fiancé.’  ‘What’s happened?’ I asked, full of dread and concern.  

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