Maureen Cavanagh
Parenting Expert, Recovery Coach, Founder of Magnolia New Beginnings

Maureen Cavanagh is the founder of Magnolia New Beginnings. Magnolia New Beginnings is a non-profit 501c3 that provides access to online support groups for anyone struggling with a loved one’s addiction. Her gripping memoir If You Love Me is a story of a mother who suddenly finds herself on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic as her daughter battles—and ultimately reckons with—substance use disorder.


Maureen holds a B.S. in Communications from Weber State University, an M.P.A in nonprofit management from Suffolk University, an M.Ed Special Education/ESOL from Salem State University, is a certified mediator in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 233 section 23C, a CCAR trained recovery coach, and is currently pursuing her CADC 1 at the University of Massachusetts Boston.


She is currently on various Massachusetts task forces, Executive Director of The Above the Noise Foundation, and on the parent advocacy committee for Facing Addiction and subcommittee to end the stigma through changing the language around substance use disorder. She is also the Executive Director and primary contact for sober living scholarships given through Magnolia New Beginnings.


Maureen founded Magnolia New Beginnings in 2012 hoping to give opportunities to those struggling to reach their full potential. Within a short time of incorporating Maureen discovered that her daughter had a substance use disorder. Having come from a family of those with the disease Maureen tried to take action but found it extremely difficult to find help and negotiate the healthcare system surrounding substance abuse treatment, or the lack thereof. The lag time acquiring knowledge contributed to the quick progression of her daughter’s disease which had escalated by 2014 into full-scale heroin addiction, homelessness, and multiple overdoses.


Maureen has focused the efforts of Magnolia New Beginnings on helping to offer support and knowledge to as many people as possible along with advocating for changes in the healthcare system, legislation, and the current perception of substance use disorder in general.


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Henry Holt and Co.

Maureen Cavanagh’s gripping memoir If You Love Me is the story of a mother who suddenly finds herself on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic as her daughter battles—and ultimately reckons with—substance use disorder.

Parenting a Child with a Substance Use DisorderThe most devastating day of Maureen Cavanagh's life was the day she learned her daughter was addicted to heroin. Having no idea what was ahead of her, Maureen believed that nothing could be worse than that realization. As each day brought more pain, her ability to love without judgment and hope for recovery, which seemed impossible, was tested over and over.
Substance Use Disorder Treatment and the Role of the FamilyMany families suffer the shame and stigma of addiction creating breaks in the family dynamic, inability to find support or help as well as anger at the affected person. Teaching families about the disease model of addiction and connecting them with support and those that have been fighting the same battle is key in not only the well-being of the family but also the recovery of the individual.
Hope in the Face of AddictionMagnolia New Beginnings offers scholarships to sober living people who are often at the end of a very long journey. Many have been in and out of treatment and jail for many years, have lost everything and everyone that meant something to them. Fighting back against what seems inevitable, with her version of delusional optimism and key housing support, has been the key ingredient in many people’s recovery. Maureen Cavanagh reminds her readers and listeners to never lose hope.
The Power of Telling the Addiction StoryAs an adult child of alcoholism and drug misuse Maureen Cavanagh learned at an early age not to speak about what went on behind closed doors. When faced with her daughter’s public “outing” of her heroin addiction and the courage she showed in face of that, Maureen realized she had been quiet too long. Johann Hari stated that ”Connection is the opposite of Addiction." This is true not only for those addicted but for the family as well, and there can be no opportunity for connection in silence. Maureen tells her story in hopes of putting a face on this all too common story and to show that no one is immune. Silence equals death in this crisis.
Addiction and AdvocacyHaving had a background in nonprofit management and the desire to make positive changes, finding the gaps in addiction treatment and creating support groups for parents to share information and care for one another was the only way to survive the cycle Katie’s repeated attempts at treatment, disappearances, and relapses. What began as a desperate search for help has turned in to a network of support for over 17,000 parents and housing assistance for hundreds of recipients newly in recovery and a life of full-time advocacy.

Boston Herald Radio’s “On The Mend” podcast featured Maureen Cavanagh and her daughter in an inspiring discussion on overcoming addiction.

Read  The New York Times book review for If You Love Me.

If You Love Me is named one of the Best Audiobooks of 2018 in Audible’s Year-End list.

Listen to Maureen Cavanagh’s heart-wrenching story on WBUR Radio.

Maureen Cavanagh shares her remarkable story on Drug Stories.

WBUR Radio features Maureen Cavanagh and her nonprofit Magnolia New Beginnings.

Maureen Cavanagh expresses her opinion on Saturday Night Live’s skit on using heroin.

The New York Times highlights Maureen Cavanagh’s relationship with her daughter and how the two were able to overcome substance abuse.

Maureen Cavanagh was featured in Good Housekeeping and shared what it was like to be the parents of an opioid addict.

The Sober World headlined Maureen Cavanagh and her book If You Love Me.

Maureen Cavanagh stresses the support and options Magnolia New Beginnings offers to those struggling with substance abuse in The New York Times article.

“I just have to tell you that I loved Maureen’s presence at our Town Hall. What a truly amazing, strong, caring woman! I was blown away. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the entire room!”
- Alkermes, Inc.

"I really enjoyed listening to Maureen. It was so great to hear about her life story.”
- Alkermes, Inc.

Praise for If You Love Me

"One lesson of her book is that “sober” always requires a qualifier. And that a hopeful pause is a safer bet than a happy ending."
- Judith Warner, The New York Times

"An emotionally fraught tale of a mother's love and her actions to save her daughter from opioid addiction."
- Kirkus Reviews

"Because she can’t save Katie, she tries to save others, developing a peer support network for the families of drug users called Magnolia New Beginnings, which places addicts in treatment centers and brings together mothers who share similar experiences."
- Publisher's Weekly