Dear Frustrated Father,
Thank you for your question. I’m sorry to hear about your painful situation. It’s so difficult to see someone we love self-destructing in their addiction. However, it sounds like you have done all you can in not supporting her financially and refusing to enable her in any way. I know you have been through a lot already, but I have two suggestions that might help relieve some of the stress you are currently experiencing. First, I highly recommend that your entire family and circle of friends get some support. Addiction has a traumatic effect on everyone in the family, even those family members who are not living in the same house with the person struggling with the addiction. Just being able to “vent” with other people who can relate to your situation will provide a great deal of relief for you. Look for a counselor who is familiar with addiction and/or consider attending al-anon meetings. You will be able to get some practical suggestions, and you will be able to find emotional support as well, to address that “lost” feeling you refer to. Also with the help of a counselor, you can begin to address any anger, remorse, anxiety or other emotional feelings you are experiencing. This type of support will also help regulate your own physical and mental health, which is at greater risk of dysfunction because of the stress you are under. To find a counselor or therapist, begin by contacting the nearest drug/alcohol treatment center, or hospital that offers such a program; these facilities should have social workers who can offer suggestions. Or perhaps you can search for a therapist on this very website.
Secondly, I want to address the issue regarding your grandson. I’m concerned that even though the courts have said he can’t visit his mother, his father is disregarding that decision and providing visitation. Someone needs to make sure the boy is not being exposed to any risky or shady situations when staying with mom, especially considering that both mom and her boyfriend are actively using. Hopefully mom remains fully cognizant during his visits, and I don’t mean to suggest she isn’t — but addiction is a wild card, and if the youngster is being exposed to any hazardous circumstances (i.e., mom and boyfriend are too “high” to watch after him while he’s there), then those visits should stop immediately. If you have reasonable suspicion the boy isn’t safe, and your son in law refuses to take appropriate action, then you might need to contact your local child protective services or the courts and inquire about your options – you can do so anonymously in most cases, if only for advisement.
You might also, if you wish, occasionally let your daughter know that it’s her addiction you dislike, not the good person underneath, as a reminder that you’re willing to reconnect if she seeks help facing her problem. That is if you feel comfortable doing so; and it is perfectly understandable if you do not. It’s just that, stressful as these situations are, coming from a position of love while holding proper boundaries can sometimes break the ice – if, of course, the struggling person truly wants help. I hope your daughter does get help, sooner rather than later. Thanks again for writing.