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What Can We Do to Help Our Adult, Drug-Addicted Daughter?

Dear GoodTherapy.org,
We have a 30 yr old daughter addicted to drugs and alcohol. Recently lost custody and suppose to have supervised visits with her son, who is 7. He lives with his dad who lets him go over there and spend the night even tho the courts have said NO. We no longer have a relationship with our daughter, we dont help with anything. She lives in a rent free apartment with her drugie boyfriend, gets food stamps and doesnt keep a job for more than 2 months at a time if she works at all. We are not enabling her, but the system is. Why doesnt she have to be drug tested to receive these programs?? I have to, to keep my job, no wonder she doesnt change. What can we do? she wont go to rehab or get any help..we are lost. - Frustrated Father

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.

  • Betsy Quail July 2nd, 2012 at 6:22 PM #1

    My prayers and thoughts go out to you and your daughter, having a child with an addiction is a tough situation to be in for the friends and especially the parents. We lost a daughter as she could never conquer her demons. Through church and through our relationship with god we have come to grips with the whole situation.

    My suggestion would be to discuss the situation with a support group and to get help for yourself and those remainign in the family . It is impossible for a person to make another person happy.

  • Elsa Criger February 6th, 2014 at 2:26 PM #2

    What do I do. My daughter is 30 years old, takes drugs, currently she is homeless in Seattle. I have brought her home twice to live with us and for short periods of times she does well, but my husband and her do not get along. She is very strong willed and refuses to stop smoking and using. She associates with people who use and will bring them to our house when we are not around. At times she gets violent and I finally had to send her away, she will even get violent with her other brother who lives with us as well, he has Autism. I use to send her money, not very much, and lately I have cut her off completely. I don’t understand how people go on with life, because I find it very difficult. Everyday is a struggle, my mind is on her, I think about her, where is she sleeping, is she safe, is she eating, does she have warm clothes? I worry, I find it so difficult to function. I cannot share my thoughts with anyone, since when I do try with family members, they want to write her off. I cannot write my daughter off, I love her, she is part of me. I pray for her on a daily basis. I want to hear from her and at the same time I dread to hear from her. My job suffers, my faith is what holds me together. How do people survive. When she calls me and tells me the things she does and who she associates with, I just want to scream. There have been times I have thought of leaving this earth, but I have another son, I just care for, and I it would not be fair. Any suggestions.

  • admin2 February 7th, 2014 at 1:33 PM #3

    Hi Elsa,
    Thank you for your comment! Your comment caught our eye, and we want to make sure you have the resources you need.

    If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! You can do one of the following immediately:

      Call your local law enforcement agency (911);
      Go to the nearest hospital emergency room;
      Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)

    You can find further resources on this page: http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
    In addition, you can look for a therapist on GoodTherapy.org here: http://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html

    We wish you the best!
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

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