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Am I Making Any Difference in My Daughter’s Life?

Adrexpert’s daughter achieved astonishing things during ten years of abstinence, but now she’s using again and could lose it all. Her mother is employing CRAFT techniques to keep a positive, loving link with her daughter. Understandably, though, she faces moments of discouragement. Allies’ Laurie MacDougall assures her that yes, that connection matters, and points to solid reasons for hope.

My daughter has been fragile since her bout with anorexia at fourteen. By nineteen, she was lost in methamphetamine. Two stints in treatment bought her ten years of abstinence, a BA., MA., and APNP from Yale, marriage, and two children.

Soon after her son was born on the threshold of COVID, she relapsed. Now with a prescription pad in hand. She uses everything, including opiates. 

Her husband has had a restraining order against her for the past year. No contact with her children.

She says she prefers to lose her medical license, her home, her marriage, and her kids, rather than give up the freedom she thinks she has. She now says she entered a methadone program in May, but no indication of a desire to reclaim her life. We connect regularly (coast to coast) over small talk as I have been trained. I watch for dips and wishes…they come, but no change results. Is there any influence to be exercised? 


Hi adrexpert,

It sounds like your daughter started her struggles at an early age like so many of our Loved Ones. What is amazing about her story is the ten years of abstinence and her accomplishments during that time. It is so difficult to have such progress only to slide back into active use and all the troubling behaviors that come along with it.

Her perceptions are her reality

You write, “She says she prefers to lose her medical license, her home, her marriage, and her kids, rather than give up the freedom she thinks she has.” I know this may be difficult to hear, but if she thinks it, it is true for her. It is so important as family members and allies to recognize that our perceptions are often very different from our LO’s perceptions. It makes sense to me that she would feel relieved of life’s stressors without the worry of work, maintaining a medical license, a marriage, children, etc.

In the same paragraph, you also say, “She now says she entered a methadone program in May, but no indication of a desire to reclaim her life.” And, “I watch for dips and wishes…they come, but no change results.” I hear the angst and pain that comes along with realizing that she sees things very differently than you do. When this happens, it is really easy to focus on what you see as negatives and miss the positives.

Notice what’s good, and reinforce it whenever you can

I am going to challenge you to see if maybe you can find all of the positives in her statements and actions. Here are the positives I see:

  • She shared her deep truth with you. This is an opportunity to reinforce that you are a safe place for her to express her truths. Abstaining from judgement and saying something understanding and empathetic will encourage her to continue to share.
  • Going to a methadone clinic and starting on a treatment program is an indication of her first step toward reclaiming her life. Again, rewarding her with encouragement and support will reinforce that she has taken a positive step forward.
  • Going to a methadone clinic is a change!!! Things are progressing forward; it’s just difficult when they don’t move at a pace we would like, or in the areas that we feel are best.

It’s very important to keep your goals in mind when you are implementing CRAFT skills and to keep expectations realistic. Narrowing down to small, easily-attainable goals is an approach you’ll find easier to manage and measure. Keeping your expectations of yourself in check is also important. For example, when you hear a wish or dip and then respond supportively, this quite probably is not going to be the moment when she decides to give up substances and work towards a life focused on being an ever-responsible mom. Instead, it might look more like

Daughter: “I wish I could see my kids. I miss them.”

Mom: “I hear that you are missing them. Talk to me about how you might make that happen.”

Daughter: “I’m not sure. I’m already making my clinic appointments and I have been seeing a counselor. They want me to do so much more. It’s impossible, I will never be able to do it all. I have to have a job, give negative tests for months, go to mandated meetings, and then we have to have monitored visitations. I am never going to get there!”

Mom: “You have already taken positive steps in this direction with the clinic and your counselor. Is there one thing on your list that you might be able  to get started working on?”

Maybe this little exchange plants a seed, inspiring your daughter to consider that, in the future, she might get to see her children. And maybe all this conversation does is bring you two closer and build on your relationship. Just having this conversation is a move in a better direction.

You’re doing the right thing. Keep going.

You ask, “Is there any influence to be exercised?” Oh yes, yes there is. Keep doing what you’re doing, Momma. Keep building that relationship. Stay connected. Make sure your goals and expectations for both you and your daughter are realistic. Make sure to be compassionate and caring to yourself as well. Keep CRAFTing! And please keep in touch with us as your journey with your daughter goes on.

We’re here to support you.

Laurie MacDougall


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In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)