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Dinner Invite, Loved One Doesn’t Show

NEWS - how to intervene so an addict or alcoholic hears your message

I am listening to Module 4 and realizing all the patterns of talk I am guilty of.

What do I do in a situation whereas my daughter texted last night that she was coming over. I told her I had a great dinner made and she said good save me some. She never showed. She didn't call or text to say she would not be coming. Her patterns are so predictable. She will text me (she will not talk on the phone to me) around 1:00pm and say Oh sorry Mom, I fell asleep or some lame excuse. How do I handle this? I'm starting to feel like I shouldn't respond to her text messages anymore as she only answers me when she feels like it. However, something is telling me that is not a good way to communicate to her, by me shutting down. If I try to tell her how I feel, it doesn't matter. She has totally shut down from communicating w/ her family. Understandable, we have been so critical and negative I don't know how anyone has lived with me these last five years. Looking forward to your response.

Communication matters a lot, perhaps even more in a relationship with someone who has addiction. It may be only a slight generalization to say that people with addiction are very sensitive.

Thank you for coming onto this site and watching Learning Module 4 on communications. It’s time to try new ways of communicating with your daughter.

Texting is tough… You can’t hear them so it’s hard to assess their tone or if they’re high. Is your daughter often high when she comes over? Does she have a hard time showing up for most things? This is also common: a Loved One says yes to dinner way in advance and when the moment comes to get in the car, she can’t make herself get out of the house. Maybe she’s high but maybe she also just has trouble showing up. You need resilience and a dose of courage to show up for life when you struggle with addiction. Many people have both in short supply.

Treatment teaches you to practice showing up. It builds resilience and courage for life.

Let’s take the situation of the dinner. Your daughter agreed to come to dinner and then didn’t come. If the reason she didn’t come is that she got high in the interim, then you don’t actually want her there. Of course, you’d prefer that she be polite and tell you she’s changed her mind. Being polite, however, is not what’s on the table right now. Using drugs – and even getting sober – doesn’t guarantee social skills. They will need to be learned or, at least, appreciated first.

I imagine it’s hurtful not to get a text, but this is a new day. Try not to take things personally. This is about strategy. The goal is to get your daughter into treatment.

If your daughter did get high and this is the reason she didn’t come to dinner, she saved you a difficult task. With CRAFT, if she showed up, you’d need to try to assess whether or not she was high… and if she was, ideally, your response would be take dinner off the table, literally. Showing up high, she would find dinner in the fridge, cold. The lights in the kitchen would literally be off. She would have to reheat her dinner and you wouldn’t sit with her.

If you assessed her as she came through the door as sober, then: lights on, a warm family hello, and “I’ll fix you a plate.”

Luring her in for dinner is a strategy, but at this stage, you always have to prepare for either possibility: high or sober.

So perhaps for now, work on the communications. Let things soften between you. Invite her for some food, but don’t expect much from her. If she doesn’t come over, she doesn’t come over. It’s information.

As children pull back because of addiction or the interactions that sour due to addiction, sometimes parents step in too much.

Get back to your life. CRAFT asks you to be a neutral presence. Let your daughter bump along. Work on softening that communication. And shift your behavior to align with the reward/ chill model. Reward her when she isn’t high (see Learning Module 5), but remove rewards, allow natural consequences, and disengage when she is high (Learning Module 6).

Addiction causes such suffering, for the Loved Ones and for their families. Your communication patterns with her in the past have not been effective. Now that you are starting to look at new patterns and possibilities, be gentle with yourself as you learn. You’ve all been through a lot. Don’t dwell on past mistakes, just keep focusing on the present and on what you can do now. We all just want to be able to do something for our Loved Ones…  Learning more and working on this shift in communication patterns is something you can do. Here, you have the support of our other members who are learning to work on some of the same things.

Welcome aboard! Thanks for the excellent question.



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"...)

  1. Thank you for reminding me that I can go back to the comment and redo it with my son, the one about not loving him as much when he smokes. I agree with you that what I really meant was that I love him unconditionally, it is the drug use I hate. I will come back to that and make sure he knows what I meant.

    I don’t really know when he is high! He uses it to calm his anxiety and PTSD which is on 24/7 on the level of a war vet because of early childhood trauma and genes. He is adopted.Yes, smoking has horrible side effects, but he says that the psychiatrist prescribed pharmaceuticals have not been as effective for anxiety as weed. How to think about that!!! He does just barely well enough to get by: He goes to school almost every day, makes just passing grades, has not been violent for over a year, played rec league basketball…but this is all amazing considering that he was in DYS lockup for half of 2017!! Is his success this year because he smokes weed every afternoon???

    I think one of the prime reasons he had a good year last year in 2018, and is continuing doing good enough (we set a very low bar!) is that he absolutely knows that we love him unconditionally and that ‘we’ve got his back’ as he once put it. In the midst of all the turmoil and crises, he had been able to mention from time to time that he loves us and feels blessed being in this family. Of course, his actions don’t always indicate gratitude, but I learned LONG time ago to take nothing he says or does personally or as a mark of how we are parenting.

    The other reason he’s been able to control himself better, and sorry, I know I’m rambling, but who has time for editing?!) is his DYS commitment. As stated up front in CRAFT, I URGE any parent of a juvenile (age 17 or less) who is violent or committing domestic abuse to waste no time and get involved with the police ASAP and get him into DYS if possible! MA is ranked among the top 5 states for care of juvenile delinquent care and rehab. You do not need to fear the school to prison pipeline in MA!!!

    Thanks for listening. I’m grateful for CRAFT but wish there was a group that could meet on a regular basis.

  2. wow! I just now realized that those E-cig units are also used for weed! So obvious but the thought NEVER crossed my mind. Is there a way to know? Does marijuana smell when in an E-cig unit?

  3. Worried Mom, Easy, gptravler:

    Thank you all for sharing what you are going through.
    Backing off is hard. Trying not to be resentful is hard.
    My daughters patterns are so predictable. I have done
    really well, being more patient, kind, talking to her
    in soft voice, not yelling, and it seems it is working to some degree.
    She is pushing me right now to see how I’m going to react.
    For example: She will text, Leave the door open I’m coming home in alittle bit.
    Doesn’t show. Its the weekend. I won’t receive any text messages
    or phone calls for the weekend, she will be gone all weekend and
    then come in on Monday. I have found she is hanging with this girl
    again who is bad news. Living off the government, two babies, no desire
    to better herself, and I am having a hard time trying to understand why
    my daughter would even want to be in this environment. The other day I texted
    her, she didn’t respond after a couple of text, I called her, she answered, but was very agitated with me and said “why do you keep texting me and calling me” I politely said Oh, I am sorry Good Bye. Then about 15 minutes later she sent me a text, I love you Mom, thanks for all you do. I responded, I’m trying, I love you too. Haven’t heard from her since. She’s been gone three days and now the weekend. I am getting stronger and realizing she is the only person that can change the situation. I pray and continue to walk in Faith.

  4. This hit home for me! My daughter and husband have not “shown up” for most things over the past 3 years. At first, I would continually txt, drive by to see if their car was in the yard, call, call, call. After finding this wonderful site and trying my best to follow CRAFT, I do not obsess about an invitation accepted and ignored. I just tell them if they would like to meet us, come over, etc. they are welcome when clean, just call me and let me know when.

    It has been easier now that they no longer have transportation (car broke down and they can’t afford to fix it), as they rely on me pick them up for appointments, which I will do to take them to IOP, Dr’s, special occasions if they are not using.

    I am getting used to a new normal but they are both out of active addition right now and things are slowing turning around, for the moment I am grateful for that!

  5. This sounds so familiar! My 17 year old son uses weed and nicotine every afternoon and night after school. He will SAY so may things, good things that make us feel hopeful, (I’m going to apply at DD for a job, I want to join this sports team, etc.) but not follow through, because really, the only thing he wants to do after school is to hang out with friends, play video games and get high. I am so grateful that he has figured out to wait until after school to smoke, and also grateful that he goes to high school, but what to do about acquisition of independence skills? He will be a senior next year…

    He goes outside to smoke and is usually considerate about doing that, but he might be vaping weed in his room. I don’t know how to look at a jule pod and tell if it is weed or nicotine….hmmmm…I should take one to a store and ask them, anyways, I scowl at him when he goes out to smoke, and sometimes I ask him why he does it, and once I told him I don’t love him as much when he smokes, and he did a double take and asked, ‘Really, you don’t love me if I smoke?’

    1. In the moment you said out loud that you love your son less when he smokes. He was taken aback. For a split second, your son felt your that your love for him was conditional. He may have never before considered that this could be so.

      How wonderfully jarring. (Across from my keyboard, I can see this without huge emotion and more strategically – I do like the idea of jarring him even just momentarily).

      In a redo, I might suggest you make the distinction between unconditionally loving your son, and not loving his drug use. “I hate your drug use; I’m at war with it.” Read my full response to this family member here:

  6. Wow! Did this post hit home. My daughter often makes plans with me and NEVER follows through. The lame excuses Bambi1 mentioned are exactly what I hear. My daughter has her own plan for “recovery,” if you can call it that. Take a naltrexone and try not to drink.

    Dominique replied, “Treatment teaches you to practice showing up. It builds resilience and courage for life.”
    I have urged my daughter to get a real treatment plan to no avail.

    Now I need to step back, to detach myself more and let things play out the way they will. For now, I need more help than she does. There’s a Buddhist path, Refuge Recovery, meeting this noon time. Maybe I can work on my own codependency and least find more peace.