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Everything Feels So Hopeful. When Will the Other Shoe Drop?

mini wave on water

help4t’s Loved One is being released early from mandated treatment and is motivated to stay sober. Mom has been supporting her daughter for years and is aware of the different scenarios that could play out upon her release. She worries about the wave of triggers she’ll have to face, and about finding the right kind of treatment for her.

© Jeremy Bishop via unsplash


"Here we are a year later… My daughter did pretty well (I think), living on her own for the first few months. She enrolled back in school, got a job and seemed pretty happy. Then, Covid hit. She lost her job and did ok at first. Then her boyfriend was released from jail and moved in. That is when it started downhill. She was missing drug tests, zoom meetings for probation etc. I really realized there were problems with her around Mother’s Day. I tried to talk to her, but she started gaslighting me. Making me think I was crazy. I got back into the modules, which helped. I stepped back and let her try to figure it out.

Fast forward to September. Her boyfriend was arrested, and she lost it. Slept for days, etc. I started keeping in touch. (Prior to that my approach was distant as long as she was living with someone we knew would bring her down). She was called into court for a final surrender the end of September and they sentenced her to Framingham to complete her time. I was shocked as I believed what she had told me that her PO had falsely documented the info. Boy was I wrong. I had access to her phones etc when she was taken. I realized then how bad off things were with her. She was very lucky to be alive, and I was happy she was now safe. She's been there for a few weeks and we have our girl back. She has finally admitted she has a problem and needs help. She may be released mid-November, if not it will be mid-December. I have continued to pay her rent, with money she had. It gives me time to breathe.

I am now searching for a recovery program, with her blessing. She said she would love that. Not easy to find, but I have been talking with a company new to MA called AWARE Recovery. They actually do home visits and have what seems to be a great program. They do not take her insurance, but they do take BCBS of MA. My thought is to obtain a policy for her during open enrollment in January. I will pay the premium as it is much cheaper than paying out of pocket. I have spoken with the counselors a few times and am pretty impressed by the program. Has anyone heard of them? I am very concerned with her getting out and being put right back into her old life. Phones, apartments friends etc. But it is what it is. I have been unable to find any other Recovery coaches with availability, etc. I would be more than happy to pay someone for this service. She is very excited for the first time in getting help. I pray she is sincere. It has been such a pleasure talking to her while she is in there. I feel like I need to take advantage of the current situation and do whatever I can to help her. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. Thank you.”

And a few days later help4t updated us:

“I found out today that she is being released within a week and will be on probation until her initial release date of 12/18. Not sure how I feel about this… She is over the moon. Was in with quite a few women who are much older and have been there for years. Seemed to have an effect on her. Time will tell. The good thing is that they are requiring her to complete an outpatient program at the Recovery Center of America. They are setting this up for her. In the meantime, I am trying to find her a Recovery Coach and therapist.

One of my biggest concerns is when she gets out and turns her phone back on. I know she will be bombarded with texts and messages from her life before her detainment. I want to do all I can to help her stay on the right path. I am just very scared for her. I know she really wants to live a healthier life but just afraid she is going to become overwhelmed and not be able to handle it well.”

Surfing the wave of hope and determination

What a long road you have been on with your daughter. From our perspective, it looks like you two are in a good position right now:

1) your daughter is being released early from jail (which is very motivating),
2) with probation to follow (and hopefully drug testing), and

3) a mandate and help with admission to community treatment (this is huge!).

I love that you are rounding out her community treatments with a hunt for a therapist and recovery coach. Very CRAFTy of you, bravo!

I wonder what your daughter’s history with self-help meetings is. It would be a valuable recovery input for her and a good guardrail against relapse upon release. Check out the list of online self-help meetings we created to help our members find their way through, despite COVID.


She will get knocked down. How does she pick herself back up?

Your daughter is going to experience lots of triggers to use drugs going forward. Being back home, a place of past use, is a trigger in itself. That’s why it is essential that she find ways to step into a different rhythm and break free of her former using patterns.

The goal in placing your daughter at the heart of a community as she goes through treatment, is to help her maneuver those early triggers without using. Tightly wrapped in a strong, supportive community, she can multiply her chances of staying healthy. She'll learn to cope with strong feelings and grow a network of like-minded people to count on for recovery support.

There are few predictors of relapse in the literature. A longstanding one, though, is feeling sure, motivated, confident, but also prepared to address triggers for relapse.[1]

As you successfully get past a trigger, you naturally feel more capable of doing so again, and again.

A note on triggers: I'm 26 years into recovery from alcohol and opioids, yet when I feel a warm moist spring breeze hit my face, I think of using. I clearly remember jumping in my car in the old days, living in muggy DC, and going downtown to buy drugs. The warm breeze causes me to anticipate being high, a powerful draw towards relapse.

You predict the phone will be a challenge: stay ahead of the game

It sounds like your daughter’s phone is a trigger. You are worried that reuniting with the phone and her contacts will overwhelm her and push her closer to using. The phone is something she needs to address herself, however, if she is going to evolve and cement her recovery. She will be triggered by notifications of incoming texts for a long time, I would guess.

Yet, like I did, she can learn to acknowledge the trigger and the feelings associated with it. She can learn to tame the urges and, down the road, even channel them into something that will only bring more light into her life.

Can you share your fear about the phone with her?  Even though you are genuinely right to be concerned, can you make sure to clearly present it as a fear and not as a truth? This allows her to take your perspective into consideration, without opening the door to conflict or negative reactions, and it won't dampen her motivation.

Can you ask her to wait until she has started the outpatient program to listen to messages and read texts that have piled up while she was in jail? This isn’t only for her; it is also a plea from you to help manage your worries as she steps back into community life. Would she be willing to let you hold onto the phone for the first week or so?

Help4t, you have come a long way with us. I was reading through past comments of yours and I am astonished by how much you have accomplished and grown. The question you pose is important to others on this site, thanks so much for writing in. We appreciate your taking us along and sharing your journey with CRAFT.

[1] Drawn from early work by G. Alan Marlatt and Judith R. Gordon,  — acclaimed clinical psychologists and pioneer in harm reduction and relapse prevention. Marlatt, G.A.; and Gordon, J.R., EDS. Relapse Prevention: Maintenance Strategies in the Treatment of Addictive Behaviors. New York: Guilford Press, 1985.



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"...)