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Getting Ready for Her to Move Back In

Woman with Suitcase on Stone Steps

silvi2157 is preparing to let her granddaughter move in with her after two months of voluntary inpatient treatment. Despite their Loved One’s past behaviors while using, they are ready to give her a fresh start. She writes in to clarify some details around boundary-setting, recovery plans, and contracts.

Hello Thank you for these resources. My granddaughter is getting ready to leave residential treatment. She is homeless and asked if she can live with my husband and I until she gets back on her feet. Knowing how her personality can completely change while she is using and the destructive and unsafe behaviors I've observed while trying to help in the last 16 years while she was on cocaine and became an alcoholic, makes me cringe of what can possibly go wrong. But we love her dearly and so proud that she has made it almost two months in voluntary in-patient treatment; makes me believe we can do this with God's help. In preparation for her coming home my husband and I are reading up on all the resources AIR has to offer. While we do want to support her in any way we can, my granddaughter is already asking for more than we expected. Mainly is asking us to allow her use of one of our cars to get to all her appts and AA meetings. I feel it's to early to tell if she will be ok driving. We want her to be independent and think she should be able to get around on the bus. We of course will offer her rides for most things as we are able to. Does this sound reasonable? I have many questions for our recovery plan / agreement / contract. I prefer at least for 30 days of no friends over during the week and on weekends only when my husband and I are present. And is it too much to ask that she attend church with us? She was recently baptized (in June) during the most horrific part of her young life. She tried attending a couple of times after that but she was not able to sit for long before experiencing withdrawals and or anxiety. She always seemed to be in a daze and sleep deprived. At her treatment program she has started to lead bible study groups. I think having her attend church on a weekly basis would help her.
Thank you… Thoughts?

It is very good news that your granddaughter went into treatment and is 2 months in recovery. She wants to come live with you until she gets back on her feet. It is natural to be nervous in this situation. You are wonderful grandparents to want to help your granddaughter despite some apprehension.

So, if she comes to your house, make it contingent on a few basic rules and for a set amount of time. Once the period ends, everyone reassesses. Having this approach can help everyone involved. Clear guidelines are established, yet at the same time you know there is openness for what the future holds. You are leaving room for communication about how things may change down the road.

I agree with you that lending her the car can be something you do in the future, after you have a have a stronger sense of how she does in your house. Until you know more about how it is going, it’s right to wait on lending her the car. The bus and as many rides as you can provide is a great start. You may also want to consider using Uber in a pinch.

We've written about the car as a reward in numerous other posts. This is tricky because it's hard to meter out on a day-to-day basis. So leave it out of the equation for now. This is a trial period. She can look forward to conversations about the car at a later time once everyone has settled into the new arrangement, provided things are going smoothly.

60 days in treatment is an important start, but it is still only a start… Your granddaughter will need a recovery plan that includes outpatient counseling and peer support through self-help. Unlike the last time you took her church, this time she should be able to sit still and focus. A community of faith is an excellent way to support recovery. She has been facilitating bible study groups, nice. Perhaps she can do that at your church?

Don’t forget to think creatively about how to tap into her talents and passions while encouraging more self-responsibility. The goal is for her to make further and further connections to a community of support. While you are absolutely entitled to setting conditions for her staying with you, CRAFT asks you to walk a fine line of allowing her freedoms within these parameters. The more you can avoid top-down directives or conditions, the more she may be able to blossom in this new space.

What if she were interested in regularly attending a church service that was not the same one you attended? If this spoke to her during her recovery and it was coming from a genuine place, how would you feel if she found something else? This may be important to consider beforehand so that you don’t get too stuck in your initial visions of how her successful recovery might look. Just be sure to leave room for options you haven’t considered that may work just as well for her.

Ask her to come up with a recovery plan, like therapy, a peer support meeting, church attendance, naltrexone for alcohol, and other things she will have been told about by her treatment facility. Here is where it is incredibly beneficial to ask for her input and frame this as a two-way conversation. Even though you’re her grandparents, with the CRAFT model it’s important to set yourself up as her allies. For her to see you as her partner(s) in recovery, you’ll want to give her responsibility in coming up with her treatment plan, instead of her feeling as if you are telling her what she has to do. This is a subtle but powerful shift in the dynamic.

Your granddaughter also needs to think through and share with you her plans for more treatment should she relapse. How will you know she has relapsed? Can she promise to tell you? Will she willingly accept additional help if she does relapse? Approach these conversations gently and with compassion. It is a wise move to talk this out ahead of time. Many family members have written about the value of planning for a range of scenarios, not out of fear or pessimism, but from a space of acknowledging that recovery is a process.

As for her friends, you can lay down some rules that help you feel comfortable, as you suggest. Let her know that you need to be home for friends to be allowed over. Think of the daybed and locker in a common space as her “space” for these visits. Follow this link to read about ways we have suggested using this model with various families.

Coming home from treatment can be a tense time for everyone. We have written extensively about this in response to other families facing the same situation. See “Home/Homeless” in our topics tabs to the right. You are right to be cautious, but we encourage you to temper this caution with the practice of wiping the slate clean each day – each time you have the opportunity. Be open to things going a different way than they have in the past. Keep doing your own work so that you can examine each situation with a clear, compassionate CRAFT lens  – so that you are operating from a place of partnership, rather than a place of fear and anxiety. Give those reflective listening skills and open communication a chance to work their magic…

There are over 3 million grandparents raising grandchildren. What a difficult time for families. You grandparents out there rock! You are serving such a vital need. We are so grateful for what you are doing. Thank you for being there for your grandchildren. Thank you for practicing CRAFT and for remaining loving and open. They are lucky indeed to have your presence and support. This is no small thing. Are there other grandparents on this site that can lend their experience to silvi2157?



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. silvi2157
    I applaud you for supporting your granddaughter while she transitions from inpatient treatment. Your love and understanding go a long way in her recovery. I understand your hesitance about bringing her into your home this early in her recovery and wonder if she will consider other options prior to joining you.
    My daughter observed her 60 days sobriety while living in a sober house (after 50 days inpatient.) You will certainly find a range of sober houses out there but maybe she can check into a few.
    Some things in my daughters story worth noting:
    She is 40.
    The sober house is a strong one for recovery and people are asked to leave if they use.
    She didn’t go to church for many, many years but now attends a church with others from the house.
    She goes to daily meeting with others she lives with or whom she met while inpatient.
    She is actively seeking work.
    Many people take the bus to get to work and appointments. (My daughter still has her car and often gives rides to others for gas money.)
    The peer support in a sober house can be its strongest component and she praises it every day. You never know at what point in your day you will need a listening ear from an understanding peer. They reinforce the work they did inpatient.
    She loves her big sober house for women and the people who live there.
    Staying at the sober house was the answer when my daughter realized she had not reached a strong enough point in recovery. This placement gives her more time. I can’t help but compare it to living at a sober college dorm, which my daughter never did when she was younger – not enough successes to reach that point.
    This extra time working directly with her recovery doesn’t mean she won’t relapse but it is all part of the process that Dominique speaks of.
    Best wishes for a healthy solution.