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I Feel So Hopeless: Her Drug Dealer Boyfriend is Brainwashing Her


phughes has been supporting her daughter through years of treatment and services for mental disability. She recently got involved with an older heroin trafficker who turned the 20-year old against her mom and introduced her to drugs. They are now both running from the police and mom is left with nothing but worry and resentment. 

© Elijah Macleod via Unsplash

"I have a daughter who is 20 now. She got involved with a 37-year old heroin trafficker who spent 15 years in and out of jail. Growing up she was mentally disabled and borderline intellectual functioning. I took her to children’s hospital in Boston for services, when she was becoming an adult I got all services in place. He convinced her there was nothing wrong with her and she started turning against me. She would chase me in the house and when I shut the door she put holes in it. She would get medication from the doctor and she would sell it. I learned he would get her Percocet from there she shot up heroin. I went to the doctor, told him not to give her medicine, he did not listen. I begged her social workers to help me; no one listened because she would tell them different lies about me. I wanted to save her. I was told by management at my apartment complex if she lives here I will get evicted (she put holes in seven doors). She went to live with my other daughter who kept her in the basement isolated from everyone but this Tuesday I got a knock at the door from outreach police officers because she was arrested. They are giving her the chance to go to the lead program for drug addiction or go to jail. Her and her boyfriend gave them my address thinking they would not find her. I gave them the address but I am devastated. All the years I put in to help her and she turns to this man. The police gave me this website to help me cope . How do I ever forgive her for lying and stealing from her mom who was her biggest fan? From what I heard her and her boyfriend are on the run again from the police, he is afraid of going back to jail…"

How completely upsetting the situation is with your daughter. She has been with a man much older than she, who introduced her to drugs. They are now on the run from the police.

I'm glad you found your way to this site. Families should not be going through things like this alone, or without professional guidance!

It is imperative that you recognize the warning signs of pre-violence

While it doesn't sound like your daughter has directed any physical violence towards you at this point, it's absolutely imperative that you take seriously the signs of pre-violence, like punching holes in the wall/door. Our program can help with a lot of situations, but if physical violence/danger becomes a reality between your daughter and you, we do not recommend you proceed with applying CRAFT until the violence is addressed. Please take 15 minutes to watch Module 2 on your Personal Safety before you move forward with the program.

What she has done is terribly hurtful. But forgiving her will create space for something new

We have a couple suggestions. The first is to forgive your daughter. You’re very mad and hurt, rightfully so. She has been “taken over” by a man who tells her she has no mental illness or developmental disability. She believes him over you. You have pushed hard to get her services, and she has walked away.

There isn’t enough in your account that allows us to know for sure whether your daughter is actually suffering from Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Suffice it to say that she is very fragile and vulnerable, and likely unable to compete with the power and word of a 35-year old man who has convinced her to run from the police.

Your daughter’s actions are those of someone who is ill with behavioral problems, and possibly with SUD, which inevitably means lying and stealing, and getting into trouble with the law. Her man friend is also ill. 

So, take a moment, close your eyes, dig down, and consciously replace the anger and hurt with a good helping of compassion for all three of you. Yes, even for the man friend.

You are rightfully devastated by recent events. Your daughter is only 20. The saga is not done. Figuring out how to be less angry and more compassionate is going to help you, too, going forward. I hear you. You are fed up. This has to stop.

How this site helps the Loved One, and You the family member

Learning, emotional, and substance use problems rarely resolve completely right away, all at once. Families do learn to be more effective and to find ways to lessen the weight and burden of having a Loved One who struggles like your daughter. Our site focuses as much on you as on your Loved One. Anger and disappointment can’t rule the day. You deserve to live your life, too.

The suffering lives in all three of you, and our system of care doesn’t do a great job of addressing such complexity. It falls on you to hold the big picture for all three and to take next steps.

Easier said than done, but our site provides you a proven approach that balances your needs with those of your Loved One in the most effective way possible. The goal of the CRAFT method is to get your daughter into treatment.

Yes, the boyfriend is a bad influence but you're falling into their trap by focusing on him

We’ve heard from other parents whose daughters are involved with an (often older) man who is bad news. As the parent though, putting any energy whatsoever into breaking up the relationship is time poorly spent, and is unlikely to work. If you make the boyfriend into the central focus/problem, you're taking the responsibility off your daughter. But the relationship isn’t the central issue. If not him, someone else would move in to her sphere and take advantage of her vulnerability, until she gets the treatment she needs.

Your instincts have been good. You put in place services at a children’s hospital. Corrections offered your daughter a drug treatment program instead of jail. When she is picked up by the police, let us hope they offer her the program again as an alternative to incarceration.

How about you identify an adult inpatient, women-only program?  Make sure there is access to a psychiatrist. Put all the details she'll need into a text:

  • who to ask for,

  • phone number,

  • address,

  • times to walk in for help.

You may accompany this with a message to the effect of:

“I love you. I am so scared, I am having trouble breathing. Here is the address and information of a good residential program. They are expecting you whenever you want help. I will come get you anytime, anywhere, and take you there.”

Here's one place to start. Call the Massachusetts helpline (800.327.5050  (M – F 8 AM – 10 PM; SAT/SUN 9 AM – 5 PM)). 

You will get a live person. Explain that you are setting up a treatment program for your daughter. Explain that this is part of an intervention. Programs often tell the family to have their Loved One call to gain admittance. Don’t let this deter you. Get the details. Call the program(s). Here is a checklist from our Resource Supplement that may be useful to you as you begin interviewing treatment facilities for your Loved One. You'll want details of the program and an idea of the waitlist. 

Finally, look into a civil commitment. Collect the paperwork and see what is involved. If law enforcement doesn’t put her in a program, and if she doesn’t voluntarily walk into a program suggested by you, then a civil commitment would have the effect of putting a hard stop on this current life (and man) and provide her a few weeks or months of mandated treatment.

Now step back as best you can. Find anything that can take your mind off your daughter and back onto yourself. You might find it really helpful to watch Module 7: it's guidance on caring for yourself, managing difficult emotions and shows you why this is directly connected to your ability to help your Loved One. Pace yourself and take care of yourself. We are here for you.



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"...)