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I Need Help With Her Living Situation

Bees At Hive

jdaggett had to section her Loved One. As she looks ahead to what’s next, she shares a series of concerns. With trauma in her past, her Loved One’s housing options can be complicated to navigate. She needs help approaching the upcoming conversations about where her Loved One can go next.

My loved one is in a court sectioned facility right now. Things got so bad, we had to file a section 35. She knew it was needed and didn’t fight it. Eight days into it and she wants to come home. Home for us isn’t an option because it hasn’t worked. We can’t trust her, we can’t keep her forced on recovery, we can’t live with all our things locked up and worrying every moment if she’s got hold of something and is selling it for drugs.

She’s been in and out of five inpatient facilities since February. She tends to last two weeks inpatient, comes home and then fades. One time she was able to manage four weeks before going off the rails. Typically, she goes two weeks then starts to waver and falls back into bad behaviors, eventually ending up stealing, lying, and going MIA for a couple of days.

She’s not using now because she’s in treatment but how do we talk to her about going to a half-way house? She has a hard time living and getting along with other women which is how/why she ended up leaving other places. Her history involves sexual assault, so the loss of control is a major issue. I’d like her to come to the decision that a half-way house is the best idea at least for a month or so.

Trust is gone, how do we talk to her about getting this back without it all being my demands? I understand natural consequences are important, she is in deep with financial troubles. To me these issues are extremely bad, and she needs help to prevent more from happening or these from getting worse. I am entertaining trading in her smart phone for a (non-internet accessible one) so she can’t use googlepay. I have a hard time separating “helping avoid grave damage” from “enabling”.

Over half of all people with addiction have a history of trauma. That is a conservative figure and not gender specific. The rates are much higher for women. Your daughter has a hard time living with other women. In my experience, women have more needs and more complex challenges relationally than men do, making sober living of any kind more challenging for both residents and staff.

Residential living must not only be trauma-informed but trauma focused. Literally everything must begin with safety. Two weeks or four weeks of sober living is simply not enough. Your daughter knows she has a problem on some level, agreeing to enter inpatient treatment over and over only to slip back into active addiction only weeks after leaving. A good stretch in sober living is more like 6 months to a year.

There are two strategies to consider going forward. We can help her find the right sober living situation. Or you can support her, to start, with a living situation in the community. In this case you’ll be identifying and helping her to access solid community treatment and supports. Neither route is easy. But given her history, these paths are worthy to pursue.

You are right. Coming home is no solution. It is too disruptive. You don’t trust her and she is not getting traction with recovery living in your home. Regaining trust is a long hard battle. You may not be able to have complete and total trust in her for a long time to come. Put the issue of trust aside for now. Mistrust is a given right now.

I would also suggest you put aside the financial trouble she is in, for now. It’s bad but it is not the first thing to address. Getting her stable is first. Once stable she can start to address the debt and troubles caused by the financial problems. This is important. Your message and support will blur if you try to focus on both at once.

Sometimes it’s helpful to think about what we carry around with us (worries, past hurts, etc.) in terms of literal objects we’re holding in our hands. If our hands are full with one or two big objects (or more!), we can’t use them for what we need in the moment. Getting her stable is the top priority, so put down the rest for now. Your “hands” will be free to do the work that is needed.

I am laying out the big picture for you going forward. Unfortunately, the details themselves are going to be hard to put together. Your daughter will also need to be willing. CRAFT teaches you to encourage willingness, and how to identify moments of motivation.

Enabling non-use and not enabling use, are huge. Learning Modules 5 and Module 6 lay this out. How to manage your role with enabling in a way that doesn’t do “grave damage” is the right question to ask.

Enabling/not enabling is the question to consider every time. If you see that it could be harmful, drop it. There will be more chances tomorrow and the next day to step in or step away with resources or rewards.

As an example,we use the scenario of a wife choosing whether or not to wake her husband when he’s sleeping off a night of drinking and needs to get up for work. The consequence should be that the husband misses work and gets into trouble. This is fine to do unless the family can’t afford for the husband to lose that job. If this is the case, wake him up. There will be many more opportunities for natural consequences and rewards.

Can you keep your daughter from the internet…? Probably not. Can the internet be used in harmful ways? Absolutely. I don’t think this one is in your control.

You’ve thought about it: she needs a phone to keep in contact with you; but the internet has been a source of trouble for her. You can provide her a phone that is just a phone. So you’ve done what you can to keep her off the internet.

Not allowing your daughter to come back home is risky, but so is having her home. It hasn’t worked to have her home….and it won’t work unless she is well wrapped in good community services and mutual support that she is willing to attend and engage with.

You sound exhausted and fed up. You need some time and distance to return to your needs and to calm yourself down. This will help you become much more effective in your dealings with her. We address this in Learning Module 7. This part isn’t optional. It directly impacts our ability to be there for our Loved Ones in helpful ways, to keep things moving in a positive direction. It is well worth the time spent practicing with this. It has a powerful impact.

How long will they keep her sectioned? What are they suggesting for housing afterwards, if your home is not an option?

Look at the daybed and locker set-up we’re written about before. This pushes her out into treatment-supported housing but lets her back in as a reward when she is not high. If the family can maintain this structure, it can be a real game-changer.

That you are talking section 35 means you are in Massachusetts. Do others on the site have suggestions for female residential care that is trauma focused? Seeking Safety is a well-researched and effective manualized group for women with trauma. It looks like McLean’s offers it. Will insurance cover it? Where else is offered near you?

Let’s start with answers to the questions I’ve posed and hopefully some ideas from the AiR community about living situations for women with trauma.

Your daughter has willingly gone to treatment before. This is very hopeful. Getting the best strategy together, and ideally having a few options, is next. You can present her with them prior to release from the civil commitment.

Members of the Allies Community – who has experience with female sober housing? Please share your experiences with us.



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. Hello, this is more of a “share” than a question. At a work-related conference a few weeks ago, a speaker mentioned a person of great inspiration so I thought I’d look into this person to see what she’s all about. To step back a moment, the speaker’s name was Anna Pessah and the talk was titled We Can Do It! Anna’s presentation moved me, enough so that I felt compelled to look up this person that Anna found so inspiring. I am writing today to share Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability. Watch if you like and see for yourself.

    Ironically enough, talking to my daughter today who is in a recovery center (almost 6 weeks now) I told her I was watching a ted talk and it was really great. I didn’t tell her anything about it. She said, oh it is Brene Brown. It was amazing to me she know this person and loves her talks. The center she is at shows them from time to time. So I thought it was fate and I should share it with the community.


    1. Hi jdaggett, It is heartening indeed that your daughter knows and loves Brene Brown, and that YOU have discovered her and felt inspired. We love Brene Brown, as do so many humans. Check out the sanctuary for several posts featuring her work on shame. Best, Isabel

  2. My loved one was 83 days sober. Living in a sober house and going to a partial program. She had signed up to start a class at an adult learning center this week. Last week, she relapsed but did self-reported the incident. The program moved her back to a high-level of housing and a full day program. On their way to a meeting that first night after reporting using she met-up with someone in the parking lot of Dunkin’s while she was being driven to a meeting along with the rest of the girls in the house. She left with this person but did return to the house before curfew. As you can imagine her taking off was a big violation and the next day they had a meeting about it.

    I wasn’t at the meeting, not sure what sent her over the edge but that day she left. Packed bags full of clothes and ask them to drop her off at the train station. Her plan was to be homeless, live in the train station. We did try and talk to her before she packed her bags. We encouraged her to stay and reminded her of all the good that she had accomplished and the goals she has. No one could talk her out of it. She has since told me she’s with a person she met at meeting, staying with this woman until today but I have no ideal what is true or not anymore.

    We can’t have her live at home right now but have not closed the door on her return after more sobriety. She needs more structure and support than we can give her at home. We’ve been down that path many times now.

    She was doing so well then the bottom fell out. There seemed to be a parallel with her getting her phone and the relapses. Her father and I have been discussing shutting off the phone and getting her one that only allows calls and text. Social media and getting access to money on line is where she starts her spiral. The day she left the program the staff member encouraged me to shut the phone off. It felt right but now I am hating myself for doing that. We can only facebook message her. She’s active and tells me she’s fine but that’s it. I can’t have any really conversation with her. She asked her boyfriend to come and help her get into a hospital. When he got to where she said she was, she was gone. The next day I asked her to lunch. We had a time but she never gave me an address. This is so painful. She isn’t ready to be sober again but I have no idea what she is or isn’t doing. She has a court date coming up in two weeks. Her leaving the program will probably be in violation of her probation so I expect a warrant for her arrest.

    CRAFT talks about natural consequences. These consequences feel urgent. I also have no idea if she is taking her meds or not.

    Any advise on how to try engage with her to get her to surface again?

    1. Hi jdagett,

      83 days without the use of substances is quite a success for anyone with Substance Use Disorder(SUD), kudos to your daughter. It may not be reassuring and difficult to celebrate the success when there has been a turn in the other direction. Unfortunately, relapse often times is a part of this disease and we the family are then thrust back into crisis and chaos. From everything you wrote about in your comment, it seems as you are a loving supportive family that wants to stay connected in order to be a bridge back to a better life (I am thinking you have been watching the video modules and trying to apply what you have learned through CRAFT).

      Have you thought about using a phone that she can text and call with as an incentive to engage? What about sending her a message like:

      “I know that you’re not ready to talk right now about what has happened but your dad and I find communicating through facebook(fb) difficult. Could we meet somewhere and we could drop off a phone that would give you the ability to call or text?”

      Then when you meet, keep it short unless she wants to engage more.

      I don’t know if you find this but, I have learned, when communicating with my Loved One(LO), being brief is important. So maybe on fb you could say something like:

      “I know you’re not ready to talk right now about what has happened but checking in once a day might help alleviate our worries.”

      Then you might advance the conversation in a week or two in a way that does not pressure her into anything:

      “We really appreciate you staying in contact. Would you be interested in meeting for a quick cup of coffee. We (or I) promise to not bring anything up, we would just like to see you.”

      You might still get a negative response but I try and keep it light when this happens, “I get it, your not ready yet. Maybe next week.”

      You also might get a positive response. When that happens, I keep to the boundaries and do not talk or ask questions that I know are off limits. I try and show my LO that I am not trying to force anything. I am taking their lead. I am working to let them know, “I am here. When you think you need help, I am here.” I guess, really holding to the unspoken boundaries my LO has set for themselves by running away (or maybe spoken with words like, “I don’t want your help…” or “I can do this myself…” or “You don’t understand.” Or a multitude of other ways of telling me to stay out of it).

      I have found that less in more in these situations. The last time my LO took off and would only communicate with us when he wanted to, I used this tactic by texting him and said, “Hey Bud, I know I can’t change what has happened. I was just hoping you might call my phone, say hi, then hang up. That way I know you’re okay. I love you very much.” Within minutes he called and headed home. Previously, I would have been begging pleading or sending him cute pictures of his dog to get him to feel guilty and come home. None of which worked!!!

      I am not saying that you will get the same response that I did. Each situation is different. I am just sharing some success I have had and hope that it will inspire your CRAFT skills to try something similar. I also hope beyond hope that your daughter does start to engage with you. I know one thing is for sure, she must know she has your love.

      Which brings me to one more suggestion. Have you watched video Module 7 on taking care of yourself? Do you have ways of reducing the obsessive worry and thoughts? If you have, maybe you could share with me and everyone here. I have started working on REBT. I have been reading a lot about Radical Acceptance. Taking time to do things each day just for you is incredibly important during times like these.

      Remember, you are not alone.


      1. Thanks for the insight and support Laurie. The past few weeks have neen been extremely difficult on me and my family. My daughter reached out for help, looking for recovery. We picked her up and went to the hospital. In the past hospitals have helped place her in recovery centers. This time the one center they had for her wouldn’t see her until next week and then they didn’t think she’d qualify for in patient because she wasn’t acute enough. She came home. The first night went fine, she attended a meeting the next day. The second night was bad – she ended up leaving the house in the early morning and taking money from us. That was just two nights ago. She’s reaching out again for help getting into a place. I’m giving her phone numbers but can’t allow her back home.

        Right now what i do is keep myself sane is talk to family and friends. I excercise every day and that helps get me out of my monkey mind.