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I Think She’s Trying to Slowly Die

crying head in hands

klmaiuri is doing everything she can think of to keep her daughter safe. Will it be enough?

"My 27 year old daughter is an alcoholic. She has been through 3 rehabs and multiple emergency hospital visits. Most recently she was admitted to the hospital for a suicide attempt while intoxicated (BAC – 4.38). She was held for 5 days and released with the promise to attend two intake meetings with programs near us. She lives alone and began drinking within 24 hours. She has been intoxicated since Tuesday of this week. She has lost her job and only has minimal money available. She is involved with a man who has assaulted her three times. I really think she's just trying to slowly die. I am the only person trying to keep her safe. I've called police, county mental health services, therapists, rehabs and no one can legally do a thing. I am completely at my wits end. My husband died by suicide two years ago and my daughter found him. Prior to this trauma she had been drinking heavily for almost a year. What do I do???????"

Your 27-year-old daughter has been drinking heavily for three years and recently attempted suicide while under the influence. She’s with a man, we’ll assume he also drinks, who abuses her. She has been to treatment three times.

Your husband committed suicide two years ago. You are the one watching out for your daughter. You are trying to pull in treatment, the police, and the emergency system.

What a terrible weight all this must be on you.

A few points.

It is critical that you have your own support in place. There is a reason we put this first. The need to find ways to be gentle and loving with yourself is a must. You need to protect yourself from becoming ill, you need to sleep, eat, and somehow remain focused on your life too. In this way, you will remain an ally to your daughter. Go to our Sanctuary on this site, look for a parent support group in your area, consider therapy. You cannot do this alone.

There are limits to what any of us can do for a Loved One in active addiction. You cannot stop her from drinking or from hurting herself. You can stand next to her, eyes open, hand extended. You are doing what you can: pulling in first responders, educating yourself about treatment options, maintaining communication with her.

CRAFT calls for maintaining that bridge, maintaining communication. Gentle and respectful, you are at-the-ready for when she tells you it hurts, for when she wants help (as partial and temporary as this can be), or for when you sense danger.

How to know where that line is. How not to exhaust yourself trying to maintain it, that is the difficult part, which goes without saying. You stand next to her, partnering with her. You are not omnipotent. Your reach is limited.

There is absolutely a line. Being aware of it may help you let go even a little.

It takes on average 7 tries to stop smoking. This is no less true with alcohol and drugs. It takes repeated efforts, repeated treatments. Do not give up on treatment for your daughter. Every episode of treatment is different. Every episode she will be different; perhaps more willing to hear or apply to herself what is being said. Do not discount the potential of self-help either. Your daughter can walk into a 12-step meeting or another peer support group and be convinced she needs to stop. Being struck with this idea is a huge part of the battle won.

As terrible as things are, your daughter can turn this around.

You mention the limits of what can be done legally. You are right. She is an adult. Short of a civil commitment or a locked psychiatric ward, she can call the boyfriend, get picked up on the corner, and head for the liquor store. I am here to tell you, though, that people do decide they have had enough. When that decision really gets inside a person, they accept the help and they throw that considerable will towards a new way of life. It happens. There is the day it happens, and then there is the next day where you wake up and decide to continue to try for that day, and then the day after that and then the next day. Anybody who has ever gotten sober has done it this way.

Your daughter is no longer working and is living on very limited money. Good. This makes drinking more difficult. Try hard to let her be with this, to feel all this. If she loses her home, an inpatient stay, followed by a sober housing situation may look a tiny bit better to her. I am not discounting the dangers of homelessness, especially for a woman, but the gamble here is that you are showing her the door of treatment. Unstable housing can make that door look more attractive.

Finally, a substantial minority of states have civil commitments for substance abuse. I am sure you are looking into this. What you may not know is that most states also have outpatient commitments for mental illness, in which the person stays in the community but is mandated to community treatments. Along with peer groups in the community, both types of commitment need to be part of the list you create of treatment options for your daughter. As other family members on this site will attest, a commitment is a difficult step, isn’t a panacea, but is a way for your daughter and for you to get a pause in the action. So go through the trouble of having the paperwork prepared.

The modules on this site will help you renew your strength and fine-tune your communication and behavior. Learning Module 8 will suggest how to intervene with your daughter again. Partnering with your daughter, being her advocate and care coordinator of sorts, is on one side of the line…taking the very best care of yourself and letting go where needed is on the other.

We are here.



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. I have a 30 year old daughter who is an active alcoholic. She has been an alcoholic for close to 10 years and it became severe use upon the suicide death of her father, when she was in the home. In the last four years, since his death, she has been in 5 treatment facilities and the only extended period of sobriety has been when she is in treatment. She lives by herself and lost her job in March. In July her consumption was so bad I used an interventionist and she agreed to go to a detox center and then to a treatment facility that focused on trauma (she also suffered sexual assault by a boyfriend). Unfortunately, she tested positive for Covid and was not able to be admitted and has been alone in her apartment for close to a month. There have been periodic periods of use from what I can tell but she is currently resistant to any discussion of treatment. When she returned home after the positive test she was very clear that she wanted to attend an inpatient facility. I know she is facing eviction. She has either been too ill or too drunk to get re-tested to determine if she can be admitted. I am at a real loss as to next steps. Should I just wait out the eviction process and see if she asks for treatment? She is extremely stubborn and every treatment she has attended has been initiated by myself, usually following a crisis. She does live close by (45 mins) and while I do not see her often she does daily keep in touch via phone. I really believe that she needs to make this decision on her own, but the possibility of her health seriously declining is very real.

    1. Dear klmaiuri, your daughter is facing eviction from her apartment, and recently tested positive for COVID, which kept her from being admitted to inpatient treatment. You are doing what you can to push treatment and help your daughter with logistics. Like many families, you feel the pressure of time, and her declining health, as the drinking continues.

      Since your daughter lost her job, I gather she is mostly home drinking. The apartment provides cover. She is not doing anything to pull herself out of this precarious situation. Your question is: what’s next, and what to do about the impending eviction.

      Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response to klmaiuri here: