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Just back from rehab and her ‘friend’ left her sick & unconscious in the basement

girl drunk passed out
Illustration © Eleanor Davis

klmaiuri's daughter has relapsed twice in on month since her return from rehab, and Mom seeks to understand how to influence her daughter despite her questionable frequentations…

"I completely understand the above strategy, but what do you do when the loved one already is isolated from you and spends their time with another individual who is also a substance abuser. My daughter lives with me and has been home from a 45-day rehab for a month and has slipped twice. The first time that I know of she was so inebriated that she vomited all over herself and her "friend" left her alone in the basement, with me only to find her at 1:00 am. She is working, but completely unwilling to discuss any further treatment – she has not been to therapy since coming home."

Your daughter is home from a rehab and is relapsing with alcohol. From your question, it sounds like either the rehab didn’t make an aftercare plan for when she would be back in your home or your daughter is choosing to totally ignore it. So yes, she is relapsing. The period following brief treatment is a very fragile one. Jordan Peterson describes one reason why in a video we recently posted in our supplement.

If she's drinking again, can she stay?

Your daughter’s unwillingness to protect herself from relapse by not continuing treatment or attending self-help raises the issue of what to do in regards to her continued stay in your home…we have addressed this in a number of posts that you may find helpful to review (topic: home as a reward).

This is all very new and very frightening. On top of this, your daughter is hanging out with friends who drink and who abandoned her when she became sick from alcohol. Even more frightening.

The trap of focusing on the "friends" or using companions

As a parent, it will be tempting to tell/order/demand/threaten a child in order to prevent them from seeing that friend again. The world is littered with couples and chums who are still seeing one another despite, or even because, they have been told to stay away from X.

When your daughter is with that friend, this is information for you; it tells you to be on the look-out for drinking. I have heard parents blame the friend for a child’s drinking or drug using. This takes your eye off your child and how you behave towards her; it makes you complain or control her choice of friends. Instead, you should focus on the single purpose of better addressing her use by lining up your words and behavior with razor focus towards her drinking.

Here's what you can do when you see use

Learning Module 6 describes the CRAFT response to using behaviors. This is what you can do. It is the sum total of what you can do. We’ve applied CRAFT to this very situation, brought up by other families, and described it in the posts under the topic: home as a reward.

So now what? First off, if you find your daughter passed out again, it may be wise to assume you don’t know from what she is passed out, or how dangerous it is, and call an ambulance. An ambulance assures your daughter is seen medically and it can signal to your daughter that this event was serious, at the least embarrassing. It signals that you are not taking responsibility for it in any way, and demonstrates your willingness to call in first responders.

Your daughter is newly home, so take this in stages. Using after treatment isn’t unusual. Perhaps these few drinking episodes have scared her and so she'll double down on trying to stay sober on her own and to stay busy with work.

A person doesn’t stay sober by ignoring the problem of alcoholism. She is going to need more help. Your house and your support need to be put in play. For example:

“I love you and you are scaring me terribly. If you are going to continue living here, I am going to need you to protect yourself from relapse. Here is a list of things you can do that I put together (have that list in writing and make it detailed. Include self-help, outpatient and inpatient treatment). If you are not ready to do any of these and want to continue to drink, I cannot control that either. But I need to consider how our home and support is actually encouraging you to continue. I’m between a rock and a hard place. Tell me what you think we can do about this.”

Give her a period of time to decide. Suggest that you plan to talk in two weeks. In the meantime, Learning Modules 5 and 6 are critical for you. Again, this is the dance of daily life when someone you love struggles with addiction.

So, a collective deep breath from all of us. Your daughter went to rehab, so some part of her realizes she has a problem with alcohol. This is half the battle. Swinging between sobriety and brief relapse is part of the marathon we talk about. The post your comment was responding to has a diagram that describes the process. It is wholly difficult for the family, but you are further along than you were prior to her going to rehab. She now has education about addiction and knows how to begin taking care of it. This is what rehab does. She now understands the responsibility that she has for herself and her condition and what to do. As best you can, continue to push this responsibility back onto her.



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. 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???????

    1. 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:

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