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Loved One Secretive And Constantly Driving Around

Girls turning away from father, on phone

Bambi1 has concerns about her Loved One’s behavior but she doesn’t have the full picture. Her LO is secretive, out all day, and avoids calls from the family. Now she’s back with the old crowd after getting a car again. Not working, not in school, she is using the car a lot – maybe as an uber – and it seems she is being dragged back down by old “friends.”

My daughter is very secretive. 20 years old. So secretive, I overheard her trying to get an apartment and needs a $300 deposit. Mind you, she has no money, doesn't appear to be working, even though she had a job. She was withdrawn from school because she didn't show up. She leaves early morning to avoid us and doesn't return until late night. Last night came in at 3:40 a.m, left around 10 am. Phone rings non stop however, can't take my calls when I'm phoning her, I pay for the phone.  Read the full comment here. 

There’s so much to unpack in your comment. We have written about the car in other posts (there are several posts related to the car on this page). If you believe she is using and driving, it’s serious, even more so if the car is in your name AND she’s chauffeuring people around.

Your daughter has no job, is not going to school, is gone from early each day until very late, and the car has racked up thousands of miles in a short period of time.

The danger with the car takes precedence. So many areas of the US have poor public transportation. Parents can find themselves stuck in this situation. You can’t get to school or work without a car. Some parents give their kids rides everywhere. I just talked to a father who told me he hadn’t envisioned his retirement years being spent taking his 30 yr old son back and forth to work every day.

Before we even talk about CRAFT, my suggestion is to park the car before someone gets hurt. In the short-term, give her rides or pay for an Uber to get her where she needs to go.

Your daughter wants to get her own place. This is a huge reward and, like the car, is quite hard to meter out on a day-to-day basis, according to whether she looks sober or not (See Learning Modules 5 and 6).

Without a car, I would guess your daughter would be home more often, making it possible for you to observe her more (Learning Module 3). Some of the secrecy might naturally subside when you are sharing space more. You don’t need to ask her about her use to determine patterns, you can be taught what to look for. Learning Module 3 provides you with detailed points of what to look for.

For 8 to 10 weeks or so, follow the principles laid out in the Learning Modules and learn all you can by observing her behavior and patterns. Soften your communication, work on building a real bridge between the two of you. You need to have more information to know what to do.

I can see eventually leveraging help with a place to live with an agreement that she sees a therapist or gets into some other treatment, but first we need to have a better picture of what’s going on. Don’t talk to her about her use or her lifestyle for now. Start with taking away the car, something like:

“The car is not working out. I got you the car so that you could get to work and school. Right now, neither is happening so, I’m sorry, the car comes off the road. Something is going on. You don’t need to explain, we just can’t chance being sued over something that happens with you and the car.  When you feel you need help, I want you to know you can come to us. We love you dearly, forever”

So, deep breath… you can do this. It’s time to refocus and start looking at this with new eyes. Write back to us with what you are learning.



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. Please Bambi1,
    Im one that has been dealing with my youngest sons addictions for half his life. He is now 30.
    Please dont take as long as me to learn. Follow EVERYTHING Dominique has suggested. Please join a local naranon group asap. I have been a brick wall when trying to do the one right thing for my loved son. Which is DO NOTHING. We can do absolutely nothing to change our loved ones problems. Pray, read, get support, go to mtgs., then REPEAT, over and over. The less you say to her the better. Sometimes I have to fight my mind 5 minutes at a time to stay quiet. Ask yourself how you can get stronger? Pray for your higher power to guide your daughter. Focus on you, not her. Dont take 15 years to figure this out like me!
    God Bless

  2. I am listening to Module 4 and realizing all the patterns of talk I am guilty of.
    What do I do in a situation whereas my daughter texted last night that she was coming over. I told her I had a great dinner made and she said good save me some. She never showed. She didn’t call or text to say she would not be coming. Her patterns are so predictable. She will text me (she will not talk on the phone to me)around 1:00pm and say Oh sorry Mom, I fell a sleep or some lame excuse. How do I handle this? I’m starting to feel like I shouldn’t respond to her text messages anymore as she only answers me when she feels like it. However, something is telling me that is not a good way to communicate to her, by me shutting down. If I try to tell her how I feel, it doesn’t matter. She has totally shut down from communicating w/ her family. Understandable, we have been so critical and negative I don’t know how anyone has lived with me these last five years. Looking forward to your response.

    1. Communication matters a lot, perhaps even more in a relationship with someone who has addiction. It may be only a slight generalization to say that people with addiction are very sensitive.

      Thank you for coming onto this site and watching Learning Module 4 on communications. It’s time to try new ways of communicating with your daughter.

      Texting is tough… You can’t hear them so it’s hard to assess their tone or if they’re high. Is your daughter often high when she comes over? Does she have a hard time showing up for most things? This is also common: a Loved One says yes to dinner way in advance and when the moment comes to get in the car, she can’t make herself get out of the house. Maybe she’s high but maybe she also just has trouble showing up. You need resilience and a dose of courage to show up for life when you struggle with addiction. Many people have both in short supply. Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response to Bambi1 here: