iagirlsmom is despairing about her daughter’s endless cycle of use. At this point, she may not be able to let her back into their home again. But it’s almost winter in Iowa and wrapping her mind around this decision is not easy.
We keep ending up in this same spot and I think the only way to break the cycle is to make her homeless. She will not stop using in our house. Our 23 yo daughter is a non-functioning alcoholic. She hasn’t ever really held a job. She has no money, no income and no savings. She has no friends to stay with (seriously), she has systematically demolished every relationship she’s ever had including in the recovery community. Her addiction came to light her senior year of college. She didn’t graduate despite our tuition assistance for the following 5 semesters. We’ve brought her home 10-12 times in this 2 year period with the agreement she wouldn’t drink in our home but she she ends up in the ER every single time due to drinking. She has invited men over to party to get alcohol, she’s peed her bed and our bed and our carpets passed out, she’s tried to get our car keys, she gets impulsive and belligerent and argumentative. She’s up all night and sleeps all day and won’t cooperate with clean up or getting job or helping out despite any written agreement when we accept her back. Read iagirlsmom’s full comment here.
Your poor family. I understand the dilemma of having your daughter home – and all that entails – or closing the door to her so that she winds up homeless in the winter in Iowa. What are the answers for your daughter?
At this moment, she is in a sober house and starting to agitate. It looks like she may not last long. She’ll get kicked out, and then what….
Sober housing provides minimal treatment. There’s a lot of unstructured time, which is probably not good at all for her. She has demonstrated time and again that she needs a higher level of care.
The cycle you are in feels interminable (treatment, home or sober living, relapse). I applaud your many efforts to get her into care. How exhausting. Home is not the answer right now. Your daughter is ill, probably also struggling with mental illness. You are not professionals equipped to handle the depth and complexity of her situation. Having her home is very disruptive and it sounds like she uses your house to go into hiding. She’ll sleep all day, go through the cabinets looking for any approximation of alcohol at night. This doesn’t help either or you.
Your state passed a law in 2018 that allows a civil commitment for people who in the past have become dangerously ill because they failed to comply with doctors’ recommendations. The law opens the door a little wider for civil commitments. The court doesn’t have to find your daughter in danger to herself or others – a high bar which can be difficult to prove. Your comment here should be sufficient to show how your daughter is failing out of treatment.
Your daughter can absolutely find a better way to live. She has agreed to go to treatment in the past, she has had friends in the recovery community, so there is motivation in her somewhere. On some level, at some point in the cycle, she is trying. She goes into care (this is huge) but falters when discharged to low structured living, whether it is a sober home or your home.
The inpatient stays you talk about were probably short-term. The key in all this is to find a long-term, structured residential program that provides quality care for the substances and possible mental illness.
Easier said than done, I know. The residential program should have a length of stay in a continuum that lasts at least 6 months: better yet, one year. Look for a true Dialectical Behavior Therapy program (DBT). DBT teaches valuable skills for managing hard emotions. It was developed for people with personality disorders and has been applied to addiction with good success. See this link for info on DBT in our Resource Supplement.
Is she still on your insurance? Here’s one place that “looks” like what I am talking about. https://www.edgewoodhealthnetwork.com
It is in Canada. This isn’t a referral; we have no first-hand experience with this location. But it fits the portrait of the type of facility that we’d recommend looking into. Check it out to see how they are structured.
The cycle continues for now. Your daughter is looking to get kicked out of the current sober house. If and when she does, have a civil commitment ready to go. Use this as often as you need to keep her safe while avoid having her coming home. As we often say, civil commitments aren’t a panacea, but they buy a little time and help ensure that your Loved One is safe.
You absolutely never know when the time will come that your daughter sees the sad pattern her life has devolved into, when there is that fundamental shift in thinking that provides her some light onto a different future. It doesn’t happen until it happens. Before this, it looks like what you are going through: an endless cycle.
Can you locate and pay for a long-term treatment like Edgewood, a place with solid treatment approaches that are skilled in treating the level of illness you describe in your daughter?
“Darling, what’s going on with you is very serious. I am worried for your life. I also need to think of what I can do and what my limits are. The stress and fear of you being in danger is strangling me. I love your dearly but having you come home doesn’t work for either of us. For now, it is not an option. Here is what I propose. I found XYZ programs. When you’re ready, will you have a look at the programs with me? If you lose this sober house, I will be forced to have you committed again. It breaks my heart that this is where we are right now. I’ve been looking into DBT, and I believe the programs I have found will be fundamentally different than what you have experienced. [Don’t talk about length of time in these programs….she can discover that once admitted and be convinced to stay in treatment by the staff]. When you’re ready, I am prepared to do everything you need to get in.”
Again, make it clear she isn’t coming home. Can you do that knowing you will use commitments as needed? She really is too ill to be home, given all that you have described.
What we suggest here is a slight step back from her, making it clear to her – with love and compassion – that home isn’t an option. Her choices are to stay put in the sober house, be civilly committed, or choose to go into XYZ long-term residential program.
This is what you can do. You can’t protect her from herself. You have to keep using the system. This includes ERs, police, wellness checks, and civil commitments… Your daughter is a young adult. It’s hard to imagine that she will make decisions to protect herself, but her civil rights as an adult leave it up to her, not you.
Again, I know this isn’t easy. I realize you are going to have to keep doing what you are doing, even though it feels you can’t go on like this any more. For now, you’ll continue cycling along with her, just not with her at home. You must be so tired, so scared. But you are here. We hear you and feel your pain.
As you struggle with how to frame your thinking about not letting her back in the house, I’d suggest repeating to yourself: she needs more help than I am able to provide. You can provide a home, and you have. But what she needs is not that. For her that provides more room to go out of control and cause herself more harm. Settling into your own sense of what you can and can’t do will help you when it comes time to discuss this with clarity and compassion – with her or with anyone else for that matter. I can do this: help get her into XYZ program. Communicate with love and empathy. Practice reflective listening. Meet her where she is at. Hold space for her until she learns to hold it for herself. I can’t do this: open up our home to her while she is unstable, self-destructive and belligerent. Expect different results than those we’ve seen in the past, until she has gained real traction in treatment. Until then, our home just becomes another place for her to use and go out of control.
Using CRAFT to pull out all the stops so that she is ushered towards a long-term, structured residential program is the best option you have – it’s the best option she has. There are many pieces lying on the floor of her life right now – friends, work, college, etc. Don’t give those any space right now. These pieces will be there waiting when she has addressed her drinking in treatment, but until then, they aren’t worth your energy. You don’t have any to spare.
Use the energy you do have to focus on the line you are drawing, lining up another commitment and looking into the long term places. Be prepared to hold your line without argument or debate. Keep telling yourself that you cannot provide what she needs now. One day, down the road, when she is more stable, you can consider having her in your home again. But now is not that time.
The communication skills of CRAFT still hold whenever you are able to interact with her. They can help you convey that this decision is not a punishment. There is no ill-will in this line you are drawing. You know the extent of what you have tried in the past and what has repeatedly not worked. With this line and the distance you are creating with it, the message rings clear that the reward of your home is not available given her continuous use.
Your love for her is unconditional. Your responses to her actions are your own choice, and with CRAFT, the responses are tailored to the Loved One’s use or non-use. Just as you love her but may not love her actions, your responses to her actions do not signify that you love her any more or less. You are responding the best you can with the information you have – within a painful awareness that you cannot force her to change. So you make the best choices you can within this framework.
We feel how excruciating the pain is of facing such a decision – of facing the ups and downs of these past several years. You have been doing such a commendable job. And all of this has taken its toll. Even for a few minutes a day, please make a space for yourself to be as you are as a whole, living person. A person who is above all responsible for their own well-being. It won’t serve you or your daughter to put this off. Showing up for yourself is something you can do, something over which you absolutely have control. This may look different from one day to the next. We encourage you to embrace this commitment. And as you draw that line and keep your house on one side of it for the time being, make some changes in your home to reflect the way you want to enjoy your own space. Clear out that which is old and stagnant. This can help serve as a physical reflection of your conviction that the help she needs is not within your home. It is a healing of sorts for the space and for yourself as you work through this.
We are here for you and we hold you and your family in our hearts. Please keep us posted as things continue to unfold. Sending your love and strength.