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She finally went back to school—but she’s back on heroin

College campus

FaithInRecovery knows that relapse happens and it's part of the process. But her daughter's relapse, after she returned to college with 9 months' sobriety, has dealt a blow. Mom is feeling great sadness, as well as wondering how to pick up the pieces and help her daughter.

"My daughter has been 9 months clean from heroine use. She went back to college to the old college where use began, mainly because it seemed natural to finish up classes, and we couldn't get our money back (35k per semester, and we are broke from Silver Hill Rehab).

Well, I arrived, and she loudly said she had to change her tampon in the bathroom, and I immediately knew. My heart raced. She went to the bathroom, then came back. She then left the room again, and I found her "tampon bag" full of needles. When she came back cheerfully with her laundry in hand, we had a real talk.

What now? I've called her treatment team. She has to finish up the next 4 weeks of school, that is our desire. She has straight A's, and it will do her good to complete something. She said she had wanted to tell me, and how depressed she is, as she has been shunned by her old friends, and is never invited to a social. There is no drug recovery on campus. No support group. There was one before, but the moderator started sleeping with the newly recovered students.

So far, the plan is she is home on weekends, and I drive 2 hours on Weds to drug test her.

I have an extra Vivitrol shot. She missed her last appointment to get one. I will have to watch her do it, as she is the only one who can. It is an emergency effort now started by a psychiatrist in NYC, if kids miss their shots.

She fell deeply into loneliness and depression at college, and it was easy to turn to the usual substances. She has no friends, and the community has been so cold. I understand: it's a small college, and everyone knows her story.

What to do after this? In 4 weeks, should she live at home and be in an outpatient center?

I know the majority of people relapse. I am just so sad.

Advice? Thanks,

Faith In Recovery"


Your daughter was in rehab, a sober house in New York, and went back to finish her freshman year at a small college. She has now relapsed on heroin.

One suggestion to be considered right away is Suboxone, which will block her use of heroin and cut the cravings to use. Vivitrol, especially when self-administered, demands a lot of motivation and more treatment than your daughter is getting at college. If you are both set on her finishing out the school year, away at a college that is not providing relapse prevention treatment or social support, then more needs to be done to guard against continued opiate use and possible overdose. A Suboxone clinic will also drug test her, so you don’t have to.

Once on Suboxone, you can both work to get through the next 4 weeks as she finishes up, without the constant risk of her using, and now with professionals working with her.

This seems like the critical first step.

Yes, people relapse. It is very, very upsetting. But your daughter is talking to you about it. You have that bridge between you that we talk about in the Learning Modules. You are her Ally. You are doing what you can to guide her. Hang on to yourself. It will be all right.

It’s worth remembering how hard it is to make major changes in one’s behavior and to keep that up, without regular—practically daily—support. Your daughter tried. She has still been able to complete her studies. You both wish for her to finish since she is getting straight A's.

So, let’s set up again.

Stage one: get through the next 4 weeks: Suboxone/drug testing, AA, NA, other peer supports in the community? An emergency social worker or therapist at the college? There is a community that is supportive at her college, it can be found in the neighboring area in AA or NA. Can your daughter agree to go DAILY for the next 4 weeks along with the Suboxone? She is depressed and isolated. A peer-support community can work wonders.

There is no time to mess around here. Your daughter is scared and so are you. School is important, and treatment and peer supports are the only way I can see keeping her safe while she finishes. If transport is an issue, how about you adding financing her Uber account? You’re going to have to help her with the logistics.

Stage 2: Back home with you after the semester ends. Your daughter is coming home on weekends…If the plan is to integrate her into community supports in your community, can this start on Saturdays now? What is there near you? You are going to have to figure all this out, including transferring her to another Suboxone clinic.

Suboxone right now is your insurance policy. It gives your daughter an immediate chance to stop using, stop craving, and avoid withdrawals.

Think of wrapping your daughter in treatment and supports, with Suboxone being just the start.

I think I recall where your daughter is, so here’s a link to get started.

If this isn’t right, google suboxone and the geographical area.

 I am thinking of you.



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"...)


    You know…having an opioid use child is NOT easy. But I’ve done a back flip recently. I realized that my daughter is, simply…sick. She is sober now. After a relapse on needle heroine. And let me tell you: that was not easy. She kept disappearing into the bathroom, to “change her tampon,” and I caught her in abuse. I said she had the choice of coming home, and detoxing, cheap, with us, as we had run out of money. Or she could continue using on the street, and then she would lose our love and money and home support. She chose to come home. I have learned a lot from this experience. I held her all, all night long, hugging her, because she chose recovery. We hugged all night long, and the detox started to happen, and we cried together, in her tiny dorm room bed, because I caught her at college. I held her. She held me. It was precious beyond belief. I will never forget those moments when she decided to come home. She said, “Mum: the self loathing is so great. Oh Mumma. I hate myself so much!” They hate themselves, and we have to hold them. We had to wait the night out, because she was so high, and so weird. But she chose recovery. And I told her we chose it together. We cried together. You have no idea how badly, actually, if you catch them at the right moment…how badly they want recovery…They long for it, actually. They want you to catch them. She even said that. Let’s fast forward to a dinner party where my daughter was at home, and I had to leave her to go to a dinner party. I went to the dinner party and I was just overcome with the need to be honest. I said, “My daughter has a terrible disease. She is a heroine addict. SHe could die if I don’t make sure she has Vivitrol.” I t was very reliveing to say it, and also see that it is a disease. What happened with my daughter was that we didn’t attend her Vivitrol shot, and then she used. We have to accompany them. You CANNOT, cannot, trust they will attend their Vivitrol shot without you taking them there. We chose NOT to do Suboxone, because the brain doesn’t heal. And she is young, and we wanted her to do Vivitrol and heal her brain, as opposed to Suboxone, which keeps the brain in the same loop fo craving…if you go the Vivitrol route, always attend the shots. Otherwise, do Suboxone, which is also a good alternative. What I learned from this is that I can maintain intimacy and love and compassion for my daughter while she is sick. She is sick. And I will stick with neutralizing the stigma language, and just make sure I am there for a sick child. I can do that. And I can, yes, remain with a heart open for my child. Oh my god. This is the back flip that has made our relationship possible.

    1. FaithinRecovery, thank you for sharing your tremendous change of view and insight. Your child is sick. It is not their choice. That ended a long time ago. With CRAFT, we teach you to look for those moments, the window when a Loved One wants help. It happens to everyone. If you’ve softened your relationship, sharpened your eye, and done your homework, you can be effective at providing them the loving hand-off to treatment. The window is probably brief, but look for it. And be prepared with the details of treatment.

    2. Dear FaithinRecovery;

      I love your user-name, I too have great faith in recovery!

      I have read and re-read your post and it strikes so close to home for me, being the Daughter of a dignified little church lady – who has had a 35 year addiction, and I am also the Mother of a son who struggled terribly with an opiate addiction. I know how brutal the impact is on a family. I have learned to manage life around (and often away from) my Mother since she is in still active use and is often very toxic. My Son however…changed the game for me. He lived on the edge of death for quite some time, weighing less than me, he was absolutely OUT of control on a daily basis. I know this nightmare by heart. The terror, heartache, sleepless nights, days we jump at every phone call—or days that feel like torture when there’s nothing but silence. You are very brave to turn to this site and open up about the struggles – as well as the breakthroughs. It takes courage to be honest and real about something so vulnerable and precious, much respect to you. I hope you have come to see that you are among friends here on Allies in Recovery.

      Looking back at our addiction/recovery experience, my Son has had 6 years of recovery momentum now by working his own path treatment and sobriety, and I have had mental/emotional success when it comes to peace and sanity by also working my own recovery. I needed to heal from the trauma of the impact it had on me, as I became as sick if not sicker during the darkest days of it. We all needed to recover!

      What I have found to be healthiest for my family is exactly that – to work on my recovery, while keeping the love and respect intact for my Son, his process of recovery and his life. I am committed to loving, encouraging, positively influencing, supporting, and corner coaching him (to a point), and I will always be accessible for him. But for me personally, I would not get closely involved or encourage anyone else to feel responsible for another’s recovery process themselves. CRAFT is definitely about encouraging and shepherding a Loved One toward treatment. But working a recovery process and dealing with the natural consequences that come if they don’t, is actually a part of the process of recovering that is so needed for our Loved Ones!

      The recovery process is not a one size fits all, what is needed for one person, may not be the case for another. But it is a fact that everyone in the orbit of addiction will need a healthy plan to recover and each are responsible for their own. An Addiction Physician once said “It is not your son’s fault that he has the disease of addiction, but his recovery IS his responsibility.”

      My Son, your Daughter, all of our Loved One’s can’t help that they have the disease, but they are responsible and accountable for learning, following through and sticking with what it takes to recover. My Son is very open and honest with us about his patterns and processes, he appreciates if I leave his treatment program and progress to him, other than encouragement and wise, healthy support.

      We know that deception, manipulation, blame-shifting and lying are often symptomatic of the disease of addiction, and while they are not personal, we can become enmeshed and sick because of those symptoms. My son has told me often, “Any chance I get to make you at fault and responsible for what I need to do, I am going to take because – it is the pathology of the disease. Unless I am mindful and honestly working on that, I will gladly allow you to take on all the work, responsibility and blame.” :-O

      That hit me like a truck, my goodness. Out of the mouths of babes! That was a hard truth to hear, but a helpful one for sure.

      Knowing that and taking it to heart, without being enmeshed, accusatory or controlling I strongly encourage my Son to continue his program, but I’m not willing to catch him if he’s not, unless it were to occur within our home. Nor do I feel healthy watching over him, or governing how he recovers. He is on his own with that, and that is what seems to work for him. If I have to do any of that to get him on the path of recovery, I will sure have to do all of that keep him on it and there is no peace or freedom for me (or growth and accomplishment for him) if that is the cadence of our relationship. When that’s where we are in our relationship as it relates to substance use, I discovered I was doing those things to make myself feel safe and in control, and not doing what was best for my son, the situation, or his life of recovery.

      We are all so much more stable, secure and peaceful these days – and that is the hope of family recovery!

      I see and love your enthusiasm, it’s so jubilant and hopeful! I love that you are on board for your Daughter. This is a lifelong journey for us all. Love is healing and liberating, she is lucky to have a Mother like you! It’s a process for sure, for you, for your Daughter, for your family. I’m grateful none of us have to do it alone. Wishing you great strength, wisdom and peace and you journey onward.

      With love, hope and respect,


      1. Hi Beach 18: First of all, we went through the Suboxone route, and our daughter relapsed. It’s because they can choose to get it, each day, and then just go off the wagon easily without anyone knowing. We switched to Vivitrol injection, once per month, and that worked super well for our family, because then it’s not their decision, and they just need accompanying on that day.

        Also: for our daughter: she was sick of therapy. But she really, really loved craniosacral therapy. It’s very non-verbal. It reaches deep into the body, and wicks out emotions that they don’t want to talk about. It’s all about the somatic storage of emotions. THey can all come out with cranio. I highly recommend it. That’s when we saw our daughter’s energy really return. SHe started to go to the gym, get coffee with friends. HIGHLY recommend. It saved our daughter. SHe was so sick of talking about stuff, and the bodywork, especially craniosacral, released all sorts of tensions.

        I agree with you. There is a level of manipulation that is incredible. There is a joke among heroine addicts: “An alcoholic steals your purse, and they call you the next morning, and lament that they stole your purse. A Heroine addict steals your purse, and they help you find it.”

        It’s not an easy road. Thank you for your support and understanding.

        You have what it takes. It’s hard. xoxo

        1. Thanks FaithInRecovery! I will mention craniosacral therapy to him. He may like that, as he feels he has been to a couple therapists, (none experienced with dual diagnosis), but all he says he feels he does is talk and talk and not seem to get anywhere.