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She Uses the Car Both for Therapy Appointments and to Score Drugs

Woman driving profiel

mizkitty's daughter made good progress with treatment, then sober living, but has relapsed fully. Mom has questions about the specifics of housing and car arrangements, given that daughter uses the car both for therapy and to see sober friends, and to procure drugs, etc.

"I am new to this site and still working through the modules. The CRAFT method makes a lot of sense to me.

I have a question about support for our daughter. She is 22, uses IV meth, alcohol and sometimes other drugs. Meth has been a problem for the past year; alcohol for a couple years. The good news is that she hates using meth. I think she is more ambivalent about alcohol, but recognizes that it often leads to really bad decisions like drugs or drunk driving.

She has lived at home, sporadically working for the past couple years. 2-3 months ago she tried a 30-day residential rehab and checked herself out after 2 weeks. Immediately relapsed into a bad meth binge. Then she found an IOP coupled to a high structure house that drove her to IOP, 12-step meetings every day and supervised money. She completed the program and was thrilled! Then she went to a less structured sober living house where there were rules to be employed and to go to 4 12-step meetings per week and 2 house meetings. I told her she could keep her wages and save for the future; I would pay rent in sober living. She lasted 2 weeks, and then relapsed, first with alcohol and then with IV drugs (not sure what drugs, could be meth or heroin). After a warning, they kicked her out after she continued to use. She also lost the job she'd had for a couple weeks. She said, "there were too many rules, too many meetings, and not enough privacy".

She's trying to figure out how to do recovery on her own. I've tried to keep communication short and positive. I've told her that I will support her in recovery but she cannot live at home (I can't take living with addiction anymore). Right now she is staying with a boyfriend (a good guy, but she can't stay there long-term). When she asked, I sent her a list of sober houses. After looking them over online, she said is not interested in them (she says too many rules, and she needs more privacy than a roommate). I'm not sure where she will live, and am worried about that, but also see this as her choice. She would like me to pay for a short-term apartment "while she figures things out" and I have just replied that it sounded isolating. I lost the month's rent on the last sober living (and the first rehab) when she checked out early, and an apartment or random roommates seems like a recipe for disaster.

My question is about the car that we have loaned her. There is a tracker on the car (she knows this) so I saw the sober living infractions unfold during the past week. One, which I did not handle well, happened when she was at her heroin addict friend's house, where she always uses (I sent nagging texts instead of ignoring it). She used the car to get there. I also see that she is parked for periods of time in convenience store parking lots where she is probably drinking (these I have ignored). On the other hand she also could use the car to go to her therapist (she goes weekly, something she started at the IOP program) and to the 12-step meetings (she has indicated that she is interested in going again but has not since she was kicked out of the sober house).

TLDR: First, should we continue to provide the car to our daughter who is using it to procure drugs and alcohol in hopes of supporting her going to her drug counselor and attending 12-step or SMART meetings? She also uses it to see her BF and a sober friend. The counselor is amenable to keeping track of meetings and maybe even drug testing (this does not pick up alcohol).

Second, does our approach to housing sound appropriate? And finally, how do I engage with her when I can't tell if she is using or not (I can't tell when she is drinking because I don't see her often and we largely text)."

Your daughter is ambiguous about her alcohol and drug use, at times agreeing to go into treatment and sober living, but leaving early and relapsing. She is using a number of drugs, including methamphetamines and probably heroin, in addition to alcohol.

Your daughter’s addiction is too much for you and you are no longer willing to have her live at home. Housing continues to be such a large issue for so many families. She’s tried sober living, and is now in a temporary situation with her boyfriend.

In addition to the housing, you are asking about the car you lend her, in which you have installed a tracker. She has used the car to get to her therapist and to sit in parking lots probably drinking (and scoring drugs I would imagine).

You’ve hit on two of the big items families wrestle with: housing and a car. CRAFT talks about rewarding non-use. Rewards need to be easy to give and to take away; housing and a car are not easy rewards. We’ve written about both (see: home as a reward and car).

As you so well describe, housing and a car can so easily become enabling, when the Loved One uses.

I am encouraged to hear your daughter is attending therapy and occasionally peer support meetings, hence my use the of the word “ambiguous” at the top of this post. She is willing to address the addiction at times and was thrilled to complete a program.

Is it possible for you to substitute Uber transport to get to therapy and meetings? Consider taking the car back. The bottom line is she is driving your car while possibly intoxicated and that is dangerous for you, for her, and for others. See a post we wrote about this issue here.

Limiting transport will also make it harder for her to get and use the drugs. This is one area you have some control over since it is your car. You are not with her sufficiently to be able to assess her state prior to driving. Even then, you could be held liable should she drive off, use, and get into an accident.

What if you did nothing major about the housing? She is staying at her boyfriend’s house and so is safe for the moment. She is not agreeing to sober living, preferring instead that you help her get an apartment. She has shown she can get a job, I wonder if she can do this again. She has one foot in sobriety, with the therapist and the peer support meetings, getting a job would help structure her time, so critical for sobriety, and get her earning some money to pay for housing.

Perhaps you support this scenario by helping her put aside the money she earns towards a security deposit and rent, perhaps even matching the amount or some fraction thereof that goes into a bank account.

Your daughter is in a difficult place—no job, no home, no money. She’s looking to you to help lift this situation and to make it more tolerable. Your instincts have been good. You’ve engaged her and supported treatment, and you are questioning the limits of what you can give her towards the basics.

The drugs your daughter is using are serious and include drug injection. You and her boyfriend should be ready with narcan in case of overdose.

She is on the fence between use and recovery, thus as her family member there is a limit to what you can do. Reinforcing her attendance in treatment, supporting her efforts at getting and keeping a job (which will lead to more stable housing) are things on your side of the ledger.

Learning Module 3 is about sharpening your observation skills to determine when your daughter is high and when she is not. You’ve got a tricky situation since she is using multiple drugs, and you aren’t even sure which ones. Still, you can improve your ability to make educated guesses by working through Learning Module 3. You won’t be a perfect detective but you will be more sure of how to approach your daughter, with rewards for non-use or removal of rewards and allowing natural consequence when you believe she is high. You’re not asking her; your building a critical eye and going with your impression at that moment.

Your daughter can stay in this middle stage for a while. You are going to need to hang on to yourself. The Learning Modules on this site will help you maintain the right stance towards her. Thank you for raising these topics which are so important to so many of us on this site.



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. MizKitty, this update is really uplifting! Thank you for thinking to update the community on this positive advance in your situation. We absolutely love hearing about our members’ victories, big and small, and this is no small feat. So glad to hear that you have been able to take a step back and observe your own part in the unproductive communication habits that were in place. Practicing letting go of what doesn’t work, and beginning to practice what feels better, for both of you, sounds like a really smart thing to do. Your own inner compass is the best indication that you are heading in the right direction. Feeling much better is something to trust and go with! We are here.