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She’s Back From Rehab But On Shaky Ground

Grassy Train Tracks

fireweed3’s Loved One returns home after a 90 day program. She was hoping for a grace period, but her daughter swiftly returned to her tired old behaviors. She’s on shaky ground. Struggling just to make ends meet, hoping for a breakthrough in their communications, she reaches out for help.

Dominique, I re-read your reply to my previous post about preparing for daughter’s return after treatment.

I will have that discussion with her that you suggested (i.e. checking in at the end of each week…). I asked her on Thursday to choose a time to connect — she never did — but will continue to push for that this weekend. I will also try to plan how to communicate if she comes home showing signs of use, and will continue to reward any follow through w aftercare/recovery contract. Read the full comment here

You are seeing signs of relapse already and your daughter just left a long period of residential treatment. It makes sense that you are feeling shaken. She’s home but is already spending nights out and isn’t participating in recovery activities.

This can indeed be the cycle. As a family member you have some tools: your communication, your behavior and responses, and the resources you can provide your daughter… These resources include your home and your helping her to find and engage with treatment.

I am sorry you haven’t been given even a brief period of peace. Your daughter is playing some with her newfound freedom. She was sounding shaky even before she left treatment. We knew this was a possibility from concerns voiced towards the end of her stay. But even without those red flags, this time of transition can be precarious.

It may help to take a slightly longer view. While in treatment, your daughter was taught skills to manage life. She was educated about the cycle of addiction. She can’t undo having received those lessons. She may seek out using friends, she may use, but the problems that come with this will be recognizable to her this time. She will recognize the utter and complete obsession for drugs that quickly returns, the fair-weather friends who are going nowhere in their lives… She will feel the complete frustration when those drugs and friends are nowhere to be  found.

Be detached and firm. Your home is temporary for her. She has a month (? …you set this limit) to settle in and to choose the direction she wants to head. You will do your best to stay out of the weeds (discussion of friends, drugs, her movements), and you will apply CRAFT.

If relapse is imminent, it can be more brief. Your daughter can recognize where she’s headed, start to recognize the patterns, and ask for help more quickly. Working CRAFT will help your daughter see you as the person to approach and ask for help should this happen.

Can you see yourself giving your daughter a set time period for being in your home? You’re pushing for a weekly sit down. When this next happens, perhaps the conversation goes something like this:

I am so thankful you completed program XXX. That wasn’t easy and I am very proud of your efforts. Since you’ve been home, I’ve been feeling very scared for both of us. You’re staying out at night, and not participating in recovery activities. I can’t bear to think what will happen to you and to me if it all falls apart. I feel weak and worried. I want to give you time to find your footing but I can’t become your crash pad. Right now you have choices. But your options will soon change if you go back to daily drug use. You are at a crossroads. You worked hard to get here. So did I. So take a month, a month from today, and settle in. If by April XXX, we conclude you are in trouble again, I will have a list of places where you can go. I’ve spent what money I had on Program XXX so the list will be harder to put together and the places will be less cushy. I am going to spend the month trying my best to stay out of the details of your life and working on my own part in this. I love you. Thank you for listening.”

Being a single mom is hard. The dedication and devotion to a child is the strongest I have ever witnessed – the bond is primary. I’m not knocking the fabulous dads I’ve had the privilege of meeting over the years, but there is something biological with motherhood. The strength of this bond is undeniable.

Not having endless resources to put towards a Loved One’s care is a reality for many. We need open-door, free, quality care in this country.

Remember that your daughter can walk into a recovery center, a self-help meeting, or into a state subsidized clinic and never use again. Take a few weeks and just work CRAFT. Use the rhythms of this approach to help anchor you so that your time isn’t consumed with projecting fears about the future. If at the end of the month the situation hasn’t changed, let us know. We can help you get that list together.

Go easy on yourself. Find that buffer between you and your daughter, where you can be independent of her, where you can stop thinking about her, and where you can instead focus some minutes – and hopefully even hours – on your own dear life, for today. One day at a time.



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. Dominique- Thanks again for another very thoughtful response. CRAFT is such a good combination of demonstrating caring while setting boundaries and limitations… As you say, the bond between a mom and a child is tensile, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a breaking point… I agree that sometimes stepping back, as hard as it is, conveys a shift in the responsibility. It’s not so-called tough love as it is detaching with love. I think when we show our loved ones that we also love ourselves, we send a powerful message.

  2. Good luck Fireweed3
    I was in that situation years ago and was in denial. It is not easy and not much of it is in your control. Hopefully your daughter is honest with you even when she feels she is getting into or in trouble. Don’t be angry or judgmental or even try to “find out” the truth. Just keep the integrity of your relationship with her. Be there when she needs you and insist on honesty.
    I would have done better with brutal honesty.
    We are still in the throes of using. The sweetest kid ever but I feel useless to help in any way.
    And we can’t “talk” about any of it. The conversation is abruptly over if I start. My feeling is that if things were great then the good news would be shared……….. but obviously things are not good.
    God bless and help all of the users and family members.
    xo Mom101

  3. Thank you once again, Dominique.
    Your advice is to use positive and supportive language when you speak with her, to establish clear boundaries about funding, and to speak about how you feel. The “I” messages are so powerful. When I read posts like this, I feel hopeful for the plan I am working and it all boils down to love, for my loved one and myself.