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She’s Home from Rehab and Drinking

father on front steps talking to daughter

AiR member Xmaslisa wrote in about her daughter, who is home from rehab, and not respecting house rules…

My daughter is home from rehab. The "rules" we set are almost a joke. She is not following most of them. Is she using again, I don't think so. I have more rules, but how can I set those if she is not following all of the first ones? Should I just make up rules as we go along? I want to follow her every move. I am afraid and feel so alone. Family is basically not helping me. I miss being able to trust her. What should I do if she comes home high. She came home drunk and told me "alcohol is not her problem drugs are so don't worry".  I am like are you kidding me. I think getting drunk can cause a problem also. She goes to classes for addicts 5 days a week, and NA or AA Meeings 1 to 3 times a week should I go with her?

There is so much in your comment: the inability to trust your daughter or to control her behavior in your home, the fear of her using again, the belief that you can protect her from herself, and the disbelief at her refusal to see alcohol as an essential part of the problem.

Accept that control is an illusion, and recovery is a process

One thing is for sure: it is not possible to control or to police your way out of this. The approach on this site helps you design an environment around your daughter that is conducive to her recovery. The environment you create helps set down a clear line that also prioritizes your healing and peace.

Your daughter is following a recovery program now that she is back from rehab. She is staying away from the drugs but is drinking. Alcohol wasn’t the problem, according to her, so it is safe to drink in her mind.

We so much want recovery to be instant and complete, but getting clean and sober is a process, one that often takes repeated attempts.  Continuing to smoke pot or to use alcohol or some other drug that wasn’t the issue, is so very common.  It’s where terms like “marijuana maintenance plan” come from. Either the use of this drug is successfully moderated or it becomes a problem in itself to the point where the person realizes they need to stop this drug, too.

What we’ve already written about your Loved One coming home

It’s worth reviewing the posts on this site that address the question of your child living at home:

An ideal home environment for your adult child, home from rehab

Here’s my brief sketch of the ideal home environment for an adult child (and I am very aware that I get to sit in front of my keyboard and think up these perfect scenarios.)…

⇒ Take their childhood bedroom and make it your reading, painting, music, exercise, and/or meditation room.

⇒ Set up a day bed in the corner of somewhere public in the home, the corner of the living room or den. 

⇒ Provide a locker for their things.

⇒ Ask them to respect your home by not coming home if they’ve been using. They are welcome back when they’ve sobered up. 

⇒ Ask them to join you on Sundays for dinner where you do a brief 10-minute check-in about recovery and your relationship, AND where the rest of the evening is kept light and off the hard topics.

⇒ Work out for yourself where you’re willing to help out: short term rent money, cell phone, help with transport and always treatment.

⇒ Leave the rest of their life to them to sort out.

Let’s talk about trust

On the issue of trust: Trust that has been lost is not easily earned back. It can take years of perfect behavior to truly trust someone again. Trust-building comes in stages, has setbacks, and hopefully still makes steady progress. Accept the partiality of trust when it comes to your daughter.

Your daughter has, to some degree, accepted the fact that substances are a problem. She’s agreed to go to rehab, is attending a program and going to AA/NA. That shows a lot of responsibility.

Stopping the use doesn’t instantly fix a difficult personality, feelings of entitlement, or procrastination. It doesn’t instantly teach them how to handle money or relationships, or how to be accountable or grateful. Life will teach them these things, and getting out of the way is the best first step parents must take towards letting life be your Loved One’s teacher.

Thank you for writing in. I am really hopeful for your daughter, she is doing a lot right. I know that’s hard to believe, given the intensity of the situation in your home. By pulling back some, as this post suggests, I hope you will find some peace.



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"...)