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She’s On the Street with a No-Good Boyfriend

homeless girl

Allies member Fireweed3 has been removing rewards right and left as her daughter has been descending into a spiral of use with a potentially abusive boyfriend…but with her daughter farther and farther out of the family sphere, Mom wonders how and when she can/should intervene.

Things were moving in the right direction. Then she met someone on the bus.

In late summer, my 19-year-old daughter approached me to seek help for addiction to marijuana. She completed intake. The diagnoses were unsettling — substance use disorder for marijuana and stimulants (cocaine), with some use of alcohol and opioids (Percocet). I spent the next week grappling to understand how she could be so high-functioning given her use. She had just graduated from high school with honors and academic awards, and looking forward to college with a scholarship.

My (woefully inadequate) Kaiser insurance enrolled her in outpatient treatment that consisted of 1x/month individual therapy and 1x/week group therapy. Somewhere between intake and her first appointment with therapist, she met a guy on the bus who told her he was in recovery.

Roughly one month later, she is head over heels in love with him. He doesn't have housing, transportation or cell phone. He is about 10 years older, with a criminal history and an infant son he cannot see. I told her he could not visit my home/property, yet she began to sneak him into the converted detached garage (ADU) that was intended to be her "dorm space" during college. Seemingly overnight, it went from being a clean and quiet space to one filled with trash, dirty clothes/dishes, and drugs.  Read full comment here.

Your daughter’s decline appears to have happened at lightening speed, though I’m sure there was more being hidden from you earlier on. Still, it sounds awful…to see your daughter dragging her suitcase along a freeway.

At 19, your daughter is free to act as she wants. The boyfriend, the homelessness, the drugs are all her call. You have very limited power over all of this. You are scared out of your mind and wonder what else you can do.

First off, you have done a lot. I agree with you that her housing and your credit card, when used to help continue the drug run, must be taken away. You’ve pulled back as much as you can and are wondering what else to do.

There are so many dangers out there, especially for a young woman, it is indeed very hard to find any calm when thinking about her. Is there a woman’s shelter in your town? Anything that would provide just her an inexpensive room? Would you pay for it for one or two months. This is a situation where danger outweighs removing rewards and the real need not to enable her drug use. If you can’t find this and can’t tolerate her on the streets, perhaps you work a compromise that gives her back her room when she is sober and when she is alone. This will be tough on you. Perhaps you offer to pick her up and bring her home for the night. Tell her you will try and trust (you aren’t asking, guessing, or testing her) that she’s sober. You will drop her back on the streets if she needs to use.

You are doing so much right. The texts offering to meet for a coffee, treatment options, and reminders that you are there and that you love her.

The treatment option needs to be very simple, go to X between X and X and they will help. This isn’t easy to find but perhaps a walk-in center of some kind. Get the name of someone to ask for. Our Resource Supplement describes our special experience locating hard-to-find treatment.

We’ve written before about boyfriends and girlfriends…it does complicate things quite a bit. If it weren't the guy she did find, then there'd be another, probably. You daughter is choosing people who are at her level of health. Many of us do this. See: “Partner also uses” in the tabs along the sidebar of this blog.

Keep your focus on your daughter. Leave the boyfriend out of it when talking to her. You will create a wedge between you if she believes you are against the boyfriend. It’s hard to not want to blame the boyfriend, but doing so creates more obsessive thoughts for you, and doesn’t solve your daughter’s situation.

We are here.



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"...)