AiR member ritzn is asking for help … she has just discovered that her adult daughter, who struggles with various substances, is pregnant. Blackmail—in the form of demands for Amazon cards for "things for the baby"—continues. How can she help her daughter but not enable drug use?
my adult child visited a month ago, early February. She has a substance abuse problem, mostly opioids and alcohol. While staying with me, she suffered two seizures, one at home and one at the hospital. I was alone at home when she had a Grand-Mal seizure, and I thought she was going to die. I called the medics and when they arrived her seizure had stopped so they did not see anything. Apparently, her vitals were normal. They asked me what I wanted to do, and I said they should drive her to the hospital by ambulance. I was afraid she will have another seizure if I had driven her by myself. While at the hospital, I found out that she was pregnant. She denies that her substance abuse (alcohol and opiates) caused her seizures, but the doctors at the hospital said it was probably from alcohol and medication withdrawal. At first, the doctor seemed to doubt that she had a grand-map seizure, but she had another one when he was in the room. They may had done a toxicology test though they did not tell me, except at one point three doctors stood in front of her and asked her how many xanaxs she had been taking.
Her primary care physician is still prescribing her oxycotin, even as he is aware of her pregnancy and seizures.
I stayed at the hospital with her right after her seizures. Considering her pregnancy, I was hoping that the doctors will give my daughter a referral for treatment. They refused to discuss anything with me. They said she could continue all her prescription meds except for one. They called that "Medication Protocol"
After going back to her place back south, my daughter asked me to send her an amazon card to help her with buying things for the baby. I know that she buys drugs on the street. I am terrified to send her money, or even an Amazon card to buy things for the baby. I am afraid that she will use it for drugs.
She did text me threatening not to stay with me if I don't send her money.
She is supposed to come back in two weeks, and I need help.
Your adult daughter had a seizure. You called an ambulance and because you insisted she be taken to the hospital, she was in a safe place when she had a second seizure. If it wasn’t for your sound judgment, this situation would have been far worse. I was just talking with a mom about how parents and other family members can become immune to what they observe in a Loved One with SUD. The person passes out or is acting irrationally and because the family member has seen it before, they don’t think much of it. Rather, they think the kid’s just passed out from alcohol or that the angry mood will pass.
We always counsel families to call in the first responders. Families are not experts. Let the EMT or the police determine the level of risk. Calling in the first responders also signals to the Loved One that the situation is dangerous and the family is not going to cover it up by keeping it behind closed doors. One never knows if that trip to the emergency room or what a police officer says might strike a chord that will make a Loved One think differently about the risks they take.
Once at the hospital, you learned your daughter was pregnant. It was perhaps only by chance that you learned this, since the staff at the hospital maintained your daughter’s confidentiality and shared little with you. It sounds like the hospital stabilized and released your daughter without addressing the danger she and her unborn baby are in if she continues to drink and use drugs and not seek help.
This is immensely frustrating for a family member, especially when you are right there seeing it all play out. The hospital missed an important entry point for your daughter to get treatment. They apparently missed an opportunity to talk with her about next steps and the danger she is in. Her pregnancy opens all sorts of treatment options and specialty care. If you are in Massachusetts, you can learn about these by going to the Institute for Health and Recovery. They are national experts on mothers with addiction and their children. Talk to someone there even if you aren’t in Massachusetts.
You question whether to give your daughter money to buy things for the baby. At this point, your daughter is not getting prenatal care and seems to have a primary care doctor who is willing to continue prescribing opiates and probably also benzodiazepines. CRAFT talks about stepping back when a Loved One is using and removing anything that can be viewed as a reward. Amazon cards and any other gift cards can be sold on the street for part of their value in exchange for cash to buy drugs. New merchandise can be returned for cash. These are rewards of sorts. She is pushing your maternal button.
Learning Module 6 talks about putting everything else down and focusing on getting your Loved One to enter treatment. Something like:
I don’t have much money, but what I do have will go to getting you and the baby the help you both need. I love you. You are at a crossroads. What are you going to do to protect yourself and your baby from your addictions? It is time to choose the direction you want to go. I’ve got a list of places that specialize in helping young mothers with their pregnancies. I’m going to send it to you, since you may not want to see me since I’m not giving you an amazon card. Please take a look at it. I will do everything I can to help you get to these pregnancy services.
I hope this helps light the way some. You are in a very difficult place with your daughter. I have heard from women in recovery time and again how having a child helped them stop their misuse of drugs and alcohol when doing so for themselves alone hadn’t worked. It may be hard to see, but your daughter’s pregnancy may be an opportunity that motivates her to seek help. I’m glad you wrote in.