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She Does Great in a Structured Setting. Now She’s Headed Home.

red barn with fence

An Allies member fears her daughter’s return from court-mandated treatment. It has never gone well in the past. How can she handle things differently this time? What can be put in place now, before her daughter is even released?

with Louise Stillman, MSc, Editor 

This question originally appeared on the Allies in Recovery Member Discussion Blog, where experts respond to members’ real-life questions and concerns

“My (adult) daughter is currently in treatment for crack cocaine (4th time) court ordered. I’m happy she’s safe. She’s not using and is doing good. However, I am struggling to show support because I have been disappointed time and again. She does great in a structured setting. It’s when she comes back home. She’s good for couple weeks then she gets “stressed” and before long she’s back at it. I’m not sure how to handle her time at home and to help her with her recovery in the real world.” 

What a relief it must be to know your daughter is safe. As you well know, it is important to be prepared for what your daughter is likely to experience post-treatment. Empathy for her struggle will go a long way in helping you provide positive reinforcement for her efforts. 

What the using-withdrawing cycle looks like for stimulant users 

Just to help educate folks on the site: The use of stimulants (cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, amphetamines) causes a psychological “withdrawal cliff” from which the user plunges into a black, hollow mood that won’t leave, plus a nervous anxiety then prevents you from sleeping. This treasonous free-fall (every 20 minutes for cocaine) sends the person back for the next line or hit, and around and around it goes. This is one huge reason why stimulant users binge, sometimes for days on end. 

Read more about effective treatments for stimulant use disorder here.

The structured setting your daughter is leaving, prevented her from acting on her cravings; it gave her body time for self- care; and, it gave her mind real distance from the cycle of stimulant use. 

She has always relapsed when she came home, will this time be any different?

You’re concerned because your daughter can’t stay abstinent very long when back home living with you. She does well in treatment only to come home and relapse after a couple weeks, as her stress levels rise. ( members can check out our post tag under Blog -Blog Categories -Relapse to read more).

You are ready to be disappointed again as your daughter is soon coming home from mandated treatment. You fear a new episode of the cycle where your daughter returns home only to leave after a couple weeks, when the stress and need to use drugs returns.

I wonder if you can open your mind to the possibility that this time might be different and she could succeed. Being let down and pessimistic before she is home doesn’t improve your outlook and willingness to try again to move your daughter towards a sustainable recovery. Every new episode has a chance for success. Module 7 on our member site can help with the difficult frame of mind you describe. Anyone can watch a little bit of it here:

You’ve now found us; with CRAFT, we can guide you to a better outcome. 

You mention in your public profile that your husband is also tired. The first thing is to engage your husband to look at the resources on this site, which hopefully will encourage him to try again with his stepdaughter. Perhaps you make it a dinner date in front of the screen a couple nights over a week….

A game plan for your Loved One’s release from mandated treatment 

Your daughter has had some terrible consequences to her use, including criminal justice involvement and giving up her son for adoption. She is likely tired of it all, and more aware now of the cycle in which she is caught. The psychological pull of stimulants is very strong. 

So, what if we start with the idea that she doesn’t come home? Use CRAFT to help engage your daughter into a long-term residential program that helps her get a solid footing. Or explore other options. 

Options, options, options! 

In another communication with us, you have identified a working farm in another state where she can stay for a year. Good. 

We encourage families to include as many options as they can come up with. We have our own personal ideas about what would be the best type of treatment for our Loved Ones, and they have their own ideas. 

So, in addition to the farm, research and include on the list you share with her some options for continued residential care, a sober house, etc. 

Perhaps one of your boundaries is she doesn’t come home this time 

Can you tell your daughter she can’t come home? Can you ask the current treatment center to be helpful with navigating this aftercare plan? 

She may say no to the farm or other treatment options. You would need to also produce a list of shelters in your area as the alternative. 

Seek out the assistance and support of the treatment center where she currently is. It is part of their work to help work out aftercare options. You will need to be clear and let them know your daughter is homeless, that coming to your home is not an option. This is the language to communicate to a provider. This does mean more work for them, and is harder, but persevere and find someone who can work with you to get things lined up. Go up the line if you need. You can always talk to them without a consent. They just can’t answer.  

Anticipate her barriers: what may be in the way of more treatment? 

Our loved ones have their own hurdles and barriers that may (mentally, or concretely) be in the way of their accepting treatment, or in this case, further treatment. 

You know them well. What may be in the way? And how many of these can you find solutions to, if they go into more treatment? Brainstorm on the barriers and the solutions. Make it as easy as you can for your loved one to say “Yes” to treatment. 

  • Is there a pet that needs care? Can you do it, or find someone? 
  • Is there rent that will need to be taken care of? Can you commit to paying the first month and then reevaluate depending on success in treatment? 
  • Are there children who will need to be taken care of? 
  • A job that they’ll need to return to, at least partially…? 

Speak to your daughter and give her a heads-up about what to expect 

Module 8 on our member site provides some suggestions on how to communicate with your daughter. Here is a sample of what it might sound like:  

“I’m so proud of what you’ve been achieving in treatment. I cannot have you home this time. We are both exhausted and scared. I can’t keep you safe in our home. 

I have arranged for a spot at XYZ for you. Here is the information. There are other options on this list as well if this doesn’t feel like a match. 

You are at a crossroads. You are drug-free and can make the choice to really address your emotional needs once and for all right now. I love you so much. Come on, let’s get this behind us once and for all. You are always welcome in our home once you’ve got some drug-free time (6 months?). 

Please consider the farm. I’d love you to give it a try for one month, and if you hate it at that point, we look for other options? I’ve also made a list of shelters you can go to when you leave this treatment, if you don’t want to go to the farm or the other treatment options I’ve identified. 

I am here. I love you. I’m not going anywhere, but I need for us to do this differently this time. Thank you for listening.” 

If you decide to have her home, check out our post tag: Blog – Blog Categories- Asking a Loved One to Leave Your Home. We’ve written extensively about having loved ones home, especially during the pandemic, too often with no other choices, as occupancies are limited due to staffing shortages. This may be where you end up.  

A Cot and Locker

Something we suggest families consider is the idea of the cot and locker (this can be a practice or just an idea that helps you see your home as both open and closed to your loved one). The idea is that you take over their room, and turn it into something you either love or might like to try, like yoga space, an art room, or a library. A room of one’s own. Then you set up a cot and locker in a corner of a public space in the house. Make it clear that your loved one is so very welcome to come over, eat, and sleep over, when he/she is able to show up not using. Or, you may decide that she is welcome to come over mid-afternoon for a late lunch and some TV, provided she does not use before coming over.  

Another option is to tell her that she is welcome to stay as long as she needs to, provided she is working on her recovery, i.e.; continuing with outpatient chemical dependency treatment and participating in some form of community recovery program or self-help group.   

Perhaps you offer one week at a time to see how things go. The choice is yours. You are free to set the boundaries and to modify them as you see fit. 

Thanks so much for writing in and sharing about your situation. We hope you will take this time before your daughter is released to get a better handle on the painful emotions that are understandably there, coloring how you see the future unfolding. It can only help improve your outlook and the way you feel each day. The more you can cultivate hope and optimism about your daughter’s innate ability to hold on this time, the more positivity she will receive from you, which can only be a boon to the challenges she will soon face.

I also suggest our Allies-REST support meetings on the member site. They take place 4 x week and are all virtual.

Allies in Recovery provides support and guidance on how to identify and cope with the flood of emotions you are feeling. The CRAFT method teaches you the strategies and skills to engage your loved one on a path to recovery. At Allies we provide you with information critical to understanding your loved one’s alcohol/drug addiction, and train you in the important role you can play in guiding them to recovery. 

A membership at Allies in brings you into contact with experts in CRAFT and the field of recovery and treatment for substance use. Our unique, award-winning learning platform introduces you to CRAFT and guides you through the latest in evidence-based techniques for unblocking the situation. Together we will move your loved one towards recovery.  

To become a participant of the Allies in Recovery Training program, click here.

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