Your question: I have a beautiful 25 year-old daughter (only child) who is addicted to opiates. A few weeks ago, she came to me and told me of her addiction (which I had been enabling for 2 years). She is on methadone right now and does have counseling once a week. She has lost 2 jobs and is currently unemployed. She did move back home with me, and it has created a nightmare for me. I told her she HAS to get a job. The only money I am giving her is for methadone ($13 a day) and gas ($5 a day) to go to treatment and look for a job.
I am resentful because this is putting a financial burden on me. I do not think she is still using opiates because she is drug tested every two weeks. I think she is good just to be on the methadone because she doesn’t have to struggle with where she is going to get money for her fix every day. I think the reason that I am resentful is that she continues and constantly goes to the home of someone who used to be one of her dealers. He is a man who is almost 40 years old and has 2 children. She moved in with him for a while (she said platonic) when she first broke up with her boyfriend. She said that he is now clean and no longer dealing and that he is the one who encouraged her to get clean.
I ABSOLUTELY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS. She is constantly in touch with him even though she is living with me. I know that he would like, and may already be having, a relationship with her. I have told her that I don’t believe being around him is conducive to her getting/staying drug free. I have been to one of the family counseling sessions with her and will continue to do that. I also am looking locally for NA meetings. I guess my question is: How do I deal with her wanting to be with her ex-dealer constantly?
RESPONSE FROM EXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND: Thank you for your willingness to reach out. Your question paints a stark picture of addiction as a family disease that can take down everyone, not just the addict. Parents get stressed and develop resentment, anxiety and illness as a direct result of their loved one’s addiction.
In my experience, it is only when the addicted person finally becomes so sick and tired of being sick and tired that they reach out for help. It is the same for family members: when we get sick and tired, we change the way we handle this situation with our children. It sounds like you are at that point.
Please consider a written agreement that states what you will and won’t accept in your home. For example, “You may live in my home as long as you find a job within a month and stay sober and attend XX amount of NA meetings each week. I will pay for methadone and gas only under those circumstances. You will need to pay for your own telephone. If you use drugs or alcohol, you will need to figure out somewhere else to live.”
Say it with love and conviction. Don’t make a rule that you aren’t willing and able to enforce. Give her a good reason to stay sober.
The bottom line is that you cannot want sobriety more than she does and expect her to get better. You cannot make your daughter keep away from “bad influences,” but you can give her structure and rules that puts the ball of sobriety in her court. She should also be seeking out NA meetings to attend. Don’t do her work for her. I wouldn’t pay for her phone or let her use your phone, or else you are enabling the very behavior that makes you crazy. It is your home. You get to make the rules. You NEED to make the rules.
And you need to concentrate on yourself, so spend your energy finding a parents Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meeting that you can commit to attending. You can’t make your daughter sober, but you can learn ways to support her in a respectful and healthy way, rather than suffering each day. I wish you the best.