My Daughter Is Addicted
If your daughter is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it’s an incredibly difficult situation. You love your daughter and undoubtedly want the best for her. But how do you help her if she’s struggling with addiction?
Convincing someone to get the help they need for substance abuse can be a daunting task, and ensuring they get the right type of treatment can also be complex.
Comprehensive treatment will allow your daughter to recover from addiction and embrace a healthy life in recovery. Your support will be critical to that process.
How to Speak to Your Daughter
If you suspect your daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol, you likely want to take action. But assuming an authoritarian approach in making demands of your daughter will most likely not be fruitful. Arguing with your daughter or making accusations will not force her into getting the treatment she needs.
A better approach is to express your concerns for your daughter based on the evidence that she is abusing alcohol or drugs. For instance, if your daughter is missing school or her grades are dropping, and you’ve noticed that she has seems the little disoriented at times, mention this to her. If you have concrete evidence that she is abusing alcohol or drugs. present that to her.
Do not accuse her, call her names, or imply that something is wrong with her. Instead, express your concern and love. Remind her of how happy life can be without substance abuse.
Use only factual information, and point out to your daughter the negative ramifications of her substance use. Your daughter will most likely believe that her use of drugs or alcohol benefits her in some way. If she is sharing with you, listen to her justifications, and respond with alternative ways to satisfy these needs that do not involve alcohol or drugs.
Your ultimate goal is to convince your daughter to get treatment. This may not happen with the first conversation. It may not happen with the second or third or fourth conversation either. Each one can be a step on a journey that ultimately leads her to rehab.
Staging an Intervention
In some cases, it may be appropriate to stage a substance use disorder intervention for your daughter. You and other important people in her life will get together to discuss the effects of her substance use with her and convince her to get treatment.
The intervention team will generally meet beforehand to plan the event.
Oftentimes, group members write letters to the person struggling with addiction, outlining how their substance abuse is affecting those around them and damaging their future. The interventionist will help the group phrase their letters in the best way possible to encourage the person to get help. The focus will be on a loving, supportive message of hope.
You can work with an interventionist to determine the best people who should be on your daughter’s intervention team. This may include family members, her close friends, and other important people in her life, like colleagues, coaches, or spiritual leaders.
You’ll choose a treatment program prior to the intervention. This ensures you have a place to immediately take your daughter if she agrees to get help. Oftentimes, interventionists recommend choosing a couple options so your daughter can have some say in the final decision.
If she does agree to treatment, don’t delay. You or the interventionist should escort her there immediately following the intervention. If you delay, it gives her time to change her mind or engage in one last hurrah before rehab that could result in fatal overdose.
How to Be Supportive
According to the book Parenting the Addicted Teen: A 5-Step Foundational Program,
There are five important ways to be supportive of your daughter’s recovery and to provide assistance.
- Keep the lines of communication open between you and your daughter. Acknowledge your daughter’s efforts, and tell her you are there to support her in any way possible. Let your daughter know that you are available for her whenever she needs you, but do not smother her.
- As your daughter makes contacts in recovery, encourage her to stay connected with these sober friends. A support system of likeminded individuals is essential to carry her through rough times.
- Use positive reinforcement to support your daughter’s progress and positive choices in recovery. Reinforcement can be as simple as expressing your admiration, taking her to dinner, or anything else that recognizes her effort. Positive reinforcement is not a form of bribery; it increases motivation in people, and it can help them to feel seen.
- Expect challenges, and plan ahead for challenging times. It is normal for anyone in recovery to want to return to their old ways, and it’s inevitable that cravings for drugs will strike again. Discuss how to address this with your daughter’s treatment providers.
- Get help for yourself. You have been through a lot by dealing with your daughter’s addiction, and you need recovery help too. Get involved in a support group like Al-Anon Family Groups or a similar group designed for the relatives of people in recovery. Work on yourself.
Treatment Issues for Women
Although there are general principles of an effective recovery program, treatment should be individualized. Oftentimes, women have distinct needs in recovery that need to be addressed.
Your daughter may benefit from the following:
- Treatment for trauma and stress-related issues: Stress, trauma, and abuse are more common in women in treatment for substance use disorders than for men. Addressing past abuse, stress, or trauma is imperative.
- Gender-specific care: Women appear to get more benefits from same sex treatment group programs than men do. Your daughter may benefit from at least one intervention that is comprised entirely of women in recovery.
- One point person: Programs that maintain a relationship with one point person, such as a therapist or case manager, throughout the entire recovery process appear to be more beneficial for women. This person will continue to follow your daughter throughout each portion of treatment.
- Continuous treatment: Women are more likely to remain in treatment throughout transitions between different levels of care if the treatment is continued by the same provider. Your daughter may benefit from a program that offers continuous treatment, such as aftercare following an outpatient program.
Does She Need Medical Detox?
A medical detox program is a program of withdrawal management. Many people in the initial stages of recovery from drug or alcohol abuse require some form of medical detox.
Your daughter should have a thorough assessment of all areas of functioning to determine the necessity of medical detox. The assessing clinician will establish the best forward for her particular case.
What Questions Should I Ask?
If you are deciding on a good program for your daughter, ask the treatment provider these questions:
- Is the program licensed and accredited? Find out what licenses staff members have and what accreditation the facility has. The most common form of accreditation for a facility is from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
- What does an average schedule for a treatment week look like? How many days of treatment are provided, and how long is each treatment session?
- What if my daughter needs to detox from drugs or alcohol? Do you work with a separate detox program, or do you accommodate that? What if medications are needed?
- What is the philosophy or overall approach of your treatment program? The program should offer a comprehensive treatment approach that is based on research evidence. Be wary of any programs that promise a cure for addiction, as there is no cure.
- Do you offer treatment for co-occurring disorders? Many people with substance use disorders also have co-occurring mental health conditions, or a dual diagnosis.
- What is the protocol in the event of an emergency? Is there an affiliated hospital in the area?
- What is the plan to transition clients out of treatment? Many programs feature aftercare or continuing care for program alumni. This keeps clients connected to the treatment program, providing vital support in the vulnerable stages of early recovery.
- Do you take insurance? What other forms of payment assistance are available? Confirm that the facility takes your daughter’s health insurance plan, as insurance can often be used to at least partially cover the cost of addiction treatment.Many rehab centers also offer payment plans. You or your daughter can pay the remaining cost of treatment on a monthly basis, which is more manageable for many in recovery.
Taking the First Step
The earlier your daughter gets treatment, the better. Take the first steps to help her get there.
Do your research, find a program that is a good fit, and approach her with love. It make take several attempts, but each attempt is part of the overall process. With your continued support, she is more likely to gain the confidence to seek help.