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Helping Our Daughter With Her Drug Problem

by Paul

Hi, A little history first. I am the father of two girls 26yrs & 23yrs who I love dearly. Their mum and I divorced when they were 11 & 8 which I know was hard on them. I was always able to keep a very close and loving relationship with them through years.

I have since remarried and have three young children 5,6 & 9 which my two older girls adore. My ex wife has also remarried, her and her husband has done all that is humanly possible to give the older girls a happy and stable home which they have done without question.

I have just learnt my 23 year old daughter has a drug problem. It seems to have started when she left home to go to university in Edinburgh. Many things happened when she was in her first year - which as a trusting parent I believed to be a stroke of bad luck.

She had lost her camera and equipment worth £1,000(or did she sell it?). Then her car was stolen, which was never recovered (or did she sell it?) She was mugged and lost the her handbag including her mobile phone. This was the perfect excuse why we couldn't get in contact with her for weeks.

Then her she had a break in at the flat she was staying in and had her lap top and i-phone stolen (or did she sell them?. She couldn't afford to pay her rent because she didn't get many hours at the call centre she was working in. (Her stepfather paid two or three month rent without question).

Since then she has returned home and has a part time job, earning a fair wage. She met a really nice guy who was crazy about her. For 6 month we had the happy, smiling, caring daughter back. Broke up with him because he was a bore. (because he didn't do drugs?) Then it all went pear-shaped again - I couldn't contact her again for weeks .

I ended up ringing my ex wife to speak to my daughter. We met two weeks ago and had a very honest discussion, this was the first time I knew drugs were involved. My ex wife and her husband thought that all this time I knew what was going on, which I didn't and they are at their wits end with her.

I have been in contact with my ex wife and her husband and learnt that all went on when my daughter was in Edinburgh was lies. We came to the conclusion she was put out of uni rather than her leaving because she was homesick etc etc. There is so much more that I could go on for ever but this is the jist of it. Can you please please give us some advise how to go about helping our daughter?


Hi Paul

If your daughter has a drug problem, you have to do everything you can to get her professional help, i.e. into a drug treatment program. Because despite what your daughter may tell you, it's not something she'll be able to just quit by herself.

If she's at the stage where she's selling a lot of her possessions etc. to fund her drug habit, it means her habit has more than likely already developed into an addiction. And overcoming an addiction requires going through a proper treatment program, followed by an ongoing drug addiction recovery process like the 12-steps taught at NA/AA.

But the difficulty you face is getting your daughter's buy in to wanting to change and turn her life around. She may well be in denial about the extent of her problem, or she may just not want to change. And until she commits and is ready to turn her life around, there isn't much you can do to stop her using drugs.

So you have to become extremely firm with her (as do her mother and step-dad) and start holding her accountable for all her actions. In other words teach her what living a life of responsibility entails. That means if she gets herself into any kind of mess, you don't bail her out if it. It means having to pay her own way for everything (because giving her money will just go to drugs), and when she's at home she has to live to whatever rules you feel are reasonable.

The idea is that by no longer enabling her behaviour, she begins to experience the full consequences of her destructive choices. And if things get bad enough for her because of the mess she's created for herself due to her addiction, she'll hopefully reach a point called 'rock bottom' and will be ready to get help and change.

That's all Plan B. Plan A is sitting down with your daughter and having a very stern and honest conversation with her ... and telling her you want her to get help. If that works, great. But chances are it may not, in which case you as a family have to start holding your daughter accountable and making sure she understands the consequences that come with making poor choices.

Best of Luck.

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