My Drug Addicted Daughter Relapsed From Heroin Again. Should I Pay Her Rent If She Agrees To Get Treatment?
My daughter is 22 and has been using heroin on and off for 3 years. A few months ago she relapsed and I agreed to pay her rent while she got intensive outpatient treatment. She seemed to be truly wanting to stay sober this time but I just realized that she relapsed again.
I am trying to convince her to go get treatment again and she is concerned about losing her apartment and a place to live. So I agreed to continue to pay her rent if she will go and get treatment again. She had just gotten a job but lost it from using again. I am struggling to pay her bills and mine but if I don't pay her rent, she will be homeless with no place to go and that thought crushes my heart.
I don't know if I am helping her or enabling her. She says she is serious this time about staying sober but I have heard this too many times before. She and I have no other family support. I am in this alone. I am starting to feel like I will be struggling to pay her rent for the rest of my life for she can't seem to hold a job for too long with all the relapsing.
It is ruining my life by me struggling to pay all my bills along with hers. I feel that I am enabling and that she needs to take the responsibility to get a job asap and start paying rent but I fear she is just not capable (possible mental illness?). She will be homeless and the thought of that kills me.
She can't come live with me either (trust issues and younger daughter to protect). I don't know what to do. Should I pay her rent until she can get a job if she agrees to stick with the outpatient program and be clean? How do parents live with the thought of their child being homeless and hungry especially in winter.
She says she refuses to go to a shelter because they are full of addicts. Any advice on whether or not I should be paying her rent would be helpful, please. Also, if the advise is to not pay it, how do I deal with her homelessness? I will be worries sick 24/7 even more than I am now. Any advice?
While your concerns for your daughter are normal and understandable, as long as you continue providing your daughter with a 'safety net', will she ever be sufficiently motivated to really take her recovery seriously and commit to it 100%?
Drug ... heroin addicts, need to be allowed to fall and hit their head on the ground (sometimes many times) and in doing so fully experience the consequences of their addiction and the poor choices they continue to make. It's through the pain of hitting their head on the ground often enough that they eventually come to the realisation that something needs to change.
So while by paying your daughter's rent you are enabling her in part, having agreed to it again, you shouldn't renege on your word. But what you can do is put a written contract in place between the two of you, clearly stating the terms under which you will continue to pay (e.g. stays clean, gets a job, works at her recovery, attends x number of meetings a week) - and what the consequences will be if she breaks any of those terms (e.g. you stop paying and she's on her own).
You then spend time talking her through it and after that you both sign so that she knows exactly where she stands and that she will be held fully accountable for her actions from now on. And you should include a defined period for how long you're prepared to pay the rent - e.g. 6 months - because she needs to know you're not going to pay it indefinitely.
Fearing your child will be homeless is natural, but you'd be surprised how resourceful addicts can be, i.e. living on friends couches etc. for as long as they can get away with it. But you're missing the possible wake-up call being on the streets or having to go to a shelter can have on an addict, especially one who is used to leading a fairly sheltered and protected life. It may be the final motivating factor in them being ready to turn their life around.
There are no guarantees with any of this however, and whatever the cause, you just have to hope that your daughter reaches the point where she's finally ready to leave her heroin addiction behind her for good. Talking to other parents going through what you are may also be helpful, to understand what they do and how they handle their children's addiction. So consider going to a few Nar-Anon meetings because being surrounded by people going through something similar to you can make a world of difference and make it easier for you to get through this.
At the end of the day, there is no perfect recipe. But you have to somehow trust that you've done the best you can as a parent, and that your daughter's destiny will unfold how it's meant to, which is something you have no control over. At least your daughter is willing to get help, which is a great sign, lets just hope there are no more relapses.
Jill, I think it may also be worth you looking into getting yourself Help! My Child Is An Addict
because that expands on a lot of what I've covered here, but also goes into a lot more details around what to do to ensure you've tried everything to help your daughter ... as well as gives you perspective that you as a parent should try and maintain through all this. Check It Out Here
because I do think it could be helpful.