Setting boundaries with my addicted 29 year old daughter

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Setting boundaries with my addicted 29 year old daughter

by Debbie M

(Colorado, USA)

Hi, I am sharing my story for several reasons. First, to help myself. Second, to help my daughter. And third to offer hope to others.

I have a 29 year old daughter. She is currently in jail. She will be released March 2015. Her addiction started in 2003. She has been living on the streets, in jail, detox or treatment for over 11 years now. She had three children. The first in 2009, second in 2011 and the third in 2012. The two oldest children are with their Dad and me, their maternal grandmother. The third child was put up for adoption at 10 days old as my daughter went back to drugs and the streets.
I am an adult child of an alcoholic, as I grew up with an abusive step-father. We have generations of dysfunction in our family.

I raised my daughter as a single parent since she was 2 months old. She is an only child. She was a difficult child, very destructive and not affectionate and harmful to animals.

She experimented with alcohol and marijuana from about age 11. Serious addictions started when she was 19, 2003. Cocaine, crack, meth and finally heroin. She smoked and then came the needle.

I am an enabler. I do not set good boundaries. My dilemma is the same as probably many parents of addicted children. WHERE DO I DRAW THE LINE? It pains me to think about what I know I need to do. She has stolen from me (car, crushed for money, laptops, TVs, etc). My gut tells me to write her a letter. Tell her that she cannot live with me when she gets out. Actually, I don’t want to have any communication with her for the first 6 months or first year after she is released from jail. I am willing to go to counseling with her and see her there.

My reasons for having these boundaries are:
-To take care of myself
-to break our unhealthy codependent ways of relating to one another
-to get out of my daughter’s way

I feel like there needs to be some exceptions to these boundaries like:
-she can stay at my house if she is clean and her only alternative is living on the streets
-I will give her food if she is hungry
-I will give her a ride to ‘recovery related’ appointments

So, I go through life with an ache in my heart and an underlying level of concern and worry. Do I let go completely? Are there truly any exceptions where I would step in? It seems I have tried and done ‘everything’ already. This is what play’s in my mind,

I tell my daughter I am detaching. I will have no contact with her while she is in jail this time, and I want no contact for at least one year after she gets out. I am willing to go to counseling with her for that first year, and that’s it.
My daughter tells me, “See, I knew you wouldn’t support me. Go ahead a leave! Have a good life! You never cared about me anyway! I hate you! You don’t care what happens to me! I’ll just go overdose and then we’ll see how much you like that!

This is the real deal folks. Any words of wisdom are appreciated. I love my daughter with all my heart, but I don’t trust her and I can’t say that I like her very much right now. I am in counseling myself and am working 12 steps in ACA and attend Naranon and Alanon meetings regularly. I work a recovery program myself. Thank you for letting me share. My prayers to all family members and the alcoholics/addicts themselves. This is a terrible disease. With hope, Debbie

Comments for Setting boundaries with my addicted 29 year old daughter

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Sounds like your daughter may need dual-diagnosis support?

by: Debbie Wicker

Dear Debbie,

Thanks so much for so honestly sharing your story. Hopefully, it will help other parents who are struggling as you have struggled. Figuring out the APPROPRIATE boundaries with your daughter while she is in jail and once she gets out is a VERY difficult problem, with no simple answers.

From the little bit I know of your daughter’s story it sounds like she may have another mental health problem in addition to her addiction. The fact that she was such a difficult child and starting abusing drugs at such an early age may indicate that she has some other MAJOR emotional disturbance/mental health issue.

She could be bi-polar disorder, have a personality disorder or have some other mental illness. If she does have this additional mental problem, research has shown that addiction recovery is made SIGNIFICANTLY more difficult. She needs treatment for the underlying mental health issue in order for the addiction treatment she is hopefully receiving to actually work. This is often called dual-diagnosis treatment at addiction treatment centers.

If she has never received dual-diagnosis treatment, I strongly encourage you to try to get her into that type of treatment when she leaves jail. She should stay in this type of dual-diagnosis treatment and at a sober living halfway house for AT LEAST 12 months, preferably for two years. That may be her only chance to recover from her addiction.

I agree you need never allow her to take advantage of you, but it confuses me why you will have no contact with her while she is in jail? There is an old adage I try to follow, love the sinner but HATE the sin.

I know you love your daughter so I would try to keep the lines of communication open while she is in jail and try to get her the FULL mental health support she needs. You have been though SO MUCH and now you’re trying to help raise her children, an enormous commitment, but try to keep some POSITIVE lines of communication open with her without letting her take advantage of you in any way.

If you can arrange a dual-diagnosis treatment facility for her and she agrees to go into it, then continue to communicate with her, if not and she goes back to drug use, then you may have to totally disconnect.

Good Luck and I will pray for you, your daughter and for everyone in your family,


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