Friday Counseling Issues: A Drug-Addicted Daughter

Here’s the next idea from Kathleen Duncan for my Friday Counseling Issues post:

Write a letter on encouragement to a friend who just found out her daughter is an addict.


Dear Kathy,

My heart is broken for you. I’m having a hard time finding words that express how deeply I am grieving with you over this horrible mess your beautiful, talented daughter is in.

I know you love the Lord, and that you have prayed faithfully for her all her life. I know you must be asking, then, “Why?”

And I want to tell you there is no easy answer to the why of all this.  It’s not a good question to ask when you’re in so much pain.  Instead of asking  why, I think you may do better to ask what– What are you to do?  What can you learn that will help you and your husband endure this situation?  What can you do to help your other children as they watch their sister crash and burn? What are the boundaries you  must set to best help her?

You’ve asked for my counsel, and in a way I wish you hadn’t, because it’s not going to be easy to hear.  I understand your intense need to rescue her, but I have to tell you that you can’t.  There is very little you can do to rescue her until she comes to you asking for the right kind of help.

Addicts are liars. Please understand that while she is using, she is not to be trusted. She will assure  you that she has stopped, and she just needs a place to crash, or a little money to pay the rent, or to put gas in the car, or to buy groceries.

Don’t be fooled. The most important thing in an addict’s life is the substance she is abusing. Everything she says and does is aimed at securing the next fix. Don’t give her money.

Should you let her come back home, if she has moved out on her own?

Only if it will do no harm to your other children. If you can afford it, or her insurance will cover it, the best thing for you to offer her if she needs a place to stay is a good rehab facility.  And she needs to be there for more than 30 days.  She needs to be supervised; she needs to have no access to her dealer or to anyone else who can supply her with drugs. It’s very hard for you to take on the responsibility by letting her stay with you.  She will lie to you, and go around you, all the while promising that she’s clean.  Having a drug-addicted child in the home puts a huge strain on your marriage. I really don’t recommend it.

The only financial help you should offer is toward rehab. Period.

You have to draw some strong boundaries with her, paired with consequences that you are willing and able to enforce. Tough love is necessary.  If you let her stay with you, she is basically under house arrest for the duration. If she has a job, that’s the only place she is permitted to go without you or some other family member being with her. If she crosses that boundary, she will be required to leave.

You can’t be soft on this.  It doesn’t matter how many promises she makes. She will break those promises in a heartbeat to get to her drug or choice.  The drug controls her.

Rehab is the best option. If she refuses to go, then you are left with very little recourse except to involve the law. She is breaking the law. What she is doing is illegal. If she refuses to comply with your rules, then you are going to have to let her go her own way or you’re going to have to get legal help to force her into rehab.

In the meantime, I know that you will never stop praying for her’ that you will never stop loving her.  I remember when she was born, too.  I remember how beautiful she was, how precious.  She is still precious.  God loves her just as much now as He did the day she came into your lives.  She is His workmanship (Eph. 2:10), created by Him for Himself (Col 1:16). The Holy Spirit  is the only convicting  factor that can break her will and bring her to repentance, but you can earnestly pray and seek that God will do this work in her life.

And I will continue to pray for all of you. Never in your worst nightmares did you imagine this to happen.  I am so sorry. I love you.  Please keep me informed.

In Christ,