The Rollercoaster of Helping an Addicted Child

When you suspect your child is in trouble, one of the most difficult challenges is figuring out how to approach him or her.  Beyond dealing with their particular substance abuse, the big question is how to get them engaged and encouraged to accept treatment. 

Our first attempt at approaching my stepdaughter Katherine did not go well.  As a young adult, access to private information through the school was denied, while friends and acquaintances were never honest with us.  Our only recourse was to invade her personal space at home. 

We read through papers she left around, checked the trunk of her car and found ourselves investigating our own child.  This is not a pleasant undertaking but much needed. 

To this day, I firmly believe Katherine wanted to be helped as she left, in plain sight, writings regarding her usage as well as the failing school notice.  It was then that we decided to tell her that we were no longer paying for her college tuition. 

With this devastating information she left our home for her mother’s in Hawaii.  Ultimately, life in Hawaii took her further downward. 

With her father still in denial, our home became a battleground; we fought her, we fought each other.  I struggled to get her father to accept the idea that his precious daughter was not only abusing meth but addicted.  I knew that, before I could address Katherine’s addiction, I had to get her father to acknowledge it.  After much discussion and with differences of opinion as to the severity of the problem, we, as a cohesive unit, agreed that Katherine’s return home must have conditions.  She would only be accepted back if she agreed to be admitted into treatment.

Reluctantly she returned, sought in-patient treatment and aftercare successfully.  Katherine was clean and sober for three years.  During this time she had worked her way back into college, once again excelled in school and by all appearances was doing fine.  We rejoiced and it was as if the nightmare was finally over. 

In her last year she studied abroad in Paris and upon her return home, we began to notice, once again, signs of relapse.  Again, we wanted to believe her life was moving forward; however, Katherine was becoming more secretive, withdrawn and wanted nothing to do with our family.  She was “uncomfortable” at home. 

The day after her graduation from college was our defining moment.  We were forced to remove her from a condo we had purchased after we uncovered it had become a meeting place for her and her new “friends.”  After that, Katherine abandoned everything in her life and chose to live on the streets with her meth family.

That’s when our three-year nightmare began.