Addiction Recovery in the Family

flyingcarrotSeptember 18, 2008

This "community" of grandparents might help me sort out a dilemma I live with...

(I posted this also in the "daycare" topic).

I'm 52, married for 30 years, and I watch my 3 yr old grandson 5 days a week. He lives at our house (with his mom, our daughter, age 24). She is a recovering heroin addict and has been clean for one year. She had many mood/behavior problems since the age of 13 and seems to be finally straightening out her life after 10 years of struggle. (And in case you think we caused her addiction or contributed somehow to it, she says we had nothing to do with it. Her unhappiness over the years has been a source of endless speculation, and therapy, at our end...)

ANYWAY, she was arrested and went to rehab last year, so we stepped up to be his full time caregivers (my husband works full-time). She has cleared all her court ordered requirements and finished 2 consecutive rehab programs while working full time and cleaning up her life. We are proud of her for this, but we remain wary of another relapse, as all families do with all addicts. We've been through it all.

This little boy is so beloved and when we were needed, we were there for him. He is thriving -- happy and confident. But now that this arrangement is one year old, we are starting to wonder about the timeline of all this.

The financial setup is that she pays for her gas, food, cell phone, clothes, entertainment, medications and doctor appointments. She buys an occasional grocery run and her son's expenses, including preschool and doctor costs. We cover rent (she lives here), food, babysitting. She is grateful on a daily basis for what we do, but occasionally lapses into 'teenage attitude' but it's all working out for the most part.

We walk a fine line. We want her to be well and independent. We cherish our little grandson. I'm not confident she could run a home and care for him adequately so I'm not in a rush to shove her into an apartment (in a crappy area, since she makes low wages).

We know that every addict stands a better chance at full recovery if family supports him/her, but enabling is NOT something we want to do. We are watchful about that, but it's getting murky now. We're not sure if we should require her to pay us (either for daycare or for rent, or both) and encourage more financial independence.

I think it is humane to see each addict as a person who deserves some time to rebuild her life. Meanwhile, I am suffering with lack of privacy, strain on my marriage, lack of social life, my reduced working hours, etc.

ANyone out there have any experience in this arena? We are flying blind and want to do the right thing. Interestingly, "the right thing" to us is no longer to help HER but to help our little grandson. He deserves so much.

Thanks for any feedback.

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I don't envy you your position. It is pretty obvious that she will live with you as long as you let her rent free. You walk a fine line especially with recovering addicts My son is addicted to pain killers, he says he has been off them for a month now, but that remains to be seen. Him and his wife and daughter lived in my basement rent free for a year and a half to help them get back on their feet. I did their taxes that year and they made over $52,000, with not one penny toward savings, paying off bills, or to us. We constantly lent them money, bought clothes and food for our granddaughter etc. To make a long story short after they did move out my son decided he did not want to have any relationship with me and he did not want the grandkids to have one either. I do not see them and have not seen them in over a month.

Enabling does not help them, but when you stand firm be prepared for her to cut you out of her and your grandsons life. I know you think she would never do this to you, that is what I thought also. Like I said I do not envy your position. Drug addicts do not think straight, wheather they are in recovery or not. My son is 22 but mentally and emotionally he is about 12. He is having a tantrum and apparently has no problem hurting me and my husband by dangling the grandkids over our heads and saying jump. I am sorry for you, because I am sorry for myself. Treasure every second you have with him now.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 4:31PM
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Hi bullygirl, and thank you for your response. I appreciate your thoughts. I'm sorry you are in a war right now and I hope it gets resolved soon.

Your understandably bitter reaction is one side of the coin...I wonder what the other side is. Can you guess what other techniques MIGHT have helped come to a better resolution than you being exploited and then a total estrangement when you put the freeloading to an end? I am working hard to come up with a plan so that there are no blow-ups and ugly words are not exchanged.

The worst thing I can think of is not being able to see my grandson so I want to do this "right"...whatever "right" is.

I would love to hear input from others. I know how common addiction I the only one dealing with it???

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 11:16PM
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I wish I had the answers for you for the other side of the coin, However, I am in the situation that bullygirl is in. I have a son with an addiction and when I set limits he is having a temper tantrum and is not letting me see my grandson.

I think that you have to be prepared that your daughter may have a relapse and perhaps while she is clean you could design a relapse plan with her now. It is quite normal for an addict to relapse, I hope that this will not be true for your daughter.

Having addicted children is a very painful life and is even more painful when there are grandchildren involved. Unfortunately, grandchildren become a bargaining chip in the addicts mind who is not thinking clearly.

I hope and pray every day for my son's recovery and the safety of my grandchild. It is a very sad way to live.

I hope that your daughter stays clean and continues that way. I would have her pay some rent and you can always stick it in a savings account for her so when she does want to move out she will have a nest egg. (Just a thought) I think when our children are paying there way they feel better about themselves. Just my opinion.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 4:30PM
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My DD is an addict - I have legal custody of her 5 year old son - he is the loveof our lives - we found out a year ago that my DD (34) had been doing drugs for 18 years. I wa on that roller coaster that all parents of addict know well - she is in recovery and lives at home within my boundries. I joined a group called Al-Anon - ceated for parents/fiends/spouses of addicts and finally realized I wasn't alone - that I now have support for ME tht I can not change he addict - only change the way I react to the addict and I am at peace finally. She works full time for an attorney and can ty here as long as she is clean - do I still worry - yes, but it doesn't affect my life. My grandson is ADHDdue to his mother using pot during her pregnancy - we are working on that and I am woking on myself - he attends several meetings a week - I only have one - but Al-Anon is important to me... See if there is one in your area - it helps

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Pot during pregnancy does not cause ADHD. Or do you have some research to back that up?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:16AM
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