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College Daughter and coke

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Child' started by StepDad, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. StepDad

    StepDad Member

    In need of some help and info and not sure where to start.

    My Daughter is 24 and getting ready to graduate college. We had noticed a dramatic weight loss over the past year or so but attributed it to her picking up a smoking habit from her roommate. At a family function a few months ago, she got hammered drunk with some family around and got sick. In her intoxicated state, she said "this wouldn't have happened if I had done coke first". Her family that was with her were horrified. It was then discovered that the day before, she had been asking around at a wedding if anyone "had any coke". Other people in the family came forward and admitted to seeing her snort coke in front of them with her roommate on different occasions and the **** hit the fan... Her mom confronted her and it got very loud, with lots of tears and threats. She is 24, but completely dependent financially so, there was a lot of talk about her future and how her decisions had consequences, etc. She acknowledged that if she had the money, she would do it more often because it felt "so good".

    She said all the right things and promised to straighten up. Her mom and I drove across the state once a week to administer a drug test and she rolled her eyes about how "we were wasting our time" and "blowing it out of proportion". She "didn't have a problem" and she "only did it once in a while", "everybody does it" and finally, she "had it under control". After a few tests with all negatives, we stopped. It seemed like an exercise in futility and her smug grin, eye rolling and comments were taking their toll and shaking our confidence and resolve.

    Nothing happened for a while and we didn't have much to follow up on until another family member called us, saying that he didn't want to betray her trust... but he watched her and her roommate grind up and snort adderall before going out for a night of partying. Again, we were mortified. Her roommate is the alpha in their relationship and is brazenly defiant that we can't judge her and that she doesn't have a problem. They go out together and they do coke and don't come home until 5am if at all. To them, it seems like this is just part of their "college experience".

    She hasn't been arrested, wrecked a car, been fired or any of the other obvious warning signs... other than the comments and people seeing her snorting coke and adderall several times, the impact on her life hasn't shown her any real life consequences other than us "overreacting". Are we overreacting? She is 24 and has her whole life ahead of her. We are strongly considering staging an intervention, but still lack the full confidence that we are doing the right thing. We know that addicts will deny the problem and attempt to explain, mitigate and justify their behavior.

    Just looking for some insight on how to proceed.

  2. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    @StepDad... Welcome to the community and thanks for sharing with us. I'm sorry to hear about the struggles you're experiencing with your daughter, but I'm glad you found us and reached out.

    I'm the father of a 26-year-old son who has struggled on and off with addiction since he was 15, and I want to tell you that you're not overreacting. Addiction is a serious disease, and it sounds to me like your daughter probably has it. Since she's an adult, there normally wouldn't be much you could do...especially if she's not ready to accept that she needs help. That said, since she is completely dependent on you financially, you do have an ace in the hole, so to speak.

    I would really like you to pick up a book called Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change and read it ASAP. It's written specifically for parents/partners of people with addiction and it's by far the best book I've ever come across on the subject. It will teach you how to communicate better with your daughter using love and compassion instead of anger and confrontation; how to talk to her to help motivate her to want to change; and--most importantly--how to take care of yourself while you deal with your daughter's issues. It also teaches important things like letting your child suffer the natural consequences of their decisions. All too often, parents want to help fix things for their kids; with addiction, that's never a good idea.

    There is a free online companion workbook to the Beyond Addiction book that will give you a good intro to the concepts behind it. You can find it at this link:

    The absolute hardest thing about dealing with my son's addiction was knowing that no matter what I wanted, the only person who could change my son was my son. I spent a long time trying to "fix" my son before I realized that he was going to use or not use drugs no matter what I thought. I also spent a lot of time making myself physically and emotionally sick because I became addicted to his addiction. Al-Anon teaches: You didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it. That's a tough realization to come to--especially for parents--but it's so true.

    I would be careful about sending your daughter any money. That might be challenging since she's in college and financially dependent on you, but if she's using and you're sending her cash, she's likely using at least some of it to buy drugs. I would also recommend that you and your wife find a Nar-Anon or Al-Anon meeting in your area and attend. It can be very helpful and comforting to be amongst others who know exactly what you're going through and feeling.

    Addiction is a family disease and it affects everybody who loves the person struggling. That's why it's important for everyone to work on their own recovery. So make sure you take good care of yourself. If you don't, this situation will definitely take its toll on you.

    There are some other books that may help you, too. You may want to read this blog I wrote not too long ago:

    6 Essential Books for Those with an Addicted Loved One

    One last thing: If you don't mind me asking, did your daughter test clean when you and your wife gave her the drug tests? Just curious. My wife and I tested our son for months and he always came up clean. Then he came to us and told us he was addicted to heroin, which baffled us. It turned out he had an empty soda bottle filled with clean urine and he would use it for the drug tests we gave him. Who knew that we were supposed to watch him pee into the cup? That's just one example of how an addict can manipulate and deceive. But it was a big lesson for us. I always tell parents: You do the best you can with what you know at the time and you try to learn as much as you can as you go along. And you can never go wrong with love. Love the addict. Hate the disease.

    We are here to help and support you any way we can, my friend. Please don't hesitate to reach out anytime you feel the need. You can also private message me if you'd like. I am always willing to help others who are struggling with a child's addiction. We have to stick together.

    Sending positive vibes your way, along with lots of hope. And I will keep your daughter in my thoughts and prayers as well.

  3. StepDad

    StepDad Member


    Thanks so much for your counsel and encouragement. It is just getting started and we are in that phase where we aren't sure what to do, what we can do and what we shouldn't even try. We will check out the books and media you suggested.

    She tested negative but my wife said she literally watched her pee in the cup, so it probably wasn't a surrogate sample as much as her flying under the radar for a while or waiting until right after the test to indulge.

    Thanks again for everything.
  4. Leelee

    Leelee Member

    Stepdad, she is in total denial. My son was a heroin addict for 6 years and rarely did coke. We lost him 6 months ago to cocaine intoxication. He was clean almost a year and was in rehab and was going to graduate but he was not ready to face the world on his own and leave the safety of rehab so he did a small amount of coke so that he could have more time in the rehab. He thought be could handle it. He too was 24 with a full life ahead of him. She needs to get into rehab and get a handle on this because it does not take much to destroy your life. They are think they can handle it and it won't happen to them but the reality is, they can't handle it and are just deluding themselves. I pray she comes to this realization and gets the help she needs before you get the call no one wants to get. God bless
  5. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    Anytime, @StepDad. Anytime.