Dear Jeff and Debra,
Our adult daughter’s life has been shattered by addiction, causing hurt and harm to everyone around her. She’s been through residential treatment twice, and is now living in a sober house, far from home. She asking us to trust her and allow her to come back to live with us, but we’re not sure what to do. How will we know when we can trust her? – Wary Parents
Your daughter is making a common mistake in asking you to trust her, and you are making a similar mistake in pondering the question. She is pulling at your heartstrings and asking for a favor. In most circumstances, her request might be reasonable, but in light of her addiction it could have life or death consequences.
Your daughter’s question shouldn’t be, “when are you going to trust me?” Her question should be, “What am I doing to become trustworthy?” As parents you are naturally wary based on your experience with her relapses. We can only imagine the havoc her addiction may have already caused in the life of the family. You are right to be cautious.
Like many things in life, recovery from addiction is the result of right actions maintained consistently over a sustained period of time. If someone has a broken leg, the bone must be set, the cast must be worn, physical therapy must take place, and so on. There is a natural healing process that must take place with a broken leg, and if the process is interrupted, the leg may be worse than it was before.
Similarly, your daughter must follow the recommendations of her treatment team. She must stay in a structured environment, continue her Twelve Step meetings, attend counseling sessions, and work an active program of recovery. It is up to her to rebuild trust by following the directions and achieving realistic goals. There’s work for you to do, as well. Follow the directions in the book, “It Takes a Family,” (Hazelden, 2014) and learn how you can support her progress. By building a culture of recovery in the family, trust can be rebuilt on both sides of the equation.
This post originally appeared in the Grosse Pointe News