My Daughter Was Addicted to Meth: I Had to Let Her Go
How long do you keep helping someone who won’t help themselves?
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I heard her car race up the gravel driveway, and within seconds, she was banging at my door, screaming. As soon as I opened the door, I could tell by the wild look in her eyes she was high.
“Calm down, I can’t understand what you’re saying.”
I attempted to make sense of the story between her screams and crying. Was her baby in danger? Where was he? In the car?
“You have to help me! Why aren’t you helping me?” she yelled.
“I’m trying to, but I can’t understand…”
Frustrated, she turned away, and I followed her back to her car, glancing at the empty car seat in the back.
“He has him!” she screamed.
He, I assumed, was her ex-boyfriend and the baby’s father. Before I could answer, she slammed her car into reverse and sped down the street, leaving me feeling like I’d been hit by a typhoon. It was a feeling I was well used to after 10 years of parenting my moody foster daughter. But she was a mother in her mid-20s now. I’d expected the teenage dramas to have settled down by now.
I went back inside and comforted my younger children. It wasn’t their first experience with her increasingly erratic moods, and they were scared.
“She’s gone,” I reassured them, but within minutes, we heard her car in the driveway.
“Go into the bedroom and stay there, OK?” I told them. “Put on a movie.”
I rushed outside to stop her before she got to the door. Whatever was going on needed to stay outside. She slammed her car door, screaming and even more wild than before. I glanced up at the neighbor’s house, feeling embarrassed about the explanation I would have to make later. “Help me!” she shouted in my face. When she drove off again a few seconds later, I knew the only help I could give her was one she wouldn’t like: I called the police.
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I Couldn’t Believe My Foster Daughter Could Be Using Meth
Her drug use started at 14. My foster daughter had spent most of her childhood around her birth parents who both openly smoked weed, so when I smelled marijuana on her clothes, it hadn’t shocked me. As far as I knew, that was it.
We had very open conversations, and our relationship was close and loving. She came from a family of addicts, and we talked about it with the hope she could break the pattern, something she desperately wanted to do. She was creative and bright, outgoing and positive. She wanted to embrace life and not waste it on drugs and alcohol.
One day, she came home from a friend’s house shaking. “She shot up, right in front of me!” she said, her eyes wide. “I told her I never want to see her do that ever again. I can’t believe she does it!” Weed was one thing, but hard drugs? She was furious to hear about anyone doing that.
When her cousin started getting into trouble with drugs and crime, she raged about it for weeks and in the end cut her off. Drama seemed to surround her, but mostly because of other people—the friends she chose, her birth family and the kinds of boys she dated.
But when she got pregnant, split up with her boyfriend and entered a custody battle, things started to change. At first, I thought he was being manipulative. Her ex called me several times, bad-mouthing her and then threatening me. “You know she’s on meth, right? If you don’t help me get full custody, you’ll regret it!”
“Rubbish,” I thought. “There’s no way she’s on meth.” Yes, she’d lost a lot of weight after the birth of her son, but her morning sickness had been terrible and it took its toll on her body. Every time I saw her, she was her usual self, laughing and playing with her son and my younger kids. Surely I’d notice if she was on meth. I decided to tell her what he was accusing her of. She’d need to know for the custody case anyway.
“Of course not!” she said. “He’s the one who does drugs!”
It seemed believable. I’d only met him a few times, and he was nice and polite to my face, but he clearly had two sides to his personality.
My Daughter’s Addiction Explained Her Erratic Moods and Disappearances
Over the next few months, though, her behavior became more inconsistent. Then, she befriended a few gang members and guys with known police records. She’d never been a great judge of character and had an interesting mix of friends, but this was a new level. Meanwhile, my own life was changing.
My husband and I got a divorce, and my focus shifted to creating a new, peaceful home for my younger kids. I touched base regularly with my foster daughter and helped her with her baby where I could, but I didn’t have much energy for the increasing drama. “She’s an adult now,” I reminded myself. After years of helping her through breakups, friendship dramas and disappointments, it was hard to pull back, but it felt important. She hated it.
“Just help me!” she screamed at me in the driveway as the police tried to calm her down.
“We are,” they reassured her. “We’re taking you to the hospital.” It wasn’t the help she wanted, but it was what she needed. I stood back, out of reach, and let them take over.
When I’d discovered she was on meth, things started to make sense. Her skin problems, her increasingly aggressive and erratic moods, her disappearances for days at a time. In the few minutes after she’d driven away, I’d quickly phoned her ex-boyfriend and found out why he had the baby. She’d gotten high, gone to see him and threatened to harm him and then herself. Knowing she’d followed through on threats before, he’d become worried, taken the baby and gone for a walk around the block, trying to figure out what to do next.
The police dropped her off at the hospital, found her ex-boyfriend and dropped the baby at my house while they questioned him: no nappies, no bottle and no idea how long I would be babysitting for.
The hospital discharged her later that day, and she was allowed to come and collect her child. She looked calmer and thanked me for babysitting, but I’d had enough. Was this kind of helping changing anything for her or enabling her drug use? How long do you keep helping someone who won’t help themselves? A few weeks later, she left her child with a friend for three days while she indulged her habit. I rang child protection services.
They gave both my daughter and her ex drug tests, and a judge awarded full custody to the baby’s father. Maybe now she’d get professional help, I hoped. While the trial was on, she made threats to her ex, to me and to members of my family. We discovered she’d borrowed thousands of dollars from various friends and family—they didn’t know it was to fuel her habit, and she had no intention to pay it back.
As the Parent of a Drug Addict, Was I Right to Shut My Daughter Out?
None of us had been helping the way we’d thought we were.
She wasn’t safe around me or my children, and I decided I couldn’t have her in my house anymore. I grieved for the sweet, fun girl I’d raised who had dreamed of a better life, but that girl hadn’t been around for years. She’d died and someone else had replaced her. Drug addiction is like that. The only way to help her now was to set firm boundaries. I offered to take her to rehab or even to meet her in a cafe to talk, but I made it clear she wasn’t welcome in my house while she was using. She refused to see me.
It’s been three years now. I’ve heard through other family members that she claims to be clean, but she’s said it so many times, it’s hard to believe her. There’s been no rehab and no signs of real change. Who knows? I hope she is clean for her sake and her child’s. Sometimes, though, you have to make the tough call. Maybe it’s not the right call to make—people have told me it’s harsh, and they could be right. Personally, though, I felt it was my only choice. I hope one day she gets the help she needs.