Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bianca Knows Best ... And Helps an Addict's Daughter

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 12:24 PM

Dear Bianca,

My dad has suffered from a serious drug problem for years and years. He gotten clean and fallen off the wagon a few times every year since I was a little kid. But he's managed to stay clean now for couple years ... until last week.

My mom has finally had enough and now she's left him. She wants the house and he has nowhere to go. So he asked me if he could move in with my husband and I for a while. He wants a safe place where he’ll be less likely to use drugs again, which means his free-wheeling friends' homes are off-limits.

My husband is less than thrilled with the idea of housing a drug addict, since we have two toddlers. But how can I say no to my dad? He may not have been the best father, but he always kept a roof over my head when I was growing up.

-- Sober Daughter

Dear Sober,

It sounds like you've had plenty of ups and downs when dealing with your father over the years. But he's doing the right thing in seeking out a safe place away from harmful influences. Addicts are more likely to fall prey to their addictions when surrounded by other addicts and even recreational users (like your dad's friends).

However, it sounds like dad needs to check into rehab instead of your spare bedroom. At a rehab, he'll receive professional help at staying sober and he'll develop a strong support network that he can turn to when he's tempted to relapse.

That said, many programs have waiting lists, so he may need somewhere to stay in the meantime. It probably wouldn't hurt to let him stay with you for a few weeks if he has to wait to get into an inpatient facility.

But I would tell him on the front end that he's only allowed to stay with you if he signs up for treatment. Otherwise, he's on his own. They say rehab doesn’t really help unless the addict truly wants to change, but his ability to stay clean for a couple years prior to the last relapse may indicate some desire for a normal life.

As for your husband's concerns, assure him that your dad won't overstay his welcome. And as long as dad's on good behavior, the kids shouldn't be affected. In fact, this could provide them some much-needed bonding time with grandpa before he heads off to an inpatient program.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com

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