My adult daughter wants to come home after treatment, again, but we need a change.

What can we do?

My 25-year-old daughter has been in and out of treatment so much that it seems like she’s in more than she is out. She spends as much time as our insurance allows, just about three weeks, and then comes home. We don’t want her to be homeless but we can’t keep this up either. She just went into the same 28-day program she’s been to many times before and told us she is planning to come home afterwards.

So many of us watch from the sidelines as our children go in and out of treatment. It often feels like just as they get into treatment and we begin to relax, they are coming out again and asking to come home, or, even worse, they are out and using drugs again. I recall my daughter going in and out of one place in particular. The staff told me they were always so glad to see her because it meant she was alive and still fighting. I had never thought about it like that, but I never forgot those words, either.

The time to have the conversation with her is now, while she is safely in the early stage of her program. Find three or four family members or close friends who love your daughter, who want the best for her, and who will support you. This will be your family team. Sit down with them as soon as possible and have them work with you to decide what your boundaries will be going forward. This can’t be punishment or manipulation. Boundaries are rules that you can live by and are capable of enforcing.

Are you willing to help pay for the first month or so of sober living? How long will you do that until she can pay the rent herself? Will you provide her with a phone? Can you help her find a recovery coach or therapist? Since she will be aging out of your insurance at twenty-six, can you assist her with finding coverage until she gets a job? If you are unable to do any of those things, can you request that the case manager works with her to find suitable aftercare?

Ask the case manager, or the family therapist if the treatment center has one, for a family meeting and explain clearly and concisely what you are willing to help with and what you will no longer be able to provide. It will be difficult if you’ve never done this before. If you cannot have her living with you, make sure she understands that it has nothing to do with how much you love her. Explain instead that you have faith in her and believe she can make a life for herself. Most importantly, whatever your boundaries are, you must be prepared to stick with them even though it will be very hard when your daughter is upset and possibly trying to manipulate you.

Only you can decide what your boundaries are and then carry them out. Whatever you do, it will be painful for everyone concerned, but you can see that what you’ve been doing is not working, and it sounds like you’re ready for a change. If you give her options, support her, and let her know you are trying to do what you feel is in her best interest, hopefully she will embrace the change and take charge of her life.

Stay Hopeful,
Coach C.


Disclaimer: The above advice is not meant to be construed as medical or legal advice. If you need professional medical, psychological, or legal advice, please contact a doctor, lawyer, or medical center.

Maureen Cavanagh is a peer recovery coach and interventionist who works with families and loved ones supporting a person struggling with a substance use disorder on their own recovery. She is the founder of Magnolia New Beginnings and Magnolia Recovery and Consulting, and the author of If You Love Me: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Daughter’s Addiction and Recovery, published by Henry Holt/Macmillan. You can learn more about her at

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Questions for Coach Cavanagh


  1. What if your daughter don’t go to sober living. You give her options and support but moving right back into my house has never worked. She said she would rather live in her car then go to sober living. That makes me suspicious that she doesn’t really want to be sober. She said she can only do it living at home. But it doesn’t work. I am torn on what to do

    • Rita- I think we often know the answer even though we don’t like it very much. You need to decide what you can live with. Faced with actually living in her car she may change her mind but what is under your control is what you tolerate. Never an easy decision!

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