My daughter (age 17) is addicted to marijuana and she has MH (oppositional defiant disorder and borderline personality traits). She often yells and puts me down when she doesn’t get what she wants. Then when we talk about it she says “you know I can’t help it” and blames it on her disorders. I still find myself upset, frustrated, and annoyed. I usually take a half hour to drive around to calm down. Any other suggestions?
Thanks for the question @Dencat - loving someone through addiction recovery can be a grueling process. It is totally reasonable to feel the way you do in response to what you are facing with your daughter. I love how you mentioned your strategy of driving around to calm down. What else have you found that has worked for you?
Three core strategies come to mind for me on this topic going forward (and since you’re in the course I’ll refer to exercises and topics that can apply here!):
Taking extra care of you
Brainstorming what you can do in those moments to take care of you. Can you call a friend? Also, brainstorming what you can do for yourself to take extra care outside of those heated moments. Completing the happiness scale in module 8 (You Deserve to Thrive) will help you identify one area to make a change in, set an achievable goal for the week. The more we take care of ourselves the more we can deal with the challenges these kinds of relationships bring.
Let her know that if voices get raised or put downs are engaged that the conversation becomes unproductive and that you’ll leave the conversation and return when things have cooled down… You can let her know this ahead of time so she will be prepared for your reaction in the moment.
Interactions with your daughter
Through the Group Course working weekly on trying out new positive communication, as well as the behavioral change trio of skills (positive reinforcement, timeout from rewards and natural consequences) to shape behavior to see more sobriety and positive interactions and less using and less negative interactions. So you can use these skills for not only substance use behavior but other problematic behavior. You could also complete a functional analysis (behavior change roadmap) on her defiant / unpleasant behaviors and that way, by identifying the triggers, look for ways to intervene or try something different to minimize or steer clear of those triggers. Eg. are there certain times of day to have tough conversations, or could you even ask her how she’d like to receive tough information? Maybe “I know neither of us like when we argue, what do you think would be a better way for me as your mother to express my caring so that you can receive it…?”
Support from other resources
When people struggle with substance use they can isolate and we can isolate along with them. This strategy is about engaging others in your and/or her support network to step in to give you a break in the relationship. So thinking about any positive influential relationships that could also spend time with her so the burden is spread more.
Let me know how all of this sounds.
Hi @Dencat. Thanks for sharing here. It sounds like you’re already on the right track here - I also like how you mention taking a half hour drive to calm down. How do you feel after you’ve done this?
When you feel angry, frustrated, annoyed, I think the best thing you can do is just be aware of these feelings, allow yourself to feel them, and know that they will pass. Sometimes when I feel this way, my mind starts taking off and creating its own narrative based on these feelings - filled with “supposed-to’s” and “if-only’s” “why-me’s.” I try to ground back into reality, to what I do know. The present moment. Gratitude lists help. Looking back and seeing the progress we’ve made. Reading and journaling helps, too.
I am the parent of a person with a substance use disorder and the way you describe your thinking is familiar to me. Even now that my son is in recovery I still ruminate on ways I could help. Best believe I have gone through the course myself and it helped me so much. His correction from relapse is entirely his own, and the ways I learned to communicate definitely contributed to his decision. I recognize that I can’t do much to exert my will. I recognize that it’s ok to be frustrated, and discouraged, and that’s when I double-down on self-care and hope.
I love that the techniques I learned in the course were centered around the loving connection I have, even when it was fragile. They showed me, role played, and practiced how to hold my boundaries, sprinkle in some levity, and expect better. Before I started practicing the communication forms I tried to white knuckle the change I wanted to see with little success.
Addiction is a tough weed, with lots of invisible tendrils of fear and shame. I’m committed to staying in loving connection to my son and communicating throughout this life. Good luck. It sounds like you’re on the right path. Car dancing is a lot of fun, too, (and be extra self-indulgent from time to time). Soothe yourself since you can’t change someone, but you can love them until they do. It helps tamp down the anger. XO
This is all really good advice! Thank you so much. I will need to re-read it so that I can really practice a new thought practice. I have lately been trying to shift my mind to my goals: saving money, planning for the future, getting involved in a project. The mind is an amazing thing. It keeps wanting to go back to “how can I fix this problem?” I also am becoming more mindful of when to talk to her and when not to. It seems like the times to talk to her are very limited. I also have been practicing what I learned in module 1 (I think it’s one). I am brief and I don’t need to explain in detail. Highly annoying for her. There is so much I can comment on in all your shares. Momentsandlight - I do create this narrative in my mind "supposed-to, and if-only! The downward spiral to feeling like a failure! LOVE all of this advice! It is just difficult to remember. However, if I put it in my planner I can change my brain to think differently. Keeping my thoughts on what I am grateful for, things that are going well, and self-care thoughts. I appreciate this so much! Together we can change and make a difference.l