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Dan B.
Dan B., Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
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Experience:  Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
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Our 38 year old daughter works in our home office part time.

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Our 38 year old daughter works in our home office part time. She is addicted to prescription meds, and sometimes we feel she is taking some of our meds when we are not looking. she has been caught lying in the past. What should we do if this happens again in our home?

danb :

My name is Dan. I am happy to try to help with your question. Are you available to chat?

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It sounds like a really difficult situation. Especially because of the multiple levels of the relationship with your daughter as a family member and employee. If it was an employee, the answer would probably be more clear, or if it was just your daughter the answer might be more clear as well.

I will begin with a little bit of the most recent information regarding addiction. Addiction is now recognized as a disease. There are physiological changes that take place in the addicted person's body and brain that make ti very difficult for them to stop the addiction. The pleasure circuitry in the brain becomes rewired to the point that the person believes that the addction is what is best for them and triggers this reward circutiry even when it is harmful. This circuitry is similar to what happens when we are hungry (a craving or need is triggered that our brain really believes it needs) only with addiciton there is no regulatory mechanism as there is with food and hunger. Generally, when we are full we stop eating, however the addict does not really feel this and the craving continues.

I mention this because it is important to understand the level of need your daughter may be feeling if she is addicted to pills and how difficult it will be for her to change her behavior. Geneally addicts do not willingly just change their behavior, it usually takes quite some time and effort before they begin to acknowledge that they may be doing something that is not good for them. Even then they often struggle and go back the addiciton several times before it has run it's course. Addiciton then becomes a lifelong battle whcih requires vigilance and managment just as an illness such as diabetes would.

Given these facts about addiction, you will need to realize that your daughter will likely go to great lengths to continue to use pills and to find them even if they are not readily available. If they are in the house with her at all she will continue to search for them and try to find them. Your choices would be to either not have them at home at all, or keep them locked up if they are. This would fix that one part of the problem. If your daughter does this again I would expect her to lie about it. Generally addicts will go to great lengths to hide their problem and avoid having to confront it. They engage in behaviors which are not typical for the people that we know them to be.

You will need to be ready to confront her with this. Do not give her the opportunity to lie. Simply state it as fact: "I know that you took XX number of XX pills. This is unacceptable." Have some kind of consequeunce in place. It might be wise to require her to seek some kind of treatment. "We can not have this. You will either get treatment for your addiction of you will not be working here. You will not be allowed to be in our house alone." Something along those lines. This is where the tough love idea comes in. She will likely be resistant to any of these kinds of ideas and will continue to deny it. You must be prepared to stand firm and, armed with what you now know about addiction and addicts, not give in because she is believeable or you feel sorry for her. Be prepared to enact whatever consequences you decide, no matter how difficult it is. Support eachother. Recovery from addiction is a long road and will be challenging.

If you act now and stay strong you may be able to convince your daughter to get some help with this problem before she begins to see real world negtive consequences, which can be much tougher. I know this may not seem real hopeful, but I hope that it is helpful. I have spent the last several years working with addictions in jails and in a community setting and am recognized as a qualified professional for the treatment of substance use disorders in my state. People can change and things will work out OK.

Your satisfaction is my ultimate goal. If I can clarify anything or provide any additional assistance please do let me know. I would rather take the time to repost and give further answers than leave an unhappy customer. Your feedback is appreciated as it helps me know how I am doing and how I may do better. Thanks. Dan
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you Dan for your quick and timely advice. We are dealing here in real-time, and your support and understanding is fundamental to our needs here and now. I feel your initial response is right on the nose accurate and supportive.

Just curious, what are your "hours" of availability on JustAnswer?

again, I am available at [email protected]

Til next time,

Dan Utter
Hi. I'm glad I could assist you.

My hours on JustAnswer vary quite a bit, but I am usually available about 8:30 to 11 pm pacific time, weekend mornings, and then randomly throughout the weekdays. If you have any further questions that you would like directed towards me, just put my name "danb" in front of it and it will be directed to me. I will be notified by email of this and will make an effort to reply as soon as I can. FYI, it looks like you may have included an email address in your post. It against our policy for me to email you directly, so it has been blacked out by our moderators.

Thanks again and glad I could help.