How Do I Help My Addicted Daughter?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD, MPH


Table of Contents

What Do I Do If Addiction Has a Hold on My Daughter?

It is devastating to see her struggle, no matter your daughter’s age. Unfortunately, addiction can get a tight grip on a person’s mind, and that is when they need the most help. This article will discuss how a parent’s actions can help their addicted daughter.

A parent can be a strong advocate for their addicted daughter by:

  • Educating themselves about addiction.
  • Being open to discussion.
  • Being nonjudgmental.
  • Supporting and encouraging their recovery.

drug addiction and substance abuse

Furthermore, parents can be a cornerstone of support by preparing themselves for difficult conversations. Although it may not be easy, a few moments of private inner dialogue before engaging can provide clarity for open-mindedness.

Why is Addiction Changing My Daughter?

Firstly, addiction is a mental illness that requires medical care. Some people are born with substances already in their system due to fetal syndromes, whereas others can become addicted through a choice of use. Intentionally or not, substance misuse can lead to addiction. Drugs like fentanyl and meth can develop into addiction after a single use.  

Addiction is a disease that rewires the brain to prioritize using drugs. Over time, the brain can prioritize using drugs above all else; meanwhile, obligations and responsibilities get a lower priority, depleting their resources.

Generally, the dopamine dump to the brain from drugs creates a euphoria that simultaneously pushes all the pleasure buttons in the brain’s reward center. 

Understandably, it’s hard to go back to natural happiness after experiencing such intense feelings of pleasure.  

    “…drug addiction is a disease entity that is characterized by compulsion, loss of control, and continued use in spite of adverse consequences. Like diabetes, it is a chronic disease that at best is controlled rather than cured.”   

– American Psychology Association, Smith, D. E., & Seymour, R. B. (2004)

The reward center in the human brain is activated when people feel happy. Specifically, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates our mood and behaviors. In short, activation of the reward center is contingent on a person’s dopamine levels.

Addiction overpowers the brain’s natural chemical flow, specifically to make people crave and hunt for the euphoric feeling to return. 

Basically, the cravings can become so intense that people can easily find themselves behaving abnormally to get it.

For instance, lying, stealing, and cheating can all feel like tools of the trade to get what they want.

Likewise, if your addicted daughter behaves out of character, it’s possibly the result of the developing disease and a sign of struggle.  

How Can I Tell If My Daughter Is Using Drugs?   

Depending on your daughter’s age, it can be difficult to identify abnormal behaviors from a typical hormonal phase. Even so, common substance misuse clues may indicate her struggle. First, however, it is necessary to point out that she may be unaware of a potential problem or be in denial.  

Behavioral Changes

Common behaviors of people struggling with addiction:   

  • They are unable to stop using, even when they want to.  
  • They isolate themselves from friends and family.  
  • They find new friends who use it as well.  
  • They use more of their substance to combat their building tolerance.  
  • They finance their substance until their funds are depleted.  

Emotional Changes

When addiction takes hold of someone, their continuation will reinforce the cravings. Expectedly, this is because the brain’s reward center gets such high dopamine levels from the substance. As a result, naturally recurring dopamine becomes dormant.

Ultimately, this leads to using drugs as the only means to feel the reward center activate. Eventually, it can become difficult for them to enjoy anything naturally after long-term use.  

Moreover, without the substance, the brain begins to panic from the lack of dopamine in its system. 

Due to this reason, rehabilitation therapists intentionally use small rewards for small tasks completed. This rebuilds the relationship between the patient and their naturally recurring dopamine production.  

Talking To Your Daughter

Above all, have a serious conversation with your daughter. Ultimately, she is the one you need to hear from. Therefore, the best way to know if your daughter is using drugs is to ask her.  

Firstly, consider preparing yourself before opening a discussion with her. Ideally, this would help to avoid any overpowering emotions. Secondly, a few deep breaths and self-affirmations can clear the mind and calm the breathing.   

By affirming the facts, the mind can focus on the goal. For example,  

  • “My daughter may be struggling with something beyond her control.”  
  • “Regardless of her response, there are paths forward to choose from.”  
  • “I can remain stable during her instability.”  

barely working lightbulb lit up in the dark to represent the potential darkness to come with the meth epidemic

Thirdly, talk to your daughter about your concerns. Ask her if she is misusing any substances. Furthermore, ask if she sees her substance misuse as a problem and would like to stop (if she is an adult.) 

The first step in recovery is admitting a problem that must be addressed. That takes courage that she may need help to find.   

Will My Daughter Get Help for Her Addiction?   

Recovery is possible with the right help. Whether this addiction is new or has been long-term, there is hope, no matter how bad things are. 

Rehabilitation centers offer different treatment options, depending on finances and insurance. Additionally, some programs are available for non-insured patients and low-income families.  

Consider reaching out to an addiction specialist to learn what options and resources are available in your area.   

What Can I Do for My Addicted Daughter?

Overall, it is about what one can do and be for their struggling loved one. For example, some things you can physically do to help her are:  

  • Take her shopping for healthy foods.  
  • Help her organize her paperwork for rehabilitation intake.  
  • Help her make and keep all medical appointments.  
  • Transportation to and from the clinic.  

Furthermore, she needs a safe space for her mental and emotional turmoil. In this way, you can provide her support by being approachable. This can move mountains by gaining your daughter’s respect and trust. Generally, people who have a stable support system have an increased chance of a successful recovery.  

She may be feeling lost, confused, or struggling with overwhelming guilt. Accordingly, having a calm beacon of safety to retreat to may be the key to combating those negative thoughts.  

For instance, some things you can be to help her are:  

  • Nonjudgmental  
  • Compassionate  
  • Peacefully resolute  
  • Adaptable  

Every recovery journey is different, as is each person who walks it. Of course, life can surprise us all. Therefore, by focusing on solutions for your addicted daughter, the energy put forth will be considerably more productive than being handicapped by fear.  

What you do for your daughter matters, and you are doing a great job.  

What Should I NOT Do for My Addicted Daughter?

There are so many beautiful things that you can do to help your daughter. But, on the other hand, some things have no place in the situation. 

Topics and reactions that are corrosive to forward-thinking or healing can cause unnecessary turbulence, e.g., bringing up the past, demanding apologies, or trying to catch them in a lie. Yet, none of these things are going to save your daughter, so permit yourself to let all that go.   

Don’t Shame

There is no room for shame when it comes to addiction recovery. After all, addiction is a disease. People who struggle with it need medical care, not shame. For instance,

  • There is no shame in a person admitting they made a mistake.   
  • There is no shame in asking for help.   

However, there is shame in belittlement, judgment, embarrassment, and condescendence. Yet, there are always options to approach situations with kindness and compassion. Typically, patients are not blamed for their illnesses. So, why would this be any different?   

Don’t Blame

Addiction is what manipulated your daughter’s vital thought patterns and behaviors. Additionally, more often than not, the root of addiction typically stems from mental health concerns and trauma responses.   

Therefore, there is no room for blame here, either. 

Don’t Discourage Treatment

Despite anyone else’s feelings on the subject, the concentrated chemicals in her system need to be medically handled. Therefore, discouraging your daughter from treatment or medical care is dangerous and can put her at serious risk of continued use, overdose, infections, and more.   

Don’t Enable Negative Behaviors

Aside from rare, life-saving situations, there is never a time where continued substance use is the correct answer.   

Addiction teaches the brain to exploit weaknesses in those around them in desperate situations to use again. Namely, healthy boundaries are a tool people can use to be loving yet firm when handling emotional outbursts or manic episodes.   

People sometimes resort to loud, explosive responses to manipulate others’ emotions. 

In these moments, parents can keep calm by remembering the main goal: their daughter’s recovery from addiction. 

Therefore, ask yourself, “Is this my daughter, or is this the addiction speaking?” This way, you can invite the mental clarity you need to maintain your boundaries.

What Can I Do to Help My Addicted Daughter Get Better?   

In summary, here are things you can do to help your daughter to get better:  

  • Educate yourself about addiction.  
  • Talk to your daughter.  
  • Be supportive and compassionate.  
  • Encourage medical treatment.  
  • Take care of yourself.  

Addiction recovery is a long journey for both the patient and their families. In addition, therapy is available as an option for you, as a family member, to cope with the emotional path ahead. Similarly, rehabilitation centers offer family and individual therapies as part of their treatment programs.   

Overall, parents must take care of their well-being so they can be available to support their struggling loved ones.   

There Is Always Hope

In conclusion, education and compassion are the keys to successful recoveries. But, no matter how bad things are, there is always hope. By encouraging your daughter to get healthy, you can be the voice of clarity that helps her on her way to recovery.  

Above all, you are doing a great job. There is a new life for your family beyond recovery.  

losing your teen to addiction





[4] How to Talk About Your Child’s Substance Abuse Addiction (

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Susana Spiegel

Susana Spiegel

Susana has experience writing about addiction, treatment, mental health, and recovery. She holds a Bachelors in Arts of Theology from GCU, and has a deep empathy for those who are struggling with addiction, as she is in recovery herself.

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