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The Climb

Addiction Questions We Receive from Caregivers

Jan 23, 2019 8:00:00 AM / by Jon Dower, CIP, PR

At Ascension, we get many frequently asked questions from families about their loved ones who
are suffering from substance use disorder. We also see common situations that families find
themselves in.

First and foremost, it is our goal to help the loved one affected by SUD receive treatment, but we know that there can be many steps before we get there like setting boundaries and developing positive family relationships.

Learn more about common situations we see.

addiction questions

My daughter just called and has nowhere to stay tonight. It’s freezing outside and if I don’t get her a hotel she will have to either sleep in her car or stay with bad people. What should I do?

Families often find themselves in dilemmas where the person with a SUD engages the family
with a perceived crisis situation. This dilemma plays on the family’s fear that their loved one is
in immediate jeopardy, not because of their substance use disorder, but rather because they lack a safe environment to sleep one particular night.

The family should not enable their daughter by paying for her to stay at a hotel. Though their motive is to get her the best possible help, there are different ways for them to fulfill this goal. They could have the daughter go to the following places or contact the following organizations:

  • A hospital.
  • Detox facility.
  • Entering into a residential treatment.
  • Contacting Help for west Virginia: A drug and addiction hotline.
  • Research treatment options on SAMHSA: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can find help and treatment.

Though the family may believe that putting a roof over their child’s head is the best idea, it
actually enables the child and could put them in jeopardy.


My son called and needs money for food. I'm not going to give him cash, because that is enabling, but I do want to order him some groceries or delivery food. Is that okay to do? What should I do? 

As this scenario is very similar to the one above, any act of providing resources to a loved during their active addiction allows them to use their available resources toward maladaptive behaviors. Maladaptive behaviors refer to types of behaviors that limit an individual’s ability to adjust to their situation. Instead of buying food, the loved one may take the money and buy substances.

Family members can be uniquely unqualified to deal with their loved one’s SUD. At Ascension,
we encourage family members to focus on their role as the family member instead of trying to
pick up the role as a psychiatrist or a doctor for their loved one. Staying in the appropriate role as
a family member will help both the person with a SUD feel the natural consequences of their
actions and allow the family to form the healthy boundaries that are required for the healing process to begin.

If the loved one is already in treatment, it is best to let them know that is it more important for them to stay alive and focus on their treatment process rather than the type of food provided by the treatment center.

If the loved one is not in treatment, it is still not recommended that the family buy them food.
There are different options and places the son could go to get food.

  • Soup kitchens.
  • Homeless shelters. 

I pay for my child’s cell phone, so they are able to call me and keep in touch and I know they are safe. I also want them to be able to call if they want help. Is this ok to do? What should I do? 


The goal of the parent is to not absorb the natural consequences of the child’s behavior. If the
child is spending money and prioritizing their addiction rather than paying for a cell phone, the
parent should not be providing a cellphone for the child. There are benefits and drawbacks of
providing a cell phone.

  • Benefit: The parent is able to communicate with them. This benefit is limited though, due to the fact their loved one has desire to communicate. 
  • Drawback: The parent cannot determine who they will communicate with on that
    device. For instance, they could be in communication with their drug dealer. Another
    draw back is it opens the door for the person of concern to badger the family with further
    demands from the family.

Overall, providing a cell phone for their loved one is not recommended. If they truly need help from a family member or are in an emergency, they can always borrow a cell phone or find the means to make a call.


My son just called and said that he owes a drug dealer $200 and if he doesn’t pay them back today the dealer is going to hurt him. Should I give him the money, so he doesn’t get hurt?


In this scenario, the parent should not give their son money. It is important to set healthy
boundaries that the parent is comfortable with. By saying yes in this scenario, the child is asking the parent to suspend these healthy boundaries.

It is recommended that family members talk with an addiction professional to define what their
healthy boundaries are. Often times, the family member wants to set boundaries that their loved
one is comfortable with; however, an addiction professional should help define what is healthy
for the caregiver.

Through our addiction intervention services at Ascension, our addiction professionals can sit
down and talk with caregivers about healthy boundaries and how to set them.


My daughter just told me that she was going to kill herself if she had to go to rehab and we wouldn’t give her money to get high. What should we do?


Unfortunately, it is likely that loved one may be trying to create a crisis; however, all threats of
self-harm should be taken seriously. In this scenario, it’s best to talk with emergency services.
Organizations that are best to contact are:

  • Emergency services: Call 911. 
  • Contact the local behavioral health system: For Monongalia County, contact Valley HealthCare Systems
  • Doing a welfare check with the sheriff's department: Call 911.
  • Mental hygiene in West Virginia: Executing a petition to have the loved one held for a
    mental hygiene petition is only recommend as the very last resort. A mental hygiene petition
    will stay on the loved one’s record and follow them for life.

After the caregiver’s loved one receives mental health help, the center they are released from
should have an aftercare plan. It is important to note that if their loved one is released and goes
back to an unhealthy environment, they may fall back into an unhealthy pattern.

My loved one wants to go to an outpatient program though they use heroin on a daily basis. Is this appropriate?

An intervention is the most appropriate course of action. As we said before, family members are
uniquely unqualified to deal with their loved one’s SUD. It’s inappropriate for the family to
assume how their loved one feels and if they are ready to get help.

If the loved one is seeking help through outpatient services, but is actively using, the next step
would be to talk with an addiction professional about an intervention and consulting services.

Ascension Recovery Services: Intervention

An addiction intervention is a carefully thought out plan that will enable the family to sit down
and express concerns about their loved one who is affected by SUD. At Ascension, we have
developed a 10-step approach to addiction intervention that works.

  1. A family in crisis must first recognize there is a problem.
  2. Relief starts with the first call to our team.
  3. An intervention team is assembled, and a robust plan is outlined.
  4. Our team gathers information and conducts interviews with family members.
  5. Evidence of the addiction and inaction is documented.
  6. Treatment options are vetted with the individual’s specific needs, financial and insurance
    in mind.
  7. Transportation logistics are addressed.
  8. Group rehearsals are done to prepare the family.
  9. The intervention is performed.
  10. If successful, the loved one will enter treatment.

If you’d like to talk with an addiction professional, call us at 304-241-4585.

Ascension Recovery Services: Consulting (SBIRT)

Our addiction treatment consulting relies on an evidence-based SBIRT model (Screening, Brief
Interview, Referral to Treatment) to quickly and effectively support families dealing with

At Ascension, we have developed a four-step approach.

  1.  Families receive a screening interview and disease education.
  2. ARS professionals facilitate a workshop about enabling behaviors and implementing
    healthy boundaries.
  3. The person of concern is matched with an appropriate recovery plan.
  4. The family is prepared for the future through recommended family support options. 

As the family member, you have the best interest in support and safety for your loved one but
doing the right thing for their addiction is important, too. If the family relationship needs
repaired, it can be harmful to their loved one to go through treatment, only to return to the
environment where their family hasn’t worked through their own, separate, but related issues. At
Ascension, we want to make sure there is a family component that is parallel to the person of
concern, but on a separate track.


Having addiction professionals on your side, like our staff at Ascension, is important for several reasons.

  1. An addiction professional can diagnose family dysfunction that could become a barrier to
    your loved one’s long-term success.
  2. Our addiction professional can provide an unbiased examination of the problems your
    loved one is facing.
  3. The addiction professional can make sure that the treatment center selection is based on
    your loved one’s needs, insurance policy and financial tolerability of the family.

Our family consulting services (SBIRT) and intervention services will provide your loved in the right direction for recovery. We have a team of experts and specialists with years of experience
helping individuals reach sobriety.

Contact us to get help if you have any other additional questions for us about what you should or
should not do for your loved one. Call us today at 304-241-4585 or click below to learn more
about our intervention services.


Topics: Addiction

Jon Dower, CIP, PR

Written by Jon Dower, CIP, PR

Jon is a certified intervention professional through the Pennsylvania Certification Board as well as a certified recovery coach and peer mentor specialist in West Virginia. He earned his degree in political science with minors in communications and addiction studies from West Virginia University. Jon has performed many successful interventions in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Leading the clinical services side of Ascension, his duties include interventions, management and working with the families of those in recovery. Jon builds relationships and coordinates with substance abuse treatment centers across the country. He places hundreds of individuals in the most appropriate facility yearly. Additionally, Jon serves as manager of operations of a non-profit sober living company with 32 beds in West Virginia.

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