It sounds like your daughter has moved from use to abuse to addiction over the past 10 or 15 years. Alcoholism and addiction are powerful beasts. They take over a person’s life and eventually can destroy a person’s health and even eclipse a lot of their original good character and personality.
It becomes hard to tell whether the person you are relating to is still really the daughter you raised or some other personality that has taken over. They almost seem possessed by something that is “not them”. In fact they are in the sense that they are controlled by the addiction. This is the progression of the disease at work. Over time, addiction alienates the person from his or her true self and strains virtually every relationship the person has with family and friends.
Helping your child (even your adult child) when they are in trouble is natural to most parents, but when your adult child’s life is one ongoing crisis and the help you provide never seems to help for long or make a real difference in their pattern of living, it is time to re-evaluate.
The term codependency has been popularized in our culture over the past several decades and many people aren’t quite sure what it means or how to tell when they are being an enabler of their child’s addiction. Enabling and codependency are behaviors intended to help an alcoholic or addict but often backfire because enabling rescues the alcoholic from the consequences of their problematic behaviors and choices.
When a person is strongly entrenched in an addiction, such assistance can become more problematic than helpful, preventing your daughter from “hitting bottom”—that is, from experiencing enough negative consequences that she has a chance of waking up from the nightmare of addiction and seeking the help she needs to move into recovery.
Cutting the cord is a hard thing to do, but in truth your efforts have no real impact on alcoholism or addiction that has become that severe. Any rescue is temporary and ultimately ineffective until the person hits their own bottom and decides (or is forced by the courts) to seek help.
I strongly urge parents, spouses and other friends and family members of alcoholics and addicts to utilize the community resource of Al-Anon to assist them in learning tools for getting out of destructive patterns with alcoholic loved ones. It is a support group that is free to anyone who loves someone with alcohol or addiction problems. The program does not tell you whether or not to cut the cord, but helps you and other family members regain balance and perspective in their decision-making regarding their addicted family member.
Educating yourself about alcoholism can be key in coming to an understanding about what is and is not within your power to do or influence in attempting to help your daughter. Individual and group counseling for you as parents with a counselor knowledgeable about addiction and codependency can also be helpful. It is frightening and painful to realize that your addicted child may or may not find recovery. Sometimes an individual’s “bottom” ends up being their death. This is a tragic loss of life’s potential for the individual who dies and a tremendous loss for their surviving loved ones.
What is important to realize is that as long as a person is alive, they have the chance to find recovery, but this is not something anyone else can do for them. Not even their parents. I hope your daughter finds the help she needs. Regardless of her choices, your own life can be better by embracing your own healing and recovery as parents who love a family member with an addiction.