Should I confront my daughter about drinking while in recovery?

by Willy Jo
(La Quinta, CA)

My daughter completed a 30 day inpatient program for alcohol and drugs. She is 30, married and has a 5 year old son. She came for a visit after being out of treatment for 2 weeks. We did not drink and put the alcohol away EXCEPT for some tequila (she doesn't like it) while she was here. She attended AA meetings every day except one. I'm very certain that she drank on that afternoon because of her behavior and the tequila bottle was emptier than it was previous to her visit. Now, I wish we had put everything away. She went home with her family today. My husband and I have discussed what to do in regards to telling her we know. What would you advise?


It depends on your daughter’s attitude towards accountability and her commitment to recovery. If she is serious about recovery, she will appreciate you holding her accountable. If she is not serious, she will likely become defensive and may lie about drinking. It could cause a lot of problems between you and her. Recovery is something that she has to own. If she drank, then she knows that she drank. While it’s good to hold her accountable, you cannot control the situation. If she wants to drink, she will drink whether it’s at your house or somewhere else. She is old enough to go out and buy her own alcohol when she decides to hop off the wagon. Telling her that you know may not change anything. It may be more helpful to tell her husband than it would be to confront her.

If you really want to say something to her, you could start by apologizing for having the tequila out while she was there. Tell her you’ve given it some thought and realized that it wasn’t a good idea. Ask her how it made her feel and if she was tempted or if she maybe even drank some. This approach is better than accusing her of something if you aren’t sure. If she is going to be honest with you, she will be honest no matter how you present the subject.

All in all, she has to own her recovery and decide that she will abstain from alcohol no matter what, even if people around her are drinking. Until she has committed fully to the program, she will relapse repeatedly no matter how much people confront her.

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