Abusive Relationships/drugs


QUESTION: I'm 27 working part time and going to college full time.
I'm living with my dad, stepmom and sister.

my dad is addicted to roxicontin and is mentally and emotionally abusive to get his fix.

I do not make enough money to move out on my own.
but every time I start thinking about how I could move out I start to feel guilty.

I help pay rent and buy groceries and some of the bills, if I wasn't here they wouldn't be able to afford it
but as long as I stay here my dad pawns everything I own or begs for my money or just takes my debit card while I'm asleep and goes and buys whatever

this has been going on for 2 years
I originally had $1000 saved up but he found the money and spent it in less than a week. now I am trapped.

I love my dad because he used to be a wonderful person but now he's... he's not.

I don't know what to do. I feel responsible for everyone in this household.

ANSWER: Thank you for your question.  I am truly sorry that you find yourself in such destructive circumstances.  The first thing that I must tell you is that you are not responsible for anyone in that house but yourself.  Now if you choose to help the people there, that is a different story.  But you are NOT responsible for them.

The problem with this kind of dysfunctional situation is that it needs someone who is willing to take the consequences for the other people's actions.  That person would be you.  You are the person in the scenario...perhaps your stepmom as well, but from what you are telling me I can only see your part...you are the person in the scenario who is holding it all together.  If you weren't there, your father would not have an opportunity to get money from you.  If you weren't there, perhaps your stepmother would rise to the occasion and take action because she will be pushed to that point.  Your father is stealing money and items that do not belong to him, yet there are no consequences for that.  Call the police and turn him in.  Because no one is rising up to oppose his actions, he continues to be dysfunctional.  

If you choose to stay, then you, your stepmother and your sister need to come up with a plan to stop the addiction.  Perhaps the 3 of you could move out, perhaps you should do an intervention with your father and set his moving out or going into rehab or whatever it might be as a consequence if he doesn't deal with his issue.  

For you, I would put a lock on your bedroom door if you are going to stay there.  However, my best advice is for you to move out.  Find a group of friends you can live with, perhaps you and your sister can live together.  Something has to change or the situation will continue as is.

I am going to say something very difficult for you to hear, but if your father is addicted to a drug like this, you are not dealing with your father any more.  You are dealing with an addict and as such, you must deal with him like you would deal with an addict.  You can't believe them, you can't trust them.  You understand that they manipulate anyone and everything to get what they want.  You need to protect yourself from him.  It is his choice, to not get help for his problem.  It is your stepmother's choice to stay in that situation.  You all have choices here, which is why you are not responsible for what is happening.  Either separately or together, the three of you must decide to stand against him.  He shouldn't be living with you, he should be in rehab, he should be in counseling...he should be taking responsibility for his own life instead of preying on the lives of his family.  

I know this is hard to hear, but it is truly the way out.  You need help and if you or your family can get some counseling, that would be one step in the right direction.  

Honestly, I wish you all the best as you face some very hard decisions.  If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me again.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The reason he got onto roxies was because they were prescribed to him after he had an invasive surgery.

And it never stopped.

Now, he legitimately needs pain management because his spine is contorted and screwed together with ceramic plates and pins.

But I think it has become such that he is no longer taking them for pain. Perhaps only 2 will kill his pain but his body says he needs 5.

They are $30 a piece off the street. It is a revolving door situation: Sell all the pills, pay the rent. Need $ every day after that to buy back all the pills he sold.

He was in the hospital for 6 months last year due to MRSA in his spinal fluid, and he almost died, and you would think that would have helped but it didn't. It took him less than a month to get right back into the habit.

I HATE the people he hangs out with. they are pieces of garbage that need to get out of our lives because they're ruining his and ours. he thinks they are his friends but they are just users and druggies. they don't care about him.

It took him years and prison time to get away from crack and alcohol, and he's only been sober from that for 6 years.

I want him to go to rehab. I have gotten phone numbers for my stepmom, I've called and made appointments that he won't go to. he says "it will be different next month"

I've started saving money again but with school, I can't find a second job that will work with my rotating class schedules.

How do you force someone into rehab??

I want to go to his pain management doctor and tell the doctor, LOOK! THIS ISN'T WORKING!!!!!!!

But I guess then they will just completely cut him off and then we WILL be up shit creek...

You have some valid points.  However, it is possible that the pain management doctor might be able to assert the leverage on him to make some changes.  You would not know unless you spoke with him.

This is a very, very complicated situation.  However, to save yourself, you have to get out of there and let them deal with the situation.  With regard to saving money, you might look at a safe with a fingerprint lock on it, or asking the bank how you can safeguard your debit card, protect against fraud.  The best thing that I can think of to deter someone is to turn them in.  If he steals from you, turn him in.

It sounds as though your step mom is co-dependent with him as well.  Although, you are correct, you can't force someone into rehab, you can make life so difficult for them that they make the choice themselves.  It would take a concerted effort from all 3 of you and if that isn't possible, then your best bet is to just remove yourself.  

The main problem that you have is that you are all adults.  If an adult wants to do inappropriate things, they can, until they run up against someone who will push back.  I don't know if this would solve your problem, but you mentioned school.  Perhaps, at this point, the priority is on the job and not so much on school.  Is it possible for you to go to school online?  That would give you the freedom to work any job and go to school when you had the time available.  I don't know what you are going to school for, so perhaps that wouldn't work, but it might be something to look in to.  It seems that it would be more important for you to leave the situation and then plan for your future, rather than the other way around.

I understand that your father needs pain management.  You are probably correct that he doesn't need the amount that he is taking.  However, that is his decision and his problem to deal with, not yours.  If you find yourself in a situation where no one wants to help themselves, the only answer is to save yourself if and when you can.  You can't coerce another person into helping themselves if they choose not to...it is just a useless endeavor.  Most of what we as human beings respond to is pain.  We want to move away from it.  Your father and step mother have to come to a place where the pain of the situation they are in is greater than the pain of the change they must make to move away from it.  Evidently, that hasn't happened yet.

Developing a support system for yourself, outside of the immediate family would be beneficial.  If you need to find an abuse support group, a church, etc.  Anything that would bring you in contact with people who could be encouraging to you, positive and help you move toward your goals.  I do understand...my husband's father was much like yours and did similar things.  It is not pretty or fun.  Often, the only thing you can do is move away from it if you are going to succeed in life.  You sound as though you have a lot of motivation to make your life better.  Surround yourself with people who are positive and moving in the same direction.  It does help.

The only other thing that I can suggest is to check with a Social Worker in your area and see if they know of any programs that you might qualify for with regard to housing or financial support.  Because you are a student, there may be something out there that could be of help.

Blessings to you.  Thank you for writing back.  

Abusive Relationships

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP


I can answer questions regarding emotional and physical abuse in dating and marriage situations, however I am unable to give legal advice. Having had firsthand experience in an abusive relationship, I understand the feelings, the questions and the doubts we have as we try to make decisions about how to improve our situations. I am also able to address spiritual concerns regarding staying in or leaving these types of situations.


Having been a victim of emotional abuse for many years and having family members who were in violent abuse situations, I have personal experience on many levels. I have since gone on to become a professional counselor and work with abused women.

American Mental Health Counselors Assn., American Association of Christian Counselors, International Association of Prayer Counselors

I currently maintain a blog at www.livingwellcc.blogspot.com. I also have links and currently written articles on my website at www.livingwellcc.com. You can also follow me on TWITTER @livingwellcc, or on facebook at Living Well Counseling and Consulting. My writings have appeared in The Good News Northwest and the North Idaho Business Journal

Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Natural Health Professional

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Board Certified Christian Counselor

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