Tuesday April 25th 2017

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What to do for a homeless family member? Recovery tools for a loved one in a crisis

The distressed phone call

Recently a friend contacted me because her daughter, Laura, and her boyfriend had broken up. They had been sharing a tiny apartment with his relatives and now she was asked to leave. Laura, who was drinking heavily, was stranded in a rural area with no car, no friends, and few resources, except for her monthly disability check and a dog she dearly loved.

Laura lived out of state. Because of poor health, Laura’s mom wasn’t free to leave and rescue her daughter once again. And she didn’t want her to return home to regroup.

Truly faced with homelessness: What to do?

This wasn’t the first time that Laura’s back was against the wall. It had happened before. Each time, my friend agonized over what to do and what not to do. Facing the reality that one’s child might become homeless is daunting. We live a dangerous world. What’s a mother to do?

I suggested that my friend contact social services in the county where her daughter currently resides. I also reminded her that tools of a twelve-step program for loved ones could help her navigate these muddy waters. Here are a few that might help.

Tool #1: Think

In a panic mode during a crisis, it’s easy to overreact. Visions of a son or daughter sleeping under a bridge, scavenging for food, or getting into a fight are downright scary.

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The urge to prevent these risky events is powerful. After all, parents are programmed to protect their children. However, rather than react, it might be best to exert self-control. Do and say nothing until things calm down.

Tool #2: Pray

Better to think before one speaks and pray before one acts. The “Serenity Prayer” almost always provides solace.

Tool #3: Easy Does It

This tool can help prevent an explosion of angry words and recriminations. It can guide a loved one toward a less frantic state of mind. It can slow down the pace of worry and obsession. Reaching out to others for support is a form of self-care that rescues a loved one from drowning in an emotional tsunami.

Tool #4: Just for Today

Several years ago, when I faced a crisis with my adult son, my sponsor gave me a “Just for Today” bookmark. (I keep it handy at all times.) Several sentences are relevant during a crisis.

  • “I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.”
  • “I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax.”
  • “I will have a program. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.”

Other slogans such as “Let Go and Let God,”  “Keep an open mind,” and “One day at a time,” help lift a loved one’s  thoughts and emotions out of a confused state in order to better endure a family crisis.

Are you faced with a difficult time?

Please let us know about it. We’ll do our best to respond to you promptly. But we always try to reach out personally. Please share with us your hopes, concerns, and what you’re going through. We’re here to help.

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11 Responses to “What to do for a homeless family member? Recovery tools for a loved one in a crisis
6:27 pm September 17th, 2015

My brother is going to be homeless soon.He is 6,000 miles away from me. I told him ,he could live here with me but he could not drink here. Did I do the right thing? What can I do if he drinks?

4:31 pm September 22nd, 2015

Hi Veronica. That was a very wise decision that would move things towards helping him and not dragging you into co-dependence. This is not an easy and one-way-to-go process, so I suggest you join a network or support group for families of alcoholics to learn the right coping skills and know how to handle situations.

tony c
9:39 am October 2nd, 2015

Hi I have a few problems. First is I’m addicted to crack. Second is where I live it’s everywhere. I was living together with my girlfriend but after 8 years she said enough. She didn’t use. Anyway obviously i can’t save money being around here. I was doing SO well not living around here. I went to the salvation army and it wasn’t fot me. I need to work.I have a awesome job and just need to get outa this area. Is there any agencies for men? I know there are for women. Please help me.

2:29 am October 31st, 2015

Hi, I made a Youtube video in memory of my brother Daniel, who tragically passed away 9 years ago in an ongoing battle for addiction. This video is in dedication to Daniel, and was also made to help spread awareness for addiction. If you are, or know someone, who is struggling with addiction, please share this with them. My hope is that no family will have to endure the pain my family has felt for these past 9 years. Please take some time out of your day to share with others and to help spread awareness!! Together we can truly shatter the stigma and stop the silence. Enjoy the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6afkpgmHK6w

5:46 pm November 3rd, 2015

Hi Brandon. Thank you for sharing your video here and I’m very sorry for your loss. I hope this video helps others avoid the kind of pain you, your family and everyone who knew and loved Daniel suffered.

12:50 pm November 4th, 2015

Hi Tony. Click on this link to access SAMHSA’s treatment locator, select your State, area, town, type of treatment needed, health insurance, payment options and everything that fits you needs. I hope this helps!

2:14 pm January 19th, 2016

My father was arrested in May of 2015 for being under the influence and having drugs on him. It has sort of spiraled down from there. He is almost 50, and has never really got hold of his life, and continues to blame his un-normal childhood. This ultimately led to him now being homeless, or so he says. Cocaine has been a issue for the past 10 years. He doesn’t talk about it, and kinda blames everything else. I am his daughter, I know it would be unsafe for him to live with me, I don’t know who he owes or what his real situation is. I know he needs help, but whether he want’s to admit that. He has manipulated me for most my life and the stress is starting to exhaust. This is very unknown territory since I was raised by my mom with a loving family. I just want to know he isn’t going to die on the streets. But then again, these are decisions he will have to make.

9:31 am March 29th, 2016

I have a family member that is homeless and keeps getting arrested for being homeless. Arrested for sleeping under a bridge, arrested for sleeping in a field, arrested for sleeping, period. It makes me angry to see this.

9:07 am February 14th, 2017

My brother is 54 years old and has been using since high school, with some long sober periods over the years. I don’t talk to him very often now, but I just heard that once again, he’ll be homeless soon. In the past, he’s lived in his car, been in jail, lived at a rescue mission, and also managed to rent various apartments over the years, only to not pay rent and subsequently be evicted.
So here we go again. I don’t understand why he has been repeating this cycle for nearly all of his adult life. I don’t know why he falls back down this hole of addicting over and over, and it breaks my heart. I don’t know what, if anything I can or should do or say.
And sometimes I feel guilty that I’m living a nice, stable, happy life and he’s not. And angry that I don’t “have” a big brother, and angry that my mother has enabled him to the extreme.

Thank you for allowing me to post my thoughts here.

6:04 am March 4th, 2017

I broke up with my live-in boyfriend of 10 years becasue he is schizophrenic and stopped taking his medication and started doing methamphetamine. It was a year ago and he is now homeless – for one yea r. I live with a roommate now because it is the only way for me to survive. He can not stay with me even temporarily even though he is sober. i do not know where to begin to help. He has been all over southern california. Sometimes I hear from him. Sometimes not for months. I am saving as much as I can to get my own place and moving out of los angeles – rent is so expensive here $1200.00 for a one bedroom apartment. I am afraid he is going to die. I saw him a month ago. He lost 70 lbs in 8 months. No one or agency can help me or him and he is now maybe in Long Beach, CA. He is on social security. why can’t I get him off the streets? He told me he hates it – of course. He has accepted death.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
7:31 pm March 13th, 2017

Hi Stephanie. Call the helpline you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant.

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About Fran Simone, PhD

Fran Simone is a Professor Emeritus from Marshall University, South Charleston Campus in West Virginia. Recently her memoir, Dark Wine Waters: a Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows was published by Central Recovery Press. She can be reached through the Dark Wine Waters website or at darkwinewaters [at] gmail.

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