Originally Published: April 6, 2018 5:56 a.m.
Dear Annie: My 52-year-old stepdaughter is on drugs and has been for 20 years. Her mom has had her removed from our home four or five times, but she is now back living here. She is causing so much stress to the whole family, and we do not know where to go for help. She refuses to go to any type of rehab.
She is paranoid — barricading herself in her bedroom with a dresser nailed against the door, such that she has to enter from outside the house. She is becoming physically abusive to her mom, who is frail. She was once arrested for physically abusing an elderly gentleman.
We, as well as her younger sister and her family, are at our wits’ end as to what to do, where to go and whom to contact for help with her. Suggestions, please! We must do something before it is too late. — Need Help
Dear Need Help: I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and I can tell you’re at a point of desperation. It’s painful, scary and frustrating to feel as though you’re at the mercy of a family member’s addiction and mental illness. But you do not have to be. It’s time to take back your home and ensure the safety of your wife. Your stepdaughter poses a threat to your wife’s safety, and this constitutes an emergency, so contact the authorities to remove her from the house (again). For further guidance, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine (800-950-6264).
Dear Annie: Your response to “We Deserve Happiness” was good for some situations but may have missed one serious reason a widow’s adult children might object to his new relationship with her. “Mom” may be suffering from the early or middle stages of dementia. These symptoms can be very well-hidden from new people in a person’s life, but adult children would be very much aware of the progression of the disease and would be right to be protective of their parent’s well-being.
My mom suffered with vascular dementia for 10 years before recently passing. She was very good at hiding her symptoms, even with some family members, and faking her familiarity with a person or situation, giving outward appearances that she was just fine. In reality, her disease was progressing, and she confided to my brother and me that her brain was just not working as it used to. We had to keep a close and protective eye on her, especially when new people came into the picture, because of the high risk of someone’s taking advantage of her sweet and giving nature — and several did try. — Dawn
Dear Dawn: I am so sorry for your loss. I would never discourage children from protecting their parent in such a situation. Bless you for looking out for your mom, just as she once looked out for you.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.