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Daughter replaces one addiction with another

DEAR AMY: My adult daughter, 23, suffered a bout of severe alcohol dependency two years ago. She went through rehab successfully, and today she remains sober. She is under the care of a psychiatrist who only adjusts her various medications. In going off alcohol, however, she turned to food and has become truly obese. While she recognizes the problem, she will not or cannot do anything about it on her own. She is with a long-term boyfriend who enables her eating disorder. We have brought up the issue, gently, on two occasions, but she says she is working on it and won't discuss the issue further. My wife and I are concerned about her physical and mental health, but we do not know what to do. If you have any advice on how we might help this wonderful young woman, we would be most grateful.

-- Discouraged

DEAR DISCOURAGED: It sounds as if you have been very supportive and successful in urging your daughter toward recovery. However, it is her responsibility to do the hard work every single day to stay sober and manage her health.

Addicts have a tendency to find enablers. At 23, your daughter may not yet have the maturity to fully understand her own motivations, but she must take responsibility for her actions. If she says she's working on her weight issues, then you should believe her. Some of her meds may be triggering her weight gain; urge her to get a medical checkup.

I hope she is participating in regular group recovery meetings; support meetings should be a part of her life for the foreseeable future.

And -- speaking of meetings -- you and your wife need to get yourselves to Al-Anon. Like all concerned loved ones, you are searching for something to "do" regarding your daughter's addiction. Ultimately, you cannot "do" your daughter into wellness. Through Al-Anon you will learn to support her sobriety, point her toward help when she asks for it, and understand and accept your own limitations.

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