Depending on whom you talk to, the idea of letting an addict live with you is either a good idea or a terrible idea. It is one of those points of contention that you find in recovery where people passionately defend their stance, believing that their philosophy is the only correct way of thinking.
So with that said, from the onset, I just want to state that I personally believe that whether or not you should let an addict live with you, either in sobriety or in active addiction, is completely up to the person making the decision. I believe that there are some cases where it is best to remove a person from your house, so that you can allow them to hit the bottom they need in order to get sober, and there are other cases where letting the addict live with you is the best course of action. But truly at the end of the day, that decision is dependent upon the individuals involved, their unique situation, and what they believe to be best.
Making decisions like letting an addict live with you or kicking them out of the house mostly feel like impossible decisions to make. They are not choices that anyone is naturally equipped to handle and they can cause a great deal of stress and guilt on the people that have to make them. A mother or father who is faced with the decision of having to kick their addict son or daughter out of the house is placed in a terrible position that no parent wants to be in. On the one hand, while their child continues to live in the house, they at least know that they are safe and have a roof over their head but on the other hand, their own sanity is jeopardized, having to deal with an active addict day in and day out. So what exactly does a person in this position do? At what point do they draw the line and say enough is enough, you have to get out? It really is tough to know and like I said, in the end, only those people involved can really know what the best course of action is. They can get the advice of professionals who will more than likely tell them to kick their child out if they are using, but the final decision really has to be one that they feel comfortable with.
The same thing goes for living with a newly sober addict. If you are a parent of an addict who has just gone off to rehab and is now out and wanting to move back home with you, the decision on whether to let them do this or not really has to come from you. Although I will say in this particular case, it is probably best to ask them to live in a ¾ or halfway house for a while so that they can create a sober support network and allow them to grow up a bit. In fact I would say more often than not, when an addict gets out of rehab it is best to have them live somewhere else for a while, and then let them get their own place to live, so that they can learn the life skills they were lacking, and become more responsible.
I spoke to a friend who told me his experience with this and what seemed to work for him and his family. He told me that during his active addiction his father wouldn’t kick him out of the house because his father knew that he wasn’t capable of living on his own. He didn’t have the means to find a place of his own and so he would have been homeless and his father just couldn’t accept doing that to his son.
What eventually happened is that his father had enough and it just so happened to coincide with my friend hitting bottom, so the two sat down and decided that it would be best if he went away for long term treatment in another state and that after he was done with treatment, he wouldn’t be allowed back home. He’d have to stay down there and find his own way, which was the suggestion of the rehab as well.
My friend stayed in treatment for a little over 2 months and then went to a ¾ house after that. His father helped him with rent until he got on his feet and in time, he was able to pay his own rent and eventually moved out of that ¾ house and got a place of his own.
Eight years later, he is still doing well and so in this particular case what him and his family decided to do worked out. To a certain extent, his father did kick him out of the house, but he did so only with a plan for what was going to happen, and he didn’t withdraw his support for his son.
Now not every story will go as smoothly and sometimes people go off to treatment and do not stay sober, but I think that it is important that each person find what is right for them. The parents or loved ones of the addict need to really look inside and decide for themselves what they feel is right. If they think that kicking their child or spouse out of the house is the right thing to do, then that is what they should do. If they think that letting them stay in the house is the right thing to do, then that is what they should do. The reality is that when it comes to addiction, there isn’t much anyone can do to really help an addict until they are ready. We can help push them in the right direction and give them the support they need, but our decisions do not really have the impact that we often give them credit for. So when thinking about whether or not you should let an addict live with you, try to make the decision based off what you need, and what will help you live day to day, and if you follow the dictates of your conscience, then whatever decision you make will be correct.