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Desperate for Help with Adult Stepdaughter’s Diagnosis

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I am wondering (& def believe) stepdaughter lengthy ongoing issues stems from psych problem but no diagnosis yet. We are desperate for help since this has been going on for over 15 years. My 31 year old stepdaughter has had drug problems for 15 years &  just up & left yet another rehab while on Vivitrol. She goes into detox hospitals and then gets transferred to residential recovery houses, which she stays at for a couple weeks then up and leaves and then loops through this process again and again. I know she has said she is empty inside and has talked abt hurting herself, but it’s hard to tell if she actually is being honest about that or is using that to get back in rehab places after she has left. She doesn’t seem to have reasons for leaving any of these places. Though, she acts very immature and does seem to struggle with authority and taking responsibility for anything. She has been in trouble with law, and while once she cared very much for her looks, she now has covered her body in tattoos. She has a young daughter, who she OD’ed in front of (she no longer has custody) & parents who are desperate to get her help and finally get her on the right path. But she seems to easily disconnect from what she’s done and does &  doesn’t seems to care how much she is hurting and worrying everyone. . With all these hospitals and rehabs she has been in, she has gotten some counseling, but i very much believe she has an underlying mental health prob that has not been diagnosed that could be at the root of this. I am hoping you could advise on anything you might think it could be. Thank you so much!!! (From the USA)

Desperate for Help with Adult Stepdaughter’s Diagnosis

Answered by on -


Unfortunately the description you have offered is all too common. It is typical for the number of residential rehabilitations to be several in number (some sources pointing to more than a half dozen) before a successful take happens. Typically, mental health issues are concomitant concerns and evaluated for as part of the process.

I wish there was an easy answer, but the brief stays combined with withdrawal issues and the new living situation often doesn’t allow for an accurate assessment. Sometimes the legal complications can actually help — if the rehabilitation is mandatory. This allows for a longer stay and for support services to be coordinated once the individual is released.

I would highly recommend Nar-Anon or Al-Anon for you and your family in coping with this ongoing problem. They have support and decades of wisdom to offer as you cope with your stepdaughter’s behavior.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Desperate for Help with Adult Stepdaughter’s Diagnosis

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Desperate for Help with Adult Stepdaughter’s Diagnosis. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 3 Sep 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.