William C. Moyers


Copyright Creators Syndicate, Inc. For the benefit of alcoholics, addicts and those who care about them, please encourage your local paper to run "Beyond Addiction" by William C. Moyers. Available through Creators Syndicate.

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Beyond Addiction by William C. Moyers

Improving our understanding of alcohol and drug addiction

Contract for Deeds

When conversation between worried parents and their troubled children is not enough -- or maybe too much -- consider a written contract.

A no-nonsense colleague of mine at Hazelden whose 17-year-old daughter has struggled with alcohol and drug-related problems showed me a contract she used to set firm boundaries for when the teenager is living at her home. The mother was at her wits' end about what to do -- especially after the girl disappeared last year, only to show up again in the middle of a bitter Minnesota winter, about a month ago.

"I love her. I want her to get well, and having her at home is a big relief," the mother said. "But I also needed to take care of my own sanity, my own health. I couldn't have her violating my space and compromising my peace of mind."

So she wrote this contract:



I agree to:

Mother and daughter sat down to review the terms, and without intransigence the teenager signed and dated it. A copy hangs next to the computer she uses daily.

"I told her the trust isn't there, that it will take time," the mother said. "So far, so good."

Rules are a vital part of every household. But for parents whose home has been compromised by a teen's use of alcohol or other drugs, a simple, clear-cut contract might be the last resort or the first step in helping the teen understand what's at stake for the whole family.

February 20, 2010

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