Our daughter is now, finally, settled at her sober-living facility. It has been a journey to get here and we know the journey isn’t over. The journey I refer to is not the process (hospitalization, PHP, IOP, then “stepping up” to residential and then back to IOP and sober living), but the journey to find some tranquility.

In fairness to our daughter, the goods sold to us—and then to her—were quite misleading. The rules and regulations of this sober home were far more restrictive than we were led to believe. But all is from G‑d. Their rules—phone restrictions, curfews, limited visits and time allowed off-site, with earned level of freedoms—are truly all for the best.

Additionally, like many sober homes, they prohibit the use of certain ADHD medications which can be addictive, posing a new challenge for our daughter who counts on that medication to keep a clear mind.

In consultation with her primary psychiatrist, we determined that taking her off the medication was actually a good idea, even though it would trigger a fresh round of withdrawal symptoms. Among other reasons, he explained that since she has been taking this medication for so long, her brain has essentially stopped producing the chemical on its own. Taking her off it will help retrain her body to produce it again naturally.

Furthermore, none of us know her baseline. What’s “normal” for her? How is she supposed to feel? She assumes that her natural state of being is the amped-up feeling she has when taking this medication. Perhaps, though, she is really more mild-mannered and not as loud as we have all become accustomed to. And if there is a time and place to manage that withdrawal, a sober home is the way to do it.

It took a week, but she finally conceded that notwithstanding the painful—and oh, it was painful to watch; I can only imagine how painful it was to experience!—withdrawal, she is indeed calmer, less anxious, and able to think and write in a much healthier way.

Listening to a parenting podcast recently, I was struck by something the presenter said: Children truly crave rules and structure. As much as they tell you they just want to be left alone and given their freedoms, if you do in fact give them all those freedoms, they end up resenting you more.

They want guidance and they want to respect you. They can only do that when you respect yourself and have rules for what you will and will not tolerate. Open-ended yeses actually hurt them. Clear rules provide clear parameters, helping them to know their own boundaries in relation to you, creating feelings of peace and security.

They realize that you need to control your own life, and that your life is helped by having rules. This in turn helps them. If you then start bargaining with them, you are showing that you don’t believe in your own rules.

The example the podcaster gave was telling a child, “You can have ice cream when you finish your dinner.” Then, if the child isn’t eating, you start to wheedle, “C’mon, you really want that ice cream, don’t you? So let’s get that dinner moving.”

You are no longer in control with clear boundaries; you are now just begging, trying to manipulate the situation, and all the value of your boundaries has been lost.

This was our daughter's experience.

When the law was laid down clearly and unequivocally, in sober living, with zero room for doubt, she eventually made peace with it and even started appreciating it. She is now considering staying there for longer than the required minimum.

I was struck by a parallel to our ancestors when they left Egypt. In their moment of deep addiction and chaos, G‑d freed them. He provided a pathway to cleanliness, happiness and sober living. He dictated clear rules via Moses and the Torah.

One might argue that our ancestors just traded in one master (Pharaoh) for another (G‑d). But a consistent Divine rulebook is the pathway to a life of true inner freedom and health, even if we do not understand the reason for every mitzvah.

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