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17yo substance abuse and no motivation

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17yo substance abuse and no motivation


17yo substance abuse and no motivation

My 17yo niece (ni) has never been overly motivated, but now it seems everything has hit a wall. Her mother (mo) is currently transitioning to male which is quite possibly a contributing factor. Mo has also rarely worked over the years and is lower socio. Ni's father (my brother) has a long history of drug use and mental health disorders and they have not had a relationship for around 10 years (her choice). Mo rang me recently to advise of ni's constant binge drinking, drug use, lack of self care (showering, teeth etc), school refusal, refusal to help around the house, being rude and offensive to Mo, and not attending mental health appointments.

Mo told ni if she doesn't sort herself out, she will need to stay with me. I am happy to support in any way, including taking her in. I live 7hrs drive so it would be a significant move for her, away from her boyfriend and friends. I am unsure if that is a help or hindrance for her though. I know that I would be able to provide more structure and consistency than what she currently receives.

I sat down with them both and asked her to come up with 6 goals she would like to achieve by the time I phone her in a week. She came up with 4 while I was there, but no new ones by the time I called. I told her we would chat at 12pm every Monday to see how she's going. Today is week 2, and she didn't go home and has her phone turned off. I had told her if she doesn't meet our list of expectations over the next 6 weeks, we would seriously consider the relocation. I explained why, that I was worried about her and don't want to see her do things that will affect her life long term.

The expectations were simple things such as showering, teeth, tidying her mess, being nicer to Mo and looking for work. I'm almost certain none of this is happening.

So I guess my question is, would temporary relocation be a positive move for her? I would engage her with mental health services, school and any other services as required.

Thanks in anticipation

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Re: 17yo substance abuse and no motivation

Hey @Reesa ,


Welcome to the forum. Thank you for sharing what's going on for you. 

It sounds like you're someone who really wants to support your niece. The mother reaching out to you shows that she believes you may be of some help for what's going on with your niece. This is particularly noted in that you took the time and effort to sit with both of them and work out on some goals for your niece. From what I understand, you and the mother are trying to figure out how to best support your niece and have stated that if your niece isn't able to make some progress, that you'd consider the relocation pretty seriously. How did your niece respond to that?

To answer your question, it would truly depend on what your nieces own expectations are. Has she disclosed a desire to live with you? Is she opposed to the idea? I can imagine if they really didn't want to live with you, that the ability to link them in with mental health services wouldn't be as easy due to the resistance. I can see where you are coming from. Sometimes being in a new environment can stimulate some big changes. But, like you've mentioned, it takes them away from their peers and boyfriend, so what could that mean for them? I'm sure there's still plenty of time to figure these things out, and I hope they are open to those Monday check-ins.

Wishing you all the best in this!