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Wives & Girlfriends in Prison For everyone who has a wife, girlfriend, or female partner incarcerated.

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  #1  
Old 02-26-2018, 05:51 PM
CorvetteGuy CorvetteGuy is offline
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Default Staying out if you've always been in

Not sure if this is the right place for this... When my now-ex wife came home a few years ago, a few weeks later one of her ex-cellies got out and stayed with us for a minute while she got her feet beneath her. Or that was the plan. She ended up violating and back in. She doesn't have anyone on the outs except a sister she's estranged from. While she was at county I was the only one to visit her. When my wife and I split up, somehow she was the one I could talk to about it all. You probably know where this is going.

So she's got an appeal going, and it looks good, and will probably be out soon. She doesn't have anywhere to go, so I've offered my place again. We haven't put any sort of label on what we are, but I think we're emotionally connected, if not intertwined, by this point. We've been writing / calling / visiting for about three years, including at fire camp (very chill visits). She's never asked for anything but my company (I've never put money on her books or sent her any packages or anything, she never asked). Her moving in was my idea.

My question / fear, though, is this: Since she was 18, she's been in the system basically non-stop.

Just before her 19th birthday, sentenced 120 days jail, 3 years probation. A year later, sentenced to 2 years state prison (Chowchilla) (this is California and these were all non-violent non-serious drug charges, so, 1/2 time served on the custodial sentences). Two years after that, sentenced to 3 years state prison (Chowchilla / CIW / fire camp). Two years after that, another conviction but this time a Prop 36 diversion, with multiple probation/prop 36 program violations. Two years after that, sentenced to 5 years state prison. Two years after that, six years county jail (PC 1170(h)(1), (h)(2)). Four years after that, sentenced to 12 years county jail (her current bid, and the enhancements will be falling off due to Senate Bill 180).

She's 32 now. She's spent her entire adult life in custody (mostly) or under supervision.

I've seen a change in her, from who I knew on the outs a few years ago. She's been taking classes, studying, got a paralegal certificate. Got a fire camp placement again, had a real sense of pride helping fight the largest wildfire in CA history (Thomas Fire last year). Now she's in county jail again for medical (dental) reasons, and immediately volunteered for trusty duty just to stay busy, and her books are en route so she can continue her studies.

But still. I mean, if she comes "home" here, she'll be 75 long miles from her old playmates and playgrounds (there's literally a mountain ridge in between). I can put her to work at my company (fixed base operations at a small airport). AFAIK she's been clean for years - albeit in custody.

But still. With that kind of track record, how likely is it she'll be able to stay out? What can I do, if anything, to help? (My ex was a first time offender and never went back. She's been off paper for a year now and is doing great. So this isn't my first rodeo, but I've never been in this situation before.)
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Old 02-26-2018, 06:11 PM
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Wow I just want to say your actually one of the smartest men I've seen here, no offense to everyone but generally most men are not thinking like you are. Maybe she has had enough of drugs and the shit that goes along with it. Everyone has to grow up sometime. But your fears are very real and I honestly don't know what I would do. Been there done that and never want to go that route again. I admire your asking and looking for input but everyone is different so no telling unless your a psychic and if you were you wouldn't be asking. Good luck.
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Old 02-26-2018, 06:43 PM
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But still. With that kind of track record, how likely is it she'll be able to stay out? What can I do, if anything, to help? (My ex was a first time offender and never went back. She's been off paper for a year now and is doing great. So this isn't my first rodeo, but I've never been in this situation before.)
If she is sick and tired of prison, and sick and tired of that lifestyle, then she won't want to go back. From what you are saying, she is doing everything in her power now to be well prepared for the outside world.

I think the thing that discourages most former inmates is the difficult time they have getting a job.

Don't smother her. Let her ask for any help she needs. Maybe now, if she can get a job and stay busy doing productive things, she may stay out.
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:15 PM
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Try to get her addicted to a certain level of material comfort and nice things that she would have to lose or leave behind if she returned to prison. This may be harder to do if you are not going to become a couple, because it would seem odd if you gave really expensive gifts to a friend. Even in that case, it may still be possible to find little ways to get her attached to material goods. If she paid for them, she may get even more attached because she had to work for the money.

See what you can do in a way that won't seem unreasonable or premature (it's up to her to decide what she likes anyway). If there was a reasonable and legal way for her to actually get a mink coat or two, a few expensive designer dresses, shoes and purses and some real gold jewelry (at least 18k), that would nearly guarantee that she would never want to go back to prison. But that would be too much as a gift if you are not together and possibly too expensive for her salary.

Some things she could get addicted to don't even cost that much, but it's up to her whether to develop such habits or not. Besides, she has already experienced prison, where she did without. However, things like not being allowed to wear skirts, the kind of bra they like or some other accessory, having to show their faces in public without makeup and not wearing a certain type of footwear or the necklace or earrings they wear even in their sleep may bother some women a lot at the beginning.
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Old 02-27-2018, 10:49 AM
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If you do get together, then obviously you will be able to give her gifts (not that women need much encouragement to get used to things).

And by the way, the kind of normal earrings some women are wearing almost permanently and would miss if forced to remove them (I'm not talking about gauges and the like) are comfortable and have safe closure mechanisms such as leverbacks. They may be made of gold but the important thing is not to get oxide deposits (silver does), have a coating that peels off, become irritating, etc. I'm not talking about something that may be uncomfortable to wear all the time like post earrings or could get lost like French wire earrings hanging loose and not closed. It's easy to get used to little things like that without noticing and then miss them a lot once they are taken away.
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Old 02-27-2018, 11:39 AM
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Please!!! You can't buy sobriety! Buying or giving her things will never assure that she stays on the outside....mink coat indeed! There are plenty of wealthy addicts!

Get yourself to NarAnon if you haven't already. Print out a schedule of the NA meetings in your area and give her THAT! Offer to take her to meetings if she doesn't have transportation, but don't insist!

She has to create a life outside and a sense of self-worth. She's begun if she's been on the fire lines, but she'll need ways to continue out here.
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Old 02-27-2018, 12:08 PM
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Perhaps I should have started with the obvious, such as how she may some day have a family or a great job she likes. I was talking about luxury and personal habits not because sobriety can be bought, but because it is often such things that one really misses a lot once they are gone. They cannot exactly buy sobriety, but they can make an individual think twice about losing them.

I'm speaking from experience. I did not want to look like I'm bragging about my own possessions or oversharing, but I can assure you that I do have real fur coats and jewelry, including a thick gold chain (not bling, something in good taste) and earrings that I'm wearing non stop except when I take them out for cleaning. I have also furnished my apartment exactly the way I wanted, and I don't want that stuff gone. I actually have designer switch plate covers surrounded by picture frames, if you can imagine. It's not even that I'm really rich, but wouldn't be able to just go to Walmart and get something similar if had to start over.

But then, I can see how it takes time and money for one to attach to anything worth having, including for the simple reason that some people never had much or, on the contrary, they can afford to replace expensive things more frequently. The process of getting addicted to stuff happens over time and you may not notice it before it happens. Besides, as I have already mentioned, some addictive things to be missed are just habits, not necessarily expensive things. For instance, some women won't allow anybody except maybe their loved ones, to see them without makeup or some particular piece of clothing (head covering, skirt rather than pants, or whatever they are used to, even if many others don't even wear such things). I personally wear skirts all the time.

Last edited by prisonlady; 02-27-2018 at 12:25 PM..
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Old 02-27-2018, 12:24 PM
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Perhaps I should have started with the obvious, such as how she may some day have a family or a great job she likes. I was talking about luxury and personal habits not because sobriety can be bought, but because it is often such things that one really misses a lot once they are gone. They cannot exactly buy sobriety, but they can make an individual think twice about losing them.

I'm speaking from experience. I did not want to look like I'm bragging about my own possessions or oversharing, but I can assure you that I do have real fur coats and jewelry, including a thick gold chain (not bling, something in good taste) and earrings that I'm wearing non stop except when I take them out for cleaning. I have also furnished my apartment exactly the way I wanted, and I don't want that stuff gone. I actually have designer switch plate covers surrounded by picture frames, if you can imagine.

But then, I can see how it takes time and money for one to attach to anything worth having, including for the simple reason that some people never had much. I can assure you that the process of getting addicted to stuff happens over time and you may not notice it before it happens. Besides, as I have already mentioned, some addictive things to be missed are just habits, not necessarily expensive things. For instance, some women won't allow anybody except maybe their loved ones, to see them without makeup or some particular piece of clothing (head covering, skirt rather than pants, or whatever they are used to, even if many others don't even wear such things). I personally wear skirts all the time.
Okay. This, with your previous post, is just beyond realistic. I know based on your post history that you have some rather "vintage" views on things, namely that women are subordinate to men and apparently (now) material items. And that's fine. But to say that it's a way to keep someone on the straight is to get them hooked on materialism is as unhealthy as the addiction your proposing to beat.

If designer switch plates and skirts kept people from addiction, we'd still be listening to new music from Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse. Marilyn Monroe might have seen 95, Phillip Seymour Hoffman may have starred in another gritty biopic.

Basing your self worth and stability on anything or anyone outside of yourself is a setup for failure. It's fragile. It's perilous. How is living on that edge any better than living addicted to a drug or drink?
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Old 02-27-2018, 12:36 PM
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Perhaps I should have started with the obvious, such as how she may some day have a family or a great job she likes. Addicts don't think that far ahead. Addicts can't think past their next score / high / staying high. I was talking about luxury and personal habits not because sobriety can be bought, but because it is often such things that one really misses a lot once they are gone. Addicts do not miss luxury items other than wishing they had another one to hock at the local pawn shop For Their Next Fix. They cannot exactly buy sobriety, but they can make an individual think twice about losing them. When in their addiction, addicts don't think once, much less twice.
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I'm speaking from experience. I did not want to look like I'm bragging about my own possessions or oversharing, but I can assure you that I do have real fur coats and jewelry, including a thick gold chain (not bling, something in good taste) and earrings that I'm wearing non stop except when I take them out for cleaning. I have also furnished my apartment exactly the way I wanted, and I don't want that stuff gone. I actually have designer switch plate covers surrounded by picture frames, if you can imagine. I didn't want my stuff gone either, what little I had was stolen & hocked by my addicted daughter. Not only my stuff, but anyone else's she could get her hands on. Apparently you do not have an active addict in your immediate circle of high-class friends.

But then, I can see how it takes time and money for one to attach to anything worth having, including for the simple reason that some people never had much. I can assure you that the process of getting addicted to stuff happens over time and you may not notice it before it happens. Addicts don't "have time" or patience...they want their next fix yesterday. Instant gratification. Right Now. Besides, anything worth having is (as I've already mentioned) hocked at the pawn shop as quick as they can get there. Besides, as I have already mentioned, some addictive things to be missed are just habits, not necessarily expensive things. For instance, some women won't allow anybody except maybe their loved ones, to see them without makeup or some particular piece of clothing (head covering, skirt rather than pants, or whatever they are used to, even if many others don't even wear such things). I personally wear skirts all the time.
May I please have a link to a study, any study, any article anywhere to support your notion of giving addicts expensive "stuff." Thanks
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Old 02-27-2018, 12:53 PM
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You do not understand. It's not about giving them stuff, and certainly not when they are actively using (they would probably just sell it for drugs). Besides, I understand that this woman is no longer using. It's about creating a life outside and a sense of self-worth. Something they wouldn't want to lose.

It depends on the person. Instead of getting attached to material things and missing them, other people may miss whatever else they used to have or do when they were out. For all I know, some inmate may miss travelling or scuba diving, which I would not.

The point is that in order to be motivated to stay out, they need to have something they find worthwhile on the outside that they would hate to lose. For other people, it may be something completely different than what I would miss, although we all develop personal habits that we would rather keep (I'm not talking about drugs).
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:00 PM
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The ONLY thing that will keep a person out of prison is that person's desire to stay clean and stay out. That's it. Gods know how many years and thousands of dollars I spent pampering men to show them that I loved them and would take care of them just for them to use drugs and otherwise break the law and end up in prison. The only thing that changes a person is the desire to live a better life. The BEST way to create self worth is to work for what you have....that way you know you earned it! Being given something gives you nothing as far as self worth. A woman's worth is NOT determined by gifts from a man. FFS.

It sounds like the OP's LO is on the right track. She's clean (and it's real easy to use in prison!) and she's already working hard to better herself. All the OP needs to do is support and encourage her to continue doing that. Absolutely help her get some clothes when she gets out. Jeans, t-shirts, skirts if she likes them, leggings, lounge clothes. Whatever will give her some sense of comfort and normal. What the hell is a recently released inmate going to do with a fur coat?

Prisonlady, welcome to 2018....Things in the real world just aren't the same as you try to make them out to be on most of your posts.
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:07 PM
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You do not understand. It's not about giving them stuff, and certainly not when they are actively using (they would probably just sell it for drugs). Besides, I understand that this woman is no longer using. It's about creating a life outside and a sense of self-worth. Something they wouldn't want to lose.
Sense of self-worth. Yep. Yours apparently comes from skirts, gold chains and the 'right' earrings. I'm sorry, but that's really shallow, especially for an addict who's trying to stay clean.

Self-worth comes from doing and being and working and contributing, not from having.
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:10 PM
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It's about creating a life outside and a sense of self-worth.
That makes sense. I'm not sure how the materialism got caught up in your original explanation, but it really muddied things.

I feel pretty confident in saying that the percentage of members here who have experienced not only addiction but criminal addiction in their lives is pretty high. Heck, many of us have been the addict/criminal addict. So we're not naive to the habits, thinking, or actions that come along with.

I do think that some people find an anchor in something outside of themselves as part of their recovery-- in my experience it's usually been their kids. But we know that isn't enough or they wouldn't have slipped into addiction in the first place. It's fine to say that part of being clean/sober is to set an example for your kids, to be able to participate in your children's lives. But even that is dependent on the children welcoming you into their lives. So it really, truly, has to be independent of external circumstance.
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:25 PM
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A former inmate is perfectly allowed to dress nicely too and may go out on occasion. I understand that she may not take it to work at some fast-food restaurant, for example. Personally, I'm using a sheared beaver vest trimmed with fox fur for when it's cold at work (I have a desk job). Some lady wrote an autobiography where she mentioned going to AA in fox fur jackets.

But is that even the point? Can you not imagine any other possessions that would motivate someone to want to stay out and that are not so expensive as to be out of reach? Because if I said that they should want to keep their huge mansion, that would not be realistic.

What would people want to have and that is somewhat realistic? A car, for example? Whatever it is, yes, I can see how money or the things money can buy can indeed be an incentive to try not to lose it. It's just that what another person wants may not be what I imagine she may want. But there must be something that she would want.

There are indeed other, probably better, ways to create self-worth, but materialism can indeed be a strong incentive.

Last edited by prisonlady; 02-27-2018 at 01:31 PM..
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:29 PM
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But is that even the point?
I most certainly hope not.

And it appears you do mean that material possessions are a weapon for fending off relapse.



Sorry, just choked on a little beaver fur. Moving on to more productive conversations.
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:39 PM
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Okay folks, I think we've completely derailed here from the original point, which is...staying out if you've always been in.

Let's get back to that, please.

Now, to OP....man, what can I say? You can't make someone be something they're not. I've learned this with Dee. She is what she is. She isn't what she isn't. A few people thought I should have been expecting Martha Stewart in Mexican form when she came out the gate, but I knew better.

The best you can do is offer support. If you're comfortable with her coming home to you, then figure out, first, what that arrangement is going to look like, then second, what your comfort zone and "absolutely not" deal breakers are as far as having her there.

75 miles? Sure, that helps. But I can cover it in an hour. And do. Regularly.

It is going to come down to what she wants. If she's tired of that life. If she wants freedom badly enough. Yes, you can offer support. And she can even say "hey, I've got an urge to go use/go back to the neighborhood/etc., can you please spend some time with me and discourage that?" But it's going to ultimately be on her. Whether or not she has housing. Whether or not she has a job. Love and friendship and all that helps. But I've seen plenty of times where it's not enough. And ultimately, each woman is going to decide for herself what she's wanting out of her own life and what's important to her.

I wish you luck with this. Hopefully she is truly tired of being in and out and can make this work for herself and for whatever may or may not be coming for you relationship-wise.

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Old 02-27-2018, 01:42 PM
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What would people want to have and that is somewhat realistic?
Um.....FREEDOM!
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Old 02-27-2018, 03:22 PM
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She has never known freedom as an adult and children never truly experience freedom. Meaningful, realistic, manageable goals will help. Things to look forward too. Meaningful real memories to be made.

She needs to know her triggers, what makes her tick, and why she ends up where she is. It is all soul searching and being aware. If she does not have those tools, you can help by asking the right kind of questions. You can only support, but also make sure to take care of yourself.
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Old 02-27-2018, 04:30 PM
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The problem is that most people do not truly experience freedom. Instead, "freedom" may look like this:

“Consider Thomas, who spent a year in jail for a nonviolent crime. A judge suspended the remainder of his sentence and placed him in an intensive community corrections program where he was closely supervised. Thomas had a remunerative job with a growing customer base cleaning upholstery on furniture. He enjoyed good health, freedom from incarceration, the benefits of money legitimately earned, and a devoted girlfriend. One day, he arrived at a counseling session seething with discontent and said to me, “I thought if I gave up drugs, I’d have no problems. Now I have more problems than ever.” He complained, “My truck breaks down. My customers are a pain. Bills pour in. I have the hassle of all these meetings to go to—probation, Narcotics Anonymous, counseling sessions. My girlfriend is on my case, wanting one thing or another. I have no time for myself. If this is life, it’s a hell of a life.” Thomas demanded, “What do you have that compares with cocaine?” To this challenge, I could only reply “Nothing.” I could not honestly assure Thomas that working, paying bills, and attending meetings could possibly match the excitement that he had experienced in the drug world.”

(From Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition, chapter 8, by Stanton E. Samenow)

As you can imagine, Thomas (not his real name) returned to "the high voltage world of the cocaine world".

This is where the danger lies. After a while, freedom looks rather lousy except that there are always a number of small decisions, such as what to eat or what to wear, that are left up to the individual, at least to a greater extent than in prison. But it's not real freedom or even that great. That's why it's so important to get more of the things that really motivate a particular individual.
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Old 02-27-2018, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by prisonlady View Post
The problem is that most people do not truly experience freedom. Instead, "freedom" may look like this:

“Consider Thomas, who spent a year in jail for a nonviolent crime. A judge suspended the remainder of his sentence and placed him in an intensive community corrections program where he was closely supervised. Thomas had a remunerative job with a growing customer base cleaning upholstery on furniture. He enjoyed good health, freedom from incarceration, the benefits of money legitimately earned, and a devoted girlfriend. One day, he arrived at a counseling session seething with discontent and said to me, “I thought if I gave up drugs, I’d have no problems. Now I have more problems than ever.” He complained, “My truck breaks down. My customers are a pain. Bills pour in. I have the hassle of all these meetings to go to—probation, Narcotics Anonymous, counseling sessions. My girlfriend is on my case, wanting one thing or another. I have no time for myself. If this is life, it’s a hell of a life.” Thomas demanded, “What do you have that compares with cocaine?” To this challenge, I could only reply “Nothing.” I could not honestly assure Thomas that working, paying bills, and attending meetings could possibly match the excitement that he had experienced in the drug world.”

(From Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition, chapter 8, by Stanton E. Samenow)

As you can imagine, Thomas (not his real name) returned to "the high voltage world of the cocaine world".

This is where the danger lies. After a while, freedom looks rather lousy except that there are always a number of small decisions, such as what to eat or what to wear, that are left up to the individual, at least to a greater extent than in prison. But it's not real freedom or even that great. That's why it's so important to get more of the things that really motivate a particular individual.
Let me make sure that I am understanding you correctly.

You're trying to state that it is OP's responsibility to motivate this woman toward staying free?

Why? How is this, ultimately, his responsibility? Why would we expect the woman to subscribe to this line of thinking?

If we look at it from the narrative you're presenting, he basically has to compete with her previous lifestyle by being "as exciting" in order to "motivate" her.

I can tell you, having actually been in a relationship with a woman who's been out of prison for over a year? While they love gifts and dinners and fancy things, THIS IS NOT WHAT MOTIVATES THEM TO STAY OUT. They can easily take what is given to them, say "thank you" and then still sneak off and do whatever it is they want to do.

The motivation has to come from within her, not from the efforts of him. She has to decide that she doesn't want to take that ride anymore.

-E
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Old 02-27-2018, 05:46 PM
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I didn't say that it's his responsibility, but he seems willing to help. That's why I mentioned this problem. How does one acquire that motivation if "freedom" is so lousy and incomplete? By just thinking about how much worse the conditions are in prison? What if, for example, one has trouble standing up behind a counter or at a cash register for 8 hours and has trouble finding sit-down jobs but got to sit down most of the time in prison? It's hard to stay motivated when freedom is so overrated.

Thomas had not used any drugs for one year and a half at the time of that conversation (he had been tested), so he wasn't physically addicted.
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Old 02-27-2018, 06:12 PM
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Thomas had not used any drugs for one year and a half at the time of that conversation (he had been tested), so he wasn't physically addicted.
I take issue with this. Dee hasn't used in some time and VERY recently had a significant threat of relapse. An addict isn't somehow "cured" if they have beaten the immediate physical dependence. And that's something that OP needs to be aware of.

Addiction isn't simply a physical dependence. Relapse can be triggered after several years by a memory, by the presence of the substance of choice (particularly if that happens unexpectedly) or by stress. Addiction isn't simply about a "physical" need for a substance. It runs much, much deeper. I have to assume that OP is aware of this and is considering it for what may be this woman's homecoming, but if not then that's something he will want to know and something he will want to do some research into (which is why resources to NA and attendance of AlAnon/NarAnon could be important.)
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Old 02-27-2018, 06:30 PM
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By his own admission, Thomas was stressed out too. I see what you mean, though: relapse may happen because of psychological addiction, and that may be what really happened to him. It may not have been a rational decision ("because ordinary life is not worth the hassle") like the quoted paragraph seems to imply. The book eventually makes that a little more clear. It says: "His addiction was to an entire way of life, not just a substance."
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Old 02-28-2018, 07:32 AM
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Im going to ignore some of the responses and just respond to the op.

I think I'd be asking her....what is her plan to stay out of trouble?
Help her to think of ways to do that.
Ask about alternate plans.
Ask about if she plans on attending meetings to help her.

She will likely have things she HAS to do for probation/parole that are intended to help her (maybe meetings, maybe counseling sessions)

I wish you both the best.
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Old 02-28-2018, 02:19 PM
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All (well, mostly ) good stuff, thanks all! I'm going to ask her these things in a letter so she has some time to think them over, vs. springing them on her in a rushed phone call or visit. (15/30 minutes, smh. "Prison" is so much better than jail!)
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