The End of Hitting Rock Bottom

SHORTLY AFTER 1 A.M. on March 27, Susan Knade awoke to the sound of her cellphone ringing. It was her 21-year-old daughter, Caroline, calling. She was crying.

Please, Caroline said. Please, come pick me up.

Nine hours before, the woman running the halfway house had told Susan that Caroline could stay so long as she passed a drug test after the weekend. But something had happened. Caroline had been kicked out. She was calling from a 7-Eleven, she said, and entering heroin withdrawal.

Susan instinctively reached for her keys, then stopped herself. Her Al-Anon group had a phrase for intervening like this — standing in the way of miracles. What if this was the moment Caroline was supposed to hit bottom and turn her life around? But Susan couldn’t shake the darker image: her little girl, at a convenience store counter, alone in a strange city. Afraid.

Susan fumbled through her dark driveway, got in her car, and drove 50 rainy miles to Annapolis.

She booked a motel room for the two of them, and when they checked out the next day, Susan considered her options: In eight months, Caroline had checked into seven rehabs and three halfway houses. She had quit or been kicked out of all except one. Susan believed if she took Caroline home, she’d immediately begin using again. She could call homeless shelters — she’d already phoned several — to find one with a free bed. Instead, she decided to try something she considered radical: She asked Caroline what she wanted to do.

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