This is just sad to me. Staying sober would be a good first step. Unfortunately, a lot of research has found that at the age that drug abuse starts is typically the emotional age the person is stuck at without therapy.
Do you think your DSD will ever turn to drugs or alcohol or something else to self-soothe?
Yes, it's incredibly sad. But let me tell you a story...
The first time I took the kids (then about 11 and 12 I think) to see their brother in prison, I was very concerned about how it would affect them. I had been to see him, and it's very depressing - tons of barbed wire, the inmates in bright orange clothes, etc. The visiting area is like a school cafeteria - tables and chairs and vending machines - clean and safe but not pleasant.
But when he came in the room, and gave us all a big hug, and we sat down and talked, it was like there was a big invisible bubble over our table. Inside the bubble was just us, and the kids were all laughing and chattering. Outside the bubble was the prison, but it didn't affect us. The kids seemed completely oblivious to the surroundings and only aware of being with their brother. I almost cried it was so cool.
I've taken them several times since - even on Christmas Day - and it's always the same. They don't care about the surroundings, they're just glad to be with him, and of course seeing them is always the best possible thing for him too. And I'm convinced that it's helping him a lot - knowing that we still see him as an important part of our family even though he's treated like dirt by everybody he's around the rest of the time.
Your point about emotional age is something I've heard before, and I think it's exactly right. Til he went to rehab, I think my son was about 12 emotionally - he threw fits like a kid, blamed others when he did something wrong, etc. Thinking of him as a 12-year-old boy in a man's body explained lots of his behavior. Since rehab he has grown a lot - he's way more honest, for example.
About SD and substances: Funny you should ask. Just recently, SD34 has begun to suspect that she is drinking too much. She lives in another part of the country so I can't really tell. SD's drunk-o-meter might be more accurate than mine, or he might be projecting. Not much I can do about it right now and that bothers me. She is among good people - her boyfriend and his family - but if she's drinking I may not know for a long time and it would be very hard for me to help her. One more thing for me to worry about...