20 Year Old Son has drug problem

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by rb1219, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. rb1219

    rb1219 New Member

    OK Hello All.I just joined the forum.My story sounds just like most of the others here. I have a 20 year old son who has his own apartment.He gets up for work every morning and works 6 days a week.He has just recently started giving me some money from his paycheck to hold for him for savings, which is throwing me off.He makes about $2000 a month, and rent is about $600.He is trying to give me another $300 a week to save, so where is the other $1100?I think we know.He has admitted to smoking pot and taking prescription drugs,but I just found out yesterday that it might be coke and heroin as well(not confirmed)....scared the **** out of me.He has come to my house twice high, I read him the riot act and now every time he is supposed to come over,I have to tell him to make sure hes not high.It is hard to tell sometimes.So today at 5 oclock,I am going to pick him up from work and bring him to my house.He probably will not want to, but I'm going to be insisstant.Im going to tell him that I love him, he is killing himself and destroying his family and needs help.I spoke to an inpatient facility and they need to interveiw him, so basically he needs to admit his problem.My question is,what if he dosent admit having a problem?I know I can force him.Do I just sit back and wait for the call that he overdosed?Second issue..he has a car,and I know he drives high.I want to take away his car.If he says he has a problem and wants to go to outpatient,with no car, he will not go.I would be able to take hime sometimes,but I dont live that close to him.Any suggestions?
  2. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Hi Rb..... oh it is so hard to know what to do. You are right at age 20 you cannot force him. Some people do an intervention which can sometimes help I think, but in my opinion there would have to be other people who are being affected by his drug use to make an intervention really effective.

    I think it is positive that he has a job, is living on his own, and even wants you to help him save some money. Those are all positive signs.

    I think your telling him your concerns and that you will help him get help is a good thing to do... and is the message you want to send. In my opinion though it does have to be his choice. No you can't force him into treatment. The only way you can push them towards treatment is to stop enabling them... and sometimes this means letting go and like you said waiting... and it is one of the scariest things as a parent that you have to do. I know I have been there... we have had to let my son be homeless 3 times... let him live on the street until he got desperate enough to come in from the boredom of street living and get help. And he messed up a lot in the process as you may have read in my posts.

    As far as the car... who owns the car and pays insurance? If you do then yes take away the car. If he does then I am not sure how you can do that. Although if he leaves your house and you beileve he is high then calling the police would be a good thing to do.

    It is tough place to be. I am glad you found us.

  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have the same questions TL does. If the car and insurance are in his name there's not much you can do. If it's in your name get it out now. We had to do that with our 20 year old daughter just this past March. She is living on her own also and was bringing home about $1700 a month. She used every penny on drugs/alochol and partying and then she stole $1000 more from her employer and was fired. In just three months she spent thousands on partying. We took her off our car insurance and paid the first six months for her own policy and changed the title. It's only a matter of time before she is arrested for DUI or worse. She has been in a drug treatment facility and outpatient facility and also lived in a sober house for six months. She has now decided she is not an addict.

    I never thought I would be saying this but you almost have to let him fall before he gets help. If you talk to him and he is not willing to get help on his own there isn't much you can do except take care of yourself and don't enable him in any way.

    I'm so sorry you are facing this. Our kids are too young to be going through this. My daughter just turned 21 and there is no way she is going to stop drinking or smoking pot now because she has waited her whole life to be able to party legally. All I can do now is hope she asks for help before something awful happens.

    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012
  4. pinevalley

    pinevalley Member

    Welcome to this community. You have found a group of parents who understand what you are going through and can offer support and encouragement.

    You are absolutely right, that there is not much that you can do to help your adult son if he does not want to get help. Most inpatient substance treatment centers will not even accept anyone as a patient unless they admit that they need help for a drug problem. Your son will probably not realize that he has a problem with drugs until they cause serious problems in his life. Right now he is able to hold a job, pay rent for his apartment and be responsible even while he is smoking pot. If his drug use escalates it will probably cause problems with his job, and he may spend so much on drugs that he might not be able to pay his rent, and he could also get arrested because he is using illegal substances. I hope that your son gets help before something terrible happens to him. But he has to make the decision to get help. All you can do is to continue to offer him suggestions about inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, set clear boundaries about what you will accept in your home and on your property, and try not to enable him at all.

    Keep checking these board and posting, because we understand your pain and we are here for you.
  5. rb1219

    rb1219 New Member

    OK So I went down to my sons job yesterday and met him at 5 oclock.He odviously looked high.I told him that I really needed to talk to him,but didnt tell him why.He said sure, but he needed to pick up pot for a friend first.Seriously?So my plan,whatever it took was to get him into my car.I dont know if it was right,probably not,but I had him drop his car off home and I took him to get the weed.Now I got him.He kept asking why we had to go all the way back to my house to talk.I told him noone was home and it was very important.He also kept asking what it was about and wouldnt give up.The night before I wrote him a letter explaining how I felt and what I knew.Basically that I love him,I know what hes doing and I want to help.So I gave him the letter to read as we drove.He finished the letter and I explained,we talked for quite a while, all the time he was insisting that he dosent have a problem.He smokes 1-2 joints a day and takes zanex.He said the rumors of harder drugs are not true.He gave me $300 from his check to hold.He kept $70.He makes $435.So right away..$65 is missing.
    So I made the decision to have his car taken while he was at my house.It is a lease in his grandfathers name.....bad idea!I explained to him that his car was being taken,he said fine take it.I said you cannot drive on zanex and pot.I could not get him to admit he had a problem,so he wanted to go home.I couldnt force him to stay,so I gave him a tight hug,and he hugged me back,told him that I love him and am worried, and reluctantly drove him home.I got sh** from both my wife and ex wife that I should not have let him go......what else could I have done.Mission failed!
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    No you did not fail. How could you keep him from going? It would have just caused a bad scene and closed the door on communication. His response that he is "just" doing pot and zanax is so typical. They will justify anything in their mind and try to get you to believe it. If I had a dollar for everytime my difficult child said she was just doing a little pot and drinking one beer. She was actually doing pot 24/7, even on her work lunch break, drinking a case a night, snorting pills, doing mushrooms, and other things I don't even know about.

    You did the right thing to take the car away. You confronted him and let him know you are concerned. All you can do now is keep the doors of communication open and hope he wants to get help. He will probably try to convince you to give the car back because he will need it to get to work so you will have to decide what your response will be. If he is working he should lease his own car and get his own insurance. It will also be an incentive to continue working.

  7. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I think you did great!! Really these talks never go as we plan... and you thought on the spot and had a calm conversation. Be prepared for manipulation for him to get the car back....and hopefully you and your wife, and ex-wife, are all on the same page because as Nancy says you need to be prepared on how you will handle those questions.

    You did the best that you could possibly do... you let him know you are concerned, that you love him, that you are there for him and that you won't support his drug use. He is clearly not ready to give up the drug use... and they always downplay how much they are using..... they will admit to pot but not other stuff. Is the Zanax prescribed or is he using it without a prescription?

    So really it will be a horrible waiting game that will be very hard on all of you... which means it is is very important that you all take care of yourselves and your relationships with each other. Don't let this come between you and your wife.

    Hang in there,


  8. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    This was a difficult situation, and I think you handled it very well, despite what wife and ex-wife say. In a perfect world, a light bulb would've lit up over his head, and he would say, "Dad, I know you're right...I'm going for treatment RIGHT NOW!" but that's not the way the real world works. You got the car back, you offered treatment, love and support. The rest is in his hands because he has free will. Just don't give up, you're doing great. I admire you.
  9. rb1219

    rb1219 New Member

    No the xanax is not prescribed.I know having the car makes his life alot easier.He takes the train to work,but needs his car for deliveries on his other job.I just cant let him have the car,im afraid.thanks for the support.
  10. rb1219

    rb1219 New Member

    I was thinking of getting a home drug test from cvs.I know he smokes pot,and that will show up,but if he if taking oxycodone or heroine,does thaT show up seperately?Should I test him and call him ou
    t or not push him?
  11. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    A good home drug test should show opiate use which is what oxycodone or heroin would show up as... the xanax would probably show up as something as well and you should find out what, since you know he is taking that too.

    So I have a couple of thoughs and questions on this... and this comes from experience, we did a fair amount of home drug testing of our son.

    So what do you want to get out of drug testing him? To see if he is telling you the truth? The thing is pot stays in your system a long time but some of the other drugs don't... not sure how long heroin stays in your system but i think only a day or two... and some drugs (like LSD) do not show up on drug tests. So the drug test can give you a false sense of reassurance... and once they know you are drug testing them, they find ways to get around it. We literally found bottles of stored pee in my sons room after we kicked him out. Talk about gross!!!

    What are you going to do differently based on the results? Will you allow him to use the car if he tests clean? Will you confront him for more answers if he tests dirty? Do you think he will then tell you the truth?

    So before you go that route I would be clear about what you want to get out of testing him, and what difference will it make in how you handle things.

    If you are only doing it for information, I am not sure you can trust the information totally... and I think you already know your son has a problem with drugs, you just are not sure how big the problem is yet. His behavior will tell you that better than anything else. The fact he is holding down a job, still communicates with you are all good signs... if he gets into it really heavy duty those things will get much worse.

    The other thing to be aware of are all the OTC medications that kids use to get high... most notably the cough medicines... and some synthetic pot which have been sold as incense and bath salts. None of those show up on home drug tests.

  12. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was never a big fan of home drug tests. We had difficult child drug tested by a lab many times when she was still living at home, but that was a condition for her living here. Once she moved out we couldn't do that. As TL said they know all the ways to beat the drug tests. Even the ones in a lab can be beaten but it's much harder to do that. I also agree that it's not clear what that information will get you. You still are not giving him the car and a positive drug test will not make him want to go to rehab any sooner.

    I think you are going to have to back off. He's living on his own and paying his bills. He's an adult in the eyes of the law. You may not like what he is doing, and of course you don't, but there isn't much you can do about it at this point. He will have to decide if his life becomes unmanageable enough to want to change it. Right now it is not so there is no incentive to stop. And as much as you want to, you cannot be his incentive to change, only he can do that. If he loses his job or gets a DUI or can't pay his rent those are the consequences that he will suffer if he continues using drugs. I know, that's where I am at right now, just waiting for her to hit bottom.

  13. rb1219

    rb1219 New Member

    I dont know if catching him in a lie will help.If he swears that he isNT taking herione and I find it,would that make a difference..he will probably say the tezt is wrong anyway
  14. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I have come to believe that the best thing you can do is to let them know you love them, that you will help them when they want help and you won't enable their drug use. Really you can't do anything else. As they say in alanon, you didn't cause it, you can't cure it, and you can't control it. That is just really true. I really suggest if you can find a parent alanon meeting that you go and invite your wife (and ex) to go with you. I have found that really helpful.

    And the best thing you can do is to do what you are doing... keep the relationship going as much as you can. It is impossible to really have a good relationship with a drug addict because the drugs will be more important to them than you... but as Nancy says eventually if you don't enable them there will be consequences that start making it worth it to them to get help... and at that point you are there to help them.

    And we all know on this board the terror we live with that our kids will overdose or not make it in some other way. But you just have to keep finding ways to live your life and to enjoy it as much as you can.

  15. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    You didn't fail. It is progress. These things don't get this bad overnight...nor do they get fixed.

    I like how you handled this. The letter was a great idea.

    Baby steps...
  16. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    I think you did great. You got the car,good step for his safety and others'. I read a book recently called "Love First, a family's guide to intervention" by Jeff and Debra Jay. They also have a website. I saw them on Oprah once. They have a pretty well thought out plan to intervention. They believe we have to raise the bottom so when our loved ones "hit bottom"-it's not the bottom that totally messes up their lives. My daughter will be 18 soon and I want to be prepared should she go further down this path of drug abuse. It might be helpful. They dispell some of the myths about treatment and one of them is the belief that a person has to want help. I know that some of the kids at my daughter's first Residential Treatment Center (RTC) were drug into the program (literally) and ended up really doing well. I recommend reading it. Keep us posted.
  17. rb1219

    rb1219 New Member

    Its killing me just sitting by knowing that my son is smoking pot,taking xanax every day, not eating.I feel that he thinks that everyone is against him.And now,taking his car(which I know was long overdo),he cant even go anywhere.What concerns me the most is that people are saying that he is doing heroine.He is giving me money,but he does keep enough for a "small time" habit, which we all know will escalate quickly.I spoke to a therapist this morning and he wants to meet with me to discuss an intervention.I am definately going to check out that book in the meanwhile.Is it possible that the intervention will make it worse?I have no proof of the heroine,but I know first hand that he is getting drugs for people.I dont think he is selling directly,but probably getting a kick back.I am really torn between believing my son,who tells me alot of information.He told me he smokes and has taken prescription pills in the past,that he got his girlfriend pregnant....so why dosent he tell me he is doing this.I feel like I am going to push him away by keep telling him that I know what he is doing, and the intervention.I dont know what to do, I just keep hearing over and over in my head....heroine...and it scares the **** out of me.I mean,I did stuff as a kid,but never this.One part of me wants to just forcibly take him until he admits a problem or starts going through withdrawals.I will meet with him for dinner one day this week,should I even bring drugs up,I know he will be high.Also, will the intervention be sucessful if he shows up high and on drugs(which in all likelyhood he will)
  18. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest


    I see so much of myself in your last post. I'm oing to copy a few things which I would have said only a few months ago and share how I feel now. I hope it helps.

    <<he does keep enough for a "small time" habit>> I didn't truly know what a drug habit cost. I also didn't consider the things an addict would do to get their fix. Mine stole from everyone. He didn't get caught so I didn't think anything was wrong.

    <<s it possible that the intervention will make it worse?>> Maybe, things do often get worse before they get better. And he make make it really hard on you. Stick to your plan. It's the best option you have.

    <<I am really torn between believing my son,who tells me alot of information.>> Everyone talked about the great relationship difficult child and I had. I thought he was being open. He was...in a very selective, manipulative way. I see through him now.

    <<so why dosent he tell me he is doing this>> Addiction isn't rational. Remember that guilt and shame are a part of that life too.

    <<Also, will the intervention be sucessful if he shows up high and on drugs(which in all likelyhood he will)>> I'd talk to the rehab personnel. Do you know where you are asking him to go? Will someone from that facility be present? Will they advise you and other family members beforehand? Are you crystal clear on what you will do if he says no? Are you prepared to follow through?

    Is he getting the xanax from a script?

    P.S. The book that helped me get difficult child to treatment is Setting Boundaries with Adult Children.
  19. rb1219

    rb1219 New Member

    Update..my sons girlfriend confinced him that he needed help.He called me last night and I went over and we talked.He wanted to stay one more night to get a pill,but we convinced him to just smoke a joint and come with me now.So, he got high,slept most of the way in the car.He is still sleeping,but when he gets up,he is going to make the call.I hope they take him.Ill be in touch
  20. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Best of luck. Hope he goes through with it. Glad the girlfriend was able to get through to him, and for his own sake, he should follow through.