Adult son (22) ruining his life

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by needsomeadvice, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. needsomeadvice

    needsomeadvice New Member

    I have a 22 year old son who has been on a downhill slide since senior year in high school and I'm conflicted about what I could/should be doing about it. The short version goes as follows; he left for private college and was arrested in first two weeks for smoking pot in dorm. We helped him in terms of hiring a lawyer to try and ensure charges could be removed if no further offenses and we moved my son back home. We sent him to community college for the next semester with the understanding that if he was successful and without incident he would be permitted to return to private college the following semester. Failed all classes this semester and started to grow a attitude problem around the house. When I confronted him on grades and attitude he took no responsibility and was aloof. I kicked him out of the house (had one month) since he wasn't living within home rules and expectations. Within 6 months he had failed on a number of fronts in terms of choices he was making and allowing his insurance to lapse, etc.... and had hit, what his mother and I perceived to be a "bottom" when he broke down when we visited him. He pleaded to have another chance to go to school and after much debate we agreed to pick him up, bring him home, and support another semester at community college. All went very well for the first three months. Very appreciative and helpful around the house while working full time and going to school. Once again, as the semester was coming to a close, an attitude started to emerge and his grades were not good to say he least. Excuse was....too hard to be full time student and work full time. Of course, we explained how so may people, including his mother and I, had done it and that he wasn't assuming responsibility. Again, after much debate, we decided to provide another chance. Honestly, the decision was in many ways forward looking so that, as his parents, we would be able to look back with confidence that we had provided support and guidance toward a positive path for him even if he didn't ultimately make the most of it. So in his "final" chance for school, the offer was that he would be free of payments and work and required only on two things...1. be a student and achieve good grades, and 2. be a productive member of the family around the house and abide by all rules of the house. Surprise, he failed all classes, grew his attitude back and was again moving out of our home. In the seven months since he's left, communication has been infrequent and he has resisted coordinating with us for either us to visit him or for him to visit us at home. Last week, we found out through 3rd party that he had a trip to the ER with an overdose, had potential charges against him for having sex with a 17 year old, and that he is routinely using Molly, Ecstasy, pot, etc... a complete mess and disheartening news to say the least. Then, yesterday, we found out that he was arrested for assaulting a police officer on the night he was brought to the ER. That is a felony offense and one that will have lifelong repercussions even if he cleaned up his act starting now. After receiving a text from him last night asking for help, we resisted the urge to provide bail or legal assistance and simply offered assistance on paying for rehab and our overall support and love. I don't know what or if there is anything I can do to help him change direction and it's absolutely heartbreaking. Any words of wisdom or advice are appreciated.
  2. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    I am so sorry for your heartbreak. In reading your story, I am confident that you have done everything that you can do for him. At this point, helping to pay for rehab and giving your support and love is as much as you can do. He is 22 and he made this mess dispite your multiple efforts to intervene. I think the only real way out is for him to realize he has a problem and to do the work of recovery ande then slowly put the pieces of his life back together. I know that you and your wife must be experiencing great pain and constant worry, but I have learned through my own experience and from reading the experience of others on this site that providing endless "soft landings" only prolongs their poor choices and their anger toward you. I do reccomend that you and your wife see a counselor together that is experienced in helping families of addicts and there are some great books that can help you maintain your resolve. I found "Changing for Good" to be a great guide on how to help someone without enabling them. I know others have more to reccommend. Good luck - be strong - you have done a lot for him.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry you have to go through this.

    Unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do. That charge with him having sex with a seventeen year old can be quite serious and he may have to sign up as a sexual predator if he is found guilty. In our state, if you are eighteen and have sex with a seventeen year old, you are a sexual predator. I think it's a bit silly, but that's the law. As for the drugs, as soon as I started reading your post I knew he was doing more than smoking pot. The downhill slide can really be fast and devastating to all who love him.

    When my daughter was doing dangerous drugs, we joined Narcotics Anonymous and it was a great help to have people like us to talk to in real time. We got good advice too. I think the best thing you can do for everyone is to try to make yourselves stronger. You can't change your son...only he can do that at his age. You can spend all the money you have and go broke and it still won't help him unless he decides to change. My daughter quit. She didn't have a lot of help because she didn't ask for any. She just wanted to get off the sick merry-go-round and she did it. So it can happen.

    Big hugs and keep us posted on his progress.
  4. Signorina

    Signorina Guest


    My story is much like yours. Synopsis - My difficult child was a HS graduate with a bright future who went on a downward slide once he was away at college where he began earnestly drinking and using pot. Our offer to have him stay home his 2nd year & get back on track at Com College was scorned and he left last year against our wishes, without our financial support and subsequently failed out of school. Regardless - after being home for "Christmas Break" he decided he preferred to live in his college apartment, scraping by on p/t minimum wage rather than stay home & get his act together. He now has lost an entire year of education and has emptied all of his childhood savings accounts and has nothing to show for his 10 months "away at school." We've tried everything we can think of to get him back on track and allow him to save face. For a while - we thought that getting him back to school at any cost - was in our best interests because at least he would get an education. I later learned that placating him gave him the power in our relationship and he took full advantage.

    I just want you to know that you are not alone. I came here 9 months ago, incredulous to find myself in this situation and certain that someone had the perfect answer that would solve my problem. Like most moms, I blamed myself for handling it wrong and was sure there was an answer somewhere that I just couldn't see. Sometimes, I still think I must be missing something - how can it be that I can't find a way to get him on the right path?

    Z is right. Providing endless "soft landings" only prolongs the process. Our kids aren't like us. Most people are grateful for a second chance and take advantage of it and LEARN from mistakes. With my son, a second chance was the equivalent of lowering the bar. The 3rd, 4th, 5th+ chances just lowered it even further. Eventually I was scraping the ground trying to save him from himself. Each time we saved him, we started the clock over. Like your son, my son needs to hit bottom. Helping him and fixing the problems only prolongs and delays the process. It doesn't make sense to those of us who would relish a second chance. But that's the way it is with these kids.

    I am so sorry that you are going through this but I am glad you found us. You are on the right track with offering love and rehab. Hang tough, keep posting - we are here for you.
  5. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    You and your wife have done everything possible to help. Most people on this forum have/are going through exactly what you are experiencing. Unfortunately, drugs are clouding his ability to think rationally, and unless he experiences something like a "bottom" nothing will change. It was excellent of you to offer rehab, support and love instead of bail and lawyer fees. It's so hard, though, but you're doing the right thing.

    He may change. He may not change. You can hope, pray, have faith, but you can't control. You can only offer rehab, support for positive choices and love. You have a right to exercise your boundaries, and he will learn that you have the right to choose whom you allow in your life at this point.

    You can always find support and encouragement here. I'm sorry for your pain.
  6. keista

    keista New Member

    Welcome. Sorry you have to go through this.

    I just wanted to say something regarding "bottom". For your own sakes, please stop perceiving his actions or events in his life as a possible "bottom". "Bottom" is such a personal thing and and no one, especially a parent, can know how far down any one individual's "bottom" is. I've seen friends go so low, that I was CERTAIN they had finally hit "bottom" only to be proven wrong - yet again.

    I think "bottom" is something that can only be seen in hindsight after years of recovery.
  7. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Keista - when I refer to bottom, I refer to whatever it is that will make him stop digging himself into a hole and start taking upward steps. I am not looking for it, I am not trying to define it. But I am definitely no longer cushioning it.

    FWIW, the recovered addicts I know - actually had an actual, definable moment in their life where they decided that they did not want their lives to get worse and made a conscientious choice to stop getting worse and start getting better. It wasn't a retrospective event. Of course, everyone's life experiences are different.
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    Sig, I'm sure you're not. I was responding to OP's statement of "perceived "bottom""

    Same here, but most had gone through several "bottoms". IOW, they started on recovery several times and failed. The final episode, the one that really stuck it to them, was their true bottom.
  9. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello and welcome to our little corner of the CD board. It sounds like you are doing everything right. You are letting your son face the consequences of his actions and not rescuing him by bailing him out or trying to fix things.

    He will hopefully reach the point (call it bottom or whatever) where he doesn't want to continue to live like this and ask for help. It's good that you are willing to help him when he reaches that point. In the meantime, you sound like you have figured things out that took me years to learn.

    Keep posting and let us know how things are going. We have all been through it and are here to listen, give advice if you want it, and offer support when you need it.

    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  10. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Cannot add much to the superb advice you have been given.

    A few thoughts...

    Al-anon has really helped me set boundaries. Your child can have drug, not alcohol, issues and it still works. They also have a lot of phone meetings (google for the list.)

    The best book I've seen is Setting Boundaries with your Adult Children, Bottke. I used her methods to get my very stubborn, lying, addicted 18 year old into treatment. He graduates this week with 99 days of sobriety. He isn't cured by any means but we have come a very long way.

    Whatever he is telling you plus whatever you believe to be true does not equal reality. Every single situation I have seen proves this to be true. It is always worse than they tell us.

    Forget bottom. It is meaningless. He will get treatment if and when he chooses to do so. Our job, as parents, is to make the choice the most attractive one out there, to get out of the way and to take very good care of ourselves.

    Keep posting!
  11. pinevalley

    pinevalley Member

    Welcome to this community. I am so sorry for all the pain that you and your wife are going through right now. Drug addiction is a terrible disease, and it affects every member of the family. Please know that you are not alone in this crisis, because we all understand and are here to offer you support and advice.

    Is your son in jail right now, or was he able to be bailed out of jail? I don't know where you live, but in my state there are drug rehab programs that are offered in several of the jails. They provide drug counseling several times a day, and they are the safest places to be if anyone has to be in jail. In this area the only way that an inmate can get into one of these drug programs is if a judge orders the arrested person to attend the program. My 18 year old son was arrested almost 4 months ago, and our attorney asked the judge if our son could be admitted to the drug program. Our difficult child is definitely in jail and it is not a fun place to be, but at least he is getting some counseling and help for his drug problem. Our son sounds like a completely different person now that he is not using drugs, and we have our old son back ( at least while he is in jail).

    I don't know where you live, but if your son is in jail now it might really help your son if he was able to get counseling and therapy for substance abuse while he is in jail.

    Please continue to check this site and let us know how your son is doing. Sending many supportive thoughts your way....
  12. needsomeadvice

    needsomeadvice New Member

    Thank you all for your thoughts, support, and words of encouragement. As an update, my son's girlfriend bailed him out on day two. My wife and I both had meaningful conversations with him and he used this time to apologize and "come clean" on some of the mishaps of the past year. His response to our offer of rehab is that he doesn't have a problem and that the 48 hours in jail and $4,000 ambulance bill etc.. provided all the motivation he needed to change the life he's leading. We let him know that we believe he absolutely does have a problem and one that has caused a series of bad and lasting events over the past few years and that we think its a mistake to not change his environment and seek help. Time will tell. I've never wanted to be wrong so much. Again, thank you for taking the time to read and provide such thoughtful responses and support.
  13. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Chiming in late as I have been away on my own little journey..... but you are doing the absolutely right thing. Letting him know that you will be there to help him when he really wants help but you are no longer going to enable his drug use. It may take him some time to really recognize he does have a problem.... and so now it is kind of a waiting game for you. Like you said hopefully you are wrong and he will be motivated to change things now.... beware of him calling and asking for help that he wants (rather than what he needs) to get on his feet. While you are in that waiting game I echo what others have said... find a support for yourself from other parents who are dealing with kids who have drug problems. We found a wonderful parents alanon group that has been a huge help to us.