My independent adult son is not who he wants us to believe he is

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by CLJ, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. CLJ

    CLJ New Member

    Here's the deal in a nutshell me and my husband (dad) are at a loss....My son was a thriving young man in school. His senior year a lot of stuff happened in his personal life that got him depressed. (childhood lifelong friend, cheated with my son's first love girlfriend) We tried counseling he went about 4 times, he said it helped and he was fine and no longer went. He moved out with 5 newly made friends at 19, he is 22 now, has held a good job and supports himself, but dropped out of college his first year. (we didn't support this at first, cause we knew working fulltime, living on your own and taking full credits in college was going to be a struggle) well needless to say our fear happened he dropped school and has since been working full time and struggling to get by financially but somehow doesn't ask us for money "outright" and always pays his car insurance and cell phone bill to us faithfully monthly. Amongst all the 3 years he has been on his own, he has changed immensely when it comes to being around us and his sister. I could go on and on writing here and tell you the whole story but here's the deal after a argument we got on on christmas that just didn't set well with my "mother's intuition" so I struggled with not doing something invasive but I did it anyway.....I still had his passwords from when he was younger and we made social media accts.....I hacked into his facebook and discovered he lives a total different life than he wants us to think. He is smoking butane hash oil and also dealing it......we are so upset but very pro active parents and just at a loss as to how to approach our son that we know what he is doing without him knowing about us invading his privacy. Please Heeeeelp!!! There is just so much more to this story but the bottom line is, we love him so much and can't continue being supportive in other ways that would enable this behavior but don't know how to approach this.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wanted to make sure you knew people are reading your post. I think the problem is, it's hard to give you any hope. In fact, although anyone can change, if he does, it will not be because of anything YOU say or do. It will be because he gets sick of himself or gets arrested and thrown in jail.

    He is an adult, albeit a young one. You should in my opinion tell him what you know (be prepared for him to ignore anything except that you breached his privacy). Many of us breach privacy. Oh, well. Boo hoo. Don't give out signals that you are breaking the law and we won't. Or live completely on your own without any help from Dad and Mom and maybe we won't.

    If you are paying for anything, even if he pays you back with his drug money, cut him off. I'd tell him you don't want money made that way and since he has to pay you back that you are no longer fronting him anything. i hope at 22 he can pay his own cell phone, internet and car insurance. If he can't, maybe he should get a legitimate job that doesn't depend upon if some drug addict pays up. Are you sure he even still works/ Is it full time? Why doesn't he know how to set up payment time so that you don't have to pay before him? He could be using your money for drugs, not for it's intended use. Hereafter, if you still want to pay for him, pay directly to the company. Don't give him a DIME. He is not trustworthy.

    You can not be a proactive parent to a 22 year old. He is an adult and legally does not have to listen to you. You also in my opinion can not expect a 22 year old, even a good one, to want to hang around with your family a lot. That part isn't fair. They grow up and move on and have their own interests and families. Now in this case he is probably scarce moreso because of his lifestyle, but it will still never again be like it was when the kids were young. I'm on my fifth kid, who is about to turn eighteen. it is normal and healthy that they WANT to pull away and be on their own. "Give them roots to grow and wings to fly."

    And in the same spirit of the roots and wings, you can't control your son's horrible illegal choices. But you can control your reaction to them. This is not the time to worry about whether or not he likes you. He will not like you right now. My daughter hated me when i found her drugs and searched her room, etc., but we are best friends now. For the moment, your son will hate you for finding out his dirty little secrets and will try to turn this all around to be about your violating his privacy, which he doesn't deserve as he is still somewhat dependent on your monetary support.

    I would learn about detachment. It sounds like you have been so involved in your son's life (I was like this once) that you are still hoping to have the same control over him that you had when he was, say, ten. When our adult kids go wrong it is best for them and for us to detach and step back from their drama and NOT enable them with our money, our looking the other way, our excuses or the guilt they try to pour on us. It isn't our faults that they choose criminal behavior and we have no obligation to help a grown child while he engages in it. That will not make them stop doing it. It won't even make them like us more. It will make them laugh at us secretly and have no respect for us.

    he is not going to be that kid who drops by for Sunday dinner right now. You can't control him by being proactive anymore. But there is a silver lining here. You can control the one person in the world..the ONLY person..that you have any control over...YOURsELF! And you are as important as your son, even if the concept shocks you and is new to you. You would be much happier if you focused on making yourself happy. Rekindle your relationship with those who are kind to you and appreciate you and do not break the law or use you. I suggest therapy for yourself to help you build a new life for yourself and maybe a twelve step program like nar-Anon. If he is selling, mostly likely he is using.

    You son is probably selling to minors. Think about it. He does not deserve your money, your help or your pity. he should in my opinion need to earn back your trust. It doesn't matter if he had some bad experiences that he will claim "made" him do it. A lot of kids have had bad experiences and they are not selling drugs.

    I am really sorry you had to join us, but you will find we are always here to pick you up when you think nobody understands. We do understand. Most of us have been there.

    Hugs for your hurting mommy heart. If you like, you can share the rest of the story with us.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome CLJ, I read your post while in bed this morning trying to get up enough ambition to get out in our freezing weather, but couldn't respond until I fired up the laptop. What MWM said was exactly what I thought when reading your story. He is an adult in the eyes of society, he lives on his own and had a job. It's devastating when we parents find out that they are doing something very dangerous and illegal and our firstreaction is to fix it, make them stop. I don't know how you do that in your situation.

    I have to admit I didn't even know what butane hash oil was and I thought I knew most of the drugs out there. Eventually he is going to have some consequences to this behavior, either legal or medical ones. That may be your first opportunity to intervene so my suggestion is you research treatment centers in your area so that if that time comes you are prepared.

    In the meantime I agree with MWM, be prepared, do not give him any cash that can buy drugs, don't bail him out financially, keeps your eyes wide open and be prepared to help him face the truth when time comes. Find a support group and please keep coming here, read our stories, share your worries and learn how to survive and detach. I'm so sorry you have to walk this path with us but we are all here to support each other.
  4. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    First, I am so sorry. Right now you are in shock and fear and pain. I have been there. My head was reeling with it and I couldn't think of what to DO first, second or third. Of course, my MO was always DOING something about any type of problem, so I couldn't wait to spring into action.

    That is what has to change in you and your family in regards to dealing with your son

    We just love them so much we want to STOP it. Somehow. I know, because I tried literally everything in the world to try to get him to stop. It doesn't work. It. Doesn't. Work. And yes, I even looked into getting guardianship in a court, from a judge, over him, an adult.

    You are not going to be able to stop this, and I am so sorry about that. Believe me, I get it. I have been dealing with an ongoing complete train wreck that is my precious son---now 24 years old---for the past four years. That's when I found out what was going on. And it has only gotten worse.

    It's going to take you some time to get your heart and your head around this. We would love to save you some of the stuff we have been through with our kids. I don't know if we can or not---that is up to you.

    You sound a lot like the person I used to be. My kids were both going to college, both master's degrees probably, we went to church every Sunday, both boys were acolytes, they played sports, we sat down to dinner together most nights, they had nice little part-time jobs, paid for their own gas and spending money, then more responsibility. It was going to be a great life and a great extended family as the years went on. My ex-husband and I are both college graduations, with professional successful careers.

    Yes, ex- I say, because the disease can be genetic and my ex-husband is a recovering alcoholic. You see, that is where I got my first taste of this horrlble, cunning, baffling disease that will suck the life and love out of EVERYTHING. We didn't separate until my youngest son, the one who is still struggling today, was a junior in high school. He had already had YEARS of a solid family life---my ex was very high functioning and hid it well from all of us for many years.

    I tell you these things because the first idea is to say, oh, we're not like those folks. We are different. Sadly, the disease is a great equalizer and you will find, as the days, weeks and months roll on, that the steps the disease takes are frighteningly the same.

    And that is why our healthy reactions are the same.

    MWM gave you good stuff. I would reread that post. Please know there is so much compassion in me for you right now. Please keep coming back. You don't have to be perfect here. It's okay to make progress or not make progress here. There is a lot of truth-telling that goes on here---I have just discovered this site in the past month and it has already helped me a lot.

    I would also recommend you consider Nar-Anon or Al-Anon. I have worked the Al-Anon program hard for the past four years, since my son's decline, and it has literally saved my life and my sanity. I have learned so much about myself and I have changed a lot and have become a better person. I am so thankful for the program.

    Please let us know how you are and what you need. Again, I am sorry that your precious son has chosen this path. Prayers for you all.
  5. CLJ

    CLJ New Member

    Hi, thanks so much to you all for replying to me, especially Midwest mom....I needed to hear that just as you stated it! My heart is aching that is for sure! My husband and myself right now are pondering how we are going to confront our son. So reading all your replies will help comfort us as we sort out how we are gonna handle this. Right now, I have been through individual therapy on and off, over the last 15 years. I can honestly say it has been the best thing I ever did for my myself and my family. However in the last few months I finally reached my husband of 27yrs that we need "couples counseling" cause I'm angry at him when it comes to what he could have done for himself to help our family as a whole. (another story in itself) but this is what led me to my mothers intuition about my son's strange behavior over the last 3 yrs. As of right now, my husband and myself are starting counseling but I can't help but think we are in crisis mode right now and should be seeking family counseling perhaps with a drug and alcohol counselor. I want to say from what I know and read from reading my sons FB messages, how bad he is addicted to this crap.....I also am checking into nar anon groups in my area but part of me is saying "are you sure you aren't making a mountain out of a mole hill?" My mommy mind is certainly playing tricks on me and it's driving me crazy!!!
  6. CLJ

    CLJ New Member

    oops! I meant that, from reading my son's messages, I really can't make out if he is addicted or not.....So many people say THC isn't addiciting.....I think that's BS
  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    THC doesn't much cause physical addiction, but of course one can get addicted to the feeling it gives you. Same way person can be addicted to sex, gambling, binge-eating, cutting and many other behavioural addictions. In fact physical addiction is usually very small part of the addiction. Something so addictive than crystal meth is mainly addictive for psychological reasons (you want to feel that high again) than physical dependence (feeling bad, when the drug is leaving your system.)

    If he is behaving in addicted way, he is addicted even though he would not have physical withdrawal symptoms. Physical symptoms are usually the easiest to stand when quitting something. It is the psychological addiction that causes all the problems.
  8. CLJ

    CLJ New Member

    This sucks!!! Thanks for making that a little clearer for me in regards to the addictive part; makes total sense! I have to go to work now and try and keep things together......I will check back later tonight. Thanks!
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If he uses it every day, if it is affecting his life, if he can't live without it, if his life has been put on hold because he has lost his motivation, if he is not growing up as he should is affecting him. I am of the mindset that some adults can smoke pot once in a while, like maybe four times a month and it's a lot like alcohol. But alcohol is not ok for some people who are sensitive to it and become alcoholics. Drug abuse tendencies do run in are far more likely to engage in addictive behavior if it is in your family. And the verdict isn't in yet on whether pot does or doesn't harm you. I do know many pot smokers also like "legal pot" such as spice. Spice is actually way dangerous as are some of the chemicals put into regular pot.

    You have to also face the fact that he may be using more than just smoking pot, although daily pot use is bad enough. We thought our daughter was only a pot smoker. After she quit, she told us all about her entire usage and i was in shock and asked myself how i hadn't known. Well, she did the more dangerous drugs at night while we were sleeping. Your son is living with five like-minded peers who probably don't just stick to pot. At the very least, he could also have alcohol issues. But my daughter was using psychodelics, meth, cocaine, ADHD drugs (they are coveted on the streets and the kids put them in pillcrushers and crush them then snort them, either alone or with other drugs) and she abused dangerous legal drugs too.

    As soon as we found out about her smoking cigarettes, we cut off the money. That habit was not something we wanted to fund. We couldn't stop her from smoking, but we could stop it in our house and we didn't have to pay for it. Soon after we learned about the pot as she was busted. For her, tough love worked. She is not using now and even quit smoking cigarettes. it does not work for every kid, but we as parents don't have to contribute to our own child's self-destruction by being afraid our kid's won't like us if we cut off the money tree.

    your son has been out of high school and not in college for four years already. You shouldn't need to support him at all. if you do need to, it is because he hasn't gotten his act together, probably because of the drugs, and I personally feel it is best to let him sink until he wants to stop his lifestyle and swim again. There is no way he will make that decision if you are afraid to tick him off and therefore continue to fund his lifestyle.

    More hugs. I remember weeks i did nothing but cry, and I was sure my daughter was lost to me or would end up dead. But the best thing happened. She decided to quit. it was all her own decision. unfortunately, drug users who are psychologically addicted to anything or addicts are the same...they do not quit their habits unless they are highly motivated to do so and they have to take this walk alone. We can give them emotional support for good choices, but we can't do it for them. it has to come from their hearts.
  10. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I am in a very similar situation as yours. (back story here:

    It's really hard to come to terms with being powerless to stop them or straighten them out. I struggle with it every day. I feel like a freight train is heading for my son and he is living on the tracks. I can't accept who he has become but in reality - that's exactly what I need to do - because I cannot make him change. Goodness knows, I have tried and tried and tried and failed. (And cried, and cried and cried) And I can't fathom how I can let this happen but really I don't have any power to change it.

    When I first started posting here, I almost felt like the other posters "didn't get it." They wanted me to detach and let go but they didn't understand that this is my beloved child and that I HAD TO MAKE HIM CHANGE AND I HAD TO GET HIM BACK & BACK ON TRACK.Doing so was a MUST. While the posters weren't flippant, I almost felt like they were. I couldn't fathom not finding a way to CHANGE him. That's why I was here. I needed to road map and the magic formula to CHANGE him.

    2-1/2 years later, I am learning to change myself. I'm not doing a very well at it. We've tried everything - a hard line, a soft line, no contact, lots of contact. We've done everything possible. Like your son, my difficult child is a really good impostor. He is polite, has a job, is usually clean cut, can say and do the right things. He can be a great fake and can tell us exactly what we want to hear and we seize so much hope from that. It's all a lie of course. And he checks out often. (it's been nearly 2 weeks since we heard from him despite his promise to come to dinner every Sunday and to pay me for his cell phone.) I'd like to think it's because he can't face himself in our eyes. Of course, I have no idea. But I know I have to face who he is and learn to make some sort of peace with it before it eats me alive.

    So, I am coasting. Going with the flow. My expectations are 0 and I am doing my best not to hover or worry. I have slowly realized that it is HIS life and that HE will bear the brunt of his decisions. Only he can turn his life around. We gave him the tools - the morals, the values, the solid support - they may be dusty; but they exist should he need or want to find them. We can't and won't save him. We tried that and we are exactly back to where we started except we are not estranged which is a good thing. We may not be in touch, but the hostility is not bubbling at the surface. It's amazing what you can learn to live with - even if you go kicking and screaming because you don't want to accept that there are no magic words or actions that will change the course our sons have set for themselves. We are hear to listen.

    be good to yourself.
  11. CLJ

    CLJ New Member

    Thanks so much, this forum has been so helpful to me today. Yeah my son is the friendly good personality everythings seem perfect kinda kid to everyone on the outside and is a people pleaser just like his parents UGH!!! That is where my guilt lies right now.....I'm so pissed at my husband for not dealing with some issues that I feel passed on to our son and had he taken care of them years ago, our son would not have been so apt to fit in......Grrrrrr I just need to vent!!!! I know in my heart we did a damn good job raising him, he knows right from wrong.....why is there this voice telling me, "well you shouldn't have done this" Or what if such and such didn't happen and we handled it better.......I feel like the reason he moved out when he was 19 was because we were too smart for his new life, he was venturing into slowly but surely and got frustrated trying to keep stuff from us. I'm not saying he was doing back then, what he is doing now, but he did give us reasons to not trust him when he lived here and it just got too hard for him to live a lie. It took me months to get over him moving out, I literaly went into a depression and went to see my therapist to get me through it. I kept telling myself through the last two years that these feelings I were having were normal and to just let go and that my son is suppose to leave the nest and go fly and soar and find himself and that is whats suppose to happen with kids when there parents do a good job....but the mother in me never ever felt like he had a good grip to start that adventure when he had just been through an enormous down point in his life when his best friend cheated with my sons girlfriend. My son even said that he moved out cause he thought it would make everything better......People kept telling me that I worry too much he is a big boy and quit being so motherly......I had such a hard time, and now I find out tons of stuff I always feared has come true!
  12. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    What he is doing is not about you.
    What he is doing is not about you.
    What he is doing is not about you.
    It's really, really not.

    It's not about anything you did or didn't do. You didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it. (It's called the 3Cs).

    As I told my older son (easy child 27yo, master's degree, mature young man), I was going to have to learn how to STOP being your hands-on mama anyway, so this thing with difficult child plunged me into it fast.

    Instead of having to learn to let go over the next 15 years, I'm learning it fast.

    We did the best we could, raising them. We weren't perfect, there is NO perfect. We made mistakes, we didn't give them every tool they will need, and our parents didn't give us every tool we needed either.

    I know your mommy heart is hurting and you're raking the past, yourself and your husband over the coals, and that is normal. But when you're through with that for a while, remember, you did the best job you knew how to do, and now it's up to him.

    Let him go. Let him make the mistakes he needs to make to find himself in this world. It's not going to be pretty, but with God's help, at the end of it all, he and you will be better people for it. That is my prayer for you tonight (and for all of us).
  13. CLJ

    CLJ New Member

    Well we haven't approached him yet about this yet because we are trying to get ourselves together first. All this support is really helping us. My husband has been reading it as well which is helping us be on the same team. I know what we are feeling is normal for our situation but its so hard not to blame ourselves. Childofmine your last post was spot on and kinda what I needed to wake up and read this morning after losing another nights sleep.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    There is nothing most grown kids hate more than pushy parents who won't stay out of their business.

    You are moving on to a different relationship with your son. He is not going to want to spend as much time with you as he did. It would be unhealthy if he did.

    His negative choices about his life are not because of you unless you pointed a loaded gun at his head and forced him to make those choices. His world expanded and he chose to group himself with some unsavory people who are probably doing what he does. They validate each other. This is not because of anything you did or did not do, even if he tries to justify it by changing the subject purposefully to make you feel so guilty that you'll back down on the real issue, which is himself and your consequences for his illegal behavior.

    Our kids get tons of influence from the outside world once they start high school and we can't stop that. I know homeschooled kids who are doing community service at the humane society where i volunteer. who never even went to school. They are related and their family wanted them to have minimal contact with outsiders. Well, they got sick of it and rebelled and got into trouble with the law.

    You are not responsible for your son's bad decisions, and the worst thing you can do for him in my opinion is to act guilty or to turn the other cheek. I would take a harsh stand. if he wants to break the law, then you can't stop him...but you don't have to send him any signals that it is ok with you. let him do things on his own.

    Hugs. I know this is very hard and hurtful. I recommend a 12 Step Group, a private therapist (not a family can't force grown kids to go to therapy) and I highly recommend you read "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie (may have spelled it wrong). Most of us here are very codependent...or were. And codependency harms ourselves and our grown kids.

    Here is a short article about what codependency is:
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2014
  15. CLJ

    CLJ New Member

    That's what is most disturbing, the fact that it was hard enough letting him go and telling myself "these feelings are normal and they shall pass,he is growing up." Then I would be told that we did such a great job with our son, "he is such a fine young man and you should be proud that you raised him to go out and be independent" lol whatever! Life went on for the last 3 years and lot's of transitions for my husband and myself adjusting to an empty nest. But I somehow never got over that something just doesn't feel's like I knew he wouldn't want to be around us much, (that actually started when he lived at home) which too is normal. I went along always having this feeling inside of me that I felt he just wasn't ready and my parenting wasn't done just yet....
    Thanks for the article on Co's like I have known this all along and have been through therapy in hopes to not bring things from my dysfunctional up bringing into my own family.....My husband is co dependent as well, and that's why I want to blame him for my sons issues because my husband denied it for so many years (hence my anger towards him) What I don't get is, if us parents aren't to blame for our kids choices they make; If we r who teach them and are their role models and if we are co dependent,then it was our duty to raise them not to be?(therefore take care of the co dependency before)
  16. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    We are to take care of our children of course as their parents. For many years, that means guiding, directing, supporting, all of the physical support, i.e., safety, etc. Obviously, right?

    As they grow, we are to start giving them more and more responsibility, within limits as they are able to handle it. A little bit at a time, like giving a horse more rope and letting it venture out more and more, within limits.

    My difficult child son was very dependent all through his life, more so than my older easy child son. I remember people saying, oh, he just needs more time to grow up. Oh, this. Oh, that. I thought so, too.

    I thought that still as I would literally pull him out of the bed multiple mornings to get to school. I mean, picture this: he was bigger and taller than me, and I am literally pulling him out of the bed, and pushing him into the shower. He didn't hear the alarm. He didn't hear the three or four alarms that we finally provided to him and he said he activated each night. Really? The rest of the world somehow gets up to an alarm clock, but you can't? Really?

    That is just one example. It was me thinking, oh, he's just immature, he's just annoying, he's just lazy, he's just....

    It was a slow decline (to my observation and knowledge).

    I believe my son has the "addiction genetics." Looking back I believe he was born with it. Difficult baby, colic, formula intolerance. He wasn't comfortable in his own skin THEN.

    But he was fairly functional, graduated high school, played soccer four years---not best player, not worst. The kind of trouble he got into was laziness, doing homework but not turning it in (what???), attitude, etc. Subtle stuff. But growing.

    It was when he was about 20 that he went over the cliff, almost overnight it seemed to me, looking back. I'm sure I don't see it clearly because he is a master at lying and hiding what he does. I'm sure there is so much I don't know.

    In reaction to his growing negative behavior, I tightened up even more. Rules, consequences, yelling, begging, crying, talks, therapists (he wouldn't go or if he went he wouldn't talk), contracts (some he signed and didn't adhere to, some he tore up in my face and walked out), etc. Many times, he would promise to do this and that and I would believe him yet again, and give him yet another chance. But things just kept getting worse.

    Then he got arrested for the first time 2.75 years ago. Possession and running into the back of another car. This was after his girlfriend
    sat me down and gave me an earful. It was mind-blowing. I had no idea this was going on under my roof.

    I went to Home Depot with my SO and cried the entire time he bought and installed all of the additional door locks and rekeyed the existing locks, because he was stealing from me when I was here and when I wasn't at home. I was changing the locks so MY OWN SON couldn't get back into the house he grew up in??? I tell you, I couldn't get my mind around it. He was way, way on down the road in his addiction and I was way, way behind in my thinking and behavior.

    I can't write down all of the things that have happened, but it has been a rapid decline, more drama, more chaos, multiple arrests, multiple jail stints, multiple rehabs, halfway houses, homeless stints, etc.

    All the time I'm thinking, this time will be the time he turns around. This time. This time.

    I didn't know what I didn't know. How could I? I was a babe in the woods with this type of world and lifestyle.

    So, did I turn from a loving, protective parent, into a codependent enabler? Yes I did.

    One time I put it like this regarding my exhusband: First I compromised. Then I accommodated. Then I enabled. It happened slowly and over time.

    With my ex-husband and with my son, I just took over more and more of what they should do for themselves.

    And then, when I learned differently, I started doing differently. It has taken me a long time to start changing but I have.

    I don't know if all of what I just wrote helped answer your key question above or not. It's all I know about what has happened. We just all do the best we can, and I don't know how to do any more than than, every day.

    Best to you, and many prayers.
  17. CLJ

    CLJ New Member

    Sorry it's been a while since I got back to you....yes, that did help me. I know in my heart that we did the best job we knew how to do and we taught him right from wrong and know he is capable of making the right choices. Tonights the night we confront him with what we know and how we feel and how much we love him. I may need ya'all tomorrow, stay posted. Thanks so much for all the support so far!