Advice on how to talk to son in rehab and not make things worse


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
My 20 year old son has been in rehab since Monday because we were going to evict him after a few months of on and off drug use, stealing, lying and not following any house rules. The only thing positive he was doing is taking two college courses which he thought would keep us from doing anything to upset the apple cart. We actually may have let him finish out the semester if things hadn't gotten so crazy. Amazing what we can put up with isn't it.

We now will probably lose our college money unless we can appeal to the college board to refund it due to his hospitalization so we are working on that.

He called me three times yesterday to talk but I am very angry and have been very mean to him. I can't help it. I feel like this last relapse with him was the most horrible yet. Booze, benzos and weed. Stole my new car for a short time, sold small things from our family to fund. He used his nice phone for drug contacts. He used his car to go to a doctor to get benzos on my insurance.

I mentioned last night to him that I didn't think he would be ready to come home after 30 days there and he said then he would walk out of there right now if he couldn't come home. I didn't back down but I figured I'd wait until he is there longer before I bring up sober living. He says he is there because he wants to change but I reminded him he is there because we were going to evict him.

He says he's the youngest and it's all men his dad's age. I seriously doubt that but I told him that is how he will be. His dad's age going to rehab. He says he can stay sober and that I am looking at the past. Well the past was just last week!!

I want to be supportive and encouraging but I feel so angry. I hung up on him after he threatened to walk out of there and told him to quit calling me every day because he just gets me upset. He called me back later and said that he did not want to fight with me. That he does not want to get me upset. That he is "there" and he has been sober one day (big whip I wanted to say). When I get upset he is upset and he is alone (quiver in voice).

He is going to call today I know. I am so broken by his behaviors. I don't know how to act or what to say or how to be. I did tell him yesterday that we love him but we will no longer enable him. I have read here we should tell them that but I honestly wish he'd leave me alone. My husband supports any of my decisions.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I agree Rebelson. No Insane, the lady I saw a few years ago is booked up so I kind of quit there.


Active Member
I was in your shoes six months ago with J. The phone calls are so hard. J and I have always been close. He would tell me everything...or so I thought. After the first week he started opening up about all the things he had been involved in. He told me it was his step-grandfather that had gotten him mixed up with meth, and got him started in dealing drugs. My mother's husband!!! I knew GpaB smoked pot and that he had friends that did harder drugs, but I never knew he did too. All the times when J said he was staying at GpaB's I thought he was safe....anyway, I digress. There is so much more to this story, too much I didn't know...too much I wish I never knew...too much to bear.

I limited J's calls to once a day, and my husband and I would visit him for an hour or two on the weekend. Active participation in rehab was a requirement for the possibility of coming home. After the first week in rehab the calls started slowing down and eventually became just a couple per week. I could tell he was working the program with every visit. He was gaining weight, talking clearer and was calmer. He would introduce us to some of the other people staying there, so I knew he was making friends and talking to others. In hindsight, I'm glad he utilized the opportunity of rehab. I don't know what I would have done if he didn't. I think it would not have been good because I remember being pretty much done with him at that point.

So, the best thing I could recommend is to limit his calls, and just listen. Let him do the majority of the talking. Do something like play on the computer while you're listening to him to help you stay only partially focused and more calm. If he starts to get angry with you, tell him you are sorry he feels this way, but that you will not argue with him. If he continues, tell him you love him and end the call. Set your boundaries. J could only stay on the phone for 20 minutes max, so I always knew if I did these things I could get through his calls.

(((((Big hugs))))) to you!


Well-Known Member
Yes I would agree limit the calls.... And just remember in this case less is more. You are understandably angry and you need support in dealing with your feelings but not from him. So listen and if he gets manipulative of nasty tell him you have to go and hang up.

Sister's Keeper

Active Member
Limit the calls to once a day, give him a time limit per call and be prepared to hang up if he becomes manipulative. A simple, "This conversation is no longer helpful to either of us, I will talk to you tomorrow." and hang up. Do NOT answer the phone at times other than the designated one.

Don't even address the sober living situation until the rehab is ready to address discharge planning. It is way too soon for that.

You need to stay calm, no emotion. Or at least show no emotion. He is manipulating and controlling you by upsetting you. Don't feed into it.

When he threatens to walk out say to him simply, "You are an adult and that is your choice, but understand that if you do that you are not welcome here." "If you come here we will call the police and press charges for the stolen car, items, credit cards."
Do you go to Al-anon or Nar-anon? I really recommend that you find a local group and attend.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Thanks SK. No I do not go to anything right now. I have supportive friends and a husband and the people at CD have helped me tremendously. I tried to get into my therapist who I liked and she is booked right now so will try in another month or so. I just am loving the peace in my home right now and that my son isn't there. I hate even saying that but I know you all get it.

Sister's Keeper

Active Member
Please, find a local Al-anon Nar-anon, there are lots of them, even in small communities. I live in a small town and there are many of them a week.

You need support, you need to learn not to be co-dependent and feed into his addiction.

The people in these groups are all been there done that and even if you aren't a sharer (and you won't have to share if you don't want to) just listening to their stories will give you a wealth of insight.

Here is the thing, and I have been where you are right now, you need someone in your life that is detached from the issue and the players in your drama. People who have no emotional involvement.

Those who are close to us, a lot of times, will not tell the truth because they don't want to hurt us, or will blindly support us, even when we are making huge mistakes, because they love us.

...and it's free! :thumbsup:


Well-Known Member
I totally agree about finding a good alanon group. I found a group for parents and honestly that has probably been the biggest thing that has helped me. I also have supportive and caring friends and family but they don't always really understand what you are going through. There is something amazing about meeting others in real life who have been in the situation and can laugh with you about the situations you find yourself because they are so ridiculous but true. I mean honestly who in their right mind sleeps with their car keys and wallets under their pillow? I have done that. Or whose son calls the police because their mother won't let them manage their own pain medications after they get their wisdom teeth out? My son literally did that and the police came!I mean it is sad but it is also somewhat laughable because it is so ridiculous. My friends hearing those stories kind of look at me in horror.... In alanon they laugh with me because they all get it and have similar stories.



Well-Known Member
Hi RN!

You've come to the right place! I'm on the varsity team for our local rehab. Lol

My son has been in rehab 4 times and 6 sober living homes. His 1st rehab was 18...he's 21 now. I have a lot of experience with learning to be part of the recovery and refusing to be part of the addiction.

Your post reminded me of my son's 1st rehab. Man, I was inside out!

The counselors said not to let him manipulate me on the phone (leaving rehab, ect). I agree with the other to limit calls and be brief.

The thing I learned that helped the most is you don't have to DO or SAY anything. Ah, FREEDOM! LOL. It feels good to say no and to just say "that's not something I'm prepared to talk about right now". You can choose not to answer the phone. The book codependent no more by Melody Beattie helped me alot. It's $7 at a resale book store $10 on line. I reread it when I find myself being too involved.

Just know that there is not anything you say that will cause him to use or not use. Tell him he has to hire a new scapegoat because you quit. I'm teasing now, but I really did tell my son that because he kept blaming me for his addiction.

Anyways, take care of YOU!


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Thanks ladies. He sounded better today about being there. He doesn't like it but seems more accepting. I have not brought up sober living yet or after plan situation and I'm terrified to deal with him on this subject.

Here I go but after talking today I now feel GUILTY for not wanting him home. He sounded so sweet. It was nothing he said it's just my mind playing tricks on me I think. It's so nice not having to worry about if he's drinking or whatever the hell he's been doing. Peace at last.

Tough Love - Don't worry my friends think we should keep him out of our home. They worry about my sanity. They have all known him since he was a baby but are freaked out by my stories.

I have been to alanon meetings a few times in the past. In a way it gets me more depressed but I get what you mean about people in same situation. I just leave feeling downer than when I got there I think. It's a club I don't want to be in ;-(

He said food is awful, everything they make is "scoopable". Had to laugh at that.

Complained he hadn't seen counselor yet and has been in since Monday afternoon so I called and left a message to find out what is going on.

He said he wants to be sober but then gets the benzos and thinks he can handle it and then he doesn't remember what he does and we're sober and we do. Uh huh that's right.


Well-Known Member
RN we were told by the counselors in my daughter's rehab to be short and sweet when they called. We were to tell them we loved them and were proud of them and we knew they could do it and that they were where they needed to be at the moment.


Well-Known Member

I feel you on Alanon, it wasn't for me, but I can see how it helps others. It was scary when the members told me they had been there 10+ years. I know we need support, but in some level, it's nice to move on.

in a daze

Well-Known Member
RN, try a Families Anonymous group. I really like going to my FA group.

It's good you're researching the sober living places.

Their personalities on the drugs and booze change and not for the better. Takes at least 6 months of sobriety for them to become nice and normal.

Don't give in to the pitiful phone calls. We did the first time he went, to our everlasting regret.