Alcoholic Adult Son Homeless


New Member
I often say that from the time my son was born, he would drown himself in a puddle trying to win an argument with a submerged pebble. He was certainly a restless little guy with a big attitude. His personality was heavy, restless, and impulsive. We tried therapy, private school, sports, changing schools, all by which happened as I carried, shoved, pushed, pleaded, and bribed him there and back again. He'll grow out of it I say. I just knew he would be a lawyer someday or just great on the high-school debate team. He was beautiful with large dark eyes and hair. He looked like a little George Clooney.

He is 27 years old now and homeless. There are no words to describe the distance and roads traveled between my memories above and what he has become. He drinks until he's hospitalized. I've actually asked a co-worker if she could change the ring-tone on her phone, as it immediately sends panic down my spine reminding me of traumatic middle-of-the-night phone calls. Suicidal threats, banging his gun on the table yelling he's going to pull the trigger, screaming in the middle of the night on the road in his car that someone just tried to saw his head off, breaking both arms falling... The most recent? a facetime call at 4 A.M., blood covering his face and body, 40+ stitches in his face, cursing, demanding I pick him up 5 hours away. Recently kicked out of the sober-living house that I was paying for with money I didn't have, I paid for a motel 2 nights until he could get to the very reputable, state-run rehab center that had secured a spot for him. He shacked up with an addict, drank for 48 hours, was near arrest for what the girl claimed as rape by the last morning, and showed up at the rehab in psychosis.

I told him I was proud of him that he could do this. I took a deep breath or a hundred. I threw up in relief.

He left the facility during admission.

He is now homeless again. He frequently calls and texts nasty messages. Like a prey animal that's just heard a noise, my radar for the sound of the phone makes time stand still. it's like I lose hours at a time. He says he's hungry and he won't survive. He says "goodbye" and that he's going to end it. He says I never loved him and he's tired of proving himself when he's just not good enough. He'll "take care of this burden for me and end it".

I'm far from stupid and realize this is manipulation at it's worst. I've set boundaries. BUT I AM NOTHING MORE THAN AN ABSOLUTE EMOTIONAL WRECK. I PACE AND WONDER WHAT IF. I SEE HIS BLOODY FACE IN MY SLEEP. I CAN'T EAT BECAUSE I THINK HE IS HUNGRY. I HIDE MY FACE FROM MY HUSBAND BECAUSE HE'S SICK OF IT AND DOESN'T UNDERSTAND HOW I COULD LET THIS STILL BOTHER ME AFTER ALL THESE YEARS WHEN HE'S MADE THESE CHOICES. I FEEL MY ONLY JOB IN LIFE WAS TO FIX AND COMFORT MY CHILD. I have always kept it together. I am falling apart and seemingly have less and less control of myself. I plan to attend an al-anon group this week. I'm afraid I don't like to cry in front of people and I will fall apart. I won't be able to talk about it.

Thank-you for reading. I so needed an outlet this evening.


Well-Known Member
Dear JC.

If this is your real name, I would change it.

I had a beautiful boy too. He looked like an angel. I could have written most of your post. All of the things you tried, I did too. The downward spiral of my now 32-year-old son and my own reaction to it are much the same as your own.. I have been on this forum for 6 years.

My son has worsened greatly in the time I have been here. When I started out here, I was so desperate I wanted to enroll in college classes with my son so that I could be sure he was attending and doing his work. Now he is flat-out homeless unless I house him. His drug use is way, way worse, in volume, type, and the way that they dominate his life and personality.

While I stopped trying to micro-manage, I have continued trying to help my son with housing. In one way or another, I have not let go of "conditions" even though they have never worked, and I knew they wouldn't. It's just that I have never been able to stop helping him. Even though I am aware that what I am helping is his addiction.

My son is mentally ill and he has a potentially fatal illness, for which he does not get treatment or monitoring. While I can point to these factors as fueling my anxiety, fear, confusion, and concern, it's really only part of it. I have lots of interests and meaning in my life. I have had a successful and satisfying life, but my life is really only my son. He is my love.
But the thing is, the reality is he is an addict and homeless. I love a child who is no longer there. There is a quote I saw a few days ago. I am going to go right now and find it because it fits here.

I will post it right below. Meanwhile welcome to you. I know with all my heart how you are suffering. It does get better. I can recover myself now. My son left yesterday, a property I own. I made him leave. He is bitter and rejecting. He blames me for everything. Helping him never works.. I haven't been able to stop. I love him. I keep believing there is a chance. But the thing is, I have no control over his "chances." Only he does.
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Well-Known Member
“Life — the way it really is — is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.” Joseph Brodsky

You see, my story with my son is this. I did battle between good and bad, and it became worse than I could have ever imagined. I tried to see the potential to make it better, and I hitched my wagon to despair, dissolution, and desolation.

I don't know if there would have been another, better, outcome if I had detached completely, or an even worse one. My son is alive. I am grateful for that. And we do have some relationship. When he has a desperate need for food, he comes back. He knows I love him. However bitter he is, (he judges me harshly because I don't help him all of the time), when he needs me, we are able to connect.

I think the Brodsky quote is about denial. And I also think it's about what real life is. Real-life is suffering.

The only way I can see my own situation in a way that I can hold onto myself is this. Everybody has a story to write with their life. Their own work to do. Work isn't just a profession, a job, a trade. It's something far greater. It's purpose. It's the reason that each of us lives. The task we do. Our potential to dig down deep and heal and transform ourselves.

To try to do another adult's life-work is wrong. By trying to impose my narrative on his life I am infantilizing my son. I am taking away his autonomy and taking away his purpose.

By recognizing what in my life story has led to this need to rescue my son, and to stop it, is my own life work to do.

I know this sounds nuts, given how our children are living. But these are men are adults. They are no longer our babies anymore to protect and to keep safe. To keep on feeling that they are our babies is to deny reality--"to deny the way (life) really is."

If I stay engaged emotionally with my son "as-if" he is a baby, not a homeless addict, I remain tethered to a fallacy and a fantasy. And I suffer.

I am so, so sorry.
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Deni D

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
J, I've been taking a short break here, don't know why I checked in tonight, but I did and couldn't pass your post by. Good, I just saw a notification that Copa responded to you. She has much wisdom to share.

I can relate to your first paragraph almost word for word, except the George Clooney description.

Emotionally right now I'm very disconnected from recent circumstances. But I have been where you are, many times, and hope you can find a way to take back to some of your sanity, take a breath and ground yourself a bit. I go outside, stand in my bare feet in any kind of weather, just to feel nature. Whatever it takes for you, please try to compartmentalize you son's troubles aside from yourself, lower your blood pressure and get your feet under you. You know by now, whatever you do for you will not effect his outcome.

On a more practical side I think al anon is a great idea, hopefully there are in person meetings near you. My son is menially ill, previously dual diagnosis meaning both mentally ill and a substance abuser. Over the years he's been in rehabs and even though I didn't speak a word in al anon meetings, hearing others speaking in those meetings was very helpful for me. Yes, there's a good chance you will cry and not say a word, that's okay, they get it.

Another suggestion would be for you to look into the local crises intervention resources near him so you are prepared. You should be able to find them through the hospital near him, you can call them anytime to discuss your son, to get an idea of what they can do for him. From what you have described he is a danger to himself which would put him into at least a 3 day Baker Act hold in the hospital if they intervene this time and it can become more time with future interventions, as has happened with my son, currently up to two weeks. It won't be a solution but could move towards one. If they feel he needs rehab they will work towards that for him, possibly without his approval, which may or may not work depending on if clearing his head while there helps him.

My son is typically very nasty with me also, but I've found others can influence him into doing what is right for him whereas I cannot. Over the last few years, from hospitalizations, my son now has housing provided to him from a local mental health organization, he has a case worker, and they can get him to do minimal to take care of himself but I can get him to do nothing. At your son's age, which is my son's age, we are supposed to fill the role of cheerleader, a listening ear, and some guidance only when they ask for it. We cannot run their lives for them, even though we know they seem incapable, and maybe are not capable of running their own lives. We have been given clear evidence we cannot do what we are willing to do at this point in their lives, they won't allow it, and frankly even if they would it would not be a solution.

Hoping for some peace for you.


Well-Known Member
I found another quote in today's NY Times, I think, or maybe the Washington Post, I'm not sure. The article was about the Covid-orphans in India. While there is help for them now, the fear is that in time they will be forgotten and preyed upon. The quote is from a 14-year-old who is caring for her many orphaned siblings, following the death of her mother.

“My mother kept us safe like an umbrella does, from the heat and rain of life,” said Sonali, holding back tears. “I imagine her being close to me. That’s what keeps me going.”

What can I say? This is what we hope for our children. Not only that we can protect them from the storms of life. But that the memory of our love within them, can center them for as long as they live, with the certainty that they are able to protect and shield themselves in the inevitable storms of life.

And what is unsaid here is that we deserve this too. A sense of inviolability. That we can shield and will shield and protect ourselves,, is the mother's birthright too. Even from our own children, if that be the case. That we need to find this invisible, ever-present umbrella, to find emotional shelter, respite, and actual protection when life turns difficult. From our own sons if need be.

When our own children become the peril--the heat and rain--it feels impossibly difficult, to protect oneself from the very person we most seek to support. But this is our task.

we can no longer be the umbrella, by defending, enclosing, them, but we can be that for ourselves and in an indirect way, for them too. Mother-love is a real thing. An idea that can be real.

We are called upon to draw the line to anything that creates conflict, division, pain, default, disrespect, dissonance. For us and for them. This becomes our new iteration of mother-love. Generosity and self-sacrifice become hopefulness, goodwill, humility, grace, surrender to reality, in the face of NOTHING AT ALL that would speak to hope. That we, they and us, can grow the umbrella in our centers.

I believe we are called upon to be whole, in the face of brokenness. Our own, and theirs.
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Well-Known Member
You did the right thing by getting him into therapy. Do you feel like the therapists addressed things well. Does your son understand why he drinks, whether it's anxiety, inability to relax, etc.? I think addiction is a secondary condition stemming from a bigger problem.


Sending good vibes...
So many of us here can identify with your post. Some of us like myself, daily work on trying to figure out where our life begins and where our childrens lives start. They seem to have melded into one and we take on the emotional and psychological heaviness, illness, sadness and emptiness of our children. Were our parents able to remove our pain, hurt, sadness and emptiness? No, so how come we think we are obliged to to that for them? I've been trying to work on that for years. Where did my "illness" and thought process begin to get me to feeling that I'm responsible for their housing, food, happiness in life, jobs etc?

I too agree that Al anon would be a great start for you. Many of us cried quite often when we first began attending meetings. For a lot of us it's the first time we verbally share out loud with others our troubles. I think it's cathartic and will help you the more you attend. You may not even say a word for several meetings and that's ok. There is no pressure to share until, if or when you're ready.

Try to focus on yourself a little bit each day giving yourself more and more time. Whether it's reading, praying, a pedicure or a walk. These are gentle loving things we can do for our physical and mental well-being. Your son basically has monopolized your every thought (I've been there and judgment). That's exhausting and not loving to yourself. Somehow, we think we have to be martyrs when it comes to our children and sacrifice all that we have - money and sanity. I don't think that's our purpose and the struggle for us is to pull our mind set away from that and become healthier.

I heard once that we think obstacles block our pathway but in fact obstacles are our pathway. Meaning amidst all this craziness we live we have to find our way. We cannot go around our obstacles, jump over them, slide by them or bust through them. We have to make our minds strong and healthy enough so we can walk towards the obstacles, day by day, step by step until we are on the other side.

Keep posting it will help.


Well-Known Member
Another vote for Al Anon. It is online and on Zoom too for shy people. It saved my marriage and maybe my life. A private addiction therapist also helped.

Don't try to do this alone. Most people walking around can't relate to what we live through.... people


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

So sorry that you are going through this. There is nothing harder.

When our son started this journey, we were baffled and grasping at straws. Our two older sons had never done any of this so we had no clue what we were dealing with for some time and made a lot of mistakes. We were unified but it was ruining our life and we were running in place.

I sought out all I could find on addiction even though I wasn't sure he was truly an addict. He was 15 and crazy but again had a hard time placing that label on him.

My salvation was my faith, lots of prayer, this forum (why reinvent the wheel?), and a professional therapist that specialized in addiction. All of these things got me through one of the worst times in my life. I needed to have help forming firm boundaries for myself and FOR MY SON.

We have a happy ending. Our son is back and in college. If I had not stood my ground and LEARNED how to manage this, I do not think it would have ended so well. My good friend lost her son to an overdose at about the same time my son was turning it around. She was a single mom and couldn't deal with his progressive drug use and enabled him in the worst way possible not knowing how to handle it. She was having a hard time accepting what was going on with him and I totally get that. Tough love if very had for us but tough love is LOVE and sometimes we have to turn it on. It's something we have to LEARN. It does not come naturally.

I knew that I did not want a 30 year old man on my couch unable to provide for himself and never realizing living his best life. While having that image in my mind I was able to forge ahead and do what I needed to do. He was not changing so I had to change. Change is so hard for any of us.

Prayers for your peace and strength and that your son will find his way.


Well-Known Member
I feel your pain , my son is 18 teen and homeless. I will be attending my first Nar-Anon group next week , I’m scared I will cry the whole time, but I need help . I will be praying for our sons. I wish I could give you good advice like the others but I’m also a emotional wreck right now. Just know you are not alone.🙏🏼🙏🏼


New Member
Thank-you so much for your responses and stories you've shared. It helps so so so very much. I've not posted since by first post. I have to admit that after sharing my story, I felt strangely defeated. For reasons that I would need to share a whole other story, it's like I've trained by whole life to never let anything hurt me or at least never show it. I always spend a little while beating myself up when I share how hurt I am.

Since I wrote last, my son spent some time in jail, and is now at another sober-living house. I told him I would pay for up to two months to give him a little time to start making money from his job. I'm back on anti-anxiety medications so I feel numb much of the time. No real ups or downs. I will never know exactly where to draw the line for my son. My very muddy rule is I only help him if he's sober and making attempts to stay that way. He's being forced to stay at the place he's at now, or he goes back to jail. He's unhappy, but what he doesn't realize is that he's always unhappy regardless of his situation. I've been trying to spend Saturday or Sunday with him. Admittedly, it drains everything I have in me, which is not much after the work week (elem teacher...). In between a thin layer of a great sense of humor, he is mostly just angry and talks about how terrible his life is. I've come to a very hard realization that in isolation of his addiction, he has a very narcissistic personality and his perception is his reality. At this point in our relationship (much of it he was too drunk to remember), I do not like my son very much and I am guarded with him. My love for him is emotionally expensive.

His last therapist once told me something like... As mothers we feed them, we put clothes on their back, and put a roof over their heads. With these essentials, we assume good things are happening. I now understand that the two are unrelated, but I still provide him with a cushion in hopes something will click. Ironically, it's typically a cushion that he's never appreciative of, even when he knows I've sacrificed so much to provide it for him.

The owner of my son's sober-living house posted this quote and it gave me a much needed bitter-sweet laugh:

I begged the universe
for you
and one day
you arrived
as everything I'd always
asked for
and it didn't take me long
to realize --
I should have been

more specific.



New Member
One more quote that touches me... because I struggle with finding empathy and understanding. Will I ever? Will I always be angry at my son?

"One doesn't have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient."
Charles M. Blow


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Just reread your original post.

If you knew how I cried the one and only time I went to Alanon - oh my. I was embarrassed to show my raw emotion but they got it. I could not even talk I was crying so hard. I didn't go back because I couldn't handle all the sad stories and particularly one older couple that had pretty much lost everything and their son was still an addict. They were so sad and defeated. Was that going to be us? I couldn't bear that future for us....or him.

I was wondering if you had a husband and I see that you do. I know it is so hard for men to deal with all this. Most of them are even more clueless than we are!

Honestly I knew I needed one on one help for myself and that is why I found a therapist. And she was wonderful. She helped me so much and then she left the practice after a few months and I was devastated but she passed me onto someone new and I continued to heal and do the work that I needed to do on ME. My husband did not go but I'd go home and share my sessions with him and he supported me 100%.

You don't mention your faith but if you have ever thought you needed God, you need him more than ever now. I prayed so hard on a daily basis and wasn't even sure if there was a God at that time because I couldn't believe he'd let me suffer so much after I had already suffered a lot in my life - I felt I'd already had more than my share but in truth I think I was dealt this hand to increase my faith and seek out his comfort and I did.

You need to have self-empathy too. I felt empathy for my son but I was so very angry at him most of the time because I had had enough and he was still going strong and not using any of the tools that he was so privledged to have! I felt that he had more control of his behaviors than he was letting on but I still am not sure if he did. We still have not talked about this horrible time in our lives but I hope that someday we can.

Stay strong and stay with us because there is a lot of support and knowledge amongst us here.


Well-Known Member
Dear Hope,
I've been absent from this forum for a little while and I missed your original post. It made me cry because I could identify so closely with your emotions.
It's so hard loving these kids but not always liking them, recognising the manipulation but being emotionally wrecked by it regardless.
I don't have the answers, but I just wanted you to know you are not alone.