At a Loss and Worried Sick about 22-yr old son


New Member
Hi, new here--obviously Google helped me find this forum where so many others have similar issues with their kids.

My issue is my 22-year old son. He is depressed and won't function.

Background. His senior year of high school he had ALOT of stress over choosing a college and deciding whether to go away. He had a steady girlfriend and didn't want to leave her. He chose to go to a very good school 5 hours away. Once that decision was made, he began changing. His girlfriend was giving him a lot of grief and stress and as summer came he didn't get a job and basically stayed in his room or at his girlfriend's house. He wasn't excited about getting things ready to go away, etc. by the way, he has always been a sweetheart--a great student, a loving and caring person, etc.

Time to drop him at college--of course that was hard and I felt terrible leaving him where he knew no one etc. But, I know that was normal so of course we did it. I reminded him of the advice from orientation about not shutting the dorm door so that people will walk by and invite you places, etc. Well of course he didn't listen. He and his roommate were cordial but never really hung out. He isolated himself. I think his girlfriend was giving him a lot of problems and making him feel guilty and not wanting him to go out to parties or activities for fear he would meet someone else. Well, by November they broke up, which was probably a good thing. In January when he went back to college he met a new girl and we liked her. That lasted until summer break. Then that's where we noticed some signs of drinking. (I should mention here that my husband and my daughter are alcoholics). We began having to lock our refrigerator in the garage where we kept alcohol. He tried denying/lying about it or blowing us off saying he was a college student and that's what they do.

Now, here we are a couple years later. He's on his second academic suspension, he cant keep a job, he's depressed, stealing our credit card numbers to pay for Xbox, food, etc (I've since fixed that but we have to hide our wallets at night to ensure he can't get them while we are in bed).

He smokes pot but as far as I can tell no other drugs but I do know addicts can be very good at hiding and pretending. He doesn't have the money for drugs and he hasn't done any cash withdrawals from my account so I don't think he's into serious drugs but I could be wrong. He pretty much rarely leaves his room. I noticed some of my wine missing (quite a bit actually) and confronted him and he didn't deny it and also didn't offer any excuse what so ever. He had a job lined up at UPS for the Christmas season and so far has had excuses every single day as to why they didn't call him. My suspicion is that he is telling them he isn't available. He is supposed to go back to college in January but I don't think he is ready. He's setting himself up for failure. Everything he is doing now is backfiring and all his decisions and actions are negative. He's spiraling downward and I don't know what to do.

I should also mention he lives with his girlfriend in their college city but is home for Christmas break. They've had a horrible 6-8 months where he's been drinking, verbally abusing her and recently he has gotten physical with her. She is about to break up with him (and I encouraged her to do so as she deserves better). I don't know where this physical aggression comes from--my husband never did that despite his alcoholism.

I think he's super angry/disappointed at himself and medicates with alcohol. He is also on Wellbutrin and yes, I know he shouldn't take that when drinking. He knows it too. I think his self esteem is rock bottom and it seems like everything he does now is one more thing to bring him down. He also just got a speeding ticket going 93 in a 70--reckless driving and he has to go to court and he has to get a lawyer.

I'm stuck paying his half of the rent because he won't do anything and I can't put that burden on his girlfriend who is struggling to pay her own part (and I'm on the lease as co-signer). His financial obligations are now putting a burden on me and my family and I'm drowning in debt.

He doesn't want to go to counseling of course. That was my first suggestion. I told him tons of people hit bumps along the way and need a little help getting out of a rut. He didn't like that. It seems nothing I say or do is good enough. He is a master manipulator...he can twist everything you say around and it seems like its your fault and not his. I don't let him do that anymore. He has threatened suicide but honestly I think it was a manipulation tactic to keep him girlfriend.

I am; however, concerned about suicide. He is the lowest I've ever seen him. It's like he doesn't care at all about anyone or anything. He's not my sweet boy anymore.

So, things I've done lately that I really never did before:
--I'm calling him out on lies
--got new debit cards (even though we have to hide them in our own house)
--the new cards will now cancel any of his online gaming subscriptions so he won't have that anymore
--tried to make it difficult where he can't steal alcohol
--don't give him cash (because I'm broke basically)

What should I do next? How can I motivate him to get out of this mess?

Sorry for the long post. I feel like I have so much to say.....


Well-Known Member
Hi. I am sorry this is happening. The stress your son had in high school was not unusual. Its typical actually for seniors to have to make those decisions and doesnt explain his behavior now. He had no traima. Most kids are nervous going away to college and Moms are nervous. Again nothing unusial. He was doing what most college kids do with the same stress. It was his choice to go away to school, right?

First off this is not your mess and nothing you say will change anything if he doesnt want to change it. That is our mantra here and its true. What you DO differently may help. Words, no. Empty threats? Nada. You have to follow through even if he throws a toddler tantrum and begs and swears he will do better.Make him prove it for a year.

What consequenves did he face for stealing? If none, he will do it again.Hitting his girlfiend will land him in jail. If he assaulted her and she was my daighter the police would have been called. There IS no excuse for assault. Not stress. Not anger. Nothing. Id worry more that he will seriously hurt someone else than suicide.

A few ideas: Make him come home for college and if he is still passing college, insist you will only help with money at a home town school and that you have to see that he is passing all his subjects or he is on his own financially. No rent. No anything.

Many college kids work jobs plus go to school. This is school, not a carnival. Not a place to become dependent on alcohol. Not a place to punch your gorlfriend, speed, or do other crimes.

Do not get him a lawyer for his ticket or he will do what he wants....its Mommy to the rescue. HE NEEDS CONSEQUENCES or everything he is doing will get worse. Trust that. He has you picking up his messes and he is an adult and needs to know this stops now.

He can also take out loans like my daughters did. You in my opinion shound not fund him to play house with his girlfriend, fight, and get drunk. That isnt what they go to college for.

Maybe he needs to take a few years off and work, paying his own bills. Not everyone is responsible or mature enough for college on schedule. Some drop out. There goes your money. Does he have a goal in mind for after college? Is he passionate about it? Sounds like he doesnt try hard.

Secondly, you say you are familiar with alcoholsm because of your husband and daughter. Im really sorry that you are so up close and personal with this ugly disease but you do know the pattern behaviors, and what has not worked. So you know more than most of us when we dealt with our first addict. Take your knowledge and use it, little though it may be.

Are you in therapy and Al Anon? I used both. My daughter quit using over a decade ago but I still remember how it helped to have real time support.Do you also still live with husband and daughter? Why is alcohol in the house at all? Do they demand it?

That is a lot of addiction.on your plate. At the same time, none of this is your fault nor are you capable of fixing them. You need peace and love and friendship aside from all the addicts or you will become ill. You deserve to move on and live life to your fullest, even if your loved ones are making poor choices. They are not your messes to fix.

The only thing I truly recommend is letting them all find their money away from you. Or not. You are not The Bank of Mom. You will need that money one day and handing rent out to alcoholics is like throwing it in the wind. It isnt your responsibility to make sure its fair with sons girlfriend.

At any rate, Son needs to pay, not you. Or they need to find other living arrangements or break up. They will likely break up anyway. Your son is not ready to commit to a relationship. Mom still pays his bills. He is unstsble. He could never be a good hisband right now.

If you end up broke and homeless, no.addict will come to your aid. You need to take care of YOU first. Your family are all adults now. Their choices and ways of getting money is on them. They can try working. Please be good to yourself.

Love and light!
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100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

Welcome and I'm sorry that you needed to find us.

I have to agree with most of what SWOT said. The first thing I would do is definitely would not let your son go back to school and I would let his girlfriend know that you can no longer pay the rent. She can get another roommate. I would be afraid for him to be with her if he is violent with her after drinking and I would not do anything to help them be together.

Many will say that you are enabling him by paying the rent when he is NOT doing what he is supposed to do in college.

He's depressed. You're worried. I get it. It sucks to be a mom when our kids are going off the rails and we cannot help them and they refuse help.

It's not something you can fix. You didn't cause it either. And you know by now you cannot control it.

I would find someone to talk to for YOU that specializes in addiction. That is what I did and it helped tremendously.

It sounds like your situation will not change. YOU have to be the one to change how you choose to deal with all of this. I am so sorry.

If you pray then that is what I'd be doing.


New Member
Thank you both so much for your advice. I know you're both absolutely right and I'm prepping myself to stand strong and do what I have to do on my end. He had a mini breakthrough last night with his girlfriend but we will see if that still holds strong today. We've been there and done that before. Time will tell. I'm prayed up this morning--I've got my armor on to stand strong to help heal my family (since this disease has gotten my son, my daughter, and my husband). Pray for me! Thanks again


Well-Known Member
I would also look up the number for domestic violence agencies in your area and give them to his girlfriend to call. They have good resources and counseling for her which as his mother you cant really give her.


Active Member
Hello, your story sounds so much like mine. My son is now 25 and is still struggling so after many breakups, rehabs, outpatient, etc. He still insists on doing things HIS way and refuses to listen to any of the recommendations. Currently, he is very very depressed to the point I feel he may attempt suicide again. Problem is I live 1500 miles away from him. He is alone in a state with no family. I have no one to contact to check on him except the police which I have done 3 times already. He works a full time job and does well but I feel the company may soon start writing him up and he will lose this job. He has if for 3 years now and they have been supportive through everything with the FMLA and all. He likes his job but makes no attempt at reaching out to make friends. ISOLATION! is what he does best. He insists on finding a girlfriend all the time and when in a relationship treats them like crap because he spends all his money on booze/weed. He has his credit cards to the max and has medical bills due to many ER visits with his drinking. I am at a loss. If you ever want to chat, message me. My son and I used to be best buddies until about 8th grade when I noticed a change. He has zero self confidence and hates himself. I fear he will take his life but honestly we have done all we can.


Well-Known Member
You've gotten some really good advice. I was in a similar situation with both my sons. Al-Anon was suggested on this site. I had never heard of it but finally, desperate and at bottom, I dragged myself into a meeting. And another. And another. Little by little MY life started to turn around and I put the emphasis on MY. Also, something you said caught my eye...
I've got my armor on to stand strong to help heal my family (since this disease has gotten my son, my daughter, and my husband).
I don't know what stages your husband and daughter are in their recovery, but you cannot heal anyone but yourself. When I tried to do this with my family it was like my trying to put out a 4th of July fireworks grand finale with a squirt gun. Heal yourself first. You must be exhausted. These are adult problems caused by adults other than you. They need to pay their own way and give you a financial and emotional break. You sorely deserve it. Hugs and prayers are coming your way. Keep us posted how you're doing. You're surrounded by good people who care.


Roll With It
Hi! Welcome! I am sorry that you needed to seek us out, but I am glad we are here for you. I completely agree that the stresses your son faced were fairly typical for high school kids and college kids, especially in the first year or two. Most people learn to cope with these stressors. Your son found a way to cope, but it isn't helpful in any way. I would cut out any money you give him. If there is a bill to pay, pay it directly to the company. Do not give your son any money. If he wants something, he can earn it. Especially as he isn't really going to class or studying.

All you can do is enforce limits. You are on the hook for his rent, and maybe other bills. Make that all the support he gets from you. I worked through college. I also had a baby in college, and I was a wife, mother, employee and student. No, it wasn't a lot of fun all the time. But millions of people make it through college. If your son doesn't want to go to college, what does he want to do? If you don't agree with what he wants to do, cut off the money. My parents always told me that we had to go to school or work full time after high school. Period. Sitting around all day was an immediate road to paying all your own bills and moving out. My parents didn't care where we went if we refused to help ourselves build a life. They couldn't do it for us. They couldn't control us. But they could control where their money went and who lived in their home. That is pretty much where you are. He needs to be cut loose to figure it out for himself. I am glad you urged the girlfriend to leave him. As he has been abusive to her, you may want to be on hand when she finally moves out. Not so much for him, but for her. Leaving an abusive partner is the most dangerous thing many women ever do. And if you are there, your son is less likely to end up in jail or prison for hurting her. Yes, I am aware of how hard it is to think and plan this way when your child is the violent one. I was there for many years. This is how I know it is better to be there or arrange to have someone there than it is to deal with the aftermath.

Please go to AlAnon or NarAnon family meetings. They will help you cope with all of this. I found them to be incredibly helpful.