Cel phone... enabling or controlling?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by toughlovin, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Hi all,

    I have been interested in various comments about cell phones, taking them away etc. So my difficult child was discharged yesterday and went to the new sober house. I know this because I got an email from the therapist at the tx place, I have heard nothing from my son!

    So I did go online and check his cell phone records and of course he has been texting like crazy... to all sorts of numbers (most of which I do not know) but some to the old girlfriend... who I had hoped had broken up with him for good.

    I thought about some of you and thought gosh maybe we should just cut off his cell phone??? A part of me is peeved that he didn't at least text us that he is settled!!! A big part of me is concerned that he will get his hopes back up with the girlfriend which is not at all good for him and he will again spiral downward. And of course I worry about him reconnecting with all of his druggie friens that he has it seems all over the place.

    We have never ever considered or mentioned shutting off his cell phone. So if we did that it would really feel ike it came out of left field. And I can see that part of my wish to do this is an issue of control on my part... I want to prevent him for contacting the girlfriend or druggie friends.

    The reason we have kept paying for his cell phone (and he is on our family plan so it is not very much cost wise) is that we feel better knowing he has a way to call us when he is in trouble... and it has been comforting to me to have a way to check that he is still alive when he has been incommunicado and/or homeless. However it does feel in a way it does enable him to make contact with druggie folks and truth is in an emergency he could always call us collect.

    I know my husband would not support cutting off his cell phone right now and I don't think now would be the right time. However I am wondering how the rest of you feel about cell phones, and paying for them?

    I thought about texting him and asking if he is settled... and then thought about what someone said on this board about them kind of always knowing we are there wanting contact or something. I decided it is better for me just to wait it out and continue to go on with my life and let him contact us this time. He knows we are here and I am sure will contact us when he needs something. It is better if he is not thinking I am here ready to catch him and pick up the pieces.

    And I think I will try to stop checking his phone records... it can almost become a compulsion.

    I woke up lat night after some crazy dream about him and a friend and alcohol... and realize that although I am sleeping... it is not quite as restful now that he is no longer at the tx place.

  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    We are not quite in the same position as you...our difficult child still lives at home. But she does not have a cell phone right now because she was only using it to find trouble.

    husband and I argued the same way you are your husband argued. But we decided that the cell phone was giving us a false sense of security. Merely having a cell phone does not guarantee one's safety. In our case, we decided that if difficult child was doing what she was supposed to be doing, there was little risk of her needing a cell phone for her protection. on the other hand - the opportunity to make connections with bad people, make arrangements to meet up, and then use the phone to lie about her whereabouts we felt was a far bigger risk.

    So - no phone. That was our decision.

    Don't know if that helps....
  3. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    LOL....right after I hit sent my phone rang and it was difficult child! He said he was there and apologized for not calling yesterday! We had a good and pretty relaxed conversation. He sounds pretty good... does want a haircut. I had put money in an account there and told him to use that which was fine.

    OK so I guess I will keep the phone for a while.... but I am still interested in your thoughts about cell phones.

  4. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am struggling with this issue right now. difficult child is on our family plan too but it is still costing about $90 a month which is a lot of money when you figure the unlimited text and data plan and line charge and insurance and taxes. I want to tell her to transfer the number to her own plan and get it off our family plan so we no longer pay for it, but I know it is for spite and because I am angry that we are paying for it and she is using it to talk to her druggie friends. Taking her phone away will not stop her from using, it will just make her more angry and give her a reason to blame us for her problems so I wait. She is going to crash and burn very soon, she has $600 in the bank, has to pay $500 rent in three days and the rest has to last her until two weeks when she gets her pay. She has not paid one bill since moving in a month ago and the gas and electric company doesn't care that she spent her money on drugs. She has a dog and cat to feed and herself and gas to put in her car and cigarettes to buy and she is getting internet service installed today. Besides she has to get new registration and plates for her car and have the old rusted plates drilled off and all this done in two weeks. I don't know what world she's living in but it's not the real world.

    Getting back to you, I don't think you should take his phone away just now. Don't check his records, it will just annoy you. I know it's easier said than done but I have actually stopped looking at my difficult child's phone calls and texts. He should not be texting anyone, he should be working the program. The fact that he is sitting around texting all kinds of numbers does not sound good. Who could these people be and what could he be texting about? Surely not when the next AA meeting is. So if he is texting all kinds of numbers he's looking to score or a place to run to.

    I hate to say this TL but I think you are going to have to sit back and wait for him to do whatever it is he is going to do. He is acting just like my difficult child. I have had to finally realize there is nothing I can say, nothing I can do, that will stop her from doing what she wants to do and ruining her life. It's why I stopped all communication with her. There is nothing to talk about. I don't want to see her or go to lunch with her or have her over for Easter dinner or talk to her on the phone or look at her facebook because nothing I say or do will change anything. I have no power and she has all the power in the world to ruin her life which she is doing.

    You won't feel better for taking his cell phone away and it won't stop him from doing what he wants to do. You gave him the conditions for continuing to help him and he has to abide by them. You are in a waiting game and it's so very hard. I too am wakingup in the middle of the night and having very real dreams of her and drugs and arrests and so many horrible things. They are not dreams, they are real fears being played out in my head while I'm sleeping.

  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just read your update. Glad he called you but please be careful what you believe. I now know why difficult child was being so nice to us for months. She wanted us to believe everything was fine so we would continue helping her until she got settled on her own. It was all a con. I know I'm jaded but I learned the hard way. How will you know he uses the money for a haircut?

  6. Rome

    Rome New Member

    It is so hard knowing what to do. when you are the mom of an addict. From my experience, when my addicted loved one had a cell phone which I was paying for and random numbers or texts appeared one after the other, within a few minutes, it was when they were looking for their drug of choice. I had to turn it off since I was the one paying to make it easier for them to call their suppliers. Each person is different and I believe we each have to do what feels right in our heart.
  7. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Thanks Nancy.... it is a waiting game. Right now we are at the place where there are some positive signs...but there are also lots of red flag signals. He is once again at a crossroads and will have to decide which path he is going to take.

    Ultimately though you are right and I am right there with you. There is nothing I can do one way or the other. It is his path and journey and he will either finally this time take the right path or once again he will screw up and crash and burn. I really have no say or influence either way.... so the best thing I can do is sit back and wait... and be supportive when he is doing the right thing.

    It does sound like your difficult child will crash pretty soon.... my guess is if she is using she will lose the job she has... and I think you are also right not to communicate with her right now. She knows you are there and that you love her and also that you don't support her current life style. That is one thing I have realized, my difficult child knows we love him and are there for him... and if he doesnt then that is due to his own internal issues because we have been there every time.

    One good thing for my easy child daughter.... she now knows we will always be there for her, because if we have been there for difficult child she knows we will always be there for her too.

  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Onyxx's phone was taken away from her last May and cut off in September. She knows she isn't getting it back, ever. She has to pay for her own. And when she does, it's her responsibility to respect everyone else with it.

    husband talked about adding her to his plan (AGH!) and having her pay him back (she was supposed to pay ME back, never freaking happened, not ONCE). But SHE refused, because she doesn't want to be on ANYONE ELSE's plan - because we CAN cut it off!
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You do realize if you have very low income you can get one of those "obama phones". They come from various providers but have about 250 minutes a month and the minutes load automatically each month free. Thats all Cory had for quite a long time.

    In my case, I just gave Cory and Mandy a cell phone for Xmas as a reward for doing well instead of a way of keeping up with them. I dont track their minutes or their phone numbers. We are on a family plan and we actually have a limited number of anytime minutes and surprisingly they track their allotted amount responsibly. Amazing. Tony was really worried about that.
  10. wantpeace

    wantpeace New Member

    I struggle with the cell phone thing too, especially since difficult child has a smartphone and I don't even have anything nearly as fancy. I have no land line in the house any longer, so I like to able to have contact with my older sons. I do, however, use it as a frequent punishment by blocking their texting when they get mouthy and don't follow rules. It's the only thing they care about and it only takes a minute of my time to have it blocked and unblocked. They can still make phone calls when I do this, although you can put temporary blocks on the calling as well. I find they rarely call friends anyway. It' almost always texting.
  11. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    We have never paid for a cell phone for any of our children no matter if they were easy child or difficult child. We told them if they wanted one they had to pay for it themselves. Believe me if they want something from you they find a way to call. =RM
  12. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have waited to answer this thread because I wanted to think about it for a while. It seems like cell phones that are family plans often make it very hard to detach from adult difficult child's. It is too tempting to check up on what they are doing, who they are calling, and what they are saying in texts. I don't think that I would be able to resist if my difficult child's phone was connected to our family plan.

    For us, the solution was to get a Metro PCS account for difficult child. She has to pay in advance for the month and has unlimited minutes and texts. Before rehab and the halfway house, if she wanted to have a phone, she had to come up with the money. If she didn't, she always found a friend who would let her call. It doesn't really bother me if she doesn't have a phone. My take on that is that I lived over 30 years of my life without have a cell phone and survived.

    So I guess my answer is that it is enabling to provide a cell phone for an adult difficult child. However, we paid for our difficult child's phone while she was in rehab and the halfway house. Now that she has a job, we expect her to pay for it herself.

  13. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I dont think there is a way to see what they are saying in texts is there? Gosh that would probably not be good for me... but boy would it give me a clue into how he is really doing!!! So am I missing something?

    I can only see what numbers he is texting... and it doesnt even tell me who owns the phone and it is not that easy to find who the owners of cell phones are.

  14. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I don't know. I thought Nancy said she could see her difficult child's texts. Maybe she meant that she could just see who she was texting.

    Either way . . . I don't want know that. My easy child is still on our family plan and it doesn't even occur to me to look at those things. I think that is how it should be with difficult child's, too, and it is easier if they are not on the family plan. It also puts the responsibility on them to pay the phone bill. My difficult child has asked several times for us to put her back on the family plan. She swears that she will pay us each month like easy child does. Yeah, like that would happen.

  15. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    You cannot see what they text - I have asked my cell phone company and they told me it was impossible.
  16. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    OK so I don't think there is any way to see what they are texting, only what numbers they are texting. I have been good and have not looked at the phone records since yesterday morning. I have decided it really is not useful and it only creates anxiety for me.... if he ends up homeless then I might do it to reassure myself he is alive... but for now I know he is in a place where I would get a call if something happened to him... so no news is kind of good news.

    As far as privacy and PCs. The issue is so so different. My easy child daughter has a laptop... she leaves it home and it occured to me I could easily go looking to see what she is doing and emails etc. I decided not to because really I have no need to, I trust her, and I do want to respect her privacy. She is open with me herself and I want to keep it that way... so really I have no reason to go snooping and I don't.

    I think for now we will keep my difficult children phone on the family plan. It is enabling but in a small way and I have decided for now I am ok with that. However I am going to try and stay away from checking on him. I think he blew off an appointment with his therapist yesterday, although I don't know for sure and I have this feeling he really is probably not committed to recovery.... in which case I will know soon enough. I don't need to go looking for anxiety about if he is doing well or not. I think the more I don't look the more peace I have.... and the more I back off, the more he will have to decide for himself.

  17. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I can't read her texts, I can read the emails she sends from her phone to this jerk in the navy. Evidently texts wont go thru to Japan so she has to use email from her phone.

    I've been good lately not looking at her emails or cell phoen records too TL. Although I have no regrets in doing it before because had I may not know yet that she is drinking/using all the time or that she crashed her car or that she is involved with druggies. If I didn't know that I may still be helping her out with groceries and she would still be on our insurance. I don't really care now what she does because I know she will crash and I don't care to know when.

    We will be taking her off our family plan soon since she has no regard for money or who she owes and doesn't pay. She is overdrawn on her checking account and I am going to the bank tomorrow to remove my name from her account. The all ties will be broken. She has made it obvious that she is rejecting us completely and little by little I am accepting that.

  18. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Just remember that when a drug addict is using their primary relationship is with the drugs not you.... her rejection of you and your values has a lot to do with her drug use. When she is sober she wants a relationship with you.... however there is nothing at all you can do while her main support system is drugs. And I will keep reminding myself of that too..... I think what is hard is when we have those good moments when they are sober then we think hey they care about us, they care about themselves, there is hope... and then hope gets dashed.

    I think if my son relapses then I will reconsider the cell phone issue.

  19. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    TL I have been thinking about what you said and I have said that to others many times, but I'm starting to think I'm not so sure anymore. I think that our difficult child doesn't want anything to do with us because she knows we don't approve of her lifestyle and she doesn't want to hear what we have to say. And so she surrounds herself with only those people who will not voice their disapproval. I think if we acted like everything was fine she would be happy to see us. It's funny that she is super sweet to everyone else in her life, but husband and I who have done everything humanly possible for her she is able to put out of her life so easily.

    I know I am angry right now and that's part of the process. But I do find myself becoming more and more detached from her and I'm not even sure I would ever allow myself to be open to her fully even if she did go into recovery again. I understand this is a disease but even people with diseases have no right to treat other people the way addicts do.

  20. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I agree with everything you say. I think detachment is necessary for you right now... you need to keep your own sanity for you and the others you love. She has to find your own way.

    I think the analogy of the drugs being their primary relationship is a good one. Because if someone is invovled with someone their parents really disapprove of, often (usually) what happens is they reject the parents not the person they are invovled with. However drugs is different in that you cant show approval for drug use, whereas with a boyfriend you can keep quiet or fake it to some extent. But I think you are right.... she is uncomfortable with your disapproval of her current life choices and so it is hard to be around you because you don't like what she is doing. And that probably makes her angry because she feels she should be able to do what she wants and you should support her no matter what... again addicts thinking.

    And every time she relapses you lose yet more trust in her and it will take longer and more for you to open your heart again. I so feel for you.... and am hoping against hope I don't end up in the same place but know very well that there is a good chance I will.