Hello and thanks; advice needed re 27 yr old son not launching


New Member
Hello all,

I've been lurking here for about a year and want to thank you for sharing your wisdom. I have hesitated to write because I didn't know where to start with all that has gone on, but will try to summarize.

27 year old son has been difficult since high school. Diagnosed with ADHD at that time. In recent years diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Now claiming has PTSD from car accident senior year of high school and trying to get disability. He has been on and off drug use since high school, and when it got so bad we couldn't keep him in the house, sent him away to several therapeudic programs. At 19, he was back in our house and sober for about 5 years. At 19, conceived daughter with girlfriend he met at young people's AA group. She was mandated to go there by court and never really worked the program. When he discovered this, he broke up with her. Their baby was removed from girlfriend's care at birth by child services because she came in to deliver high on marijuana and was homeless, and after paternity confirmed he was father, court gave custody to our son who was living with us and he brought her home. Our granddaughter is the light of our lives. We have raised her from infancy and love her like she is our own daughter.

Several years ago, marijuana became legal in our state, son started using it, then started using LSD, alcohol, poly drugs, started abusing prescription drugs. We could tell by his whacked out behavior and verbal abuse of us in our home. Two years ago, we asked son to move out, he did so, and we filed for guardianship of our granddaughter which the court granted.

Birth mother died a year ago from heroin overdose. She had not been in contact with our son nor has our granddaughter ever known her birth mother. Our granddaughter was born drug free, so birth mother managed to stay clean during her pregnancy.

After our son spent several months living with a friend and got a job, in an effort to get him launched and believing he was working on his drug problem since we attended court ordered therapy with him (but later found out he was fooling us and the therapist), we helped him move into a cheap apartment.

During 2018, between May-Oct, son was hospitalized 8 times, twice for overdose and the rest for being suicidal. Obviously he couldn't keep a job. We were afraid being homeless would push him over the edge to suicide, so we paid his apt rent during this time. In Oct 2018, he went to detox from alcohol and xanax of his own accord. While in the detox hospital, his church group leader arranged for him to attend an 18 month faith based rehab 50 min away where he would live and they also would give him a job in their thrift shop. The program asked and we agreed to pay a reasonable monthly amount that was equivalent to the cheap monthly rent on his apartment. The church leader and wife took him there from detox. Sadly, he returned to his apartment 24 hours later, at which point we said we were done helping.

The hard part is that in the 5 months since that time, in spite of everything, he has been progressing. He is being treated by an APRN addiction specialist who helped him during the 5 years he was sober in the past. He has a regular part time job at a company and does another part time job on his own time. He is barely making ends meet but the verbal abuse of us stopped, he has been sober for his visits with his daughter, and generally cooperative. During the past month, he has asked for some financial help to get caught up with his bills. We have helped him with part of his rent payment and some gas money and verified by seeing his receipts. But his requests for gas funds have gotten more and more frequent until today my husband talked with him about his plan for paying his bills. He said he is disabled from PTSD, is in the process of applying for disability, and although the conversation went well til the end, at the end he cursed my husband and then called him back to say something nasty to him. This is so heartbreaking because he seemed to have stabilized and when someone is helping themselves, you don't mind a small assist, but we already have his daughter to support and can't go on helping him indefinitely. Yet we do want to encourage his progress forward from where he's been. I feel like he's come too far to be put out on the street, but it's on him to come up with a plan and not keep treating us like his bank. Your input welcome! Thank you!
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100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

Welcome. None of us know where to begin when we come here to post because by the time we search online for forums there is SO SO much and so many years of "stuff".

I think that you are definitely doing the right thing by starting to question your helping him financially. You do not owe him anything and have been and continue to be very good parents.

More will be along but I think that your need to hold firm to your boundaries. He needs to figure this out. You are not a bank and you are close to retirement so need to save your resources for yourself!


New Member
Thank you, RN. Yes, close to retirement. I'm still working part time from home. Husband works full time but company is going through hard times and he could be laid off any time. And we have a child to support, which we didn't expect to be doing in our 60s. It's high time for our son to step up and be self sufficient. The part-time job he has is the first one he's been able to hold in some time, so it is progress. But he seems to have no qualms treating us like a bank, even though we are not wealthy. The choice seems to be help with his rent or he will be out on the street, which is hard. If he were still whacked out on drugs this would be easy. But not so easy when he is moving in a positive direction.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Hi Standing, so glad to meet you.

I'm sorry for what you have been through. It's not an easy journey to be on but you are not alone. From what you have shared, it sounds like you and your husband have done all you can to offer your son help in getting his life on track. You have also gone above and beyond in that you are raising your grand daughter.

Detaching is never easy in the beginning but it's essential to do so you can move forward with your own life.

Be prepared for your son to ramp things up. When we the parents start pulling away and telling them "NO", their behavior can intensify. My son did this with me. I've heard it all from "I hate you" "I wish you were dead" "I wish I'd never been born" "you'll be sorry" "if you loved me you would help me" "I'm going to starve to death" "I'm going to freeze to death", etc.....
Our difficult adult children are counting on us to cave in and give them what they want.
The main thing to remember is our helping them is not helping them, it's enabling them.

I'm glad your son is moving in a positive direction but that is no reason for you and your husband to "help" him. I truly hope your son is sincere. I only say this as a caution. My son and many others have shown they can "do good" as a way to convince us they are now worthy of our help.

There is a very fine line between helping and enabling. Your son has no reason that he cannot work and be self sufficient.

Keep posing and let us know how things are going.


Well-Known Member
It's almost impossible to get approved for disability in some states. Even if gets approved, in three years his case would be reevaluated and probably denied. Sometimes a low stress job that isn't complicated is all some people with PTSD and severe anxiety can handle.


Active Member
Hi Standing- Welcome. Sorry you have to be here, but glad you found us. Relapse is considered a part of the addiction cycle now, it's so prevalent. It's more likely that an addict will relapse than not. To me one of the signs of my daughter relapsing is she starts having money problems and it doesn't make sense. I would be highly suspect of your son's increased requests for gas money. If all of your assistance and support were going to be the reason he overcomes his addictions and becomes a responsible adult it surely would have happened by now. This has to be his priority in order for him to succeed. Nothing you say or do will make it more or less likely that he succeeds. I had to learn a lot about boundaries and loving detachment. Sometimes it is still difficult for me, but I'm way, way better than I used to be. As Tanya said- your son will likely ramp up the crazy once you start setting and sticking to boundaries. My daughter nearly drove me mad with endless phone calls, screaming and cursing when I did. It took several months of hanging up when she started being disrespectful and turning off the phones because she would call repeatedly trying to get my attention. Once she got it things were better. She is rarely nasty to me now and if she is and I hang up she doesn't call back. Sending you peace. I know this is a long and difficult road.


New Member
Thank you, Eliza. Good food for thought. Boundary setting clearly needed. We were doing well with it until he showed signs of improvement. But you're right, when we think we're helping him, we're not.


New Member
Thanks for the info on disability, which we know nothing about. He has a low stress part-time job that he likes, but it's not enough to pay his expenses, so he will have to figure it out.


Well-Known Member
There are similarities in our stories. My son is 30. I read your story and I see hope and progress, as well as great love and responsibility. Your son seems to have had some hits as well as misses. You have supported him every step of the way. You may be so close and the circumstances so difficult and painful, that the successes are obscured. I see a family with great love, that is in this to win it. It is very, very hard when we cannot point to the things we long for , stability, contentment, security, consistency, etc. Or if we can, it's for days or hours, and no more.

Does your son have some underlying mood instability, in addition to the PTSD and ADHD?

What stands out is how your son has stayed in the game, and you have too. Who is to say how much worse this could have been without your consistent support? Well, the girlfriend comes to mind. How sad and all too common a story. I know how hard it is when their judgment is poor, they act impulsively and against their own and our interest. When this happens it is difficult to not become reactive, too, and to not stay in touch with the concrete and meaningful ways that things are good and better.

I really think that posting helps. It is not so much that the advice changes things, but posting helps us to work out things and to clarify where we stand and who we are. Welcome.

PS I just see that he has a part time job. This is great. My own son works only very, very sporadically. I would be thrilled if he had a part-time job. My son does receive SSI/SSDI. To me, it is a mixed bag, because this enables him to live at a very low level and to not have to work. He would greatly benefit to my way of thinking to be tethered in some way to the workforce.
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New Member
Thanks, Copa. Your reply nearly brought me to tears and gives me hope. The answer to your question about possible underlying mood instability is that we don’t know. When drug free, his moods are quite stable except when he feels overwhelmed. He says his APRN has taken him off everything so his brain can heal.

Some good news to report: son called husband to apologize for what he said earlier today and also sent him an email apology. When his shift ended early this evening, he called asking permission to stop by our house to read his daughter a bedtime story, which we allowed. No requests for funds and visit went well. Something to be grateful for.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Glad that he realized he was wrong. AMEN to that!!

I do not think it is YOUR job to keep him off the street no matter what he is doing.

He is a man. Let him be one.

Loving boundaries are for you as his parents and also for him.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. We have to drive the change.