Help me understand


The condensed version of my story is that my son is an addict. In the past 2 years, he has been in a medical treatment facility twice, lived in 3 recovery houses - kicked out of each for using, has been to court 4 times - the list is endless. He is currently living in a facility for men that provides shelter and job skill development. All is quiet, at the moment. What is bothering me is son will tell me he is clean if I ask him. Of course! But, he never talks about being drug-free, never speaks about how his life has improved without drugs, he never speaks of a drug-free future, and he has never spoken of the hardship and pain that his addiction has caused people close to him. I believe he is still using, but have nothing specific to substantiate that other than my gut and intuition. I feel as though he is simply existing in time - until the next drama manifests itself & he ends up without a roof over his head, again. I am also existing in time - one phone call away from his next major relapse, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I guess what I am looking for is your insight...can anyone share their experience....what is the behavior of someone who is taking their recovery seriously?


Well-Known Member
I can tell you about my daughter who quit. She is only one person and did not really do rehab or anything, but she wanted to quit and we immediately noticed big differences in her thinking and behavior and attitude toward her future. Remember that all people quit differently, but I think the behavior afterward is pretty similar...things vastly improve. It took me over a year though to believe she wouldn't relapse because she was doing some pretty heavy stuff.

The first thing that stood out was that she no longer hung around with drug users at all. She had moved to live in the next state with her religious, very judgmental brother, because otherrwise she'd have been homeless. He was not a really supportive person and thought she was terrible for using drugs, but he gave her his basement which was a roof and she wanted that roof enough to listen to his rules. She stopped fighting society. She followed his rules. She got a job. She had no car so she walked back and forth. She got promoted. She did not have any friends for a long time because she did not want to be around drug users or party people anymore due to wanting to stay straight and she was shy. Until she met her boyfriend, who she is still with eleven years later, she had nobody. She was lonely, but she preferred loneliness to the way her life had been on drugs. She stopped having moodswings that had once given her a false diagnosis of bipolar. She thought about her future and took out a loan to go to a two year college, got a degree, and life continues to be good for her and her SO and their new baby (they waited ten years to have a baby, who is being well taken care of by them). She does not get into trouble with the law, which she did while using drugs. She does not steal, which she did while using drugs. I do not doubt the truth of what she tells me, which was the exact opposite of what she did when she used drugs. She lied all the time then. She is just not the same at all. I don't doubt. I know.

One other thing that may matter if your son used speed, like my daughter did. She was stick skinny back then and it scared me. That is not her normal physique. She is more prone to have to fight chubbiness. Her skinniness and hollow eyes made me think she was going to end up in prison or die. She did neither. She quit. She quit for one reason only: She wanted to quit. She was "tired of the sh****** life of drugs." Drug dealers were after her, threatening her life because she owed them money. It was a real blessing when we threw her out and her brother, in another state, relunctantly and sternly allowed her to move in with him, even though he was far from nice about it. That allowed her to quit without being dogged by her former "friends." However, if she had wanted to use, there are plenty of drug users in ALL states. She just didn't want to.

It took her several tries to quit until she moved as the intense peer pressure was always there. And she was known as a bad kid so nobody nice wanted anything to do with her. Her fresh start helped her a lot.

When she first said she quit, we thought, "Yeah...right."

It took SEEING the many changes to believe it and then we still crossed our fingers.

She even stopped smoking cigarettes, which is a big relief to me because I do consider cigarettes serious. Now she has a "No Smoking" sign in the house she owns with her SO. She is into organics and does not like to take ANY medication. It's like a different person.

She drinks twice or three times a year. She does not try to get drunk and she and SO live a quiet life with their child.

These are ways I could tell my daughter was serious. Many addicts go to rehab. My daughter wouldn't and was not forced to by the law. Therefore, she didn't. However, I would think it is much the same no matter how you quit drug use. I think the biggest indicators are who your friends are, deciding to grow up and getting a job, and not asking us for things, especially money.

My daughter started smoking pot at 12. By 19 she had used everything, including psychodelics, meth, and a few tries with heroin. If you think that you try heroin once and you are automatically addicted, it's not true. She did and was not. Uppers were her drugs of choice, especially meth. Her complexion is still bad maybe because of using it. But she looks healthy and is chubby again. I am so happy to see her chubby and looking bright eyed and happy.

She is one of my heroes.


Thank you for the reply - this helps me to understand. I'm glad your daughter is doing well, this gives me hope. I am struggling to find my role in my son's life; I don't know what that is yet.


Well-Known Member
Your role is to be his best cheerleader when he does something good and in my opinion to step back at other times and let him grow up. You can tell him, when he comes to you with his latest problem, "You have always been very smart and I know you can figure this out." I would (and do) cut my conversations short if difficult child is in a mood. Arguing with them can get both ugly and very hurtful to us.

Yes, of course there is hope, but it has to come from HIM. If you want it and he doesn't, it won't work. When he gets tired of the life he is living, that is when he will change it.

Take care and be good to yourself :)


Well-Known Member
We have been through a lot with our son....many rehabs, court dates, some jail time etc. the whole process was very hard on us of course. At some point I realized I had to live my life, learn to enjoy my life in spite of what he was doing. I have absolutely no coco troll over him or his future. So that is your first step, find ways to take care of you, do things you enjoy doing, live your life.

My so left the state with a new girlfriend several months ago to avoid a warrant. He actually seems to be doing least he has not gotten into any trouble. He calls us when he needs something and we have helped him out some with very specific things.

I am in a different place. I can tell from what he posts on FB that he is drinking and probably smoking pot....but I don't comment or ask him any questions about it any more. I don't ask him about recovery or meetings. Basically I have come to realize that is his journey and he has to figure out what works and doesn't work in his life. I think eventually drinking and drugs will get in his way but I can't do anything about for now I just try and have a good relationship with him.



Well-Known Member
I have seen many many people in recovery since my difficult child went to rehab. I have gone to many al-anon and open AA meetings and parent support groups. When a person is in recovery their recovery is the most important thing in their lives. They surround themselves with others in recovery and they work the program. I have also seen many who are not serious and they avoid the subject, talk arond recovery and make it seem a very minor issue. I knew my difficult child was not serious about recovery by the way others acted who were serious.

There isn't much you can do, it's his recovery. I tried to make it mine in hopes that difficult child would follow, it didn't work. There is a cartoon going around the recovery group which highlights this very well, the mom is bringing folded laundry up to her son's room and on top is a book and stack of papers and she announces that she has completed several of his AA steps for him. I would have done my difficult child's steps for her if it meant she would follow through.
I too was guilty of doing difficult children "homework". I was always hoping if I gave that push, things would change . They don't . Instead I find myself melting down as I go thru his clothes looking for requested items. Every shirt holds a memory. He seems to be on the right path, but I feel sorry for myself sometimes when I think about what I've lost, what we've all lost. I know there are families out there who are suffering much worse than we are.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone out there suffering from the effects of drugs. I'm going to finish my meltdown and go to bed. I'll be sure to pray for the entire Difficult Child family .


New Member
I believe there would be a difference in your son's behavior if he were truly in recovery, PamjO. If your son is a minor, then you should have legal power to admit him to a treatment center. I have experienced addiction in myself and in other family members all of my life. Right when I feel comfortable in my life, another family member is ridden with the disease of addiction. Then everything comes back from the past - emotions. I know you said your son has been to many treatment centers, he needs to go again. I don't know what type of centers he has went to before, but find a treatment center that has a no nonsense policy. Usually the hard core addicts and alcoholics are placed there by court order. Those are the best treatments centers if one truly is seeking recovery. There are many treatment facilities that are like a stay at your favorite country club - those don't work for most.

He should definitely be excited his recovery if he is seeking recovery.


one day at a time
My husband has helped many addicts. He says once a person is on a new path and is ready for a new life, you will know it. You will know it by the tone of their voice, the look in their eyes, what they say, how they say it, and then, how they live. He tells me over and over you won't have to wonder. You will know, instantly. I think that is comforting for all of us. So many people stop temporarily and are "white knuckling" it, hanging on to sobriety by the skin of their teeth without any kind of support system or program. It's impossible to sustain that, for most.

When you see it and hear it, then you can believe it. Warm hugs. Hang in there. Remember, it's his life, not yours. Try to live your own life as much as you possibly can.


Thank you - think that's what I needed to hear...that I will "know'. Right now, I don't hear it or see it or feel it...because it's not there. I do believe my son wants to succeed in recovery, but has not found the courage to push forward. This is what I pray for - that he finds the strength to reach for a better life.