Help:What happens if I report my 26 yo son with ADHD/Anxiety credit card fraud in MA?

Feeling extremely distraught, embarrassed, overwhelmed, and so sad! Just learned that my 26 yo son used my credit cards unauthorized for lots of money. He has been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety, for which we have advocated and helped him with for many years. He works full time and side jobs for many hours per week, but never has money. We know he smokes pot and drinks, but suspect he is doing other drugs too, but he will not take a test or admit he needs help. He has isolated almost all of his friends and will have nowhere to go if we throw him out. Don't want him to get a criminal record, but can't rescue him any more. feel like failures for parents, except our daughter is an accomplished and honest attorney. I am a social worker who should know what to do, but can not stop crying! He apologized and says he wants to kill himself when we threaten to throw him out. Here are immediate questions:

1) How have others been able to get their adult kids to get treatment?
2) Will he get arrested and criminal record if I tell credit card companies? How much is felony amount in MA?
3) How do people cope with worry when they threaten to kill themselves if you throw them out?
4) Is AlaNon really helpful? Thinking about attending first meeting tonight if I can stop crying.
5) What do you tell your family and friends?

Thank You!


Active Member
First about family and friends... Who cares? This is about your kid in trouble.

Bottom line for me us that this has crossed a line. I would feel that I had to do something and would. What I don't know but I would make sure there were consequences starting with cutting off funds permanently.

Depression/ suicide: the key based on my personal experience is whether the threat is vague or well planned. Has he decided what he is going to do specifically and how? Obviously the impulsivity of ADHD may make this criteria moot. But I'd still ask. Not sure i'd ask him though.

More I think about this more I think you need a detailed plan worked out with an attorney in his area.

Do you have in writing or on tape multiple immediate threats of suicide. That's where I'd start. Get it documented. Then I'd have the attorney take that and get him sectioned. That is, admitted to psychiatric unit for observation. That will get drug tests and dr evaluation.

Before you want him facing criminal charges you want him to have current sub abuse and mental health evaluation. He won't get this from the criminal justice system. He will get it from a private hospital stay. Once you have that then you get the attorney opinion on what will happen if you file charges. Will the judge force sub abuse treatment?

The forced hospital stay to protect him from harming himself is only 3 days. But if he is using heavily they will help him detox in hospital. The safest detox. They will decide if he needs further detox but can only hold him against his will 3 days. Having him arrested before detox would force him yo detox without medical care, in jail. He may agree to detox facility if offered choice of jail or detox facility. That's really just buying maybe another couple of days. But every day may be important if the attorney is discussing a plea deal with the prosecutor.

One note about the attorney. You pay. But that doesn't mean you get to know what is going on. Its like a dr. Clint/ patient confidentiality since he's an adult.
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Well-Known Member
I would probably think my kid was just scared he got caught and trying to get out of being arrested if he was threatening suicide, but I think Smithsmom had good ideas. You do have to see if he is serious or not. In my world Son would never get away with it completely. He is a grown man who betrayed his own parents. If he is a drug user likely he will steal again and strangers wont care about him at all. He needs to know that what he did was not in any way acceptable and the Bank of Mom and Dad has closed. And there are consequences to breaking the law. Any money you give him for food or anything will go to drugs. Thats what they do when they use. Thats why they steal too.

I do think that getting him sectioned is a good idea. I have no experience with that so defer to the very smart Smithsmom on how to do that.

If your son does not find motivation to look at his life and change it, he may have a hard path which means your own heart will hurt. I am sorry for that.

You are not your son. What he does is NOT your fault or because you were a bad parent. And what you do about this diffiicult situation is no business of your Mom or Dad, Uncle, Aunt, Kissing Cousin, family dog or BFF. You are adults in a tough spot and I would do what YOU want to do and not give an ear to others. It is your life, not anyone elses life. You lived through this, nobody else did. Stand strong! You will get through this.

Love and light!
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Tired out

Well-Known Member
Just learned that my 26 yo son used my credit cards unauthorized for lots of money.
I have to ask..How did he use your cc? did he take or have the number and use it on-line? cash advance? buy stuff? I'm surprised mine never tried that trick, he stole stuff from us and sold it. Mine threatened to kill himself too. I can't help but think that is a "feel bad for me, so I can get outta trouble" ploy.
it sounds like Smithmom has good ideas. Don't worry about what relatives think, just warn them to safe gaurd their valuables if he is around. I did!
Thank you everyone for your support and ideas. I went to first AlAnon meeting last night, which was tough but at least a little helpful. Best slogan for me QTIP Quit Taking It Personal- but too hard to do right now! My husband returns form trip tomorrow night. His fun trip ruined by this news, but I am trying to keep things low key until he gets home. Has anyone had any luck with family intervention approach or is that just on tv? Also, what type of attorney can help with these kinds of situations; getting him sectioned into a hospital for documentation of drug abuse before charges? Do we have to file charges or does credit card company?


Active Member
First re the credit card company. Are you disputing the charge with them to try to get the money from them? If you don't dispute it I don't imagine they'll pursue it. If it costs them money I would assume they'll get the cops involved. At which point your son will probably say that you gave him permission and they'll be refusing to pay you.

Most of us have not had success from the family intervention approach. But that's also dependent on what he will lose without your support. Eg if the family intervention says he won't see his own kids anymore maybe. If it says you wont talk to him anymore? Unlikely.
You haven't indicated that you have anything to withhold that would provide significant motivation.

You want a family attorney to do the section. He needs a criminal attorney if charges are filed. Whatever the kind of criminal charge(s), fraud, theft, etc its criminal. You may want to look for a firm that does it all, different attorneys with same firm.

You don't need an attorney to do the section. Its a mental health matter. The exact procedure will vary by state. When I've done it I had to get a magistrate to sign for the 3 day hold. Take that to the cops who pick him up and take him to the hospital. From there the hospital will have to admit him (or not if state law says they can ignore magistrate). I got stuck one time when hospital refused to admit but were happy to send him to state mental hospital which would have been a waste of time. That's why I suggested family attorney who knows the local system to make sure you get the result you want. Attorney has a better chance of convincing hospital to do what you want and knows what that is in his state.... What the criminal judge will want to see.

I don't know how insurance works to pay for these medical bills. Presumably you don't know your son's insurance either. Leave all that to the family attorney if the hospital refuses to treat him for lack of insurance.

Just to clarify... No judge is going to give a moment's thought to ADHD or anxiety. This isn't about those diagnosis. Its about sub abuse. Its about whether he was so high when he did it that he didn't even know what he was doing. Your title on this post was about ADHD and anxiety. Don't use those terms now. Only makes it sound like you're making excuses. Won't get you anywhere in "the system".
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