How to cope


New Member
I have posted here in the past, not much, because sometimes talking about the way things are just hurts. But I read daily, and I wanted to thank you all for sharing your wisdom and strength.

My son is 23 years old and just got arrested for possession of heroin and assault. My heart is absolutely broken and I can’t remember any time in my life where I felt that low (including when I found out he was using). His lawyer (who I paid for) will try getting them to send him to rehab. I hope to say that I can detach myself and protect myself, but it’s just too difficult sometimes. I haven’t even visited him yet and I don’t know if I will. It’s just too much. This is not how I raised him.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
How awful. You might consider Families Anonymous or Alanon. Or contact narcotics Anonymous to see what groups they might have for you as a parent.

Personally, I like the idea for this push for rehab. BUT …I’m not sure repeatedly. It seems a desire for change must come from the person.

And you must protect yourself and work on your own good health and happiness.

There is a Substance Abuse Forum here too.

I’m sure others with more experience in this topic will come forward.


Well-Known Member
Hi there, wonderful Mom. I am so sorry about your situation. It is very frustrating to watch a loved one keep sabotaging himself. We want to swoop in and can consume us.....but that help doesn't help unfortunately.

I recommend teying Nar Anon maybe in a Zoom meeting (all Zoom meetings are listed online). I go and it teaches us how to take care of ourselves and that we have no control over a loved one's addiction. And we don't. In Nar Anon we say "you didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it." We all wish we could fix our. adult children if they go down a dangerous path. None of us can. Even rehab doesn't work unless our addicted loved ones wants it to. And that is up to them. It's not easy...they have yo want it and fight for their sobriety. Doing things for the addict that we think is helpful, such as not allowing them to hit their bottom, doesn't help them. We had to learn to cut out all money, which was very hard. But we did it.

I personally had to get therapy for myself and I also went to NarAnon and still do. The stories about our addicted love ones and how we all almost.killed ourselves trying to fix them is the norm there. But we learn how to let go of the addict and give him or her to a power greater than.ourselves,vwhether that is God or nature or anything/anyone else. Usually by the third meeting the person is talking about what they are doing for THEM and certain examples of how they have set a hard boundary with their loved one. But this is a long process....learning to let them struggle, refusing to put up with abuse and learning to love ourselves enough to put our own welfare first...even above an adult child's. I have heard this story many times in Nar Anon and the people who keep on going tend to go from enabling to letting go and stating that they feel much better, much more at peace.

Look, it took me ten years and a near divorce to finally let go and my daughter. As far as I know, still uses. However the rest of us are doing well and closer than ever. It is 100% on my daughter if she wants to get clean. This is one path nobody can go down with a loved one. It doesn't work with addiction.

My prayer for you is for peace and wisdom and to not feel that you have to fix your child. You can only fix you. We all are in the same boat. Hugs


Well-Known Member
I'm glad you found us. There is a lot of wisdom and empathy on this site.

No one will judge you for the things you do, such as paying for a lawyer, but over time you may find that the only one who can save your son is himself. I spent years paying for lawyers, apartments, visiting my son in jail and rehab, many other expenses. Twenty years later, except for momentarily, nothing has changed. I think that's because my son never was the one who really wanted to change - he just didn't want to get caught or suffer the consequences of his choices.

I agree with those who suggest online or in person 12 step meetings. They have changed my life. Also, therapy, and keeping the focus on me, which to a heartbroken mom, seems crazy - but it works. Hugs.

good vibes

New Member
Parents can internalize the actions of their children, but you did not teach him to hurt people. This is not your fault. I hope you don't construe that comment as trivializing your pain. You are right to do what you feel is in the best interests of your family. But, if you're feeling responsible for your son's actions, you're not - try to find a way to release yourself from that guilt.


Hi Anadyr, we are in exactly the same boat, except a different drug, and my 21 year old son is in jail in another state from where we live and charged with two felonies that he committed under the influence. I did pay for a lawyer, although I will not bail my son out of jail. His sentencing court date is in a couple of weeks and the lawyer is trying to get him probated to treatment.

My son is clear-headed for the first time in more than three years, since he left home at 18 and began a downward spiral of drug abuse and eventually trouble with the law. That is what 4 drug-free months in jail have done for him. He hates being in jail, but is making sense about his life and what he wants for his future for the first time in a long time. He knows he never wants to end up back in jail again and seems ready to make the changes he needs to. We’ll see. But I am willing to trust him this time because he is sober going into it.

He had never been in jail before and had failed at treatment two other times. Those times he had gone into treatment directly from the streets, and had used drugs in the days preceding. I think that made it too easy for him to give up and leave (or get kicked out of) treatment in a matter of weeks, as the pull of drugs was still powerful.

I’m not sure if this is your son’s first experience with jail, but as much as it is an awful place, spending some time there is often what it takes to get someone to realize what a mess they have made of their life. I didn’t think my son had a “rock bottom,” but I think jail is finally it. And he is well aware that if he fails or gets kicked out of treatment, it’s considered a violation of probation and he will go right back to jail to serve out his sentence and then some.

I wish you the very best with all the hard decisions you’re having to make, comfort for the pain and sadness you’re experiencing, and prayers that from this unpleasant experience, your son will be able to reevaluate his life and make the changes he needs to.

Many hugs. Please keep posting.
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Well-Known Member
Dear Ana

This is one of the best things that could happen. He has a chance now to detox, get treatment and to learn how to live. I would have gotten the lawyer, too.

I think it’s fine to keep your distance. He will “man-up” and do his time by himself. He got himself there. He can deal with it. Letters are just fine. I would be careful about sending canteen because there are drugs in jail and canteen items or money in his books can get him in trouble, if he’s vulnerable.

I think the very best thing you can do is post here and reply to the posts of others. I’m on a cell so I have to cut it short but I will end this way: You will get through this. This is not on you. It’s on him. And dealing with this is how he will learn and grow. Welcome.

Ps I know how this hurts. You will get through this. Please dont blame yourself.


New Member
Thank you all. This is hard. Just knowing he is refusing to do what needs to be done to get his life back on track (that’s how he got to jail) and knowing there nothing I can do to make him understand.
When he was first arrested I hated the thought of him being there so much I was going to bail him out. But then the universe sent me a reminder of why I shouldn’t in the form of a neighbor who lost her son to an overdose. If I bail him out, he might go back to using and overdose and I can’t have that on my conscience. I know he hates it there and I hope he learns from this experience. I hope he decides he wants to change because I can’t force him. We’ve staged an intervention and he went to rehab but then he just got up and left. That was almost a year ago.
I will go to my first Nar Anon meeting tomorrow. I am usually too ashamed and embarrassed of this situation to talk to anyone about it. I’ll see how it goes. Thank you all again.


Well-Known Member
Good for you for recognizing that getting out on bail might put your son in more danger.

I've recently gone back to Nar Anon, along with my Codependents Anonymous meeting. I really like the meetings I've found on line. It helps to be in the company of non-judgmental people sharing similar struggles.


New Member
You are right, this is hard, but I am glad you are listening to the universe. I have some of the same fears about my son, he does not take care of his mental health and uses substances in dangerous ways. While he learns the material in whatever rehab program we help him into, he rarely puts his coping skills into action, and it is very hard to watch him run his self-destructive patterns. While he was in detention, he would call and cry because he hated it so much and was "bored." It was not enough to keep him from reoffending, though. He has been on house arrest since December (with an ankle monitor and us as his wardens essentially), but this morning at court he was ordered to inpatient treatment due to some behavioral violations. DJS will take months finding a placement probably, who knows what will happen. Our kid has been offered help time after time, and although he is compliant for the most part, he never wholly gives up the idea of using, so usually relapses and reoffends within a few days of completing a program. I'm still hopeful each time I see him doing positive steps. I do understand your frustration with your son not helping himself, and I suspect that others at Nar Anon will, too.


Roll With It
I am so sorry for what you are going through right now. It is never easy to watch your child make such huge mistakes that could have such a huge impact on the rest of their life. Please don't bail him out no matter how much he begs. I am using "substance abuse" in this post instead of alcoholism/drug use. It is supposed to represent whichever you are dealing with, or both.

I am the sister of an alcoholic. It took me a very long time to develop healthier emotional habits than I learned growing up. I cannot recommend AlAnon or NarcAnon family meetings. It takes time, but it works. Everyone in the family is impacted by the substance abuse if a member has addiction. Just because you don't use the substance doesn't mean you are not codependent. If a family member is addicted to something, generally there are more relatives with addiction issues. In my case, I am the grandchild of a couple of alcoholics, the adult child of a workaholic (same issue, just a non-traditional substance), and the sister of an alcoholic. Substance abuse swings like monkeys through my family tree.

I realized I had an issue when I would get really tense and stressed if my boyfriend drank every time we saw each other. He did not have a problem with alcohol or drugs, but his parents both do (I didn't know that at the time). We had many talks about this and we both went to AlAnon in the early days of our relationship. One book that was truly eye opening for me was "The Laundry List: The ACoA Experience". It is on kindle and well worth reading. It really explains a lot of the behavior patterns that we learn while living with and loving the substance abuser in our lives.

One thing that convinced me to go to meetings was learning that if the family of a substance abuser gets into long term recovery, it increases the chances that the substance abuser will get into recovery and stick with it by 30%. Think about that. That is a huge %. If your child was in school and was having serious problems/failing, what would you do to help them? Would you go to a 1 hour meeting at least once a week for the school year? Just one hour a week could increase his grades from a failing 50% to 80%, or from an F to a B. Would you invest the time and energy into your child? That grade increase could have a real impact on their future opportunities and education.

Getting clean/sober will have a much larger impact on your child's future. It could be life or death because substance abuse can kill you in so many ways. I know I would and most parents I know would do it. This is a bigger issue than grades in my eyes. In the beginning of your AlAnon experience, it will be recommended that you do either "7 in 7" and/or "30 in 30". This means going to 7 meetings in 7 days or 30 meetings in 30 days. This is just in the beginning. It is designed to give the opportunity to find the meetings that work best for you. All the meetings are AlAnon, but every meeting day/time/place is different. Just because the lunch meeting doesn't feel right, if you try the mid afternoon meeting at the same place on the same day, it is likely to feel totally different. That is a big part of why they ask you to do either of those. It helps you find the meeting dynamic that fits best for you. Neither of those are required, but they can be helpful. After that, people usually have a regular meeting that works for them and then they hit other meeting times/place/days if they feel they need it.

I hope this helps. Please do whatever you need to in order to take care of yourself during this journey. My mother was so busy taking care of my brother and father that she didn't take care of herself. It ended up in her having a breakdown a few years after Bro got sober. Make sure you include yourself in the list of people who have needs that are important. It is very true that if you don't care for yourself, you won't be able and healthy enough to take care of everyone else. We parents forget that quite often.

(((((gentle hugs)))))


New Member
I have posted here in the past, not much, because sometimes talking about the way things are just hurts. But I read daily, and I wanted to thank you all for sharing your wisdom and strength.

My son is 23 years old and just got arrested for possession of heroin and assault. My heart is absolutely broken and I can’t remember any time in my life where I felt that low (including when I found out he was using). His lawyer (who I paid for) will try getting them to send him to rehab. I hope to say that I can detach myself and protect myself, but it’s just too difficult sometimes. I haven’t even visited him yet and I don’t know if I will. It’s just too much. This is not how I raised him.


New Member
Please know you are not alone nor at blame. Im in the same boat, dealing with an abusive brother who I got an OOP against 30 years ago for beating up my mom and dad. I can hardly say this but Dad was a wheelchair bound invalid and I stood between my Mom and brother during her horrific abuse.
NOW, 30 YEARS LATER, I have housed my brother and he screwed mme over. I am now moving my sister to safety after she and her hubby took him 5 years ago. My brother in law died last April of panicatic cancer. Both brother in law and sister proud Marine and USAF. veterans.
Today was terribly hard. ANADYR - THE COURT granted an order of protection but I did reach out to my brother for a wellness check. They remanded him into treatment.Thank GOD! But his response to me, simply asking if he was ok was alsolutely vicious, for no reason.I want nothing from him, only to make sure he is ok.

My hard truth is this.
The man I care about is clouded now and does not exist.
Reality is not within his reckoning, as he is too ill to do so.
I will not reject him because of this. I will love and set boundaries. But always love.
I wil keep my hope but protect myself against any abuse of my heart
You and I, my dear, have true folks who care and love us.
We raised our kids our best.
Their choice is not our blame or shame.

My eldest daughter, a Narcissist, is simultaneously killing me by dandling my grandson as a pawn, not a precious child to be loved by me, who always put her first. Again, loving boundaries for all. Keep an opportunity open, without allowing harm to yourself.

Love yourself a bit more. Half a century, and I am getting it now. I found this forum after seeing many a gal friend go through the same.

It sucks to speak of it. But it is NOT you. Many hugs to you - ever.


New Member
Thank you all. I agree with you susiestar that it's a family problem. Only recently I started looking at the way our family has been affected and plays into this situation. I understand logically that certain family dynamics and enabling patterns feed into it. But it's hard not to look at this from a place of shame. It's hard, period... there are so many things I'm ashamed of. We are used to thinking that the way our kids act reflects on us. Sometimes it does, and in other cases it doesn't. My husband refuses to have our son over, even for the holidays, even if he gets clean. He stole from us and it was a major trauma. We know we didn't raise him to be like this. I know it's entirely his choice. But it's hard to really believe it.
Momshope - I agree with you that while they're stuck in this mess, the people we loved are hidden... it's like they've been taken over by some demon. But I hope they still do exist somewhere underneath it all... I hope he does the hard work to find himself again.
Son won't talk to us on the phone (he stopped after we said we won't bail him out). We hope the slow process gets faster and that he gets to rehab as soon as possible. His sentencing has been scheduled for three weeks from now. I keep reminding myself that he's off drugs right now, has a roof over his head, and gets three meals a day.
I'm going to my first Nar Anon meeting tomorrow. Wish me luck.