Is there no hope?


New Member
I have just recently found this site, I have read several stories which are similar to mine. I have a son, my only son and my first born. He is 32. He went from being one of the most popular boys in town and school , in small town America ,to now being homeless in suburbia outside of L.A, for going on 3 years. We brought him here to give him a chance at a better life, as he was starting to fall apart in Kansas. Nothing we have done to help him actually helps him, it lets him get by for the moment,that is all. My husband who I married after he was 21, and he do not get along,some his fault some my husbands fault. My husbands son is thriving (very hard to watch). I have read many testimonies here and I am struck with one depressing realization, everyone seems to view their situations with finality. Why? is there no hope? should we all just walk away so we don't have to feel the pain ,the guilt, the shame that comes with this? call me an enabler, but I can not just give up. Something broke inside my beloved son, and I mean to find a way to fix it. Something broke with in all our children, isn't there a way to pool all of our stories and find the common denominator? there has to be a way to undo whatever caused this to happen to our children. Please don't misunderstand my thoughts. I am not judging, or laying blame, I am just desperate to find a way to undo the damage my son is causing himself. If I give up on him then he has no one, he has given up on himself. Somewhere inside my broken,sad child, is the happy ,confident, person I watched grow up. I MEAN TO FIND HIM! I have to find him. I have horrible nightmares that plague my sleep, and debilitating migraines that disrupt my wake. Please tell me there is hope, please tell me that all is not lost, please,please



Welcome, no one has the answers. I am struggling with we cannot be tied to their emotions. You have to be strong, find joy. I am with you...He is in there cannot force medication or help.

You can pray..find a support system...something may trigger him to want to climb out. You didn't say if he is mentally ill, or maybe addiction.

Every life matters....I believe there is always hope...but never guarantees.

Hugs and I'm sure wiser people will be along soon...


New Member
He has no mental issues that I am aware of ,though given his situation I question that sometimes. He smokes pot, and when he drinks is a binge drinker which gets him into really bad situations.


If he is depressed, and smokes...that will spiral him lower. He very well could be depressed..and the pot and alcohol are just more depressants.


Well-Known Member
Hi and welcome, Camille!

I don't think most of us view our situations with finality.

We are realistic about the present, but most of us believe and hope that our loved ones will "see the light" a some point.

This has actually happened with many of our loved ones, some who are now middle-aged adults who have been on a downward spiral for many years.

There is always hope. People can change. But they have to want it for themselves.

There are some common denominators with most of our adult kids. I think most have one or more of these things going on (though probably not an exhaustive list):

Addictions (alcohol or drugs, usually)
Mental Illness (untreated)
Learning Disabilities/differences/challenges (making it harder to function in society)
Personality Disorders (untreated)
Sense of Entitlement (whether because of the above issues or not)
Anger Issues

The problem is, we can't make adults do anything. We cant make them want to/go to get treatment for mental illnesses or addictions, get help for anger management or force them to get Social Services for housing, job training, medical help, or anything else.

I wish we could.

If you can convince your son to get help, that would be great. Send him a list of services he could access. Community mental health services, drug/alcohol rehab provided by the state, other services he could avail himself of. Hopefully he will take advantage of them.


Well-Known Member
Welcome to our little slice of paradise. If that is your picture, please do not use it. This is a public forum and can be seen by anyone. Do not use actual names. It is important to guard your anonymity.

Once they become adults, we cannot offer much more than our love. We can be there for them when they are sick and tired of living the lives they have chosen. His way of life is what he has chosen for himself. We don't always understand that they are perfectly happy (until they run out of money, booze/drugs) then they want us for money to continue their lifestyle.


If focused on a single leaf you won't see the tree
Hi and welcome. Yes, please change photo and name for anonymity.

If you read here long enough you will find a mixture of adult children who are still struggling, some who will never change and some who have decided they wanted a better life for themselves because they have run out of friends, family, resources and hit rock bottom. Some also, can only change so much due to disabilities.

Some parents have tried to help their children to the point of costing themselves their emotional, mental and physical health. They detached for self-survival. Other parents are still trying to figure out how to get their children to change their lives and not ready to let go. At some point, we all have to make the decision that is best for our lives and our adult children.

There is hope only when our adult children want a better life for themselves more then we do.

Best thing you can is provide information for resources for help with whatever is challenging him. If drugs, alcohol, mental health issues point him to rehab and community help centers. YOU can't fix him- he has to fix himself.

Sometimes we have to give up on them so they can desire the willingness to change their lives. Trust me, you are not his be all- should you walk away. There are way too many resources out there to help your son, if he wants help bad enough.

We all have enabled them in some way with either with our resources such as housing, auto's, money or drain ourselves emotionally, mentally and physically. We fall apart and they haven't a clue of the damage they have done to their loved ones. Somehow, they are like rolling stones, they find a way to make it somehow. It's not how we envisioned their life would be; hoped for them. But, they are adults and they make their own choices. IT's their book, we have to let them write it to the ending.

Sister's Keeper

Active Member
You can't "help" someone who doesn't want, or feel they need help.

I don't think anyone has "given up" I think most of us just accept that we can only control our own lives and emotions, not the lives or emotions of other adults.

We have just chosen to get off the emotional roller coaster that keeps our well being tied to the choices of others.

You are, quite literally, worrying yourself sick about something over which you have no power.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome. I'm so sorry for your struggles with your son. It's heartbreaking to watch our kids go off the rails.

For every one of us here, detaching from our kids has been the most difficult thing any of us had to do. None of us approach detaching as an option for quite some time, usually not until we've run the gamut of having done every possible thing to help our kids and finally realize, nothing helped. It's a long road. It's painful. Most of us seek professional help, a therapist, a counselor, a support group, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness- you can look online for their chapters, they have wonderful support groups for parents), 12 step groups, wherever we can find support to do the unthinkable, to step back and allow our kids to orchestrate their own lives. We don't give up hope, there is no finality, we give up enabling. There is quite a large distinction there.

What we usually come to is that even though these are our precious children, we cannot control their choices, we cannot stop them from harming themselves, we cannot do much of anything to halt their decline.......a very powerless and painful realization. That is when we begin to understand that our helping, our continual support of their negative choices has produced no results and in fact, made us crazy, filled with fear, grief, anger, resentment and unrelenting pain. At that point, many of us choose to learn how to step back and begin learning how to accept what we cannot one desires this, no one relishes this, we land there because we've literally run out of options.

My suggestion to you is to get yourself support. Provide your son with resources if that feels right, offer him options to get the help he needs, other than that, there is little you can do to help, he is a 32 year old adult man, he can choose however he wants to live and unfortunately, there isn't much you can do. I know how powerless that is. I have a 43 year old daughter who went off the rails for many years and nothing that I did made any difference at all. Interestingly, when I began detaching and stepping back, she began to change. That is not always the case, but it happens often. We as parents believe that we have the power and the love to change our kids, but the sad truth is, we don't. Only they can change, only they can make a difference in their lives. And, when/if they do, it will mean a lot to them that they managed it on their own.

It may help to read the article at the bottom of my post here on detachment. It may help to read the book Codependent no more by Melodie Beatty. It will surely help you to continue to post here, we really know how you feel and how much this hurts. You're not alone. We understand. I'm glad you're here.


Well-Known Member
Hello Gershbunny,
You have come to a safe place where folks here understand and you are not alone.
I am just desperate to find a way to undo the damage my son is causing himself. If I give up on him then he has no one, he has given up on himself.
I felt this way for years and kept assisting and encouraging in all the ways I could, but nothing changed and nothing helped, but just got worse, and the spiral continued downward. .... My story is posted on my other threads. .... I finally realized nothing I was doing was helping, and came to the realization that detachment was needed for my own survival, and to give my son a better chance for freedom and some success.
My 36 yr son then ended up in jail for 6 months and is now released to a transition house /probation program. I am cautious and will wait and see what happens. He is still of the same personality and capabilities as before, but he now has some required structure in his life, which is mandated by others (not me). (The court, the laws, and the probation program are setting the structure and consequences.) Son at least now has some motivation - even if it is only the motivation of not wanting to go back to jail. I am staying out of it. Maybe this is his turning point for some change (?)
Sometimes we have to give up on them so they can desire the willingness to change their lives. Trust me, you are not his be all- should you walk away. .......
We all have enabled them in some way .... We fall apart and they haven't a clue of the damage they have done to their loved ones.
So true Ironbutterfly. They have not a clue as we are dying inside.

Take care Gershbunny. Read the Detachment article at the top of this forum if you have not done so. Detachment is the necessary factor in our relationships with difficult adult children. Detachment does not mean giving up. It is lovingly giving our difficult children the freedom to spread there own wings and learn to fly.
Here's the article link.
Stay with us here. It helps.
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Well-Known Member
You cant find him. He has to do that. Nobody here "gave up." WE just realized that handing free money and other gifts doesnt help. it can do harm if they have no reason to change because we inadvertently pay for all their needs, drugs included.

One thing I learned by having an adult kid who did quit us that none of us know for certain what drugs our kids are using or how much. Ditto alcohilism. by the way binge drinking that impacts one's life IS alcoholism.

Your son is a 32 year old man now and he and all adults make choices. You can decide to keep on trying to fix him, even if he won't do what he needs to do to get fixed (some people make this decision to keep pitching in regardless) or you can focus on the one person you can truly control...yourself. The quality of everyone's life is in large part due to our own decisions. We haveto feel good about our choices and we are all different and at different stages in our own lives.

I am sorry for your hurting heart. All of us have bern there. Some still are. post again. We are here for you, regardless of the path you take.
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Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Welcome! I'm glad you found us but sorry you had to.

My heart goes out to you.

I am just desperate to find a way to undo the damage my son is causing himself.
The only one that can undo the damage is your son. He first has to want to change. Change is not something we can force on another person, if it were then this site would not exist.

I have horrible nightmares that plague my sleep, and debilitating migraines that disrupt my wake.
Your son's life choices are affecting your health and that is not good. I was going through cancer treatments when while dealing with my then adolescent out of control son. My Dr. knew what I was dealing with and told me I had to avoid stress. It was something that took time for me to really grasp. The stress of dealing with the chaos our difficult children bring into our lives can cause serious health issues. I came to realize that my health and my life matter. YOUR heath and life matter. I understand you want to be able to help your son but you first have to take care of and help yourself.

Please tell me there is hope, please tell me that all is not lost, please,please
There is always hope. My son has chosen a life of being a drifter, at the present he's a little more stable as he found his dream job, he's a pot farmer. This is not what I had hoped for my son. My hope for him was to get a good respectable job and be a productive part of society. Here's the thing, that's what I wanted not what my son wanted. I had to let go of what I wanted and accept that it wasn't about me, it's about my son. I don't like the life he has chosen but I accept it. My son is 34 years old.

We do not have any control over our adult children. The best we can do for them is to let them know we love them. They have to forge their own path and make their own mistakes. We can help them along the way but we have to be careful. There's a fine line between helping and enabling. Enabling is not helping and will actually do more harm than the good. At some point our adult children have to figure things out for themselves as we the parents won't be around forever. It's my opinion that it's better to have them learn how to fend for themselves earlier rather than later. There are 65 year old difficult adult children that live at home with their parents and when their parents die they are really lost because they never had a chance to figure things out for themselves.

I know how hard it is to have a your one and only child be homeless. I live it. I have also learned that the homeless community is very well networked. They know how to find food and shelter. Again, it's not the life I wanted for my son but it's not about what I want.

I'm glad you are here with us. Take time for yourself, be good to yourself.



New Member
I never understood detachment, as we have a close friend who has attended Al-Anon and detached. But, now I am beginning to understand. We are making one last effort to help our son, but if this fails we will need to detach because that is the only way he will get help (I hope). I know that I can't keep enabling him to do what he has been doing (I too posted my story). As another poster stated, if your son does have depression (or another underlying issue) then pot really is bad for them, as is binge drinking. I did not know how much my son was smoking until we started testing him at a also let me know that he was not doing other drugs. But, he was living home so we had a little bit of control.


Well-Known Member
I agree with the others.
Impossible to take control of another human being, especially another adult.
I would not say I've given up on our daughter, but I have given up thinking I can control her. I recognize that especially since she is an adult I have very little IF ANY influence on her decisions, etc.
If your son is mentally ill and using drugs, yes, this is a very difficult predicament. You can offer to pay for him to see a doctor (any type of arrangements would require you to pay a doctor directly), but if he doesn't truly want help and if he doesn't truly want to see a doctor, he won't go.
Our daughter is sometimes positively influenced by a good friend guiding her gently. Sometimes. We have very little to zero influence.
There are Families Anonymous meetings that are very helpful. This would be for your attendance.
My guess is if your son called and sincerely asked for help, you would offer it.
Please take very good care of yourself. Maybe consider at least short term therapy for yourself if you are t doing this already. A special needs adult child requires much soul searching and big time adjustment,


Active Member
how do I help him get out of depression?

Depression is a tricky thing. And widely misunderstood. When people get said, they use the term "depressed", but usually incorrectly. Being sad and upset is a response to come kind of incident in life. It is the normal, healthy response. The sadness eventually goes away with enough time, and mourning. Depression, on the other hand, is much deeper. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain for any number of reasons. The brain isn't producing enough of the feel good chemicals. Depression is often felt when there is no real reason to be sad. It is an overwhelming experience. Without the proper chemical production, you lose the ability to find comfort in anything. There is no gratification from anything at all.

I have struggled with it for as long as I can remember, and that only got worse with my drug use. I don't think your son is in a very good place, and he is self medicating. That is one huge step towards active drug addiction. I have no problem with people smoking pot here and there, or enjoying a night out with friends. The problem is when you start to rely on those things to feel complete, or content. Clinical depression is hard to control and curtail. It requires real medical treatment to treat with any level of success. If he is experiencing this kind of depression, you may want to start pushing harder for him to get some kind of help. Ultimately, that decision will be his own, but voicing your concerns about his overall well being might steer him in that direction.

savior no more

Active Member
I'm glad you found us and I'm sorry you are struggling with your son. When I attach "hope" to anything I am setting myself up for wanting something to be different. I love my son dearly but through many trials with him I have eased along the journey of giving up expectations. The reason I have done this is my inner peace is directly in proportation to my expectations. Getting to this point has made me look at my extreme fear of losing him and my fear of abandonment. When I put the focus on MY feelings, MY fears instead of focusing on him then I can begin to make choices that are best for ME because all the years of trying to support his lack of esteem and ability by doing for him didn't stop him from making the choices he has made. If my happiness is dependent on him being a certain way then I may never achieve it and I'm better off looking at hope in the aspect of optimism in general rather than a specific instance. Usually if I focus on things I can control, such as my life, my behavior (which is a struggle for me too) then I am usually more opimistic. I agree with Darkwing about depression and brain chemistry too. When the brain is off I can't see the good. Slowly my desperation has decreased as I have experienced my true emotions regarding my Difficult Child. I know that as long as they are breathing there is hope but for me I'm tired of the constant mental maneuvering if he just would so and so.... or at least he so and so... and am focusing on radical acceptance of the situation as it is with no judgement. I still talk to my son and interact and even go to court so it's not like I have cut off communication. I have found for me that is what is best for me but I understand when others choose not to and that's not to say that I won't be there someday although I can't envision that.


Roll With It
Welcome, Gershwing! I am so very glad you found us and so very sorry that you needed to find us. People here will give you honest, heartfelt input. You won't be blown off and you won't be mocked later. We have each known the true, gutwrenching sorrow that only found when you are raising a difficult child.

Please know that you cannot help him unless you are healthy yourself. If you don't care for yourself, you don't have the strength or the depth of character needed to stick with it until your loved one pulls his/her head out and learns to care. You don't have the strength to deal with the reality that you can only offer help and guidance, you cannot force anyone to accept and use the help. You cannot set and stick to healthy boundaries if you are not healthy first.

I know how hard it is with chronic migraines. I was first diagnosed with them at age 4 and currently have upward of 20 migraine days per month. it destroys your health and many aspects of your life. PLEASE, go and see your doctor and demand some help with them. There are preventatives that work and treatments that work. It can take time to find the right ones for you, but it can be done. I will happily share information on the types of preventatives and other treatments, on how to talk to your doctor about your migraines, and about alternative treatments (NOT hippy dippy stuff, stuff that has actually helped me and involves NO selling or buying of anything from any pyramid scheme sales organization!) that can truly help. I can even share help on how to find help paying for treatments and the least expensive options to try before the higher priced options. Until you get these under some semblance of control, you are trying to help yourself with one hand nailed to your opposite knee. Which is even less effective than having one hand tied behind your back!

worried sick mother

Active Member
Welcome Gershbunny,
I haven't give up hope and I totally understand how you feel. Maybe you could give us a little more information about your son and his situation. Does he chose to be homeless? What lead up to him being homeless? How long have u been having problems with your son? Maybe we could help more if we understood his situation better. I don't think anyone here has given up hope or otherwise we wouldn't be posting here. It's more about detaching from the situation to keep ourselves healthy.
I want to fix my son too. After a couple years of trying to figure out what was wrong with my son, I suspected drugs or mental illness I found out a few months ago that my son was a heroin addict, I did an intervention and sent him to rehab. He seems to be better now but I'm obsessed with checking on him. During all of this I didn't sleep or eat, I became so thin , having panic attacks, was just sick. I wasn't any good for anyone let alone my son. The point is that u have to be healthy yourself or your not helping anyone. It took medication for me to even function. I wanted to fix(control) my son and I still do. I just try to realize that I can only control myself and I learned that here on this site. I will never give up hope but my dreams for my son are not the same, I'm just happy he's alive and pray he stays off drugs.
You sound like a very loving mother, you should never give up hope but don't let your son destroy your life, health, peace and happiness. Keep posting, this is a safe place with people who understand.


one day at a time
Hi Gershbunny, we are glad you are here and we understand your feelings about your son.

One time (maybe more than one time), we had a discussion here on this site about whether or not to give up hope. Some people said hope just keeps you engaged and it's too painful to hope, and others said they would never give up hope.

For me, there is a difference between having expectations...and having hope. I think it's the expectations of other people that get us into trouble.

You might say (and I have said, many times), well, of course we have expectations of other people, at least the very basic ones, to grow up, to be responsible, to do what you're supposed to do, to be productive, to be a contributing citizen, etc. etc. For me, I had even more: get a college degree, get a good job, be a professional, get married, have 2.5 kids, come over every Sunday for dinner...etc. etc.

One of my sons went pretty much along that path (so far) and the other one didn't. I mean he really didn't. At all.

Imagine my surprise when my younger son didn't follow in his dad's footsteps, in my footsteps, in his brother's footsteps. I had expected so many things of him, so many specific things, and here he was homeless, in jail, using drugs, getting arrested over and over again, being homeless again, walking around our town of 110,000 people high and messed up all the time.

This was a situation I had never even thought about, much less experienced. It took me a long long long time, years, to get to the point where I could stop enabling him, work on my own codependency, and let go of him. This was after trying everything under the shining sun plus more to get through to him.

Visualize this: A grown woman (me) literally pulling my son (taller than me, bigger than me) out of the bed, pushing him into the shower, going back to check on him four or five times while he was in the shower, laying out his clothes, pulling and pushing him into the car (while he kept saying, I'm tired, I don't want to a little kid) with his hoody pulled over his head, driving him to the counselor/therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist, going in, doing all of the talking while he sat hunched down in the chair...leaving the room so they could talk in private (ha!!!) and then waiting outside only to learn that my son wouldn't say a word. The entire time he wouldn't say one single word. Now, this is the literal definition of leading a horse to water...but you can't make him drink. And reading this, doesn't it sound ridiculous that someone (me) would actually do this. Thinking something good would happen.

And I did this multiple times. I kept thinking that if he could just get somewhere that somebody could help, break through, offer SOMETHING, maybe he would straighten up. I actually believed that a light switch would flip one day and he would be...normal...and start acting right.

I was the slowest possible learner in the entire world when it came to learning how to let go. As everyone here has said on this thread, you can hope for change. I never stopped hoping for change in my son. I never stopped praying for change in my son.

But having expectations for another adult's life just doesn't work. They have their life. We have our life. Two separate lives. They can make of it what they want to make of it. So can we.

Here's what we CAN do:

1. We can offer support and love and encouragement.

2. We can tell them (one time, not 20 times) about resources that are available. Even this is sometimes a stretch because adults can get their own information, right? They know how to get information. The fact that they haven't gotten the information likely means they don't want it. But...we can offer the information that we learn about, shelters, food pantries, assistance, free counseling, job search, rehab, detox, etc. I learned in Al-Anon that if you say it more than once, you're trying to control the situation...again taking the control instead of them having the control...trying to fix and manage...having expectations. And believe me, I said it all 100s of times. I thought he must not have heard me, so I would say it all again and again and again.

3. We can stop the flow of money. This single thing can have more of an impact than almost anything else we can ever do or say. This means they will very likely have to face the consequences of their own choices (unless they have other people to tap first).

4. We can set boundaries that work for us. Do we want to talk to them on the phone frequently/once a week/every day? Do we want to see them? How often? Where? Under what circumstances. At one point I told my son to call me only between 9 and 10 a.m. on Saturday. I only saw him 10 minutes a week on Fridays at the day shelter. We would sit in the car and talk. This was during the time I was having to pull way way back because I was his biggest enabler and I was starting to see how much damage all of my "help" was causing, and I knew I had to set strong physical boundaries with him/and with me. This went on for months, and at first, he didn't like it one little bit, and it was very hard for me to maintain. Very hard.

I would never advise or believe that losing hope is an option. For me, I never ever stopped hoping. But I did stop expecting. And that took a long time to understand how to do that.

We're here for you. We know the pain of all of this, the grief, the despair, the frustration, the incredible anxiety to just take some kind of action. Not taking action is very hard for people like me. I know how to do that a lot better than standing back and staying silent.

We respect whatever you decide to do with your son, and we will be here to listen and support and encourage you.

Two books I would recommend: CoDependent No More by Melody Beattie and Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. Both helped me tremendously.