My difficult child is in jail

I haven't been on here for several months. Not that everything has been great...just too depressed to even write. Last summer my difficult child (slight mental disability), was stopped for dui 2 yimes within one month apart. Lost his job (that he had worked at for 18 years). It has been a hard painful 6 months. He became depressed, started drinking even more, hasn't found a job, started writing bad he went to court last week to "do his time". The court was very lenient on him....4 days was his sentence. He knew for over a month this was his sentence. He acted like it was a death sentence...scared to death, worried, nervous. He decided to drink, the night before court, and also the morning before he went to court. Needless to say the judge was not happy. So, he now is in jail until they do a drug and alcohol evaluation on him. not sure when they will get around to that. So here I sit.....worrying sick about something he brought on himself. He is sure to be evicted from his apartment. His girlfriend lives there too but she is not working either. They are constantly at me for money.
my emotions are on a roller coaster ride. One minute I feel hopeful that he will now get some help, the next minute I feel sorry for him, then i am so mad at him, then the next minute pure panic sets in.
I talked to his probation officer and he said ...quote, "he was intoxicated when he came to court, and I talked to him this morning (which was 4 days later), and he still doesn't seem to know what is going on". I said, well he is mentally disabled. IQ of 65. He said he wasn't aware. I asked him if he thought he was still drunk after 4 days?

so then my next emotion...anger. no one cares....he's just another drunk to them all. I do not expect his disability to keep him from the legal consequences of his actions, but I do get upset when people in authoritative positions overlook his disability. I am heartbroken.


Well-Known Member
I hear you. I feel for you.
So, it sounds like he's in his 30s? On his own? I'm not great at math, but if he has worked somewhere for 18 yrs, he's got to be in his 30s. He needs an advocate, a court-appointed one, who can ensure that the judge knows that his IQ is 65. It also sounds like he has anxiety issues, so if he's not on medications, perhaps you could persuade him to take them. If he can hold down a job for 18 yrs, he should be able to take his own medications.
If he is, indeed, in his 30s and living on his own, there is not much you can do... except learn to detach. Learn to let go of some of the pain, somehow. Join a mental health support group, find time for yourself, maintain relationships with family and friends you enjoy and can relax with. Read the articles on this board on detachment. There are some very useful, as well as beautifully written pieces.
Easier said than done, I know.
Our laws are typically written to protect victims, not criminals. If your son has written bad checks, he is considered a criminal. Our system has a few, and I emphasize, few, safeguards in place for disabled or mentally challenged adults, but you really have to fight for them. I just read a report that something like only 15% of those in jail/prison are labeled as needing medications, and of those, fewer than 50% actually get them. That's just one example. :(
Not to make you more depressed, but just to say, it is an institutional problem. They're not targeting or eliminating your son deliberately. There are just too many cases to thoroughly follow through.
I'm glad you found us here, but so sorry you had to.
Thank you Terry. He does have a case manager through mhmr. He is 38 and is such a sweet natured person. I know that sounds odd. Its like dealing with a kid in a man's body. He loves people and that is why he started drinking. The bar scene people are where he fits in. this is very painful. I think it is time for me to detach and let the situation implode. He has a girlfriend living with him who is 11 years older than him...she also has issues and now she is putting her problems on me...asking for money, etc. I just cant take it anymore. I saw on here that someone wrote they hoped their difficult child died. I have felt that at times....then instant guilt.


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Hi and welcome.

I don't have any experience with this type of issue, but thought I would try and bump this thread to the top, hoping that others might respond.

Surely there should be some social services to help your son and enable him to live on his own?

I am very impressed that he has held the same job for 18 years. Most of our difficult adult children haven't been able to hold a job for 18 months--or even 18 weeks! Heck, some of our kids haven't held a job for much more than 18 days!

He definitely needs alcohol rehab, and maybe social services could then help him get back on his feet with job and housing help, as he has some special needs.

As for the girlfriend, you don't need to take any responsibility for her or give her any money. She needs to look to social services for herself, and look for a job! Don't enable her. She may try to live off of you if she thinks she can. You are not responsible for her, and your son has his own problems and can't take care of her. He has to work on getting himself back together. Whatever issues she has, she needs to address them on her own.

Please continue to post.

There is a lot of wisdom on this board.

Thank you AppleCori. The girlfriend is a problem...but for now she is his only means of transportation since he hss no license. She doesn't have a car so she drives his.
Still waiting for the drug and alcohol evaluation to determine if he will be in inpatient rehab.
What a mess. We have always had problems with him...nothing bad. ..just problems learning in school, fitting in in society, handling money. I always felt like I needed to "run interference" for him, etc. Now it's coming back to bite me in the butt. Now I enable him. His dad has always been very intolerant of him. He now completely disregards his disabilities and says he's just a drunk.
I feel completely alone with no one to lean on or talk to. None of my friends can relate. I tried talking to my sister (who has an autistic) son and all she did was cry and say.....someone with his mentality doesnt belong in jail...he needs help. He will be released from jail once he is evaluated....then he will get help. (I hope).
He just seems to fall through the cracks because they label him "borderline".
He really does need help...but he also needs understanding.
I pay his rent (and I'm retired so really can't afford to), just to keep him off the street. His dad says he cant move back home. And I say HIS GIRLFRIEND DEFINITELY IS NOT LIVING HERE. So, when I stop paying his rent he will be on the street. His girlfriend is on disability.....says she has cancer, depression, and slipped discs in her back. She is 50.....he is 39. Not sure why she is globbing on to him....unless it is because she thinks his mommy will continue to help him...which will help her.

We also live in a rural area, so for him to live here without a license would be all but impossible. We do a lot of traveling with our rv.
Sorry to vent folks. Just feels good to write it down even if no one even sees it.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Overwhelmed, welcome back. You may want to post this same thread over in Substance Abuse as well where they have a lot of experience with this, that way you will get more support about issues with the drinking. They may have options on how to deal with the court too, given his IQ and his substance abuse.

While he is incarcerated, make sure you get support for yourself. You might try going to an Al Anon group or another 12 step group, Families Anonymous or a therapist. You need support for this process, it is very tough on us parents. You may also be able to receive help from NAMI, which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Try researching them online, they have many chapters throughout the US. If you haven't already you may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. And, a book that seems to help all of us is Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie.

In order to make the changes necessary for you to get out from under your son's lifestyle and choices, you will likely need help. You will need to set some pretty strict boundaries, figuring out what you are actually willing to do and what you are not willing to do. You will need to learn how to say no.

When our kids go off the rails, for whatever reason, it is extremely difficult on us. You've been enabling your son for a very long time. If you want change to happen, it will have to come from you. That is why it becomes imperative to have support, you will need it to make the hard choices necessary to change so you can begin to live your life, you deserve that. Finding where your boundaries around your son are, is important.

Hang in there Overwhelmed, this is hard stuff. Get yourself some support, keep posting, it helps, read books, do kind, nurturing things for yourself, make sure you are getting YOUR needs met. Fill yourself back up, you are probably depleted, exhausted and devastated. You matter too, don't forget that, take the focus off of your son and place it on YOU.

I'm glad you're here..........


Well-Known Member
I pay his rent (and I'm retired so really can't afford to), just to keep him off the street. His dad says he cant move back home. And I say HIS GIRLFRIEND DEFINITELY IS NOT LIVING HERE. So, when I stop paying his rent he will be on the street.
With his IQ level, he probably is eligible for some benefits including housing. The good news is this situation is considered "emergency" for social services for people with developmental disabilities. Look to your state agencies (including special ones designed for people with intellectual disabilities) to see what help they can offer him. Tell them you can no longer pay for housing because it is putting your retirement in jeopardy. (It is)


Well-Known Member
One thing I have noticed from the stories on this board is that sometimes the government services will try first and foremost to put the burden back onto the family. When the family puts their foot down and says 'I can't do this anymore' often they find that social services with have no choice but to take over.

It is time for you to demand that he get the services due him, as a person with an intellectual disability.

This is what we pay taxes for.

He probably needs to get on the list for emergency housing.

You can't pay his bills anymore.

Some places have car services for people with disabilities. Bus or taxi. Paid by the state.

I don't know anything about how to find these services, but if you post a new thread asking about social services for people with needs that your son has, maybe you will get some answers.

Don't give up.

Keep asking.

Start here.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Hi Overwhelmed. I'm so sorry you having to deal with this. I have read some of the other responses and agree that with your son's IQ that there should be services that can help him.
AppleCori said that you need to demand these services be made available for him. She is right.

((HUGS)) for your hurting heart.


Well-Known Member
Ok. This is a mentally disabled child. Has he been granted SSDI? Has he ever applied? Can you suggest that to the people at his jail? He should be getting disability and services.

Unlike Terry, I did not find it hard to get services for Sonic who is not mentally slow, but has autistic spectrum disorder. He is really doing well with his supports and is making gains too. He is still different, but he hangs with other "different" people and is a very happy person. He also works part-time, bowls with Special Olymmpics which is lots of fun for him, and plays softball too. It is very easy for a "differently wired" child to be lead astray. My son would be very vulnverable if he were out in the world alone with nobody there to support him at all.

SSDI is at least some guaranteed income plus Medicaid. Along with it there is often housing and other perks. If his IQ is that low, he should qualify automatically. But he'd still need to jump through the hoops, but he would get help doing that. I'm not so sure I'd be that tough on an adult child who was truly not able to think well enough to figure out life. I consider that different than our bright kids who make bad choices and darn well know it.