My Son the addict

My Son is home after his last bout of using and living on the street after stealing my Daughter's car the last time he came home. He has been clean for going on 10 days but doesn't want to give us a false sense of hope. Hope is all I have. For background, he was clean for 10 months after a 4 month stay in a Christian rehab facility almost 2 years ago. After losing his job he was on and off the street. Not ready for "that" community meaning AA etc. We dismissed the police report when we got the car back. I go to meetings and understand the re-wiring of the brain and know it is a long process but am concerned about what should be the focus. We have set boundaries and have not yet given him the keys to his truck, but don't want him to feel imprisoned either. He is 27 years old. Our family is a mess. We are worse when he is on the street though. Husband lost his job early this year and doesn't care about anything but "fixing" Son. Have tried to explain why that is not up to us but he is stuck. Younger Daughter struggling with own life and feeling overwhelmed. I am a workaholic struggling to provide and find focus at work with little success. Please if anyone has any advise I would be very grateful.


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Hi there, and so sorry for your situation. I can try to give at least my own perspective and experience and others will give theirs. Nobody can tell you what to do but yourself. by the way, 10 days clean is not significant. Ten months, yes. Ten days, I'd still go one day at a time and not get too optimistic. Addiction is often on again/off aggain/relspase. It is rarely quickly eradicated.

Your husband can spend h is entire life trying to fix his adult son, who is nearing 30, but he won't succeed. Nobody can fix another person. Nobody. Often our attempts to fix them hold them back. Your son is 27 and so far trying to fix him hasn't helped. Think about it.

Your younger daughter deserves peace in her home and the attention that difficult adult children seem to suck from everyone around them. Why should she have to deal with a drugged brother in the home? How old is sh e?

In my case, I gave my daughter many chances and, fortunately, she was young so she did eventually quit. But it was hello from age 12-19.

When we caught her having a drug party in our house, after swearing she had been clean (drug addicts lie a own daughter has told me that as part of her drug days stories)...we finally told her she would have to leave. We had two younger kids, very young in fact, and her behavior and the police visiting her scared them. She was fortunate enough to have a brother who allowed her to live in his basement, not a very welcoming place, but it was a roof. As long as she cooked, cleaned, got a job even though she had to walk to and from, and did not disturb his leased tenants (he rented out rooms in his large house), she could stay. One drug slip in his house or even a cigarette and she was out. He was very strict and she did not want to become homeless so she listened to his rules. Funny because she would not listen to us saying the same thing, but it d oesn't matter. She quit

She had to make all new friends. She had moved to another state so she had a choice--befriend the druggies there or find new friends. She chose to find new friends, but that took time and she was very lonely for a long time, but did not take drugs. by the way, her drug of choice had been any kind of speed, including meth. She was very shy without drugs. She worked at a fast food place a nd walked back and forth as we did not give her any vehicle. We felt she should not be driving while high and that it was best for her character to buy her own car. There are other ways to get to work. Our inebriated adult kids are a danger on the road plus we don't owe any of our adult children a car. Nor paying their bills and we did not contribute money to her.

She stepped up to the plate, but not until she was out. At home she just got worse. Now even if we had not had younger children, I'm not sure we would have kept her at home. Her friends were dangerous and that brought danger to us. The drugs in the house that she hid could have gotten us in legal trouble. Her behavior was often destructive to the rental house we lived in. She lied. She stole.The usual drug behaviors. How was I helping her by keeping her at home? If her brother had not taken her in, even with airtight strictness, we still would have made her leave, along with a list of homeless shelters and places to eat.

Her last words before leaving with brother were, "I will hate you forever!"

I cried for three weeks.

She quit. We are very close. Her life is wholesome and boring now. A house, a SO of almost twelve years, a beautiful grandbaby for me that she is very responsible towards.

I did not want to feel responsible if something happened to my daughter and I had been the one funding her habit and giving her no incentive to quit.

In her case, it turned out well. No guarantees. Even if they live at home though, while using drugs, they face the same dangers because they hang around with the same dangerous people and do the same dangerous things. If we give them money, it probably goes for drugs. I think giving a drug addict a car is madness. It may make the addict happy, but gives him greater access to other druggies and my daughter had three accidents, only one was in our vehicle. That was the last time she drove our car. After that "friends" allowed her to drive without insurance. How crazy is that, but druggies don't think about consequences. Her last accident was so serious that she owed the lady she hit some $15,000 even after she was sober. Her father finally paid the lady off after it was clear Daughter was now sober, working, on her own, and trying hard.

My own opinion is it's better not the let them live at home. Being so close to us, they bring us all d own with them. I find it's better to let them go and hope they turn it around and keep contact low. No allowing them to talk to us about how we owe them money or they will starve (they won't and will use money for drugs) or how it's our fault they use because they were yelled at when they were six years old (they choose their behavior as adults and if they have other issues it is up to them to get help...legally, we can do nothing), or other manipulative ways they guilt us into doing more than we can afford to do, in more than one way.

I was a tough mom. I would not have dismissed those stolen car charges. Jail can be a good thing for some of our kids and I never wanted my daughter to think she would not have to face consequences for illegal behavior or that we would rescue her. We turned her in once for having drugs on her. She was on probation twice. It was very hard to make that call, but we did it. She was only fifteen. Maybe knowing we would not be there to rescue her helped her quit? This is something we ponder, but we don't know and she doesn't either but she does, now that she quit, think we did the right thing.

We can not control our grown children. We can only change ourselves and the way we interact with them. We know what has not worked. We can try new things, such as detaching (read article on detachment on top of the page). We can refuse to listen to their abuse or manipulation:

"When you are calmer, we will talk. I love you." (disconnect phonecall or texting and put phone in a drawer).

They often get worse when we set boundaries so we have to protect ourselves. That may require lock changes and hiding our bank cards and credit cards in a lock box in case they get back in.

But this is all if you are going to tell your son to leave. If he steals, is violent, uses drugs in your home, is disrespectful, is not working, etc. etc. etc. you have to make hard choices about what you want to do to take care of your own lives. If you truly want him to stay, then you take on his behaviors. Some grown kids never leave home...they are 60 living with 85 year old parents. They are still addicts. The elderly parents never had their golden years as they tried to take care of their adult child. This happens. More t han we think. Others decide they raised their kids and have tried everything and nothing works and they are going to live their own lives and not give up all t heir retirement money to an adult who does not want to change. There are free resources out there and if somebody really wants to change, they will, even if they have no money.

My daughter quit on her own, not even telling us, with her boyfriends help only. Everyone is different.

I offer empathy and hugs for your hurting heart. Don't forget that YOU matter as much as your adult child. He is a man now...he could have already done military duty, finished college, been working for years, etc. but he is choosing drugs. How we deal with this is individual. I'd say most here have finally told our grown children t hey have to leave and can't come back.

You'll get more feedback. Again, I'm so sorry.
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Well said Somewhere. Your experience is common and accurate. La Mesa, is your son contacting his former friends? If so, that's a very bad sign. If I were you I would give him 30 days to find somewhere else to live, to grow up, to stop relying on his parents. You, your husband & daughter deserve peace and happiness. His choices shouldn't inflict misery on your family. You must let go and let your son make the choice to stay sober and make a life for himself. I'm sorry for what you're going through, I've been there many times with my son as well. I'm only telling you bc I believe what I'm saying to be the only way. ((Hugs))

New Leaf

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Hi La Mesa, I am a new member too. The situations that have led us to this forum are entirely life-sucking and devastating. Sorry for your troubles, for as mothers, we only want the best for our children. But, they have to want that for themselves.

I have two children who have been struggling with issues for a long time. Our family has tried to help, but they only seem to continue to dig themselves deeper into the pit of despair, and don't seem to care who they drag in with them.

I went to counseling and was told I was an enabler. The words echoed in my head. These are my children, I am trying to help them! It took some time for me to realize that the addicts game plan is to continue to tug at our heart strings to keep us in enabling mode. Then we become unknowing cheerleaders "helping" them to continue on their path of destruction. Before we know it, they have destroyed the peace in our home, ripped us off countless times, caused an ugly cloud to loom over us and our loved ones, and the biggest insult, caused us to lose all sense of ourselves. That is a victory for the addict, because if we do not have the capability to stand up for ourselves, then we will be enmeshed in their addiction and risky behavior. Before we know it, we are spending all hours thinking of them, we have entered the pit of despair, and that is where addicts want us to stay.

I had an epiphany with my child when she told me this "Everyone is dysfunctional." Sneeringly- "I suppose you want a NORMAL life." I then realized that addicts despise "normal" lives, because the thought of it forces them to look at their degradation. The hope we hold for a normal life is repugnant to addicts, because normalcy is the enemy. A normal life means that we reject their addiction and behaviors, we reject their attempts to ensnare us in their web. We do not reject our children, they will always be ours, but as long as they are living an unacceptable life, they will not be allowed to capture us into it. Loving detachment is a life saving necessity for our well being. We are worth much and have much to give.

My husband too, was drawn into the web. My child living on the streets and using, would drop her clothes off at the house, and he would wash and hang them. She would come and grab her clothes and anything else she wanted. She would bring her "friends" over while we were working. Our house was broken into, things missing, not to mention the fear of having other addicts knowing where we lived and how to get into our home. The list goes on and on, it is a disgusting misuse of another human beings love.

I took a stance that this was not acceptable. Even though my husband did not feel as I did, I stood up for myself and my sons right to peace in our home. I cannot change the way my husband feels, only the way I feel. I think he is beginning to come around and move away from looking at our disturbed adult child as the youngster we raised. I hope he is beginning to see that the choices she has made are her choices, and we cannot change that for her.

Addicts are very smart, they know how to manipulate, the ONE thing they seek is their drug of choice, they do not care who they hurt, or what they have to do to get it. An addict using, is the body of the child we raised, but the mind has been overtaken by drugs and the relentless pursuit of a high at the expense of anyone or anything in their way. I have learned the hard way, that addicts have snuffed the light and remnant of a conscience out of their mind and heart. They are living in a zombie world, and seek to find other like minded addicts. We, their family, become unwitting targets. As we look on and stay involved in hopes for change, our addict children use that against us. We are then manipulated, ripped off, lied to, used and abused until we stand up and say NO MORE!

One of my favorite quotes is "What you allow is what will continue".

I pray for you in your struggles. I pray for us all. It is a difficult journey that none of us asked for. Hugs to you. Please find the time to do something healing for YOU!


Well-Known Member
Welcome La Mesa. My son has also been through many rehabs and has spent time on the street.... I agree that having a kid living on the streets is awful and I undeerstand the wish to avoid that. However ultimately he needs to figure out how to stay clean and not live on the street.

I am glad you have boundaries. What meetings are you going to? Alanon? I have found an alanon meeting for parents really helpful. It is really helpful to meet other parents who have been throught his and understand the heartache and the wish to fix and help our kids. It sounds like your husband especially needs this support.

Because in the end we cant fix them, they can only fix themselves.

The stand we have taken with our son (who is now 23) is that we will help him when he is helping himself. At times he has not and has ended up homeless and on the streets or in jail. At times he has wanted help and we have helped him get treatment. Until recently I think that was totally motivated by wanting to come in from the cold and get off the streets, but even with that being his motivation we always helped him get into treatment. Recently he seemed to be doing better in that he was working and at least partly supporting himself but he was out of state.... eventually he told us that he really needed to detox because he had been drinking a whole lot. This was totally his decision and he has now been clean for 45 days.... so at the moment we are helping him..... although he is not living with us and is across the country.

So my take is keep thinking about your boundaries. You cant control his substance use but you can set boundaries.... and you can help him help himself but you cant do it fo rhim.
Thank you all. Prayers and hugs to each of you who have/are going through this. I go to a meeting through my medical provider for families of addicts. One hour of education and the other is support. I have been through what each of you describes and know your pain. I know I must detach. This will be difficult with my husband having a very different mission. My daughter is 22 and finished college and working. Trying to decide whether to go back to grad school but worried about her brother. We all need to work on us. Praying this day gives us a chance to start doing that.
He left today. We wouldn't give him his car knowing what he was going to do. He has been awful to each of us. Praying for him. Texted me asking why I hate him. Rather than saying the same thing over again I simply said he knows that is not true. Trying to hook Dad but he is also so tired. Came back to get charger to his phone as couldn't get his pick up. Started getting violent, broke a chair and I screamed for him to get out. Can't do this anymore. Then he texted me that it is now my choice. Really! It has always been his choice. Drugs or life and our family. No, not going to cave. We have tried so many times. Can't let this destroy my family. Pray for us!


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La Mesa Mom, I want to add my few words here, mainly to say "welcome," and to tell you how much support and wisdom you will find here.

I think your husband having lost his job may be trying to "save himself" through his focus on your son.

As others have pointed out, it is not likely to bear fruit. The solutions are in your son, for your son. In your husband, for himself.

The universe today has been conspiring to beat me up with this message. Nobody is coming to help me. I must help myself.

Whether you have or do not have "hope" for your son...will effect not one thing. If he does not want to give you "false hope" it probably means he does not have the intention of staying clean...this time. The hope that matters with respect to his recovery and changing is that which will come from your son, not you.

He can do it and he will do it. When he decides.

All of us know what you are going through as each of us has gone through our own version of it. Homeless kids. Homeless and neglected grandchildren. Drugs. Arrests or not. Mental illness. Violence at home. Emotional abuse. Ill children who do not take medication. Fear that they will die.

For us as parents, I am seeing it comes down to one thing. Accepting that the solutions will come from our children, for themselves. And getting out of their way. Accepting that they want our love and they want us to be there for them. When they are ready. Without conditions.

That does not mean we give them stuff or money. Or that we solve their problems or do one thing to get them out of scrapes that they have caused. They will try to equate love with each and every one of these enabling behaviors. They need us (and I believe they want us, underneath everything) to say no and to have boundaries. To not let them take advantage of us or to abuse us.

I went on and on more than I thought I would. However many times I repeat it it helps me. I do not why. Except maybe it helps me feel mastery over my experience of confusion, heartbreak and fear. I do believe that through the help of this board, I am coming out the other side.
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Staff member
Did you call the police? I believe it is important to let our difficult children know that we will not tolerate violence. I know it is very hard to do, though.

They will try to equate love with each and every one of these enabling behaviors.

That is so true. We heard it over and over again from our daughter. "If you loved me, you would buy me . . . give me . . . pay for . . ."

However, real love is learning to say no and let them figure out things for themselves. It is the only way they will ever have a chance of becoming a functioning adult. It is just so much easier in the moment to give in and give them the money but it doesn't solve anything.

He came home promising to get help. First available psyche appointment. in 3 weeks. Did great the past couple of days focusing on helping around house. The police came and arrested him on 2 outstanding warrants today. He is in jail. We can't bail him out. I am just afraid this will make him go back to believing there is no help. He talks about being in the forever 27 club. I am so afraid for him right now. Arraignment tomorrow. Please pray for our family. Yes, he will have to deal with this now but afraid if he doesn't get help this maybe his straw. Thank you all so much for being here. It is amazing having a family of resources.


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Yes, he will have to deal with this now but afraid if he doesn't get help this maybe his straw.
All of us at one time or another, or a lot, fear the worse. That does not mean it will happen.

Every day each of us faces the possibility of something impossible happening.

Dealing with this is part of maturing. I don't have to tell you that. You know.

There are numerous positive things that come from jail, if that is the outcome, and it is not clear it will be. Hitting bottom. Less drugs. Withdrawal. Containment. Time to think. To stop the treadmill. To read. To reflect. To turn or return to faith.

He will likely be safe while he is incarcerated. If it were me I would be hoping he could stay awhile. Or be referred to a treatment program.

27 is when the turn around time for men starts. It is when the male brain is on the cusp of maturing. 28, even better. My son is almost 27. I am seeing it. I worked in prisons many years. 28 was when young men, most of them, stopped coming back to prison.

There is so much to be hopeful for.

As much, you may get a time out. You can rest. You can restore yourself. Husband can begin to restore himself.

Keep posting. Take care of yourself.

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Hang in there and let us know what happens tomorrow. Just be prepared because the court system moves very very slowly! My guess is they will not hold him in jail iif they are misdeamenors, unless he has had several prior offenses. Or there may be low bail.... you might want to think ahead of time if you want to provide bail if it is required. I doubt he will be sentanced tomorrow unless he cuts a deal with the DA...which could happen. If they are drug offenses sometimes the deal can include treatment which would be a really good thing. Keep us posted. I have been throught his many times with my son and I know it is very anxiety producing.
Can you believe we only saw him on Video? We were there for hours. Pled and deferred sentencing for 6 months. Community service, NA and out last night. Home saying he was ready to work on this then back to wanting to leave today. Found a long term treatment program but says not ready. Drugs change the brain. Just praying he will see it before he goes back and it is too late. Hugs to all of you feeling pain out there tonight.
It has been awhile. He is still home. Not sure how willingly. Dad still trying to fix things and allowing things I am not comfortable with which seem to only mask the problem. No plan to move forward. I told my husband again we need to set rules. Next week to meet this goal etc. I am not sure being stuck here is helping him decide to quit. I am less focused at work, have been sick, and embarrassed to go to my meeting thinking we are doing the wrong things....

But he is here. Safe. For the moment. I know that doesn't mean much for the long term but my husband thinks it means everything. I think about and pray for all of you as I read your posts and others. There must be something we can do to highlight the significance of this problem in today's society.

Hugs to you all.

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
It has been awhile. He is still home. Not sure how willingly. Dad still trying to fix things and allowing things I am not comfortable with which seem to only mask the problem. No plan to move forward. I told my husband again we need to set rules. Next week to meet this goal etc. I am not sure being stuck here is helping him decide to quit.
Hi La Mesa, wish things were better for you. It is tough when you want to go one way and Dad wants to go the other. My difficult children learned to use this to their advantage.I became the target, the bad guy.
Folks come to realization in their own time. Meanwhile, what about you? Please find ways to take extra care of yourself, do something nice for yourself. You are important.

I am less focused at work, have been sick, and embarrassed to go to my meeting thinking we are doing the wrong things....

This happens to me, too. Our bodies can only take so much. This is the unhealthy part of having difficult adult children at home, or not, it is a never ending roller coaster ride, one that YOU did not opt to be on. I am sure that folks at meetings have seen it all. If the meetings are helping you keep going, if they are not maybe consider counseling. I went and it helped to talk to a professional, I thought I was losing my mind. In reality, I had lost my peace of mind.It helps to keep coming here, too.

But he is here. Safe. For the moment. I know that doesn't mean much for the long term but my husband thinks it means everything. I think about and pray for all of you as I read your posts and others. There must be something we can do to highlight the significance of this problem in today's society.
Hugs to you all.
I hope things will be better for you and the family La Mesa. This sort of thing has hit epidemic proportions, and yes, there must be something done.

He is 27 years old. Our family is a mess. We are worse when he is on the street though. Husband lost his job early this year and doesn't care about anything but "fixing" Son. Have tried to explain why that is not up to us but he is stuck. Younger Daughter struggling with own life and feeling overwhelmed. I am a workaholic struggling to provide and find focus at work with little success.

This is from your 9/4 post. I understand your dilemma when your son is on the streets (my daughter is out there somewhere). We ended up putting ourselves and our home at risk by allowing her to live at home. She had no desire to stop, and ended up bringing sketchy characters to our house, denying any drug use. It was scary.

Looking back, I was so wrapped up in the drama of dealing with my two difficult children, I was not able to properly care for myself, or my young son, or have a decent relationship with my other two adult children. It has been years of back and forth, worry and frustration. My oldest just turned 36, middle will be 27 (she has 3 of her own children).

We are realizing after all of these years that by "helping", we only enabled these two to continue in their destructive ways, our focus was on them, and their focus was on projecting their problems on us.

I am sorry, I know you understand this and are trying to find a way to get the hubby to. That is a great frustration. I have to figure out what to do if my husband caves in. I cannot tolerate having the tornado in my house again. Yes it is hard not knowing how and where my two girls are, but it is way worse when they are at home and using. I have decided to put them in God's hands and pray for the day when they decide to stop the nonsense.They are adults and make their own choices. I have no control over them, I have to take back control of my life.

In the midst of all of this, I started taking an art class. It has been a respite to create, to do something I enjoy. It is my happy place. It is important to be able to take mini vacations (if only for an hour or two) from the craziness. I hope you can find a happy place of your own.

Please take care, you are not alone. Many here have gone through, or are going through similar trials.
Thank you all for your beautiful words. Tried to have a discussion tonight about his thoughts beyond tomorrow. Nothing. Can't commit to recovery. It is a draw - waiting for him to run, or having him gone and not knowing where he is. I know I need to take care of me somehow. Will head back to the meeting this week. Maybe something more will need to follow. Thanks for the hugs! So needed that right now.