Prodigal Son Returns Minus the Humble Part


Since my last post, my stepson has returned from interstate. He is staying at a local pay by the week hotel. He told my husband that he was eating out of garbage cans and sleeping under the bleachers at a small park. Oh, and smoking meth and fending off people trying to rob him. All the while a bus ticket to return home was sitting at the depot waiting to be claimed. Sad and very confusing for me. My husband does a little better with these ugly details than I do, at least outwardly.

First thing he did upon arriving back was to blast his mother and sister over the phone for being unavailable to pick him up. He eventually made contact with my husband who collected him. The conversation in the car I am told basically consisted of him telling my husband how hard it is to be on the street, and that we should be nicer to him and support him so that he doesn't die out there. My husband, for the umpteenth time, tried to explain to him that no one is putting him on the street but him. That the world works because the majority of us follow the rules of society. For those who cannot or who refuse to follow these rules, the street may be where they end up. As usual, in one ear and out the other.

With help from his grandmother, he will be able to stay in his present accommodation for the next two weeks. My husband has been taking him to apply for jobs, to get his ID replaced etc. So outwardly he is playing the game. My stepson has forgotten that several months ago he gave my husband his passwords to his email and social media to get some information he needed. When he uses these, my husband's phone pings and he is able to see what he is doing. (I don't know how people will feel about this - yes he deserves his privacy, but this information has helped us to make some informed decisions in trying to help him along the way.) It is all drug connection stuff, and nothing personal.

Case in point, we saw a message during the week from a known local drug dealer confirming my stepson's request and arranging to meet to make an exchange. My husband has not shared this with him. We are still hoping he will land a part time job regardless and move toward helping himself. We have always emphasized to my stepson that we are here to help him if he shows that he is taking steps to help himself. In the past these efforts have been few and far between, and short lived. It always comes back to our god given obligation to house, clothe, feed, and provide him with pocket money because we are his parents. In my heart I don't think I am expecting anything different this time. The purpose of this exercise really is that if / when he fails, my husband can feel that he has once again done everything he can to give his son the best possible chance to get his life back on the road.


Well-Known Member
I’ve read that schizophrenia can interfere with organizing thoughts and the ability to think clearly. I’m glad the medications are helping with the voices. It’s difficult to know how much responsibility a person like this is truly capable of. His illness is the root cause of his behavior and the meth is making it worse.

I used to volunteer at the homeless shelter and so many people there had schizophrenia and other types of mental illness. Schizophrenia was the main illness I saw at the shelter. As you know, it’s a very complicated illness.

I’m sorry you and your husband have to deal with this.


Well-Known Member
You can't help him. The bandages you use to try to fix him come off. If he wants help, he will get it.

I would not spy on him simply because I have learned (and it took time) that spending all my life trying to "help" my daughter did nothing for her and hurt me and the others in my family. We can not help our loved ones unless they are ready to be helped. And we can not talk them into it. It has to come from them or all we do is waste our money.

The way your stepson is still yelling at everyone else and guilting you, in my opinion seems he is not ready to take control and responsibility of his issues.

Those two weeks in a hotel probably will only delay the inevitable and Grandma will have spent more of the money that she needs. Lots of drug users also will be in that motel with for addicts to end up.

Lastly, from Nar Anon I learned that our talking too much to our illogical kids only sets us up for abuse and does not change them. Like you said, your husband has said the same thing to his son one thousand times. He did not have to say it again. His son knows and will still manipulate everything his way. He just wants to remain in control.

I am very sorry that you are on this nasty ride. We have all been there. Most of us have decided to detach from the craziness because we have no control over it plus we just can't keep

Good luck and hugs.


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I agree with much that Busy writes. It seems to me that people are "helping" your stepson to show to themselves that they are doing "all" they can. There are things that can be done to support your stepson but not because he whines and tries to extract concessions and benefits, with a woe is me story.

Nobody here judges because we have done it all too. As long as your stepson is using meth daily, you are dealing with the drug 90 percent, and him 10 percent. It is as if your stepson has turned into a raccoon. You may get the raccoon to go to job interviews, but there is less possibility the raccoon will show up at work and comply with what is required. The same thing is so about housing. Two weeks in a short-term situation will not change his situation.

I am not being facetious or sarcastic here. When somebody is addicted to hard drugs (sometimes even marijuana or alcohol) the real personality is subsumed. It's as if there is no independent will available. On a short-term basis, he may go through the motions in thought and speech, but that's it.

That does not mean we can't help our children. There is a whole growing knowledge-base about the Harm Reduction approach, that staying involved and in relationship with our loved ones does help them and does help us. There was a great article in the NY Times about this approach on the weekend. I will try and find a link. The Harm Reduction approach bases treatment on family and community involvement with the addicted person, but in ways that actually support the person, and don't hurt us. Has your husband thought of consulting an addiction counselor to help him and the family? Here is the link to a really great article.


Thank you so much for your response and advice Copa. I was initially unable to access the article link that you posted but just now cracked it. So true, and affirming actually. My husband and I have been in agreement that we will not put ourselves up for any kind of abuse from his son eg. personal, financial, or otherwise. We won't allow him to jeopardize our safety or the security of our home by having him live with us. But we are committed to remaining in his life. We never want him to feel alone or unloved.

Last week, he was kicked out of the motel he was staying in. Against my husband's advice, he had allowed a friend he made there to hang out in his room. The 'friend' decided to entertain some known prostitutes. Friend and prostitutes were arrested after the hotel manager called the police. Stepson avoided this because he was not on the premises at the time but returned to his room only to find he'd been locked out and evicted.

He called my husband crying. Was upset when my husband took him to a homeless shelter rather than allowing him to stay with us. Said we couldn't put him a shelter because he would only use drugs and that would be on us. My husband said he knew that his son was doing drugs at the hotel, and that if he lived with us, he would only do them at our house as well.

After a few nights at the shelter, he says he is doing ok. My husband makes the hour round trip twice a week to check in with him and take him to eat. He is of course using drugs but he has food and shelter and that is a win for us right now.

We have certainly struggled with the helping / not helping tug of war, and will continue to. But I look forward to researching the Harm Reduction approach a lot more and hope it will help us along. Thank you so much again for the support Copa.:angel:


Well-Known Member
He will never comprehend that this is his fault. Even though he didn’t solicit the prostitutes, hanging out with hookers while using drugs is against the law. Talking to a hooker could be considered illegal. When we make friends with people who are involved in criminal activity, whether or not we are participants in those activities, we not only put our lives in danger, but also risk getting arrested. Although I believe the majority of prostitutes are victims, they have dangerous connections to very bad men. Sometimes prostitutes and their pimps set up men to be robbed and killed. Part of being an adult is to avoid people who engage in criminal activity.


Well-Known Member
The other problematic trait I see in your stepson is naivety. Let me give you an example. Let’s say after your stepson left the company of his friend and the two hookers, that friend strangled them and left them in a dumpster. Police want to talk to every person who was in contact with both victims the night of their murders. Your stepson needs to know that if something terrible had happened to those girls, he would be a suspect. Whether or not he’s a violent person, the cops would be looking for him. I get the impression things like that don’t even occur to him.

Also, his friend exploited both those girls’ addictions.