Sadly new here


New Member
I just found out that my 18-year-old son has been using and dealing drugs. I hope you will bear with me as I post my long story, because I am still sorting it all out.

A little background, I am divorced for three years, and since my son started college this fall he has been living with his dad. Before that we split the time evenly, and it seemed to be working. The kids have always had two parents who are actively involved in their lives, on the same page in parenting them, and love them to pieces. His dad is only about 5 minutes down the road, so I still see him regularly. We also have a 14-year-old daughter who now lives primarily with me. We are both very involved in both kids' lives and do a pretty good job of co-parenting.

Over the summer, we found out our son had been smoking some weed. It was difficult to figure out exactly what to do, since he is an adult and we figured if he had went away to school he'd be experimenting and we'd never know it. So we set some rules -- no having it in the house or the car, no having it around our daughter, no DUI, and if he was ever caught with it, he was on his own. We would not bail him out.

We actually thought he had quit, but we knew he was still running around with some friends we didn't trust. He had always had good friends before. He was an incredibly talented trumpet player in an award-winning band. His plan all along had been to go away to college and major in music. Then he damaged his lip and couldn't play anymore. So in August, he watched all his good band friends go away to school. Since graduation we have been troubled because of his lack of direction and total ambivalence about life. We found out about the weed use and were even more troubled, but all we knew to do was set those rules. All our friends told us we had to let go, let him have his freedom, etc.

So Thursday night his dad called me asking if I had heard from him. He hadn't come home at all the night before. We had both texted him through the day and he hadn't responded. Again, we were trying to decide whether we just let it go, all that freedom issue and everything. Then we found out all his friends were looking for him, too, and that's when we got really worried. His dad had a tracer on his phone and went looking for him, found his car at the home of a friend we didn't know. He went to the door and rang the bell and there was no answer. He called me again and said he was worried. Again, wondering if we should let it go, maybe he just went with a friend somewhere and left his car there. But something kept telling us there was something wrong. His dad walked all around the house, looking in windows, finally saw them in the house sleeping. He started pounding on the windows, yelling, and finally my son woke up and came to the door.

We found out he had taken 4 Xanax bars the night before in the course of 45 minutes. He had been out for 21 hours. His pupils were still dilated, his speech was slurred. His dad got him home, sent him to the shower, and at that point started going through his phone. That's how we found out how serious it was. He called me, and I hoofed it over to the house as fast as I could.

The texts we found were alarming. We were able to go back two years, but there were not references to any drug use whatsoever until after he graduated. Six months from smoking his first joint to using and selling dabs, Xanax bars, acid, cocaine, and I think heroin. He said he hadn't done heroin, but there was one reference to it in a text. He also said he hadn't actually done cocaine, just sold it, but there were several references to it. he also told a friend he was trying to quit because he found out it had something in it and he couldn't believe he was putting that in his nose. We told him that was the case with all of this stuff, you have no idea what is going into it. You have no control.

It seems he was never a daily or even weekly user, from reading his texts. Lots of times people would hit him up and he'd say he had nothing for days at a time. One or both of us has been with him since we found him Thursday, and he has shown no signs of withdrawal or agitation at all. So I do not think he has a physical dependency yet, but he was well on the way to it. And I could be wrong, am willing to be wrong, it's something a doctor needs to determine. But the bigger issue for him seems the social aspect of it, the thrill of that lifestyle. He lost his musical community, he lost his sense of purpose, and this gave that back to him. I'm not 100% sure he wants out of it, although he says he does and seemed very remorseful. There was no anger, no aggression, nothing in his eyes but sadness. The fact that he wasn't defensive gives me some hope. But he's still lying, and I don't know how badly he wants out of the lifestyle. He's attracted to the thrills of it and this new persona, feeling important, being sought out by all these people, more than to the drugs themselves.

So here is what we have done so far and what we still plan on doing. I am hoping we are on the right track.

We took his phone away. He'll get a phone that has no social media accessibility. That has been his main source of contact.

He has not been back to work. He made some contacts there, and these people know to look for him there. I am trying to decide whether it is better that he stay out of work, focus on school and recovery and finding a new purpose, or whether without any source of income at all he will return to selling. The pastor at my church has offered him a job plowing and shoveling the parking lot, which will give him a little income but not enough to go out and buy drugs, and it will keep him out of an environment where these people can find him. Might be a good compromise. He likes to work and earn money, and it might help keep him busy as well as put him around good influences.

He is going to his dad's church instead of mine, because there is are more college-aged kids there. We are hoping that will help him find another group of friends.

He is going to start Celebrate Recovery, which follows the same 12-step program as NA and AA.

He has to stay in college, even though he doesn't know what he wants to do. We told him to just close his eyes and point and take whatever his finger lands on. You never know what will catch his fancy.

He will get one-on-one therapy to help him navigate this difficult period of figuring out who he wants to be now that he's not a musician anymore (he could be a musician if he really wanted to be, but he is angry and resistant to anything we suggest). If the therapist believes there is an addiction or dependency component, we are willing to explore further rehab. I do think NA or AA still might help him just to see where this path leads. Drug dealers are not Walter White.

His dad, sister, and I will go to therapy and/or al-anon to help us find support and make sure we are staying on the right track for him and for ourselves.

If we find any evidence of drug use or selling, we will report to the police. We had told him that before, and we told him that the reason we are giving him a second chance is that we didn't know the extent of it, and we hadn't gotten any kind of outside help. We will allow him to continue living with his dad as long as he is taking all of these steps to make a different kind of life for himself.

I know we can't make him do any of these things, but I am hopeful because he doesn't seem resentful, he seems to be willing to do whatever we ask. He knows he has nowhere else to go, and I'm hoping that his near OD was a wakeup call for him, because I realize it's not enough that he wants to do it for us -- he has to want it for himself.

My heart is absolutely broken. So many shattered dreams and hopes. I love my boy so much. I'm so scared that he won't want to change, and I feel so hopeless. I know there is nothing I can do to make him want it. But that knowledge doesn't make me any less afraid. :(

Thanks for listening and for being here.


Well-Known Member
Obviously, he's very depressed about the lip injury forcing him to give up music. He's at a point where he has to re-evaluate his life and figure out his future, which may be different than what he planned on. He definitely needs therapy in addition to the drug rehab. As for not knowing what he wants to major in, this is what I tell my students who can't decide on a major: There are certain courses everyone is required to take, no matter what they major in. Go ahead and get the following courses out of the way: English Comp I and II, Western Civ, Public Speaking or speech, at least two humanities electives, pre-calculus, at least one science elective, and at least one computer class. An academic advisor at the college can help him with that. Once he regains his focus in life and knows what his goals are, things will get easier for him.


New Member
This guy needs to be in a rehab ASAP. Gis drugs of vhoice could easily kill him Take it from a person who list ger sister smoking crack. She was sober for 8 years and decided to hit the pipe. She was found dead at her house. She was an attorney while sober and even worked with John Walsh , Adam Walshes Dad.


Well-Known Member
The thing is, you can't make him go to rehab. If he consents to go, often people go many times and still dont quit. They have to want it desperately. Personally I am not sure college is in the cards for him right now. He has more pressing priorities. Hard ones, like the drugs.

Having had a daughter who used cocaine and meth and other drugs (and I didn't think she used drugs all the time either, but she did) you can't force a legal adult to do anything. I would never have been as easy on him for the pot and staying out all night while living under my roof...not happening. You are an adult under my roof, you follow my rules. You can do what you want once you are on your own and self supporting, but not until was horrible that he put his parents through that.

We were tough on daughter and she quit on her own after we made her leave for throwing a drug party in our house. We walked in on it. She had to leave after that.

She found somewhere to go but it wasn't fun for her and we cut off the money train 100% so she got a job and quit all drugs. That was twelve years ago. Her life is excellent now. We are going to her house for Christmas. She used from 12 (yes 12) to 19 then decided to quit. She is 33 and a fine mother and SO and homeowner.

But there is no fast fix for drug abuse and, contrary to what you think, your son likely uses every day and they are serious drugs. Just because he doesn't have extra drugs to sell doesn't mean he doesn't have drugs for himself for getting high. It is common, but not a good sign, that he is selling drugs as well as using them.

I admit I didn't read the entire post, but I did read about half of it. Please keep your guard up and dont expect this to go away soon. I'm sure he started because he lost his peer group and passion but why he started doesn't matter. Once they get involved in drugs, even pot which kills motivation, it is not a fast path to sobriety.

I would not be too lenient about this. Nor would I think I could fix it. We all thought that We could fix our adult kids and we can only fix one person...ourselves. That's all.

I hope you can stay strong and go to Al Anon and maybe also private therapy. Having been through this, it is not easy nor is it for the faint of heart. This is so hard to find about our adult kids...but if they are legally 18 there is nothing we can do. Except for us. We csn help us cope. Be good to yourself.
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Very similar to our story. First money at all...he cant have it. No driving...none.

Wants school? If no...don't force it. I would recommend rehab. yup, at least the basic 28 days.

Celebrate recovery...I get it, I work in ministry...but he needs more than that. Seriously...our son laughed at celebrate recovery...he needs to be in NA or AA...hear stories from drug addicts. Even if he thinks they don't relate...therapy with someone who specializes in addiction. Have him go to as many as support groups as possible.

You can't make him's scary...your son is a drug dealer and user, so was's awful. Now you you take the next step.

I would see a psychiatrist for him...he may need antidepressants...for now.

You will always worry, I do everyday and he lives with us! Your love and support for him will go far...but it's all him in recovery. Our son said we are all in recovery...some extent that is true. It is a journey....

Praying for you and your sound like you all have great support..hugs


New Member
I'm glad it worked out for your daughter that she quit on her own when you kicked her out. But we have personal experience that it can work the opposite way. My ex's father was kicked out, and he never came home again, had fun partying, didn't really care, died penniless and homeless from cancer. I'm not willing to risk never seeing my son again until we've actually taken steps to help him first. If he doesn't want to do it, so be it. I realize there is nothing I can do. But as long as he is doing what we are asking him to do, I want to give him the chance to do it. I don't see how he will even have the resources to change it we just kick him out immediately.

I'm sorry my post was so long and you didn't get to the steps we are taking. We are not letting this slide. There are very specific things he has to do to stay at home. I want to be clear that I don't think for one second that I can fix it, nor do I think this is going to be easy. I think I said in my post that is the hardest thing about it, the feelings of helplessness. That is why I sought this group out. We will certainly be getting family therapy, but this was the most immediate place I could find for support. I know that if he doesn't want to follow the steps we've laid out, he can choose to leave, whether we want him to or not. At the moment he seems amenable. We know we can't force it, but those are simply things we've told him he has to do if he wants to live at home. If he doesn't do them, he can't stay. I don't think we are being lenient. We laid down the criteria he needs to follow to stay at home and for us not to go to the police. We are offering help if he wants it. If he doesn't want help, he's made the choice to leave.


New Member
I know my post was long and convoluted. I want to be clear that we know we can't force him to do anything. The steps we have laid out for him are simply steps that he needs to be willing to take if he wants to continue living at home and doesn't want us to call the police. So far he is amenable. Unlike my ex's father, who was kicked out and didn't care and never returned, he does at least seem to care. In the end, we realize it's his choice, and if he chooses not to follow these steps, he is choosing to leave.

I believe I said in my initial post, and it probably got lost in the long background, that we will be getting family therapy, as well as individual treatment and NA for him. We know it's going to be a long, hard journey, and that's why I sought out a group like this for immediate support. I am dying inside. Even though it's his choice, those choices affect us. If he wants to go back to that life, it will be like my son died. I get to mourn. I won't be able to immediately get on with my life and wash my hands of him just because it was his decision. That's what I'm struggling with right now. I'm going to get counseling for this, but it takes time to find someone and get an appointment, and I needed to talk now.


Active Member
I am sorry that you are and your family are going through this. It is so very hard. I admire your focus in creating a very detailed plan in your next steps. I have been through a lot with my 17 year old son over the past 3 years of high school. I don't pretend to have any answers. Our struggles are different but I feel your pain. We are a year out from any major outbursts and reckless behavior and the healing is slowly taking place. He is strayed far from his (our) vision of college,etc but have realized through this entire nightmare that I have no control over what he ultimately does with his life. We tapped into every resource we could get our hands on. Partial hospitalization, wilderness therapy, therapy, psychiatrist, even the local courts to jump in and back us when he was really off the reservation. I read every book I was recommended. I think you will get good advice here from so many who have been in your exact shoes. Warm hugs for you.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Welcome. I did read your entire post and I think you are on the right track. Give him a chance to try to do everything that has been set in place.

If he's willing to do what is required he may be able to change. Agree, that you can't force any of it but you have to follow the consequences you have set for non conformance.

Everything we did to try to help our son did not work unfortunately. But he is doing better now on his own. We do supplement him but he is staying sober and so doing much better than he ever did at home. Our home is peaceful now and I am more than thankful for that. I really have had to turn it over to my higher power.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Erin, welcome and I am glad that you found us. You sound like you have a realistic view on things and I hope your son will be one of the ones that is willing to change.

Please understand that many of us here have walked this road and are just sharing our stories. Take what works for you and leave the rest. I will say, though, that the extent of your son's drug use is probably a lot worse than you think. None of us want to believe how bad it is but later learn the true extent of the problem after our loved ones get sober and share their stories.

You have a great plan in place. The hard part is enforcing it. Calling the police on your child if you find drugs in the house is so hard for a parent to do. I was not able to do it but we did hire an interventionist who helped us force our daughter out of our home and into a three month rehab program in another state. Sadly, she started using again as soon as she got out.

On a positive note, after 12 years of hell and multiple rehab programs and halfway houses, our daughter made the decision to get sober. She recently celebrated her 9 month sobriety date and has held down a full time job for six months and is doing well. I know that every day is a gift and am cautiously optimistic. The bottom line, though, was that it didn't happen until she made the decision to quit. One of her favorite things to say is "I don't have to live like that anymore." She is a different person now and has surrounded herself with others in recovery and voluntarily lives in a transition house. She goes to NA meetings religiously and is very close to her sponsor.

It took me two years of private therapy to learn that there wasn't a single thing I could do to make her change. All I could do was change my behavior and my responses to her behavior. My therapist helped me set firm boundaries and once my husband and I stopped enabling our daughter, she started to become responsible for herself.

You are starting down a long journey and have found a great place for support and understanding. We will give advice based on our experiences but realize that there is no one right answer. All any of us can do is take it day by day and do the best we can do. No one will judge you for your decisions.