Searching for faith, help or my own rallying principles . . .


Active Member

I have been reading this forum for weeks looking for and finding bits of advice, similarities and support to fuel me from day to day as my son is in residential. Frankly, I am also looking for the tea leaves to feel more comfortable about the possible futures, which is probably the opposite of the detachment I am supposed to be seeking for myself and my son. While I work on living in the moment, I thought it would be more honest, at least, to share and ask for support, rather than lurk and try to find it in your stories.

Emotionally, I have gone up and down since he started treatment -- but in either direction, it feels like I'm spiraling. In the first weeks, I was plagued by feelings of guilt because I realized I had parented him very reactively, out of fear that he was going down the path of my substance abusing or narcissistic family members. I am now in therapy to trauma from my FOO. For his sake and the sake of our two younger, easier children, too.

In addition, I don't know entirely where my son was or is. When we shook out what we could of the facts, it was clear he had been smoking pot and lying incessantly for a year and a half or so, but in the last 6 months had cultivated a music rave identity, and was doing some harder drugs and some dealing and stealing, capped by two serious, reckless binge drinking episodes. Notwithstanding, he had only cut a couple of classes, managed still to get some As, was only permitted to socialize with friends a few hours at a time without an adult checking in, was never visibly wasted apart from those drinking episodes -- the last of which put him in the hospital and was followed by a belligerent meltdown, complete break from family and run-away threat, that precipitated his placement. Before that, we thought his summer could have been more of a "right the ship with positive pursuits."

In his mind, he is not an addict or alcoholic. The professionals he has seen also say it is likely more self-medicating,which is of course still problematic substance use, but makes the 12-step route a harder one to adopt. At the same time, he has not been particularly open to figuring out what he is self-medicating for. He was diagnosed with ADHD, but is also gifted, so he can compensate. He is oppositional -- at least in his narcissstic views about rules and authority figures, and his lack of accountability for the past, present or future. The professionals have concluded he is mildy depressed and anxious, but probably from the stressful situation he has put himself in and the negative consequences that have resulted -- so are not pushing medications though they say it could help. My son has no authentic explanation for the binge drinking episodes -- though I have my theories that the first was fueled by a rejection, and the second by rage and hopelessness when he realized his lifestyle would soon be changing whether he liked it or not.

But no one knows for sure. And he doesn't seem to want to know it. He is claiming what many of you will recognize. He didn't need to go the hospital, his problems aren't like heroine addiction or major depression - so he shouldn't be in residential treatment, he has a parent-problem, not a drug problem, he has finished all "his work" but still is not willing to repair relationships...

I feel like I'm at a crossroads, and am pinging back and forth between whether to bring him home or keep him in a container to keep working things out. Bettering the parenting environment is my imperative, but does he need to be more mature in his outlook to be safe at home? In the back of my mind, I worry that continued treatment might solidify a negative, fledgling identity. Knowing I need to be a strong, more emotionally attuned parent, regardless, and working towards it, is not helping me to weather this uncertainty.


one day at a time
Hi Sam. Your story really resonates with me as your son sounds a lot like my son. How old is your son? My son self-medicated, I believe, and spiraled into addiction and alcoholism. His dad is a recovering alcoholic and his grandfather (now deceased) was an unrecovered alcoholic. My grandmother abused prescription medications under the tutelage of three doctors, and my own brother, my son's uncle, is an active alcoholic.

It's everywhere in our family. And my Difficult Child has always been shy, hung back in new situations, had a hard time going to school and adapting every year, and covered those feelings by acting out and being the "class clown" and then, getting into trouble and seeing what he could get by with. He bites his fingernails and is jumpy and a very hard worker and always thinking. He is anxious and has had some mild depression.

Regarding your son, I would leave him in treatment for every single minute that you can. It won't hurt him and you will never know how what he is hearing---even if he is rejecting it---will come back to help him down the road.

My son is now 26 and doing so much better. I realize he can relapse at any time, and he may. But I've backed way way off in his life over the past few years, and he has grown up a bit, and finally got somewhat "scared straight" i believe, due to the threat of prison.

Our troubled DCs will act out until THEY decide not to act out anymore, and not one minute before that.

Let the professionals have your son for as long as possible. You'll have him back soon enough. In the meantime, work on YOU. Read Boundaries and CoDependent No More for starters. Go to Al-Anon. Pray, exercise, meditate, do nice things for yourself. Get your mind right about who you are, forgive yourself for not being perfect, and find as many places as possible inside yourself for peace and calm to exist.

We're glad you are here. Keep posting, it helps.


Well-Known Member
Hi Sam..... your story also hits home with me and sounds all too familiar. Let us know how old your son is because how involved you are and should be will vary depending on his age. My son has been in and out of treatment since he was 14. He is now 23. My feeling is when they are under 18 get them the help they need if you can even if they dont want it... it helps give them some clean time and things they learn along the way may stick in some way...... but if they dont really want it they most likely will relapse again and again. There is not a lot you can do to prevent that I dont think, except when possible keep as a good a relationship with them as you can.... but it is also very difficult, maybe impossible to have any kind of good relationship with a drug addict.

My son now at 23 is finally once again in residential treatment but by his own decision. His whole attitude about it is different this time. He commented to me today that some people are really serious and that is good but some are not at all and thats frustrating. I said you were once one of those that wasnt serious and he said that is what makes it so frustrating, I see myself in them!

So there is hope but it is a tough road. And you need all the strength to get through this for yourself. So like COM said take care of yourself, find thiings that you like doing for yourself and sleep while you know he is safely in the program.

And let go of the guilt. None of us are perfect parents but unless you were horribly abusive (which I am guessing you were not) you did not cause this. Really you didnt. The guilt and self recrimination and what ifs will not help you and they do not help him either.

Keep posting.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Hello and welcome. My Difficult Child started out with binge drinking and spiraled down the path of active addiction to drugs and alcohol.

I would let your son stay in treatment as long as possible. I wish we had realized earlier that our Difficult Child needed residential treatment. For a long time I thought she was just in a rebellious stage and she would outgrow it. Unfortunately, she is 30-years-old now and still struggling with substance abuse issues.

Keep posting. You will find incredible support and understanding here.



Well-Known Member
"I was plagued by feelings of guilt because I realized I had parented him very reactively, out of fear that he was going down the path of my substance abusing or narcissistic family members"

Ditto. We adopted our daughter. Her biological history includes alcohol and drug abuse which we knew from the beginning. I beat myself up for a long time because of how I parented her. I was sooooo afraid tat she would go down the same path as her birthmother I almost expected it. I jumped to conclusions very quickly and saw signs of abuse early on. It scared me to death and I did not react very well. I put the clamps down and probably pushed her faster into addiction. I'm not sure what else I could have done and she did follow in her birthmother's footsteps on so many levels. She was also oppositional from a very early age which didn't help matters.

We have all been in your shoes. We carry a lot of guilt and struggle with detaching from our addict's behavior. You are doing fine. I am proud of you for seeking out support, that is a very difficult thing for many of us to do.


Active Member
Thank you everyone for your support. My son seems finally to be benefitting from this extended opportunity to pause, think, breathe and not feel like his ego needs constant promotion or protection. I'm working on my calm, as well. It's making for more pleasant conversations, even when he's not saying all the right things.