Some thoughts


Well-Known Member
Hi Everyone,

So I have been thinking about various things, various threads, various ideas out there lately.

One idea out there, that clearly works in some cases, is the idea that they have to reach bottom.... and that somehow we can help them reach bottom. Well I now think they may reach bottom many times in many forms but still not get into recovery.... and really we cant help them get there. They still need to have the want for recovery themselves. I think we get fooled sometimes by this idea that if we just dont enable them, if we just dont help them, if we kick them out etc etc. then they will get into recovery and get better. To be honest that just doesnt work with everyone....The truth is we have absolutely no control over them getting into recovery or not, that comes from them.

I also think many treatment programs have an all or nothing approach..... so you need to stay sober and if you relapse then out you go, or you start over or whatever. What I Really like about the program my son is in is that they truly work with clients where they are at..... and so yes clearly for my son it would be better if he is totally sober and clean. Yet he has realapsed at least twice and they are still working with him.... and recognize that although relapsing with alcohol is not great for him by any means, it is better than shooting heroin, Not saying drinking is ok...,. But not being judgemental either.

I am learning I just need to stay out of his recovery process.....that really is his process. My role is to just keep letting him know he is loved and cared about.

My son does have a job, which he has had about a week. So far so good..... and the hours are perfect for him. So that is good news.



Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting this, TL. These are some of the same questions and issues I am struggling with. What does hitting bottom mean, and what does it look like? Is hitting bottom always necessary for recovery? How strict do I have to be during this process - is it a strictly tough love approach, or are there times a softer approach works better? I should there anything I can do to nudge them in the right direction or speed up the process? How tough do I have to be?

I am learning I just need to stay out of his recovery process.....that really is his process. My role is to just keep letting him know he is loved and cared about.
I think this is what I’m learning too. That showing love and emotional support is always ok, but I can’t rescue or direct or enable. I have to let them find the way and face their own consequences for their choices. But I can tell them I still love them and I’m sorry those consequences are so hard. For my kids at least, remaining nonjudgmental seems to work better than going into ‘tough parent mode’ at their ages. At least they talk to me pretty openly, and aren’t stuck in teenage rebellion mode. They know what I think and they know I worry. C in particular seems to be moving towards more honesty and self reflection. S still seems so very lost to me, but all I know how to do is keep holding the door open and hope one day she will see it and walk through it. I’m afraid ‘bottom’ for her may be very far down indeed.

I hope your son continues to make progress in his recovery. It sounds like a great program.


Well-Known Member
Everyone is different as is their personalities and levels of addictions. Everyone gets sick of using at different times. For different reasons. My daughter quit without rehab (coke and meth) because "It was too hard to use."

Sadly some people have no rock bottom and dont quit. Most do seem to quit eventually at least as reported on this forum.

But should we help them use?We can always offer love and emotional support. That doesnt cost money. in my opinion giving money to an addict is like helping them use. That is why it was easy for us to not do it. Plus daughter was not on the streets. She didnt like where she lived but she had a place as long as she behaved. Unlike some who dont care, she did not want ro be homeless so she behaved.

Every adult child does things differently. Rehab is to teach quitting and clean living skills but I do think it is counter productive to throw somebody out for a relapse. Maybe it is insurance related?

Parents have a rock.bottom too. Everyone has a place where we are too tired to keep helping. Or not. Some 80 year olds are housing addict 60 year old adult children.

There are no definitive answers. I am so glad your son is in a good place for him to get the skills he needs.

Love and light.
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100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I agree that some have no rock bottom and have read that some do not need to reach rock bottom and what does rock bottom even really mean?

I think that we as parents reach rock bottom WAY before our difficult adult children.

I'm glad that your son's place isn't giving up on him. My son was in a few like that also and I just loved those people to death. They really cared and were not in it for the money. They saw potential in my son that he was too sick to see.

Ugh it's horrible is all I can say. I am so sorry for this vortex that we are all in.

I'm also very thankful that my son is doing well now and I have some hope. I do know I will NEVER NEVER go back to living like that again. Ever.


Well-Known Member
Elsi..... like others have said. I think the process is different for everyone and it seems we all have to fiind the way best for us. I recently had an experience where someone who didnt know me but who I was dealing with on behalf of my son started telling me I was enabling him and I just needed to be tough. Put me on the defensive right away and to be honest kind of made me angry. She really had no idea of what I had done... she herself had a son who was an addict and she had had to use tough love but acted as if there was only one answer. The fact is we did kick out son out when he was 18 (which I dont regret because at the time it was the best thing to do). We have let me son be homeless and live on the streets in Denver in the middle of winter. We have been tough and it was not only tough on him but tough on us too. That time he was homeless and on the streets in winter was probably the worst time in my life. So it bugs me a lot when people tell me I am enabling or not being tough. I have been tough. Now when I have done that eventually my son does hit some kind of bottom and needs and wants help and will go to treatment... so those situations have gotten him to treatment which is always good. He has also gone to treatment after being in jail. And he has gone to treatment when he himself has realized he was an addict and needed help. All those things have gotten him to treatment. After he is in treatment though I think he gets this idea that he can do some part of it on his own, or he can drink socially but not alone, or he can drink but he cant use heroin or whatever. I think the latest couple of relapses showed him that even drinking a little sets him down a path.... so slowly maybe he is getting that he really can’t do it. I don’t know it.... but for him the learning about himself is coming in bits and pieces and fits and starts and that is his process and the way it is.

Where we got to quite a while ago is that we will help him when he is helping himself.... and along the way I have at times helped him get a meal, or when he was on the street I got him a sleeping bag etc. Those small pieces of help showed him love and care..... and I really dont think made much difference in him being able to use.

We do have to be careful because when he is in treatment, starts to do well, when he is starting to slide he will manipulate us and we will discover he has used us in some way to get money for alcohol..... so we are aware of that and he knows we know that.

So I really think it is about looking in your own heart and doing what feels right to you. Dont be tough because someone else tells you you should be tough. It really is about doing what you feel makes the most sense for you and for him. When we kicked our son out of our house he was flagrantly violating all of our rules (which were minimal) including taking our car without permission in the middle of the night. We told him we would give him two weeks to obey the rules and do the things he needed to do or he needed to move out. He then threatened to bash my teeth in..... I went to the police and had them come and remove him. I was not going to put up with that. There was no way I was going to let him behave that way in my house that would not be good for me.... but also the message it would send to him if I had just accepted that behavior would not have been good for him. (Never mind the message it would have sent to my younger daughter). However after some advice from a therapist I did stay in touch with him and keep the door open.... that was 8 years ago.

So it is all a balancing act. There. Is no one answer for everyone.



100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I do agree with everything you said TL.

Just like a marriage, there is no one really that knows what's in your marriage except you. And your partner will have a different view most likely.

No one really knows any of it except us.

My good friend just lost her nephew to a heroin overdose a few days ago. He was 21. I had grown up next door to her and her two sisters. Her younger sister is the one whose son just died. I had known for some time that he had this problem and she knew about my son. I did talk to her about her son because she was at a total loss and I was further along in the process and am more of a find the answer (there is no answer) type of person. She did continue to get him out of jail time and time again and I had told her not to do that for the reasons we all talk about here.

In the end, she was not able to save him and the news is very sad. It made me thankful that we were able to force our son into treatment. But he has stayed on his own. It could have been him.

My son sounds a lot like your son. But I had to believe that each time he got something out of the treatment. We met so many people and I really feel that recovering addicts are some of the most amazing people I have ever met.

Good luck to you and prayers and I hope that he is closer to living the life he was meant to live.


Well-Known Member
Thank you. I agree..... I think my son gets a little closer to real recovery each time he goes through treatment.... I just hope someday he actually gets there!!1. The heroin overdoses are so scary... my son has known several people who have died. And his girlfriend from the 8th grade overdosed a couple of years ago.... before my son ever got into heroin. I would have thought that would have been a deterrant to him but of course it wasn’t.

I am thankful he is still alive....and sometimes I think the only reason is because we continue to love and be there for him. I think if we werent there for him he would be dead by now.

This is a hard road we are all on.



Active Member
Thanks for bringing this up. I too have struggled with my stance on tough love vs feeling I'm enabling at times. Thank you for those in these forums who never made me feel guilty and to whom have always made me feel that I was doing what I felt right at the time for myself and my child. We already experience it so much with those who have no idea of what hell we go through when we have an addicted child.

Whenever I thought my son had hit rock bottom and would say to myself "This is rock bottom - it can't get worse than this". It would....thus leaving me realizing that really wasn't HIS rock bottom after all because things did get worse.

My son had hit many rock bottoms and each time I was hopeful this would cause him to rise to the top in terms of recovery. I realized however, that my former tough love stance wasn't really the answer as he wasn't even aware I had that stance if that makes sense. So wrapped up in his street homeless life that I don't think he was even aware of how long it had been since he had spoken to family. It left me feeling depressed knowing my son was out there "somewhere" and I needed to let him know I still loved him. At that time it was probably more for my benefit than his.

It is only when I went to search for him and drop off food did I start feeling better. Enabling? Yes, probably. However, I also felt hesitant to tell people I was doing these for fear of being told I was enabling. In a nutshell, I came to realize you have to do what you feel is right. Yes, I purchased an old van that he and his friend eventually lived in. This was more for my benefit than his as I could finally find him and relieve my constant stress especially with the overdose numbers on our streets. One weekend there was 100 overdose deaths and I was constantly overwhelmed and stressed that if he died I may not know about it until weeks later. In retrospect, if I hadn't listened to my gut and heart he would not have died of an overdose in late June/early July but from the sepsis that he contracted. He and his friend has previously camped in out of the way places where they had little contact with anyone other than when they purchased drugs. Having no phone they would have been unable to seek help when he collapsed. He had no ID so my greatest fear was that I may never know if he were alive or dead. In that case my choice to purchase the van was a lifesaver for him. So no regrets as he would have died in the woods. Instead he was hospitalized for a few weeks and underwent 6 more weeks of IV treatment at an outpatient centre. He was no longer under the radar with social services as a result. While he was at the hospital someone broke into the van and broke all the windows and tore off the doors and stole all their things. There was no going back to it although he wasn't able to when he was released from the hospital as he needed a clean environment with running water. He thought after his treatment that eventually he was going to go back to it. Instead he had no choice but to stay in a home 2 blocks from my home. Eventually, being able to regain somewhat of a normal persons life - a chance to cook food, take showers and baths, have a safe place to stay, the new life and somewhat regulated daily treatments and hospital visits slowly started changing him. I am more hopeful for his recovery than I have been for years. Of course it helped that he was in a wheelchair and unable to do many things but all of it assisted in his road for this new life. I feared when he was finally able to walk again that he would return to his old life. I took him to movies, swimming, shopping, the aquarium, the park...all the places he had not visited or had forgotten about for many many years. Enabling? Maybe? Yet, I could see that slowly he was doing things he had long forgotten brought him enjoyment.

Tough love is not to be confused with standing your ground if they refuse to obey rules in the house in my opinion....but rather always letting the addict know they are loved.To be there to catch them when they fall but we all know it has to come from within...something must grab them somewhere inside to want to change and we are there to encourage them.
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I hope his recovery continues to go well and he can be in a place where one day, he’s able to turn away from those substances for good. Also that he continues to succeed at his new job, sounds like it’s a good fit for him. Maybe a posive motivational factor in his recovery.

He’ll get there if that’s his goal. Bumps and bruises, I believe are expected on such a hard journey, especially through recovery.


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Thanks it is up and down for sure. Always a balancing act and I always wonder if I am enabling..... sometimes I have to just think would I do this for my very together adult daughter? The other day he called me in a panic. His power had been shut off.... he was on hold with the power company. He thought his utilities was included in the apartment rent (I did too to be honest). Not so and he has probably been getting bills for months and ignoring them. Anyway while he was at work I spent an hour on the phone on hold waiting to talk to someone, ended up paying his bill so his power could get turned back on. This is the first time he has had an apartment so even though he should have been on top of this he wasn’t..... we saw him a couple of nights before and he actually seemed like he was in a pretty good place. We had a nice visit. He likes his job and has been there consistently for 3 weeks.... so I did help him out. Was it enabling.... yeah probably but I would have done the same for my daughter.


Active Member
Nope you helped him out. The reason I say this is because I had a lengthy conversation with the addictions counsellor at my son's clinic yesterday discussing this very thing. She is a remarkable and dedicated woman who my son, his friend and myself feel a connection with. As a former addict herself she made it very clear that I was doing whatever it took to HELP my son and his friend get on the right track but I should not feel guilty that I was enabling because she assured me I was not. I think it's the same in your case.

I think sometimes we are so afraid of falling into the enabling mode we forget we would help our children out if they weren't addicts. Yes, no doubt we have to be very careful not to take on too much of their responsibilities but we can cut them a break. Your son has done well these past couple weeks that it would be a shame for him to have a setback so I think you did the right thing in my opinion.


Well-Known Member
This is a beautiful thread.

I am seeing several different threads of thought and each of them is helpful to me.

Our own magical thinking:
I think we get fooled sometimes by this idea that if we just dont enable them, if we just dont help them, if we kick them out etc etc. then they will get into recovery and get better.
We continue to think there must be something that we can do. We have just turned the coin over but it is the same coin.

Our love for them, and manifesting it, just because, without the idea of control:
I am learning I just need to stay out of his recovery process.....that really is his process. My role is to just keep letting him know he is loved and cared about.
hat showing love and emotional support is always ok, but I can’t rescue or direct or enable.
but rather always letting the addict know they are loved.
The idea that we know what to do, if we stay located in ourselves. That there is an inner knowing, if we can just not flip out, and panic, and jump into them. We know this, because we lived this for so many years before:
I really think it is about looking in your own heart and doing what feels right
when I went to search for him and drop off food did I start feeling better
I took him to movies, swimming, shopping, the aquarium, the park...all the places he had not visited or had forgotten about for many many years.
How beautiful is this? Very, very.

This is crucial. Drawing a line. Quickly and firmly. (Oh, why has this been so hard for me?
Tough love is not to be confused with standing your ground if they refuse to obey rules in the house in my opinion
I am only learning this. That I am a factor in this. I always operated from this: What can I do to have an effect on him? If I do ___, ___, and ___ it may motivate (or force) him to do what I know is right. Instead, he manipulated me, and my intervention had the opposite effect than what I intended.

What you all on this thread are talking about, TL, and Nature and others, is having your center of gravity in YOU. How is this behavior, this chaos, this environment, this relationship affecting me, and what do I need to turn this around? For me.

And this may or may not have a positive effect for our child, but that is not the primary consideration, or really, a consideration at all.

It is like the support and the love come from a different place than the limit setting. OK. I see the fallacy of that. They come from the same place, inside of us, but they are independent of a result. They are unconditional. They are not tied to results we seek to get from them.

And what you are saying, as I read your comments, is that by staying in yourself, feeling your sense of self, having the weight and power in you, being directed by your own well-being, your own love, your own values and power, you are free to love. And that your love is good. Can never be bad. Can never be enabling. No matter what anybody says.

I love this thread.


Active Member
If I can be honest here I think when they are new in recovery they need a lot of help as their previously drug fogged minds are slowly emerging back to the real world of responsibilities we all have. This can be overwhelming at times so helping them at first with apartment hunting, furniture, grocery shopping...ect can be so overwhelming that they may need assistance.
At my job - working with Inner City Youth I can usually spot the ones that are freshly out of rehab or on probation and attending school is a requirement. With those youths I slowly build up a relationship with them - I do cut them breaks and allow them to go for a walk with me in the neighbourhood, I may purchase snacks for them, I understand they are "ansy" and sitting for hours in a classroom for the first few weeks is really difficult so I do everything in my power to keep them coming back for fear of losing them back to the streets forever.

So yes, I coddle them and overlook a lot of behaviours I wouldn't otherwise from students attending our school for a long time. I then slowly back away and allow them to become more independent when I see they are getting into a familiar routine. I think it's the same thing with our own but then slowly back away allowing more responsibility when you are confident their mindset is becoming more focused and aware of the real world. Sadly, it doesn't work for all and some will be manipulative but overall for the ones that are really trying having someone who has their back can make the world of difference. Your son appears to be trying and for that I think you should be proud.