The hope I hung onto while my son was in treatment, has vanished....


New Member
My son is 20 and has been battling addiction for 7 years. He has been in a few treatment facilities. The last where, he celebrated 3 birthdays; 18, 19 & 20. This time showed so much hope. I was finally breathing a sigh of relief. Life still held lots of ups and downs but there was light at the end of the tunnel. He received intense individual and group therapy, graduated high school and finally graduated the rehabilitation program. I thought this time would be different. I thought he'd have a new respect for himself. I thought he valued family over drugs and that he'd learned enough through this past extensive residential treatment center that he'd be okay. I was wrong. He graduated from the treatment facility and quickly returned to substance abuse. He is now in custody awaiting a hearing for a B&E which he claims is because he 'got into some bad drugs' and they made him do things he wouldn't normally do. I have heard this story so many times. Blame, blame, blame, anyone but himself. He lies to get whatever he wants and has no qualms about doing so. However, he's my son and I love him to pieces. I love him. I loathe his choices and behaviors. I really thought 2+ years of extensive therapy would change his thought patterns. I and other family spent his early teen years bailing him out of jail, finding suitable treatment, paying exorbitant fees for his treatment. It was made very clear to him that we were done helping him unless he helped himself. I am feeling so lost now. I feel like a death has occurred but there is no body to bury. The grief is so heavy I cannot sleep, I cannot eat and I'm terrified for my son and what he has brought to himself. I know I did not cause this, I cannot change it nor can I cure him. I just wish he could gather the courage and strength to change.


Well-Known Member
Hi MomofDespair...... our stories are very similar. My son has been in many treatment places starting when he was about 14. He is now 23. He did a couple successfully but always went back to using and he has been kicked out of several treatment or sober living places. So I totally understand your despair.

You are right you cannot change him or cure him. He needs to get to the place where he wants it for himself. I know it feels right now that that will never happen. I felt that way too.

Then my son moved out of state, seemed to be doing ok, was actually working and really liking his job but was living in a place where he was pretty isolated. We were trying to be supportive and had really backed off on trying to direct him to get treatment. We knew he was drinking a lot and worried about it. He is now 23. Well then he started talking to us a bit more honestly and told us he knew he had to stop drinking but was scared because he had tried and really got the shakes and after looking up detoxing from alcohol was scared to do it alone. We helped him get into detox.... which was all he was initially going to do! That was 2 months ago and he has stayed with their program done the residential program and is now in their step down program. The thing is after all the treatment he has been in, this time it is totally different. His attitude is totally different. He is frustrated by the guys who are not serious about recovery! I think all those times in treatment before he always did what he had to do to get through it but planned on going back to using. I dont know what the future will bring for him, or if he will stay clean but I know he is closer to it than ever before. I tell you all this to give you some hope....and although your son may go back to using he has learned something in treatment even if he doesnt know what it is yet..... and he had some clean time in those brain developing years. Hang in there and keep posting.


Well-Known Member

I am sorry your son has put himself in this position, and I am very very sorry for your grief and despair. You have come to a good place. You sound like you are familiar with 12 step programs...I wonder if you have sought support there yourself? Nar Anon can be incredibly helpful for people in your position.

You might also read the article on detachment at the top of this page. A lot of us have found it very helpful.

Of course you wish he would change. Of course you hoped this would be the right and final treatment. Of course you have done everything you could, or even more, to help him.

Here is something some one said on the forum that helped me: If all your love and support and devotion and grief could save him, he would be saved by now, many times over.

The only person who can save him is himself.

You can be healthy and whole though, you can enjoy your life and be resilient resource for others and even for him....but you have to escape drowning in his quagmire. Because the drowning hasn't helped him at all, and it has hurt you.

Start by writing a signature, so we all know a bit aobut you...are you alone in this? Do you have a partner? Other kids? Friends, family? A job? hobbies? pets? These are all things that can be helpful in learning to separate from his choices.

Others will come along. We will listen, and learn from you, and offer our love and support. It is a hard hard journey you are on. We know. We've been there. And we live to tell the tale.

Hugs to you, today, Mom,


Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Welcome MomOfDespair,

You have endured so much. I am so sorry you have had to deal with this. We all know how heartbreaking it is to watch our adult children throw their lives away.

I'm glad you are here with us now. These pages are filled with years of wisdom from warrior parents.

I'm glad that you recognize you are grieving. While it's not a physical death it's still a great loss. We have to allow ourselves to grieve the loss of the hopes and dreams we had for our adult children. We grieve for the relationship we will never have with them. Lean into your grief, feel it, accept it for what it is. The pain we feel is testimony to our love, a love that runs deep.
Grieving is a necessary process to help us move on but we also do not want to get stuck in it. Please try and find something you can do that will bring some joy to your life.
We spend so many years being consumed by our Difficult Child that we can easily lose ourselves. It is vital to take your life back.

I know I did not cause this, I cannot change it nor can I cure him
What you say here is so important, it's accepting that you have no control over your son's choices and behavior.
You only have control over yourself.

There is a good article at the top of the PE forum on detaching. Give it a read.

Keep posting. This is a great place to vent. We are here for you!

((HUGS)) for your hurting heart.............

P126 Mum

New Member
Hello Tanya M

Sorry to just drop in but just read your son was diagnosed with ODD
I'm in UK and no one here knows anything about it. I have read heaps and strongly believe my 18yr old has it. What treatment/ outcomes were offered to you and your son


one day at a time
Hi Mom of Despair, welcome to the forum.

I am so sorry about the rollercoaster you are on with your son. I understand so much the pain and intense grief and is fear that rules us in these circumstances...for him.

I was on that same rollercoaster with my son for nearly six years. Today, in the past 1.5 years (almost), there has been a change.

He had multiple rehabs, jail terms, periods of homelessness. Nothing changed that I could see, any of those times. I think he had to come to it all in his own time, through who-knows-what, before he had the purpose of will to work for his own life. I spent a lot of time working a lot harder for his life than he did, for years.

My son's moment of truth, it appears, came in a jail cell the night before he thought he was to be sentenced to four years in prison. By the law's standards, he should have been, but as the jails are full, often it doesn't happen. He told me later that his court-appointed attorney said, get ready, you're going in for four years.
He said he laid awake all night scared to death of that.

Well, finally, I thought, something got through to you.

Since that time, going on 16 months ago, he has made sustained progress. It has been remarkable and scary to watch. Scary because I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, and believe me, I know that it can happen and he can go backward.

I have to work on myself as much as ever, and watch myself closely, so I don't fall back into my old patterns, which were making sure he landed softly. Those days are over, for the most part, but I love him and of course, I want to help him always. I finally realized several years ago that my "help" wasn't helping; in fact, it was getting in the way of him having a chance to decide to change.

I wish I could tell you it will all stop at a certain date. I will tell you this: I personally believe there is a period of time, particularly, it seems, for some young men...that comes to a close about 25 or 26 or 27. I know there are many who keep on doing what they do long after this age.

Also, I have no statistical proof of this, just my own observational research, but the desk police officer at the county workhouse where my son was imprisoned one time (one of 8 or 9 times) had this conversation with me:

Her: How old is your son? (I was there waiting to visit him)

Me: 22

Her: Oh, you have a few more years to go...

Me: What? What do you mean? (I wasn't sure what she was talking about...)

Her: Most of them come through here the last time about 26 or 27 or so and then we don't see them again...

I thought at the time, I don't think I can hang on that long. But also, it was a beacon for me, and my son's turnaround seemed to begin shortly before he turned 25. So far.

I believe there is always hope. I also believe the rehabs are not wasted, that he heard and absorbed good thinking in there that will come around to help him later, when he really is ready. I hope and pray that is the case for you.

We're here for you, regardless. We so understand. Warm hugs this morning.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
@P126 Mum ,
My son went through quite a bit of counseling but he always rejected it. Out of all the counselors we worked with not one of them was able to help my son. I think that's just part of the ODD. My son has zero respect for anyone that has any kind of authority. My son truly believes that he is smarter than all of them.
I learned over time the more I tried to "control" my son by telling what he should be doing and how he should be living the more defiant he became with me.
I finally had to come to the realization that my son was determined to live his life on his terms. Slowly I accepted it. I will never like it but in order for me to move on with my life I had to accept it.
To be quite honest when they gave us the diagnosis of ODD I had to laugh. I already knew that my son was defiant and oppositional all the psychologist did was add the word disorder.
My son is just like his bio-father. In my sons case I truly believe it has more to do with nature than nurture. Bio-father dropped out of our lives when my son was 4 yet he turned out just like bio-father.
Oh how I wish I had a magic answer for you. I know the heartbreak and despair you feel.
I'm really sorry I don't have more to offer you.


Well-Known Member
@P126 Mum
Re: ODD... it's used here way to often, and if that is the label given, then there are no known medications or other therapies that help. Sometimes it is used as a placeholder diagnosis - recognition that something is definitely wrong, but we aren't quite sure what that is yet. Many of us have kids who ended up with far different diagnoses than we started with, and ODD is one that tends to drop off the list once other explanations for the behavior are found.

P126 Mum

New Member
Oh ladies really appreciate your replies, thank you
Tanya M, hello there, yes I believe it is nature. My husband is the most oppositional brute you could come across and after 20 yrs wondering what to say and how to handle things I only found out about ODD this year whilst trying to search why my daughter hates me so much. Once I read the 'check list' I was staggered. I seen them both. I would love to be free (long story) as I know I am his number one to off load on. He could not speak and act at work or to casual acquaintces they way he does to me. So it is a selective process. My daughter the same.

However a thought did strike me. Do we now over analyse and pamper our children. Was this around 100 yrs ago when life was harder and everyone in the family had to help just to enable them to survive. There was not room for strops and moods. They just had to get on with it then,no therapists, group talks etc just get on with it. ??


Well-Known Member
Was this around 100 yrs ago when life was harder and everyone in the family had to help just to enable them to survive.
100 years ago: you either stayed and made it work, or you left. Many left. But they did have therapists back then... they were called aunts and uncles and cousins. You had a support group around you to help keep you sane. If you didn't have that support... you definitely left.

This, of course, isn't based on first-hand experience. But I did hear it first-hand from relatives who DID live 100 years ago.


Well-Known Member
On the question of 'what did they do 100 years ago'.

I read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder a couple of years ago to my youngest. It is the story of Laura's husband Almanzo and his family when he was growing up (if anyone doesn't know).

One part stayed with me and I have pondered it.

When Almanzo is around 10yo, a man compliments him to his father. His father responds by saying something to the effect of 'many a good beginning leads to a bad end'.

He was saying that many kids who start out well don't always end up well. If I got anything out of that, it seems that they knew back then, that as hard as a parent tries, it is up to the young adult to decide for himself how to lead his life and we only have so much influence.

Maybe we just don't get that message now.


New Member
Thanks everyone. It doesn't get any easier but your words are always comforting. He has another bail hearing tomorrow at which he's hoping someone will post bail. I'm almost certain no one will and I'm thankful for that. He's going to spend some time in jail...first offense as an adult but a number of charges. He'll lose his apartment and will have to deal with that upon release. I'm scared and try to find glimmers of hope but the familiarity of the ride has been far long and its getting harder and harder to believe he'll ever change.

I realized that I've been an Al-Anon member for over 30 years. I attended in my late teens early 20s while my mom was working through her alcoholism. She achieved sobriety and lived a happy successful recovered life. I began attending meeting again when my son showed signs of alcoholism/substance abuse. I have found the meetings are not what I'm looking for and they do not help me. In fact, I feel more frustrated when I leave a meeting than I did before I went. It seems their role is to allow you to tell y our story, and they tell theirs. All good. However, I need advice, opinions and thoughts. I have lots of family and friends who listen and support me but I don't have anyone knowledgeable on a personal level to bounce ideas off of and get feedback. Al-Anon avoids that. I no longer attend their meetings hence, the reason I joined this group. I want to hear what others have gone through and what worked for them, or didn't. I want to receive advice and feedback from others regarding my situation.

I am fortunate that I have a therapist who worked with my son while he was in treatment and, is now willing to help me with this I also have a connection with my son's PO from when he was involved with the juvenile system. So yes, there are positive things I can focus on. I also have my faith which has helped me through a lot. I don't attend church regularly but I still believe there's power in prayer. Its comforting to 'talk' to my parents (who've passed). Weird, know but it helps me and that's all I care about.

If anyone has anything further to add that might give me hope, please feel free to say so.

The uphill battle continues.......I just hope my son realizes all I have done and do for him. I miss my boy.


Well-Known Member
Mom the best support I found was parents from a local rehab center who formed a small family support group. We talked and cried and laughed and grew to love and support each other. The group grew by word of mouth into a very large group, sad that there are so many of us. Another group I found helpful was families anonymous. I do agree that it was not helpful for me to just listen to stories and come out wondering what I do with all that pain.

I am sorry you are feeling so hopeless right now. I remember that dark time in my life. I can tell you though that I have learned there is still life out there and somehow we learn to find joy in what we can control in our lives. I hope you find some of that.

P126 Mum

New Member
Hi MomOfDespair

I'm so sorry for your agony. I can only offer a little train of hope.
I'm not going all preachy. But I really do get so much from faith. Ever heard of Joyce Meyer. Being in their U.S. You must have.
Well if you know her story it's very moving. Today her magazine arrived and her grandson also lived a cahotic life. If you can click online and read it, you may be encouraged. It is a story that has the ending we all want. However the inbetween time when you never know what's coming next and when is it all going to end is something very relatable

I hope you can draw on that, hope it's helps. It has me helped a lot today


New Member
To P126 Mum, I know Joyce Meyer. Many of her books have been recommended to me by a co-worker (we are in Canada, by the way). My co-worker has been a guest of Ms. Meyer on occasion so she is very familiar to me. I am not a regular church attendee but I do believe in the power of prayer. Thanks for your note, I appreciate it.

To Nancy, I am fortunate to have a great support group with the parents of my son's peers from his time in rehab. Thank you for your thoughtful note and know that I appreciate any suggestions or comments.

My son has had an addiction problem since he was 13. He has been in therapy and rehab a number of times. The last time was for 26 months. Part of this program was the requirement that parents and family be immersed in the therapy as well. Through this, I met many parents of addicted kids. I have made and kept strong ties with these people and the kids, most of whom are approaching 20 or in their 20s now. All of whom have been greatly supportive. So I do have that however, most of the kids are success stories. They've got their addictions under control and are moving on to positive avenues as they enter their adult lives. I am the lone outsider. I have their support and I feel comfortable talking to them but they truly don't know what it's like to put all your hopes and dreams into a rehab program for 2+ years only to have it all come crashing down at your feet. All the hard work. All the time and money spent. All the struggles and uphill battles, fought and won but for what? A strong transition ceremony, congratulations on a job well done, time to move on.....and within a week, my son was back to using....He said, this time was going to be different. This time he had it under control. This time he was using 'recreationally'. I KNOW this is the story of an addict. I braced for the fall, hoping some of the lessons he'd learned over the past 2 years would come into play. Hoping he'd reach into that tool box and find the tool of repair. NO, he didn't. He was hooked and sought cheaper and stronger drugs. They sucked him in and he lost all control. This happened in less than 2 months. He chose not to follow the advice of his therapist, his peers, his family. He chose to gamble, and he lost.

It makes me so angry that he gambled with my life too. I worked hard to become a strong supportive mom. I worked hard to re-build our relationship and he threw it all away. Crushed my heart in the process and left me to begin again. He's done this so many times. I have learned that I can love him but loathe his actions. I have learned that I need to love but detach. I'm working on this.

I now struggle to pick myself up, tell myself it's his life, not mine and try to be there for my girls. I do not know how a family with younger children can manage if they have to go through something like this. My girls are in their 20s and don't need me like children would. I am not sure I could manage that.

I don't know how this is all going to play out. Whether or not my son will be moved to a prison closer to me once he is sentenced. He's currently being held in one of the larger facilities in Canada but may have opportunity to be relocated after sentencing. For now, that's all I can hope for. No matter where he is, Provincial prisons only allow closed visiting (Federal ones allow open), so I will not get to hug or even touch his hand if I do go visit. This hurts.

P126 Mum

New Member
Oh my goodness MomOfDespair

I am so sorry. Your pain and torment is so tangible. You have been such a truly amazing lady to walk by his side and give so much love and support. I'm at a loss what to say. My own situation seems so Micky Mouse in comparison ( if you ever read my post) However I do understand hopes crushed, at a loss what to do next and always hoping there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
I will say again, tune in to your say your co worker was a guest of Joyce(would love you to expand) and you are familiar with her. Get in there and find some healing for yourself
Your son like my eldest is very intelligent. They are the ones who put up the biggest fight and are hardest to reach. Faith will tell you nothing is too much for the Great I Am. So I'm standing at that point now and as I do I really feel it's not down to me to sort it out anymore but to simply stand back

I will keep you in my thoughts and wish you the very best x