What To Do? Advice?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by HeadSpinning, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. HeadSpinning

    HeadSpinning New Member

    I have a 23-year-old stepson. His Mom and I are at our wits end due to a drug problem that's been festering for a long time. Here's a brief (?) synopsis.

    He was a model kid when he was in high school. Star basketball player, straight-A student. Then he went to college. While there, he started spending money hand over fist. When he came home with some horrid grades after his first year, his Mom found some pictures on his cell phone that basically showed he was involved in the abuse of painkillers and downers. He was told that he'd be taking a year off school to get his life back on track, at which point, he flipped out. All hell broke loose. His mother ended up with a black eye (literally, not figuratively) and he was sent to his grandmother's house for a two week cooling off period, during which time he was also to get back onto his bi-polar medicine. We also took his car, on the advice of his doctor, because we thought he was out of control.

    After a week and a half, he decided that the grass was greener at Grandma's and that he was going to move in with her permanently. His grandmother, along with his grandfather and step-grandmother (his mom's mother, father, and stepmother) decided to buy him another car without our knowing. We remained estranged for about two and a half years until this past April, when he called from school and asked for addiction help.

    We took him to a hospital for detox. During the ride, he explained to us that he was addicted to some heavy painkillers, including those used to treat cancer patients, and was selling drugs out of his grandmother's home to support his own habit. We confirmed with the local police, many of whom are friends of mine, that he was under investigation and that we should stay clear of him. He also explained that he dropped out of school because his grandparents wouldn't sign a loan for his final year (imagine that they were $40K in debt and weren't going to sign on for another $20 for a drug addicted kid!). After release from detox, he decided that he didn't need meetings or any follow-up help. Of course, before long, he's back on drugs heavy, along with his girlfriend, and between the two, they've managed to total three cars because of drugs. Her parents keep buying her new ones.

    This past June, he robbed a pizza store. In July, he robbed the same one again. He's been arrested and charged with two counts of burglary, among other things. He's also done things that he hasn't been caught for that are too numerous to list. On the advice of the local police, he went to the hospital for detox and, as of yesterday, he's been transferred to a long-term rehab facility, where he'll spend the next 3-4 months being counseled on how to remove his head from his rectum. Upon completion, he'll return to face his charges, which will probably end up in a probation sentence.

    Here's our dilemma. None of his grandparents think they did anything but help him and none are willing to engage in the family counseling afforded as part of his rehab stint. His grandmother thinks he can handle using drugs recreationally and his grandfather/step-grandmother have a 50-year-old drug addict living with them - her son - who is a complete waste of space.

    An indicator of how bad his mindset is: the same day he went to the hospital, his distant cousin died after being in a dug abuse-induced coma for eight months. Our son's response: "you have to know what you're doing if you're going to mix drugs like that."

    When he's out of rehab, moving back with us is not an option as we have a 12-year-old daughter that we cannot allow to be anymore involved in the life of a drug addict that she's already been. We're basically on an island here. If he moves back with us, there's legitimate reason to believe he'll get violent with his mother and sister, and I travel frequently for work. If he moves in with any of his grandparents, he'll be back to square one within months, if that. He's getting out of rehab with two felony charges against him, so it's not like finding a job is going to be a quick and easy thing for him.

    What can we, as his parents, do to help keep the kid on track once he gets out of rehab, assuming he's on track in the first place? Other than give him advice and threaten to remove ourselves from the situation, thereby eliminating the only support system he has, what can we do?

    I'm open to any and all suggestions.
  2. keista

    keista New Member

    Welcome to the board!

    I say help him find appropriate living arrangements - halfway house, sober living, low income housing. If he's a willing participant in his rehab, you might even consider subsidizing his expenses for a month or two so he can get on his feet.

    Going to either of the grandparents homes should be out of the question, and IF he's REALLY on the right track, he should be able to acknowledge that himself and want to be in a different environment.

    That's just my 2 cents. Others with more experience in this are will by by to add theirs.

    Welcome again to the board. You've found a great place for support, insights and guidance.
  3. HeadSpinning

    HeadSpinning New Member


    Thanks for the reply. We were thinking of doing the same thing, but ever since the drug situation has taken hold, he's been the kind of person who would always choose to do things the easy way. In other words, if he had the choice of taking a hand out or working for something, he'd take the handout. If he had the choice of listening to what he wanted to hear (from his grandparents) versus listening to what he didn't want to hear (from his Mom and me), he's always go with the friendly story.

    I guess it's case where I'm almost expecting him to fail. I'm expecting him to say all the right things coming out of rehab, but the real story will be told in the weeks and months that follow. Assuming he isn't willing to go to the halfway house or, in general, do the right thing, what do we do? Is it ever appropriate to turn your back on this kid? At 23 years old, there's only so much we, as his parents, can control. We don't want to do this by any stretch. But I have a hard time trying to help someone who won't help himself.
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    If you kick him to the curb, you're not turning your back on him, you are just refusing to enable his bad choices. And yes, at 23 that MUST be done.

    You mentioned that he takes medications for bipolar. Was that diagnosed before or after the drug issues began? Was he ever 'stable' on his medicine? Not that it really matters to the ultimate course of action, but should not be forgotten/neglected issues during rehab and stabilization afterwards. Essentially what he's doing is forgoing the real medicine that could help (it is possible that he didn't have the right medication mix) and medicating himself with drugs that only temporarily make him feel better.

    You cannot stop the grands from enabling him. They have to decide to stop on their own. That is the saddest part in this situation because as long as he has an 'easy way out' and ppl willing to enable him, recovery will be truly difficult.

    Last night I watched my first episode of "Intervention" on A&E. Ironically it was a similar situation to yours where the parents were 'done' but the grandparents continued to enable. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it's that 'old fashioned" type of thinking that makes grandparents classic enablers.

    I pray for strength for you and your wife as you deal with this situation.
  5. HeadSpinning

    HeadSpinning New Member

    As far as whether or not he was stable on his medications, who knows? He was diagnosed at age 17 and seemed to be fine, though he didn't seem to be all that wrong in the first place. Frankly, I'm not a big believer in the copious amounts of disorders that are present in 2011, but weren't present 30 years ago. I believe that a much larger contributor to the way kids are today is the fact that they have no fear on consequence. When I was a kid, if I acted up, I got my butt whooped. Same for every kid I knew. So many kids that are now diagnosed with various disorders and put on medications were righted by an occasional butt whopping years ago.

    But that's neither here nor there. I can tell you that there was never a hand raised against this child until the day he blackened his mother's eye at 19 years old. I can also tell you that he never had a fear of consequence, not that he ever really needed it. Again, he was a good kid until he went off to college.

    I don't believe he ever tried to substitute recreational drugs for his prescribed medications. He always had access to his prescriptions, of course, and I think it was more the lure of the party scene that had his dabbling with pot, then Xanax, then crushing and snorting Xanax, then a myriad of other things to the point that he's now reached the stages of snorting crushed Opana pills and cutting pieces of his grandmother's Fentanyl patches and putting them on his gums.

    Maybe I'm being overly optimistic/idealistic when I think that if we could just seclude him from his grandparents, that he could come out of this. His grandparents are the epitome of enablers and apologists and there's absolutely no question that they're doing so much harm to the kid. We can't force them to attend the family counseling sessions at his rehab facility, which is a dual treatment facility that will treat both his addictions and his bi-polar, and they've made it clear they won't attend. But, no doubt, they'll welcome him home with their arms and wallets open.

    We can't control what they do, but we hope to have some influence on what he does. We've made it clear, and I'm sure this will be reinforced in treatment, that he's going to have to make some very tough choices in order to maintain sobriety. But with a girlfriend who's just a big a user as he is and with three grandparents who will enable him to the nth degree, what's the chance that he'll really do what's right? I'm thinking he's up against an unwinnable fight here and it breaks my heart.

    Is anyone here aware of any legal recourses to keep the grandparents from enabling him? If we make life difficult enough on them, or at least make interfering in his well-being difficult for them, they'll back off quickly. Part of me wishes we could have him here at home for a short time after rehab, but there's no telling what he's going to be like or what effect this will have on our 12-year-old daughter. That's too big a risk, in our opinion. It's like we have to live the life of a drug addict even though the only drugs we take are the occasional Tylenol or Advil for headaches!
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Reading your story it reminded me of our 24 year old easy child/difficult child. Like your son he was a total delight, a gifted student and even more a gifted athlete. Due to alcohol and drugs he didn't graduate from high school and made really sorry choices. He still lives at home because he fell three stories off a balcony and luckily survived brain surgery. No, he still has not "hit bottom". Due to the effects of the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and because he has never shown disrespect toward us (one exception in his teens) he lives with us.

    In your situation I would suggest that you be prepared to make the ultimatum "half way house" or you hit the road. If he comes home or goes to the grandparents he will be in the same environment and around the same friends. His chances of staying sober, in my humble opinion, or close to zip. You can't control the other people. You can't choose sober living for him. He has to either seek organized sober support or continue on until he hits bottom. I am truly sorry you are facing this situation. It is an ugly choice to make when you had such dreams for his future...but it is his future and he has to own it. Hugs. DDD
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have a daughter who abused drugs from age 12-19. It wasn't fun.

    You have two big problems:
    i/You can't force him to live away from his grandparents. He's over 18 and can live where he likes.
    2/No addict quits until he wants to, no matter what anyone does to beg, encourage or help him.

    My daughter didn't listen to anything we said. She had to get scared and be highly motivated to quit. Then she just did it...no rehab, nothing. We would have helped her, but she did it herself. However, we made it clear she could not live with us when she was using, and she left. And shortly after that, she quit. She had no car, no cell phone, no job...she moved in with her straight brother and had to follow his rules or be homeless. She got a job and walked to work, cried about being lonely a lot, but she did it. Now she is finishing college and bought her own house. In short, it is the person's own lonely journey and decision. I hope your son makes a good decision. Meanwhile, Al-Anon and Narc-Anon meeting offer great support for we parents. I highly recommend going, even if you just sit there and listen and don't speak.

    Hugs and keep us posted.
  8. HeadSpinning

    HeadSpinning New Member

    DDD and MidwestMom, I'm sorry that the two of you have had to deal with these issues. Thanks for making some great points. We can't really help our son until he wants to help himself. My wife and I will be traveling to see him in a couple of weeks at his long-term rehab facility, which will include a day of counseling before we spend any time with him the following day. He called ome yesterday and did so with his counselor sitting by his side on speakerphone. This place doesn't mess around. Seems that they're taking the right approach - that it's all up to him to decide whether or not he wants to get it together or throw the rest of his life away. I agree with that 100%. What's the old saying - you can lead a horse to water?
  9. HeadSpinning

    HeadSpinning New Member

    Okay, so I've been reading through many of the threads here and have found quite a bit of information. Thanks to everyone who posts here!

    Our current dilemma is what to do with this kid when he gets out of rehab. He's going to have to face the robbery/burglary charges listed earlier, but the expectation from the arresting officer is that he'll get probation with mandatory drug testing. That's a good thing. But once he's out of rehab, he doesn't have many options. It's not in his best interest to have him with either of his enabling grandparents. He has no rules with either of them and it's inevitable that he'll be using again. I'm fearful that, if he goes to some halfway house or transitional housing, he'll be there with a bunch of recovering abusers and will end up using again himself.

    We don't want him to move back home because we're not about to have our 12-year-old daughter go through any more turmoil than she's already been through. But what other choice is there? I read in one of the other threads that if we have him come home and he starts acting up, we can call law enforcement or his PO and he goes to jail. That's a comforting thought because going to jail scares the hell out of the kid. Another option, as discussed, is that he moves out on his own. However, I think this kid needs to be watched like a hawk and I don't think freedom is something that will do him any good.

    Am I just trying to be too protective of a parent for a 23-year-old? I'm reading that there are kids who are taking vitamins to beat drug tests. I doubt that our son doesn't know about that little trick as well. I sincerely want what's best for our entire family, including him. I don't want to help him at the expense of the rest of us, but I also don't want to focus on "just us" to his detriment, either.

    Any advice? Thanks in advance for reading this and helping out.
  10. keista

    keista New Member

    YES! And by 'protecting' him, you are NOT helping him make his own (hopefully good) choices. HE needs to decide where h'es going to live. HE needs to decide to keep following his programs and making good choices. HE needs to live his own life. Of course, you can counsel him, but HE must choose to follow your advice.

    You need to let him know what his options are, and HE has to choose what he will do.
  11. HeadSpinning

    HeadSpinning New Member

    keista, I agree 100% with you. In my heart of hearts, I don't think that his moving back home is going to end well. Neither does my wife/his mom. But as a parent, my job is to give him the best possible chance of living a clean and productive life. Everything I've read about substance abuse tells me that recovery is not a process that takes a couple of months. He's going to be out after about two months in rehab, maybe less. Is an addict ready to make his own choices after two months in rehab? Believe me, I'm not one to coddle my kids and I'm so in agreement with the fact that this kid needs some tough love. This tough love could come with my saying "okay, kid, you're on your own now. Make the right choices," then pat him on the back and send him on his way. Or that tough love could come with my saying "you're going to come home with a support system. You're going to be supervised and you're going to follow rules. If you can't do that, then feel free to go on your way. If you screw up when you're home, the police/your probation officer will be called and you'll be in jail." Is it too big a risk to bring him back into our house? And what's the chance he's going to end up dead if we don't bring him here? I'm all about the fact that, at 23 years old, he should be making his own choices. But I don't want to bury my kid. Should moving back home be presented as an option for him?
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im surprised this rehab isnt encouraging a sober house after discharge. That would be the ideal situation. I would actively push for that. I do not think you should allow him to come home. If he chooses to return to his grandparents, well, that is something you may not have any say so in. Well...I take that back, you may be able to tell his PO about the drug abuser living in the home and his PO may not allow him to live there. There are a ton of restrictions a PO can stick on a person. A parent can have a whole lot of influence with a PO, especially when it comes to this issue.

    However, when it all comes down to it, in the end, its his life and his decisions. Only he can make the choices to stop.
  13. keista

    keista New Member

    Only you can decide that. Know that whatever you decide, I and everyone else here will NOT judge you but support you and try to help you through.

    Has he ever been violent in your home? How many "chances" has he already had and blown? How many "chances" are you willing to go through? What kind of impact/influence does he have on your other child? These are things you must carefully consider and only then can you decide.

    The reality is, that if he's not ready, no amount of "watching" him is going to help. HE has to be willing to do his own work. If you see that in him after rehab, then by all means bring him back home and give him all the support you are capable of. on the other hand, if he gets out of rehab and immediately starts making poor decisions, then there's not much that all the parental support in the world can do.

    I have not experienced this with a child of my own, but did experience it with an adult friend. It did not make it any easier. She was sweet, and kind, and generally a good person. She didn't got to rehab but had gone to prison for 2 years for drug charges, and as I visited her, I watched her transform from the inside out. She WAS WORKING her recovery. Unfortunately, it only lasted for about 6-8 months after she got out. Very slowly, she started to backslide. It was so slow that since I was so busy I had barely noticed (maybe I didn't want to notice). Quite accidentally, I found out that not only was she using again, but she was stealing mother in law's medications and selling those to support her habit. When she came home that day, I didn't even let her in because the kids were home - my primary concern. We arranged for a time she could come get her stuff, and if she brought friends to help they were to stay on the street and not even set foot on the property. Whatever she didn't get in that amount of time - 1 hour - was gone forever. It was really hard and painful, because she was still nice and caring. My kids adored her. She cleaned my house for me. BUT none of that was worth me, or mother in law, or the kids especially, getting sucked into her addiction and everything that came along with it.
  14. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Once the child is an adult, they MUST try to support themselves.

    There is nothing wrong with helping a child - help themselves. Our society, though, has become enabling just by dint of helicopter parenting. We don't want the kid to have X consequence, so we do Y for him - and he learns nothing.

    The plethora of diagnosis's, as opposed to the past, is partially due to advances in medicine and psychology, and partially due to empowered patients/guardians. For instance, my son has mild ADHD. For him, medication was a disaster. However, biomom TOLD the doctor which medication she wanted and the dosage. (Huh?) When it didn't work, she tried another, and another, and another. And finally (2 months after this started), he came to live with us and we asked the pediatrician to help us - weaned him off Concerta and, with help, he's advancing. On the flip side of the coin, my daughter is bipolar and should be medicated. The third one tried was a wonder drug for her. But she refuses medications. The longer we go, the worse she gets. She doesn't want help. We have plans in place for her until she turns 18; if at any time she reaches out to us for HELP, not to DO IT FOR HER, we will help.

    So it's 6 of one, half dozen of another about the diagnosis's. I have a great-aunt who was diagnosis'd Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at age 71. And suddenly everyone "got" why she was "odd" all her life. Great-Grandpa was Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but they didn't call it that then. He self-medicated with alcohol and beat one of his sons to death.

    After all that... If he is truly willing to help himself, grandparents won't be an issue. If not, and he goes to them because they enable him? You have to detach. It's not easy. But you cannot do FOR...
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    They say you can't go home again. WHomever they are, they are right. Returning to your home is NOT the answer. No matter WHAT you do, you will be to blame for any problems he has - in his eyes. It will also not be good because he is going back to the role of yoru child in your home. That is NOT what he needs at age 23.

    He NEEDS a sober house. Yes, other abusers are there. Yes, there are bad ones. But there are really GOOD ones too. SOme are super strict, others not quite so. There his PEERS, others who have been through the addiction recovery process and are at various points in it, will tell him the rules, if he is messing up, if he is doing great, and whatever else he needs to know. he will learn from them in ways he will NEVER learn from you. Part because you are his parents and part because you have not been in his shoes. It will be quite a few years before you become wise in his eyes. He is still at the point where he knows everything and you know very very little. So you telling him he isn't going to enough meetings or he is hanging with the wrong people or whatever is NOT going to help him.

    The other thing is that you MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST start going to alanon/narcanon family meetings. They are in every community. It is a FAMILY disease - he did not get this out of the clear blue sky. His odds of recovery increase 30% if he has family that is getting help and working the steps and going to meetings. If you look at the family tree, you will find a LOT more than just the grands who are addicts/enablers. I know. We have gazillions of them swinging around in my family tree. It is easy to say that he needs help. Much harder to say you learned the patterns from your parents/grands/etc... and need help too. NEITHER of my parents drank more than socially after we were born. Neither are addicts/holics of any kind. But my gfgbro is an alcoholic, as was my mom's dad, and many many relatives past my parents. I read books and went to meetings for years after I learned what an Adult Child of an Alcoholic was - and it changed my life and my husband's. We were able to see problems in our son as a toddler and get the help he needed so he doesn't need to self medicate the way my gfgbro does.

    You and your wife need these meetings not only to help your difficult child, but also to increase the odds that your daughter will not go down that path. ANd so that if she does you are better able to handle it.
  16. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ask the rehab center to help find a halfway house for him to go to. They are also known as sober houses. Our difficult child was in a rehab center last summer nd when she got out she went thru their outpastient program for three months and promptly and promptly reapsed. We finally kicking her out of the house and three months later she hit bottom and tried to get back into the rehab center. Because we were out of money and she had no funds to cover it they suggested a sober house where she has been for the past five months. It has been a godsend. They keep very tight controls on them and they are required to attend meetings and therapy every day. They teach them how to live with sobriety. If it were not for them our difficult child would be living on the street. She now has a full time job and is learning how to live without alcohol and drugs.


    P.S. I didn't read susiestar's reply before I posted but I second what she said, she knows.
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Aidenjames, you totally do not understand what is being discussed when alcoholism and addiction are the topics. They are family diseases because the entire family is changed and deeply affected, unlike something like strep throat where it can be just the infected person who needs treatment. This is NOT a problem related to inbreeding or incest and that is NOT an appropriate thing to accuse someone of. It is also pretty out of line to ask about blood types. I hope you will start a thread and introduce yourself and help us to learn why you are here. We are a very close group and welcome new people openly, but we don't want them to make accusations and statements that are so far away from the truth and so hurtful to all who read them.

    If you are here because you have a troubled young person in your life and need help and support, then you are welcome and I hope we can get to know each other and understand each other more clearly. If you are just here to poke at people and don't have a clue what we are experiencing, then an apology would be nice. Having searched and read your other posts, it seems that there may be a language barrier and that could be part of the problem. If so, just tell us. We understand mistakes and misunderstandings far far far better than most people and are very welcoming and forgiving and generous.

    Just please don't accuse people of inbreeding when you don't understand the topic. Addiction makes the entire family sick, every family member needs treatment to deal with behaviors learned to cope with live with an addict (regardless of the substance, including if the addiction is alcoholism) and in fact if the family does not all get treatment it is much harder for the addict to stay clean. That is why addiction/alcoholism is a family disease. Just FYI, I have a sibling who is a recovering addict. I did get help, actually long before and during and after he got treatment. I have quite a few cousins and aunts on each side of the family - maternal and paternal - who are very into tracing the family roots. We traced at least ten generations on each side and there are NO times that my mother's side intersects with my father's side until the two of them married. So I have this family disease and can, if I so desire, PROVE that we have no inbreeding. Thought seeing that might help you understand.

    HeadSpinning, sorry to digress from your original thread. I just really thought this was out of line and you didn't deserve to have someone say that inbreeding was the reason your child has problems. It is about as true as all the docs back when who blamed autism on "refrigerator mothers" - and we all know that isn't true!
  18. MuM_of_OCD_kiddo

    MuM_of_OCD_kiddo New Member

    Do we have us a troll???
  19. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Guest

    Aidenjames was a spammer that posted a few times and then added a spammy link to his signature. All of his posts have been deleted and he is now banned from the site.

    Sorry about that.
  20. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Would you prefer that he be around "a bunch of recovering addicts in a controlled setting" or around a bunch of using addicts in an uncontrolled setting?? Sounds like that is the question. Hugs. DDD