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enabler or helper?

Old 07-08-2010, 09:12 PM
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enabler or helper?

Hello all. I need help. I have a 38 year old son, who I think is ADD, and has had trouble his whole life, with getting jobs, keeping them, and also he abuses alcohol , when he has money, and takes pills , if they are the right kind. He has trouble with his left sinus cavity, which we dont know what is going on there, but it has been driving him crazy for years, and he has never had health insurance, due to losing jobs.

He does not admit to needing help, except maybe something for his anxiety or stress. I have taken him to two psychiatrists. one said bipolar 2, the other , today, said she did not see anything that she would treat. he did not let me sit in on the one today, and i am sure he was not honest. He made himself look great- but it backfires, since now we should hold him quite accountable.

He lived with me, off and on, and i tried to help him, but he would not look for jobs (thinks calling is the sensible way to find one) and blames the economy. He blames me, saying I just have a problem with alcohol, since my parents were both a's. Justin drank excessively, vodka, at my home, and finally, I had to move away, not taking him with me. He stayed at my sisters and a friends, and ended up homeless, due to drinking , when he promised not to. He would drink 24 hrs a day, if he had it.

My sis and I took him to a shelter, in hopes that it would wake him up. He called me each day, and made me feel pretty miserable. sad, guilty that i had a bed to call mine, etc. one of his friends finally came to get him, and he stayed there, for months, not finding work, and giving up . he took money out of his friends girlfriends purse, 5 $ and acted like that was not a big deal, that he would do it for them, if he had it. He walked around , picking up cigs on the ground to smoke. my heart breaks to remember it all.
I finally wondered if he had some mental condition, that made him drink, to ease his discomfort. he can go for a long while without it, and does not seem to have withdrawals. but if he is able , he will get beer, and drink to have fun. he does not seem to be able to have fun without it, as far as his computer friends, and comp. games go.
He is a genious at computer, and he can talk for hours about space, and so many things that I cannot imagine even remembering. but he cannot find a job.
I feel he is insecure, since we have always rescued him when he got in trouble. so have his friends. he is 38, and has never had his own place, not one that he paid for anyway.
I know that i have to let him hit bottom, but I think he needs help. I am not sure if it is right to let someone become homeless when they may have a mental condition. he does not fit bipolar 2, but does fit a.d.d.

He will argue forever, about anything that i think he may be doing wrong. you cannot tell him ANYTHING- he has an excuse for everything.
I am wondering, if this doctor today thinks he has no problem, how can I get him checked for A.D.D.?

He has a good heart, and tender toward those in need. except for me- he blames me for his being stressed. I am sure that we push each others buittons.
His father is dominated by his wife, and she makes it easy for him to get off the hook. always has. my son is so much like his dad , selfish, and doing what he wants, only. no time for family, boring- and a know it all.

This could be a much longer post, but i do not have much energy toinght. I just need to learn what I can do, to help my son have a real life. He is so trapped, due to his thinking. I can;t make him do anything. I try to approach the subject of jobs, and he gets really aggravated, and argumentative. H e does not even have a system of trying to find work. He does not even seem to be able to think about what he should be doing.

any ideas, are greatly appreciated. I know I have been doing all the wrong things. but I love my children, so much. it is hard to actually see that i am not loving him as much as I should, or I'd let him fall on his a--, but it is a foreign concept, to be a mom, and turn your back on them. even tho it may be the only thing that works.

thanks again.
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:13 AM
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Enabler.

He is 38 years old.
He is an adult.

You think he is A.D.D.
You think he may be bi-polar.
These are not confirmed.
These are excuses for irresponsible behavior and bad choices.

Look at the things you do know:

Taking him from doctor to doctor hasn't healed him.
Taking care of him by providing support of any kind is not helping him get better.

He might finally choose recovery when he has no more options.
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:57 AM
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Pelican,
Thank you-
I appreciate the help.
I see what you are saying is very true.
I am so glad that I found this site.
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:02 AM
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A social worker once told me never put more effort into helping someone than they are putting into helping themselves. It's how she kept her sanity being a social worker. I find it to be a great definition of the line between helping and enabling.

L
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:07 AM
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Welcome to SR, here you will find a lot of people that are/have been in your shoes. Here's a good sticky from the "best of" section I like to share with newcomers. I followed each suggestion as if my sanity depended on it. I hope it helps you as much as it did me. Keep posting!

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...ml#post2051022
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:08 AM
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Pleased to meet you!

I am a recovering alcoholic.
I am a recovering co-dependent.
I am a recovering (ex)spouse of an alcoholic.
I am a parent with an adult daughter that drinks.

I had to start taking better care of myself and my one precious life.
I had to let my loved ones take responsibility for their lives.

The tools I am using for my recovery journey are:

12 step support (open AA meetings, Alanon)
self-help books (Codependent No More, You Can Heal Your Life, Under the Influence, and others)
SR forum
Some counseling through a social worker friend.

How can we help you in your recovery?
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:11 AM
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Chicory, the following was a huge help to me when I was dealing with my daughter's struggles. I printed it out and put one up at work and one at home and re-read it often. I hope it can bring you some comfort.

LETTING GO TAKES LOVE

To let go does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can't do it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off,
it's the realization I can't control another.
To let go is not to enable,
but allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means
the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
it's to make the most of myself.
To let go is not to care for,
but to care about.
To let go is not to fix,
but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their destinies.
To let go is not to be protective,
it's to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny,
but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to fear less and love more
and
To let go and to let God, is to find peace !
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:14 AM
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Hijack Alert!

Suki, thank you for that post!

Do you know who the author is?
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:16 AM
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Sorry, I don't, Pelican. I've seen it in several places and it always says "author unknown."
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:21 AM
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Thank you all for your help, the beautiful "letting go" post, and your support and offers of help- I feel less powerless today because of it.
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:22 AM
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Hi Chicory. I hope you are taking good care of yourself. It sounds like you have quite a bit of stress from dealing with your son. I also was in this kind of situation with my brother. My entire family was in this situation with my brother. We all tried the best we could to "help" him, for YEARS, but NONE of it did any good. I cannot tell you how much time, money and other resources we all spent trying to help him. In the end, we discovered, we were just enabling him.

I know you already realize that your son is a grown man. Please bear this in mind. I know you feel responsible for him but honestly, by continuing to enable him, you are not allowing him to grow and learn on his own. Also, I also have A.D.D. and I will tell you that yes, it makes life difficult but it is no excuse for being irresponsible about your own life. I am a VERY responsible person and I have A.D.D. so he cannot use that as an excuse.

It is VERY common for people with A.D.D. to also be diagnosed BiPolar. Some experts will argue that they truly have BOTH diseases but others argue that the symptoms of A.D.D. merely mimic BiPolar. Either way, you should know, that until and unless HE decides to do something about his issues, you are only going to drive yourself crazy and further exhaust yourself.

I did. I drove myself crazy trying to fix my brother, trying to make up for his "inabilities," make right his wrongs, care for the family HE should have been caring for, etc. After a certain point, when I realized that if I went one more step I would go MAD, I had to cut him off completely and let him sink or swim on his own. I did not speak to him for approximately a year and a half or two years. It was the BEST thing I could ever do for myself. I got the chaos and toxicity of him and his wife OUT of my life. I removed a HUGE burden from my life and finally was truly able to focus on me and what I NEEDED for ME 100%. It allowed me to find my peace and serenity for the first time in my life. And it gave him the opportunity to sink or swim. He sank for a while but then, by the grace of God, he began to swim. He has been clean and sober for a few years now and my entire family is grateful.

I hope something in this story is helpful to you.
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:44 AM
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Chicory,

Welcome to SR!

I am the mother of a 29 yr old son who is a drug addict. He says he has been clean for 1 year as of yesterday - we had lunch together to celebrate.

My son is funny and kind, he would give someone the shirt off his back if he thought it would help them, he is very smart (but he thinks he's dumb). I love him so much that sometimes I think it will literally break my heart, but no amount of my loving him, worrying about him, trying to "help" him, etc. will make him live the way "I think he should." You see, even tho he claims to be sober, he has no job and doesn't appear to be looking too hard for one, he has warrants out for his arrest, but hasn't turned himself in to resolve the problems, doesn't have a sponsor, and if I "suggest" things, he always has a reason my suggestions won't/can't/don't work for him.

I can only live my own life, I can only take care of myself, I can only change myself - I attend NarAnon and AlAnon each week, I do alot of reading here and a bit of posting. I'm (hopefully) on a road to a better me with my HP's help will not only survive, but will THRIVE!!

Take care of yourself.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:43 AM
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If he made himself look great to a psychiatrist, he has the ability to do just about anything for himself. Odds are the psychiatrist said there was nothing to treat because he didn't believe he had any issues.

I have a sister who will be 48 years old in a few days. No addictions to speak of, but almost an entire life of chaos. Her 4th marriage just fell apart and she lives overseas. She's always looked for someone to rescue her and always found someone willing, but refuses to look at herself for answers. Why would she when she always finds enablers? It is my hope that being stranded in a foreign land will finally bring about that moment of clarity. Unless my mother rescues her again.
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:42 PM
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Wow-you and I have similar siblings, it sounds like. I cut off all 3 of my sisters. When I think about it, it astounds me. I can't even believe I came from this family. My 3 sisters have all screwed up their lives with their bad choices, then ran to my brother and my dad for money.

I can't have them in my lives anymore. One of my sisters is actualyl dangerous because she's delusional, and she gets ideas in her head w/out any evidence or proof, and acts on them. Her own daughter won't talk to her anymore because she got it in her head that my niece and her bf were abusing their daughter. With NO evidence, she was gonna call Social Services on them. It's insane..

OP, as for your son, my ex has a whole host of problems:

1) he was adopted
2) he was diagnosed ADD and schizo-affective
3) he was sent to boarding school as a teenager because he was labeled a "problem child" and has a chip on his shoulder about this.
4) he has serious anger management issues, and his anger comes out like a volcano when he's drinkign sometimes

I acknowledge all of these as reasons why he has a drinking problem, but this does not mean, I can allow myself to be disrespected, emotionally or verbally abused, have my boundaries stomped on, etc....all the things alcoholics do to codependents.

Those things may be explanations for why my ex acts the way he does, but they are NOT excuses. There are any number of people with those same problems who have turned their lives around in a positive direction. My ex refuses to take steps to do so, but to bury himself in psycho-babble and excuses. I had no choice but to walk and end my own enabling behavior.


Originally Posted by Chino View Post
If he made himself look great to a psychiatrist, he has the ability to do just about anything for himself. Odds are the psychiatrist said there was nothing to treat because he didn't believe he had any issues.

I have a sister who will be 48 years old in a few days. No addictions to speak of, but almost an entire life of chaos. Her 4th marriage just fell apart and she lives overseas. She's always looked for someone to rescue her and always found someone willing, but refuses to look at herself for answers. Why would she when she always finds enablers? It is my hope that being stranded in a foreign land will finally bring about that moment of clarity. Unless my mother rescues her again.
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:46 PM
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Hi Chicory, and welcome to SR!

I have a 32 year old AD who has managed to survive quite nicely over the years without my help.

She hasn't had a job since she was 18. She has some diagnosed mental health issues, and uses those as an excuse to not work.

She is a very clever girl, and never without resources.

I myself am a long-term recovering alcoholic/addict, with mental health issues of my own, and physical disabilities.

That hasn't precluded me working until about 3 years ago when my back could no longer handle the heavier manual labor jobs that are about the only available thing in a small town.

I'm enrolled in college now, and will complete 2 degrees after fall semester. I chose a profession that would be adaptable to my physical disabilities.

Hopefully after a few years in the field, I will be able to do medical coding from home. That is my goal.

I address my alcoholism through AA. I address my mental health issues through professionals in the mental health field.

Recovery is possible, but a person has to want it, and work for it.

Allow your son the dignity to make his own choices, no matter how poor they may seem in your eyes.

I do the same for both of my daughters. I sleep well at night knowing I have placed them in God's loving hands.
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:09 PM
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Dear Pelican,

I can't say that taking him to the doctor was a waste of time. I took him, to find out if he has a mental disease. He did not even realize that it was a psychiatrist.
So, since one said bipolar2, and the next said, nothing wrong, I am wondering.
If I knew that he was capable of helping his self, I would be very happy, but I am not sure. the homeless shelters are full of mentally ill people who cannot help themselves . Mentally ill folks are arrested every day, who have no one to help them. they just get arrested, fined, cannot pay, have a warrant filed, get arrested again- so on and so on.

I decided to find out, if I could, whether he has a mental illness, and if so, to get him help.
I am not sure whether he is not delusional, sometimes, about his situation. He gets ideas that no one can talk him out of, about the economy ,about whether he is trying hard or not, about why his sisters wont help him more. a lot of it is manipulation, i think, but sometimes, i see something that really makes me ill with worry.

When I took him back into my home, he was such an anxious mess- his nerves were shot, he was so thin, not eating, and I did not see where else he could go. He was so grateful, but as time has gone on, he is more and more frustrated. He seems to be more afraid to get out there, as time passes. He has no confidence.

I just feel there is something more here, than an addiction or just lazy and irresponsible. there is something else. He has not sold my things, to drink. He has physical problems, something in his face which is causing him great irritation. a dental xray showed something in the sinus area, and I have an appt with a university hospital soon, to see what it is. He cant do this his self, with no car, no license, no money. He has had this problem for about 10 years, with no help. I worry that it may be a tumor, or polyps, and hope that help for it will make him feel better anyway, as I let go in the ways that i feel i should.

I do appreciate your opinion, but I think that it is important that people get help for mental issues, and they dont do it in shelters- he was in one, and bless them, they have all they can do to feed, and shelter the ones who have need. they have psycologists, to talk to, but the only one here was a Christian one, and there were some strange folks running things - not all but some. My son is not the kind to profess faith, just cause it gets him brownie points, and he did not wish to p[romise to snitch on his fellow shelter mates, in order to have priveledges (staying in the shelter all day, and having three meals, instead of being out at 7am, on the streets, until 8 at night) he did appreciate the people for the most part, and i felt that he did benefit from it, tho when his friend came to get him out , i worried that it would delay his hitting bottom, and it did, I am sure.
I began to see the physical side of something going on, and vowed to help him. he has never been the kind to ask for anything. he never asked to come here, never asked me for cig. money, never asked for anything. i have been the one to offer it.
I was very poor as a child, and the child of two alcoholics, and knew how it feels to have nothing,and to be afraid. I pray for each person i see who is in need, each homeless person breaks my heart. I cannot stand the injustice of the homeless being over looked in this country. many are there by choice, but not all.
so, I am here to learn, and as I said, its gonna be hard.
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:31 PM
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In my mind, part of the problem is that addiction often causes or mimics the symptoms of mental illness. And, in fact, I consider addiction to BE a mental illness, more so than a physical disease. But, that's just my opinion and many disagree.

Anyway, there's really no way to know if he is bi-polar, ADD, or a host of any other things unless and until the addiction is dealt with.

There are threads on this board all the time started by people wondering if their loved ones are bi-polar, narcissistic, depressed, etc. Just recently there was one discussing passive-aggressiveness.

But, first and foremost, the problem is alcoholism or addiction. No one can even touch those other problems while the addiction is active. That's also why most reputable marriage counselors will refuse to take a couple into therapy while one is active in their addiction.

The unfortunate truth is unless and until he is willing to get a handle on the alcoholism, treating him for other 'disorders' will fail.

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Old 07-09-2010, 07:15 PM
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I certainly see your point. The situation here is that my son is not drinking, unless he has a few bucks, and then he just gets a couple of beers. He could spend it on vodka, like he used to at my home, and drink all day. so far, he has not done that. he has gone without a beer for a month at a time, and no shakes, no strange behaviour, except to wish he had a beer. he has anxiety, and has always been high strung and a floor pacer. many people in my family have a few beers, some probably have a few daily, and that does not make them alcoholic.
I do, however, think he would drink more and more, and the hard stuff again, if he does not get help. How can you treat someone who is not drinking , for a drinking problem? I would love to see him go to counseling ,I feel he needs help for a mental condition, and for the tendency to medicate his anxiety.

this is a messy area, i think. if someone is bipolar, they need medication, or some treatment, right? many drink because of the discomfort of being bipolar, and to treat them for alcoholism first , well, I am not sure how that would work.
I used to be convinced that he was just a lazy selfish alcoholic, but not anymore. I know there is something else, that has been there, for most of his life- non-drinking years, too.
I am not saying that he has not abused alcohol, or pills like codeine. but that is not what started his misery. the underlying problem , and I am almost 100% sure there is one. I am not trying to make excuses- sometimes there are valid arguments to be made. not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. I know alcoholics- mom and dad were both dead before they reached 65.
My son could easily be one, and maybe he is. but i feel that there is something that will make his life miserable, if he never touches another drop.
perhaps I should post my comments on another place. I am feeling that i am coming across as difficult or in denial. I do not wish to offend anyone, either. If someone had cancer, and drank to ease the pain, would you call that alcoholism?
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:32 PM
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I did not have a drinking problem. I had a thinking problem.

The drinking was what allowed me to live within my own skin.

The drinking kept me from blowing my brains out for many years.

I was never a daily drinker. My tolerance for alcohol was very low, so I didn't drink large amounts when I binged.

I didn't go through withdrawals/shakes/etc when I first got clean/sober.

My disease is threefold--physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual.

I have had to address all three areas in order to maintain long-term recovery.

At the end of the day, we each have to do what we have to do, and look at ourselves in the mirror.

You are the only one who knows what you can live with.

All we can do here is share our own experience, strength, and hope.
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:42 PM
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Again, I understand how you are feeling. My daughter never drank, didn't abuse her medications or anything like that. I knew she had, and still has, some issues that caused problems for her. Yes, she was lazy and yes, she was afraid of almost everything, had horrible anxiety, OCD (still has a bit of that) and other things that just made it more difficult for her than most other people. But "normal" people don't attempt suicide five times. Maybe she just grew out of a lot of it since it all happened in her teenage years. It sounds like your son has some of the same issues my daughter had. The thing is, he is 38 years old now and has had many years of being in that rut. He knows no other way than having you to pick up the pieces and take care of him. If you are convinced that he has mental health issues, then by all means, take him to another doctor and yes, take him to the university hospital to see if part of it could be physical. Hopefully, they will find something that can be treated and maybe some of his problems will diminish. I truly hope so.
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