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How to handle AS backsliding in rehab

Old 11-16-2010, 10:07 PM
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How to handle AS backsliding in rehab

Our 21 year old AS has been in rehab for the past three months for addiction to painkillers, but it's probably more accurate to say he's addicted to getting messed up, period. It's a twelve month program. The program doesn't allow tobacco use, and he got caught recently using dip, so he was put on discipline. Then last Sunday we drove two hours to attend church and visit with him in rehab. He kept jumping up and leaving the visiting area, and later he was paged to go to the office. He came out and told me that he had gotten some "spice" and smoked it while he was supposed to be doing a work detail earlier in the week. Someone told on him. He freely admitted the offense to his advisor when asked about it. The consequences - thirty days dismissal from the program. AS didn't want to come back home with us. He said he didn't think he was strong enough to resist temptation if he came home. So, he got permission to go to another facility for the thirty days. We were so angry with him. If he gets back into the program after the thirty days, he has to start over from day one. He was going to get a pass to spend Christmas with us - that's out the window now. I have been at peace ever since he entered the program. At least I know he's not using while he's in there (well, the "spice" episode disproved that). To complicate the situation, he has a one year old son with his GF, who had lived with us for a year, and we were very attached to the baby. I took care of the baby almost every day until he was nine months old. Once AS entered rehab she moved several states away to her mother's, and refuses to communicate with us. So, tangled in with the disappointment over AS's lapse in judgment is the knowledge that this means another year of having no contact with our grandson - another year of AS not taking on the responsibility of being a father to his child, who he says he misses terribly. I am so angry with him, and feel so used by him. When we dropped him off at the place he is staying for the duration of the suspension, I told him that he needs to realize that when he makes a mistake, that other people suffer the consequences, too. He didn't want to hear that. It was pretty much, "I made a mistake and I don't need to get put down for that." I know there are people here who've been through this. What is the right response? I'm angry over the hurt he continues to cause, but I can't control his choices. I can only work on myself. I feel I need to express my anger and disappointment with him, but what does it really accomplish? I don't want to make him feel worse about himself, but at the same time, I think he needs to face up to the pain he causes others when he makes poor choices. Any input on how to handle this the next time we see him?
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:16 PM
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I read some very hopeful things in your post.

He recognized that he wouldn't be able to resist temptation and elected to go to another facility for 30 days!!

You have been at peace ever since he entered the program!!!

You recognize that you can't control his choices and you can only work on yourself!


Those are all really really positive things! Recovery for the addict and for us is a process.......it's progress not perfection.

gentle hugs
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Old 11-17-2010, 05:35 AM
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I don't want to make him feel worse about himself, but at the same time, I think he needs to face up to the pain he causes others when he makes poor choices.
He knows, I promise you he knows, but the think is addiction is bigger than his good intentions. That's how addiction works.

Your post here really touched my heart, because I remember many times when my son was in rehab (he was in several over the years) hoping he would grab on to recovery and embrace it and then feeling so disappointed when he messed up and did stupid things.

I too lost grandkids when the mamas walked away, and I know how that hurts too.

The think is, I found myself living as "director" of his life, thinking I knew what was best for him and frustrated that he wouldn't listen. It was at one of my meetings back then, when someone said "How would you like someone directing your life?" and I realized that I wasn't God and that I was truly powerless over his life choices...even the bad ones.

Stepping back, letting go of the need to try and control the outcome was the only way I could get back my sanity. Thinking I had any control over his life was an illusion.

So, today I say a prayer each morning and give his care over to God. And then I live my day well, as life intended me to, and see the beauty in each one.

Keeping your boy in my prayers too, and you also. It's very hard to be the mom of an addict.

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Old 11-17-2010, 05:51 AM
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readytolearn: Your question as to whether to let him know your anger, disappointment, etc. is a good question. I would say to acknowledge all your negative feelings right now to yourself and also take them to a 12-step table to get them out in the open. The reason I am saying that is because your son's brain is still pretty out of balance and will be for a year from the time he quit using (that is, a year of being clean WITH working a recovery program).

You say that a visit from him is "out of the question" during the Christmas season. Is that your boundary or the treatment facility? If it is your boundary, I was struck by the wisdom of that on your part.

Hope some of this helps. If not, just ignore it..
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:34 AM
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I have recently been struggling with alot of the same things you have.My daughter is a herioin addict in early recovery..I wanted her to understand how much she had devastated our lives , wanted her attitude better, wanted alot of things.I struggled with what to say. Trust me if he is in a 12 step program his peers are going to call him out on how his actions effect others. My daughter actually seems to be getting the amount of destruction she has caused. Can you have very limited contact for a while?It lets cooler heads prevail and gives him a chance to miss you a littLE, while focusing on his program.
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:50 AM
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You've expressed your anger, now drop it and don't be redundant with criticism.
Relapse is part of addiction.

My son went to a one-yr. inpatient and also got kicked out. Howev
er the facility just drove him 90 min. away to the nearest big city. My son called me. While I didn't offer him any assistance to come get him, etc. I did offer compassion and understanding of the difficulty in rehabilitation. I expressed empathy and hope.

He told me several times after wards that if I had expressed anger he would not have gone back. ( He called the facility and pleaded to come back and they let him )

Coming home for X-mas is not a priority right now. If your son can get to sobriety,
comprehend what recovery is and learn how to deal with relapses, there will be many holidays to come through the yrs. If he doesn't, the consequences will be disastrous.

Controlling the obsession for painkillers is EXTREMELY tough.
Praise your son for choosing to go to the other 30-day program. He is trying is best.
He could have walked away and gone to what he knows best which is relief through
opiates. You have much to be grateful for here.
Don't lose sight of this.

My cousin's son died this summer from the use of painkillers.
Please be patient and compassionate.
Go to alanon meetings, talk to friends and family about your feelings.
Right now your son needs support.
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Old 11-17-2010, 12:03 PM
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Thank you all so much for your words of wisdom and encouragement and your prayers. I am going to drive to AS's temporary rehab shortly to drove off some medication he needs, but I won't see him. I know that if I set expectations for him, then I set myself up for failure - this episode served as a good reminder of that truth. I was glad that he chose not to come home after his lapse, that he recognized he is not strong enough to handle freedom right now. Sojourner, the rehab he was in allows overnight "recovery" weekends with family, and for December AS would have been in the program long enough to have earned the overnight stay with us for Christmas, which was going to be great, because my daughter and her two children are coming from out of state to spend Christmas with us. When/if AS re-enters the program next month, since he has to start over, he won't be allowed to leave for Christmas. I'm all for letting him spend Christmas there on his own and focusing on my daughter's visit with my grandsons. It might be good for him to miss us, and to think about his own little son...to realize just how much his addiction has cost him. I think we are still able to drive to the facility to attend church with him on Sundays, but I'm ready to back off that a little, too. We've always been there for AS, and he knows that, so maybe he takes it for granted that we'll always be in his corner. And I will always be in his corner as far as wanting the best for him, and praying for his recovery, and loving him. But I'm feeling a need for space in the relationship right now. When we see him, he doesn't open up very much - most of the conversations are superficial - mostly centered on what he wants to eat or what we can bring him. He's all over the place in his thinking...he wants to finish the program, he doesn't like the program, he wants to join the navy when he's finished rehab, etc. I guess I just need to concentrate on being thankful that he still wants to be in rehab. But I'm learning that there's a difference in being in rehab and being in recovery. One step at a time. He's where he needs to be. I know this feeling of doubt and pain will pass. It's just the double whammy of losing our connection with AS and with my baby grandson. Each loss is a different ache.
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Old 11-17-2010, 12:13 PM
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When I stopped sending my AD cards, and calling her being sooo supportive all the time, she grew to miss those things and realise that its a 2 way street. It's just another layer of the codependence to me. WE need time to heal our sick and scared brains too.He is in a supportive place with people who are trained to help him..hand him over and enjoy your holidays.These are the consequences of his addiction (no Christmas with the family, not seeing his little guy) HE needs to feel them.YOU can enjoy your other children and focus on them.If you are anythinglike me, the other kids have probaly suffered from all the focus on the addict.It's their turn right now. You sound like you are definately moving in the right direction.Sometimes our anger is a good motivator for change!
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Old 11-17-2010, 12:51 PM
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RECOVERY- two steps forward and the one step back
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Old 11-17-2010, 04:27 PM
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A great place to be ready to learn is:

Welcome to Al-Anon and Alateen

And, this works regardless of what your son's drug of choice is... don't get hung up on the term "alcohol." It's for you either way and, since you are ready to learn, I anticipate you'll have a great experience. Be patient, be open minded, and try six different meetings before you decide if it is right for you.

Good luck.

Cyranoak






Originally Posted by ready2learn View Post
Our 21 year old AS has been in rehab for the past three months for addiction to painkillers, but it's probably more accurate to say he's addicted to getting messed up, period. It's a twelve month program. The program doesn't allow tobacco use, and he got caught recently using dip, so he was put on discipline. Then last Sunday we drove two hours to attend church and visit with him in rehab. He kept jumping up and leaving the visiting area, and later he was paged to go to the office. He came out and told me that he had gotten some "spice" and smoked it while he was supposed to be doing a work detail earlier in the week. Someone told on him. He freely admitted the offense to his advisor when asked about it. The consequences - thirty days dismissal from the program. AS didn't want to come back home with us. He said he didn't think he was strong enough to resist temptation if he came home. So, he got permission to go to another facility for the thirty days. We were so angry with him. If he gets back into the program after the thirty days, he has to start over from day one. He was going to get a pass to spend Christmas with us - that's out the window now. I have been at peace ever since he entered the program. At least I know he's not using while he's in there (well, the "spice" episode disproved that). To complicate the situation, he has a one year old son with his GF, who had lived with us for a year, and we were very attached to the baby. I took care of the baby almost every day until he was nine months old. Once AS entered rehab she moved several states away to her mother's, and refuses to communicate with us. So, tangled in with the disappointment over AS's lapse in judgment is the knowledge that this means another year of having no contact with our grandson - another year of AS not taking on the responsibility of being a father to his child, who he says he misses terribly. I am so angry with him, and feel so used by him. When we dropped him off at the place he is staying for the duration of the suspension, I told him that he needs to realize that when he makes a mistake, that other people suffer the consequences, too. He didn't want to hear that. It was pretty much, "I made a mistake and I don't need to get put down for that." I know there are people here who've been through this. What is the right response? I'm angry over the hurt he continues to cause, but I can't control his choices. I can only work on myself. I feel I need to express my anger and disappointment with him, but what does it really accomplish? I don't want to make him feel worse about himself, but at the same time, I think he needs to face up to the pain he causes others when he makes poor choices. Any input on how to handle this the next time we see him?
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:12 PM
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Ann posted this:

"The think is, I found myself living as "director" of his life, thinking I knew what was best for him and frustrated that he wouldn't listen. It was at one of my meetings back then, when someone said "How would you like someone directing your life?" and I realized that I wasn't God and that I was truly powerless over his life choices...even the bad ones."

I must say that I couldn't agree more...we are powerless.

Make your holidays a blessed time for you and your grandchildren...they are our future.
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Old 11-18-2010, 10:57 PM
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Now that I've had a few days to digest the change in AS's circumstances I am feeling more positive about things. I am really glad he's still in a rehab facility, and maybe his lapse was something he needed to experience. I saw AS briefly when I dropped off his medication, and he asked me if I could get him some cokes. I smiled warmly and said, "not now" and left. We have been like the nurse who rushes into the patient's room when he presses the call button, ready to do whatever he asks. I'm re-thinking that. I did write him a letter which I left with his medicine, in which I told him that I am proud of him for choosing to stay in rehab, and that I know it must have taken a lot of courage to admit his mistake (he probably could have passed a drug test with the "spice," but he admitted smoking it. I explained that I had felt frustrated, because parents naturally want to fix things for their children, but I have realized I need to allow him to experience the dignity of falling, and picking himself back up on his own - that it will mean more to him. You are all so right - it's costly to love an addict. This forum is wonderful...the sharing is so important - it lets me know I'm not alone in my struggles, and I can have the benefit of your experiences and insights. It gives me hope and helps me focus on the fact that I can change my way of thinking and become positive again, regardless of the choices my AS makes. It's hard enough to experience the empty nest when your young adult is making good choices, much harder when their wings are broken and they begin to plunge instead of fly. AS has so much potential...if these kids could only see the good in themselves that we see in them.
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Old 11-19-2010, 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ready2learn View Post
It's hard enough to experience the empty nest when your young adult is making good choices, much harder when their wings are broken and they begin to plunge instead of fly. AS has so much potential...if these kids could only see the good in themselves that we see in them.
This is beautiful, and thank you for sharing it.

with love,
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Old 11-19-2010, 09:09 AM
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Even little things like not getting the sodas speak volumes.Giving him the dignity of his own recovery..priceless.We have all been there and done the hard, but necissary things you are doing.It is not fun.But at the same time, a little of your own dignity comes back when we quit playing nursemaid to our addicted children..it can feel pretty good to say no (in a loving way!)Often, THEY regain respect for us as well.
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Old 11-19-2010, 01:02 PM
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I was one of the few folks in rehab who didn't get visitors.

My parents sent me nothing, and did not call.

That was a hard slap in the face for me, and today I'm grateful for that.

That was the beginning of me seeing the damage I had inflicted on loved ones, and now with having an addicted daughter of my own, I understand the pain from the other side.

You're doing great in reassessing what you will/will not do for him at this time.
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Old 11-20-2010, 12:07 AM
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I am learning, slowly. I have wallowed in my role as "rescuer" far too long. Watching AS starting to use alcohol three years ago, two back surgeries of my own, then the news that AS's GF was pregnant, then the insanity of her living with us for a year and facing the fact that these two had a toxic relationship, then learning that AS was using drugs to sidestep the relationship issues, then discovering that my father (80), who lives with us, has dementia. I thought I could "save" everyone, and instead I found myself sinking into a deep pit of depression - physically and mentally overwhelmed. Now I'm struggling with the realization that I don't know what to do with myself now that my "impossible missions" have failed. I am neither the bionic woman nor superwoman. And that will be my recovery. Coming to terms with entering the senior citizen phase of my life and accepting that my days of fixing people are (thankfully) at an end...and figuring out who I want to become in this next part of my life. I read somewhere that not making a decision is making a decision to do nothing, and that isn't recovery....that's giving up. I am thankful for AS's time in rehab, to give each of us the time and space to embrace possibilities.
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