Struggling Parent

Old 02-15-2012, 02:59 PM
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Struggling Parent

Hello everyone,
I am new to this board, but have been struggling for 3+ years with a teenage son who is an alcoholic and marijuana addict. He has been expelled from school, been in multiple outpatient rehab clinics and completed a stay at an inpatient facility last year. He was doing well it seemed for 7-8 months, then he turned 18 recently and gradually stopped going to meetings and stopped seeing his outpatient counselor, and inevitably relapsed while starting to hang out at the place of a legal age drinker and another friend he used to get drunk and high with.
Since we have more experience now with the lies and deceptions and altered behaviors of a teenage addict/alcoholic, we were able to catch it more quickly this time, but it is no less painful. And now it is more complicated since he is now a legal adult. He has talked about moving out so he can keep hanging out with his friends, but we laid down strict conditions for him to continue living with us and it seems like he has begrudgingly accepted them. So I sense that deep down he knows he needs help and needs a structured environment. But I fear that at any moment he could get mad at what he perceives as being "controlled" and move out on his own. I don't feel he is ready to deal with this powerful disease on his own, so I really want him to stay with us and continue recovery, which he is doing so far. It would be easier to let go, but I can't, not as long as he's living with us. Have my first Al-anon meeting tonight. I'll see how that goes. Thank you for "listening".
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:27 PM
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My husband and I have dealt with substance abuse from our son since he was 13 years old. We moved out of state when he was 19 and he seemed to leave his drug abusing days behind. However, after he graduated from college, he decided to move back to where the abuse all began for him. He became a heroin addict.

When my son (28) came home last July after a one month stint in a rehab, I had hopes that he would want to do all the "right" things. His life had become very unmanageable--lost his job, girlfriend, 2 DUI's, facing possible jail time (was court ordered to rehab). He did do a week in jail instead of probation after his rehab.

My husband and I rushed home from our vacation to help him. He had cried over the phone how he wanted to change and be a good husband and father some day. We thought surely he would do everything possible to fight his addiction.

As soon as he got home, he told us he was not going to attend AA or NA meetings. He said that he didn't believe alcohol was ever an issue for him (though he was a very heavy drinker in high-school). He doesn't want to go to AA or NA because he would have to give up alcohol and he is not willing to do that. Red flag.

I had found an individual counselor that my husband and I had seen before he came home, so I suggested he see her and he did. He has continued to have sessions with her. These sessions are not cheap and he isn't working, so he can't pay for them. He says the sessions are helpful. I think he's worse off today than he was seven months ago.

In the seven months he has been home he has relapsed two times and he continues not to work. He had a short spell of working, but got fired. He says he can't get a job now because of anxiety. He said his counselor would back him on this assessment.

Finally I came to my senses. Enough is enough and I'm now prepared to take a stand. I can't make him do anything--I can only control what I do. It is time to treat our son as an adult and not let him take advantage of us any longer. This weekend is when my husband and I are going to have our "little talk". I've been preparing a contract to discuss with him. Our goal is to get him out of our house--plus to stop all the enabling behaviors we have been guilty of, thinking we were "helping" him. Getting my husband on board has been a problem in the past. I don't think he wanted to believe a son of his could possibly do what our son has done--but we have allowed our son to take advantage of us, too. It is not all one sided. We teach people how to treat us.

It is important to evaluate all the things you have done in the past and what you are doing now to enable your son. When I sat down to write what we've done, the list became very long. My husband and I have a lot of work to do on ourselves.

I feel the first hint of peace now. I feel like I have seen the light and now have a plan. It may not turn out that our son will do all the things we dreamed of him doing when we got that first phone call from him when he was crying over the phone, but I do feel that we are on the right course now. We are starting to feel the first bit of promised freedom that is to come--freedom to let go and let God deal with our son.
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:58 PM
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Hello, AG, Another Mom chiming in here. My son is 21 and we have been dealing with his addictions since he was 17. Started with getting busted in High school for possession of Adderol. From there, he started doing pills and finally ended up in jail for stealing from us to support his heroin habit. The main advice I have is do not go into DENIAL. If your son is lying and cheating, he is using. Also, pot leads to everything else, trust me. If you are to let him live at home, I suggest you randomly drug test and make it a requirement for letting him live at home. At his young age, he thinks he is indestructible. Many of us Moms of young people will tell you they will do whatever they want to do regardless of what you want them to do. They will also threaten to leave to manipulate you. Best of luck, these are very hard times to raise our kids in.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:17 PM
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Same here. RAS (21) has had issues since 17.
I believe setting simple boundaries are better than trying to play warden.

I won't allow anyone who uses drugs in my home.
Everyone that lives in my home helps with home upkeep.
Everyone who lives in my home will work or go to school.

If he's in recovery, none of these should be a big deal.

If he's using, you'll know it in your gut and these simple boundaries become insurmountable burdens for them.

Then you either pull the trigger and set a move out date or continue on enabling.

My son is doing really well on his own (knock on wood)
I don't think we can live together anymore. It destroys my serenity and I fall off the codie wagon.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:20 AM
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I agree at the age of about 18 they feel indestructable, i remember my son at that age never even smoked let alone did drugs and then i guess he decided to just go out one day and try everything under the sun that he could possibly get his hands on, there were never enough parties,never enough "friends", drinks, pot...the list goes on, he was always in control, he new it all, anything and everything i said and did fell on deaf ears and me and my husband watched him slowly dig himself into the hole that he is in now and let me tell you his addiction has taught him something no one else could have , he is a slave to it, never thought it could happen to him . I also agree that it would be easier for me to let go of him if he were not living with me , although i have changed alot i still am an enabler . I dont know what advice to give you except do what you can live with i think we have to try in order to learn . good luck
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Ilovemysonjj View Post
The main advice I have is do not go into DENIAL. If your son is lying and cheating, he is using. Also, pot leads to everything else, trust me. If you are to let him live at home, I suggest you randomly drug test and make it a requirement for letting him live at home. At his young age, he thinks he is indestructible.

Hi Teresa,
Thanks for your advice. I know what you're saying about denial. I have been back and forth between denial and trying to be a "tough" father and trying to be compassionate and understanding his disease. I think (at least I hope) that my denial days are over now after the first big relapse. We will be doing random drug tests with him, and are having him supply proof the hours when he is at work and have made it clear that he can't hang around with those 2 friends or any other users while living in our house. Keeping him from his friends is the one area I feel we have the least control over. He insists they are his only 2 close friends and he is always drawn to people that are into music, which unfortunately is a scene that often includes drugs and alcohol.
Getting him to go to AA/NA meetings and see his outpatient counselor is another challenge. I think there is a part of him that wants to stay sober to avoid all the hurt he's caused, but you are right, they just feel that they're indestructable at that age and they can put themselves in any risky situation and still keep themselves under control. I fear that he will not comply with our conditions, and eventually we'll be forced to leave him out on his own where I can just see him spiralling out of control. I was hoping he hit his rock bottom last year after being expelled and arrested, but I have sadly come to the realization that the worst may be yet to come.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:08 AM
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Hi again,
Just wanted to update my post from yesterday. I did have my first Al-anon meeting last night, and overall I would say that it was a sobering yet at the same time positive experience. Seeing the other people in the meeting who have been struggling with alcoholic relatives for decades has made me realize that I am in for a long battle with no quick fix. But I also feel I am taking the first steps to accepting it and taking care of my life rather than worrying every minute about whether my son will ever get sober. I'm still going to worry, but I hope that continuing with these meetings with give me a little more strength and realization that many parents out there are going through the same issues.
I am not a religious person, so there are certain parts of the Al-anon program that I don't find very useful. But just talking about my problems and hearing how other people have coped with this disease is plenty beneficial in itself. So I would recommend to relatives of alcoholics and addicts to at least give it a try.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:38 AM
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(((I feel your pain.))) I agree that the meetings help even if you are not a religious person, the support and enabling info was a huge help for me. Plus society tells us that we are bad parents or our children would not have taken this path. BS, I know ministers that have the same problem, and they enable just as much as I did to try and fix their children. Doesn't work!!!

My gifted son (math science) started using at an early age and I was a single parent trying every program I could find. He was court ordered to rehab twice and narrowly missed prison. I believe the fact that our governor at that time was dealing with his own AD helped people realize they need treatment not prison.

I finally told mine to leave at 19 after so much theft (his friends too) lies and the same ole thing everyone is going through. He would sneak out at night and I would wake the next morning with the doors and windows unlocked, sometimes strangers on my sofa. He was putting my life in danger, plus I was getting sick from the drama.

Now at 33 he was clean and sober for one year, and I actually enjoyed the phone calls (not collect either lol). He started college and was on the deans list. I guess the GF and him thought they could handle recreational drugs and now he is homeless, no money, no job, no friends. I had to call the police to stop her harrassment, she likes to tell me what a bad mother I was and if I really loved my son I would be supporting him financially.

I am retired and we moved to another state and, yes, it is easier not having them in your home. Regardless, we still want the best for our children and it is so heart wrenching, but he has to learn that it is HIS life and HIS choices. They are in controll and only they can live a productive life.

Never give up hope, but do give up enabling them. I tried so hard to help, but we can not do it for them.

(((Blessings to all)))
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:54 PM
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I feel for you. I have a 19 year old sa. I could tell a lot of horror stories. I think the best thing I can do Is to share what I wish I could have done differently. I truly tried every possible thing ... Except Detaching. I wish I had done that sooner.

As long as my son knew I would be there to clean up his every crisis he knew he had nothing to worry about. He now knows I will not be there to cushion his fall and for the first time in his life he seems to be taking responsibility for his actions. Unfortunately he's in jail... But his phone calls are to thank me, to let me know he's looking for a program for when he gets out, to say he loves me. I hope this isn't just jailhouse talk, but if it is that's for him to deal with. Tonight he started complaining a bit I told him that all I could do for him is love him and pray for him, everything else is up to him... The course of his life is up to him.

I know as a mom you want to save your son. The best thing you can do for him is to hold him accountable for his actions. Set firm boundaries and follow through on any consequences you set. Loving an addict requires a completely different set of tools than you ever thought you would need with a non-addicted child. Keep going to meetings and learn as much as you can. There is hope for your child, but, more importantly, there is hope for YOU!
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:51 PM
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After a series of conversations in which we as parents held to our stance of not enabling his drug/alcohol use in our home, our son made the decision to move in with his 21 year old friend who he has been drinking and smoking pot with. We requested that if his decision was final that he move out as soon as possible so we can get on with our lives. So he moved out last night. We had some heated moments, but by the end we had reached a somewhat amicable conclusion. We made it clear that we did not support his decision to abandon all the progress he had made in his recovery and put himself in a risky situation that will guarantee that he will have problems again. We did not completely cut off contact with him, and even hugged him goodbye, but made it clear that he can only come back to the house if we are present (and we took his key and will change the garage door code).
It's an awkward situation, one that I'm not completely sure how to deal with. I worry about him and I want him to know I still love him, but I also can't go full in when the situation he put himself in is almost sure to end up bad for all of us. I also don't want to lend him money or make it more comfortable in any way for him to live on his own when we are so opposed to what he is doing.
In a way it's a relief to come to some sort of conclusion, after all the tension and uncertainty of the last week, which was probably the worst week in my life. I've been to 2 Al-anon meetings (my wife has been to 1) and we are at least starting the process of healing and detaching. But it makes it difficult when almost everywhere I walk in the house brings back memories of a time when he was an innocent child and we were a loving family. That will take time to get over. We've already put away a picture of the 3 of us that was out on display because it made us sad every time we looked at it. I know peace will come some day, but I also know more crises will come so it may be a long time before I feel completely at ease. Just taking it a day at a time...
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:32 PM
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I responded to you in your other thread:

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Old 02-20-2012, 02:38 PM
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I have to say that becoming more strict and chomping down with drug screens etc. is what pushed my addict loved one closer to his druggie friends and farther from his family. When my parents tried the same regulations with me, I said "okay", obeyed their rules, and got out of there into my own place asap. I never brought drugs into their house, and I respected their rules. But I drank and smoked weed recreationally in other locations like almost every teenager does at least once. I was respectful and not defiant. My parents, upon seeing how unhappy I was, were more sympathetic to my making my own decisions and although they would not budge as far as me breaking the law in my house, they allowed me to go where I wanted when I wanted. Its only because of this that my parents and I are closer than ever, and I am neither a smoker or a drinker. Quit even cigarettes 2 years ago. I'm happily married, we're thinking about having a kid of our own. I pay my own bills, I work 2 jobs, I have my own car, apartment, etc. and I'm healthy. Pot didn't lead to other things for me. Had my parents done to me what was done to my brother, I might not be/have these things.

Point is, your kids are going to do what they are going to do. Period. Especially an 18 year old. That's an adult not a kid. The only thing a parent can control at that point is how much their children are going to hate them/want any kind of a relationship with once they save enough money to get an apartment with their friends. (And its probably not going to be the friends who DON'T get into trouble.)

I'm not saying "allow your kids to smoke weed and drink in your house" I'm just saying that not all young people are the same and sometimes closing your grip tighter around them and making their home more like bootcamp only makes the yellow brick road to moving out and getting on their own look that much more desirable.

I believe my parents doing this very thing was a significant contributor to my brothers addiction accelerating the way it did. He left the night of his 18th birthday in spite of his whole family pleading that we love him and please don't leave. It's been 10 years of him injecting heroin. I hate him for what he's done to my family.

Just my honest 2 cents. I'm still a kid though, depending on how you look at it.
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:29 PM
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ag0710, this thing you are going through right now is a process. Change is always difficult, but it's a growth process. Your son is growing. He obviously needs this space. These are his lessons to learn, no matter how painful. I understand your putting away the photo's of happier times, I did the same thing, and it really does help. There'll be time later on that you can look at those photos, and even later, take more happy photos again probably. Your son chose the drugs and drinking, for now, and it's up to him to add this to his box of experiences. Chances are he'll suffer some pain and consequences, but these are his to suffer, not yours to rescue him from, otherwise he'll never have a reason to choose to stop. Another poster (englishgarden, I think) wrote that the addict has to eventually come to see the drug/drink as their enemy before they give it up (paraphrased). That sentence hit home with me. I realized that I'd spent so much time softening the blows, easing the consequences, "helping" my AS, that he had no reason to see the drugs as his enemies; they were his friends, his feel-good buddies, and I was mean-ole mom for trying to take them away from him. So I let go, and am allowing him to see for himself who the enemy is.
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:52 PM
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Thank you YaunKin, so well spoken and exactly what is happening with me and my son. Scary time, he is going to sober living out of a very strict rehab. No job and no money, I am holding on to my faith in HP that this is what is supposed to happen.
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Old 02-21-2012, 04:13 PM
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I hated going in my son's room after I kicked him out. It felt like he had died. I guess I was actually in mourning for what coulda/shoulda been.
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