How do you help someone who won't admit there is a problem


I am a 67 year old mother of two sons, ages 40 and 37. Both have been battling drug addiction for years. When my older son was a senior in high school, a tractor trailer ran a stop sign and t-boned his car. He broke his jaw in multiple places, dislocated his hip, and broke his ankle. He was prescribed oxycodone for his pain, and that was the start of his addiction. My younger son, who watched his brother lose everything that was important to him, chose to pick up that needle and start his addiction. Their addictions have cost my husband and myself so much - we have had to pay lawyer fees, bail, bills, and have had our things stolen and pawned. It is because of them that I am still working and that we will be living on nothing but social security when I retire. It got so bad that when I was given the opportunity to move to another state for my job, I jumped at a chance to get away from it all. Of course, you can’t really get away from it…
My older son eventually got clean and relapsed, got clean and relapsed again several times over until he eventually reached out for help, and we allowed him and his girlfriend to move into our home for three years to get their lives together. He is now working full time at a job he loves, has a baby boy, and seems to have overcome his demons. I can only pray that this is true.
My younger son, on the other hand, refuses to admit he needs professional help. He has stayed with us off and on bc he has a rare autoimmune disease and we live by one of the best medical institutions that treats his disease. We have found countless needles and other drug paraphernalia and when we confront him, he refuses to admit that they are his, even though it could belong to no one else. About a month ago, we found stuff again and kicked him out of the house. He came back that night asking if he could come back, and I relented because it was so so cold outside. A few days later, I found him passed out in the living room - I truly thought he was dead as I could not wake him. Fortunately, he was not, but that night when he did wake up, we told him to pack his things and get out. Again, he came back a few hours later and said he wanted our help. He gave us his car keys and control of his money so he can’t buy drugs, but he refuses to attend NA meetings, look for a rehab that might take him even though he has no money, etc. So, while he has been clean for a month, I think it is only a matter of time before he starts up again. I have resigned myself to the fact that he is going to OD one day, and my biggest fear is that I will be the one that finds him dead.


Hi @BLH,
First of all, congrats for getting to 67 with two sons! That’s a job unto itself. And Congratulations that your elder son has been able to address his drug use and is now getting his life together and adding a pearl with his baby boy. I hope that all the great reasons for living keep him working at being clean. There’s so much to miss if not. Is he still living with you?

As for your other son, he who is still struggling with ongoing drug use, is he also living with you? It seems that he is relying on your compassion to give him safe harbor. When my son was living with me I told him he could, but he had to be clean. When I found that he wasn’t, I had to tell him to go to treatment and find another place to live. I told him that I am just his mom, not his counselor, and that I couldn’t help him. He did go to treatment.

Just by your son saying that he wants to change is a WIN. You can build on that.

Of course it’s scary that he might die, and of course it’s scary to think that you will have to endure more and more years of this weird kind of parental disrespect. Of course, we know people with SUD don’t want to hurt their parents on purpose. We can’t allow our fear of the future to do nothing in the present. Keep believing in the power of intention, love, and healing.

Is your son open to family counseling with the whole family? How do you think you might be allowing some of this to happen? If your elder son is living at home, is your younger son resentful? What if they both moved out and took dominion over their lives?

These are questions that don’t have one answer. It certainly requires some loving conversation and it’s just the kind of thing a therapist can answer that a garden-variety mom, like I, cannot. Do you attend Al-anon or another local group support? They may have some ideas for local professionals that may be of service to you and your family. Stick around here, this @PeerGroup5 is your safe space for asking these questions and getting some help with these heartbreaking situations. I hope it will be ok for you, your sons, and your whole family.


I empathize with you and have been living similarly to you for too long. Luckily, I have only one child, my daughter age 25 who lives with my spouse and me, until she moved her boyfriend and 3 pit-bull pups (now dogs) into our home.

I struggled for more than 2 years with her living with us in active addiction. I grew tired of living in chaos and fear. I became frustrated with her not getting help. She finally ended up court ordered to rehab and even when she was sneaking drugs into our home, I could not refuse her a place to stay. However, in hindsight, I realize many things I did for her actually enabled her.

Therefore, I need to establish boundaries to protect my family and to stop enabling her. For my daughter, her living in our home needs to be viewed as a privilege. A benefit that will continue as long as she continues progress by making good choices, becomes more involved in her son’s care, continues her treatment for SUD, attends counseling weekly, shares any failed drug test results, pays rent and shares food costs, trains her dogs and keeps them licensed, vetted, and pays for their care.

That is my wish list of what I need from her. For me, I have a “to do” list, too. I must establish boundaries to protect me. I plan to make self care a priority everyday. Any decisions I make will benefit the entire family. I will not loan my car nor loan money. I will not tolerate random unknown persons staying overnight in my home. I plan to build trust, avoid manipulation, and protect my home from theft.

I have struggled with establishing and maintaining boundaries in the past. However, now that I realize that the boundaries are actually for me. That change of perspective will help me stand strong and keep these in place. In truth my offering her shelter should be enough. If that is not sufficient, there is a half-way house, and homeless shelters as options for her. I do not want to push her out into the street. However, she needs to take responsibility for herself and continue with the skills she has learned in rehab to continue with progress.

One other struggle for me, was constant worry and grief concerning the “what ifs” that would all too often dominate my thoughts. Fortunately, I recently learned the Hawaiian prayer Ho’ opononpono.

Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian spiritual practice that involves learning to heal all things by accepting “Total Responsibility” for everything that surrounds us – confession, repentance, and reconciliation.

This prayer is well known in Hawaiian culture. In fact, 30 plus years ago, Dr. Hew Len, was appointed clinical psychologist at a state hospital, where he used Ho’oponopono to heal mentally ill criminal patients. Dr. Hew Len accomplished this healing by saying the prayer while looking over and reviewing each patient’s file (see the entire story via the link that follows):

4 easy steps to practice Ho’oponopono

  1. Step 1: Repentance – JUST SAY: I’M SORRY. .
  2. Step 2: Ask Forgiveness – SAY: PLEASE FORGIVE ME. …
  3. Step 3: Gratitude – SAY: THANK YOU. …
  4. Step 4: Love – SAY: I LOVE YOU.

I say this prayer out loud while viewing a photo of my daughter or reading a letter from her. I say the prayer for myself while looking into a mirror or just before falling asleep each night or anytime I catch a thought of worry creeping into my thoughts. For me this practice has halted many of the “what ifs” and overtime the “what ifs” have become easier to dismiss.

I have been doing this for approximately 3 weeks. I believe this practice has had huge impact on her, me, and everyone in our home.
Let me know if you find this helpful? Sending my prayers for you, your sons, and your family. :pray:

Today it is my intent to continue self care while practicing Ho’oponopono to benefit myself and my loved ones!…and so it is! Amen!


Thank you for sharing your story and Ho’oponopono. I will definitely look into this.


I appreciate you so much for sharing this with me. I can’t wait to share it with my sister who is totally into Hawaiian culture. And I am into figuring out anything that will express loving kindness to my son and daughter. I have so much to learn, Thanks! :hibiscus:


I am glad that so many Villagers are willing and interested in Ho’oponopono. For me I say this prayer out loud to replace thoughts of fear or worry.
I am delighted to report, my daughter called to let me know she reached her C90 goal and she will return home Thursday. I am so grateful that I started reciting this prayer as I viewed her photo everyday and anytime fear or worry crept into my thought stream. I believe this prayer has helped my daughter heal and is bringing her home nearly 3 weeks sooner than I expected! I had told her about Ho’ oponopono and asked her to start reciting this prayer nearly a month ago in a letter I wrote to her. She told me she also shared this with other patients in the rehab and they were grateful to learn about Ho’oponopono.

Wow! The power of prayer! Praise God!
Praise Ho’oponopono!
I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, and thank you!
Powerful words for anyone to use in healing and to replace the “what ifs”, fears and worry!

If you haven’t tried Ho’oponopono give it a go and discover the miraculous power of this prayer!

Today it is my intent to continue my daily self care ritual which will include multiple recitations of Ho’oponopono!..and so it is! Amen!


Hi @BLH - thanks for posting this topic. I think there are many people in this community who can relate. Tagging a few other mamas here who might want to chime in with their experience: @zealand6868 @seapa @JoMama @Deanna1 @Emanshero @sb0822 @Christy @Alair @Tmcconn @rjoyed

This is a scary reality, but please know that it is possible to prevent overdose. Are you familiar with Nalaxone, or Narcan, and do you have any on hand? It’s basically a nasal spray that you administer to someone who is overdosing. Many states have programs that provide Narcan for free. Click here to learn more.

This is wonderful to hear. To be clean for a month is a huge step forward and for sure something to celebrate. He may not be going to meetings right now, he may not be looking into rehab, but he was able to get clean on his own and stay clean for a month?! That’s huge. Progress, not perfection. His recovery may not look like what you think it’s “supposed to” look like right now. Hold on to what’s true right now: He is clean. He is safe. There is hope. Recovery is possible.


I’m learning that for now, all I can do is pray for my sons. Trusting God to one day bring my sons to a point where they crave sobriety.


It will happen for you @JoMama. I know that it seems unlikely right now, but it will happen. Recovery is possible and I’m voting YES! for you and your boys.:rooster::baby_chick::baby_chick:


@Thinkstet thank you….I needed that tonight! And you have no idea how much those chickens mean to me! :heart:️