I want to set boundaries, deadlines and consequences for my son and I'd like your feedback



It makes sense that a drug user has to to be the one to make the decision to work on recovery and therefore I have little control over that. I do know that my son and most people in this situation will benefit from counseling.
My son has been to counseling in the past and really connected but kept missing appointments and the person moved out of area. I think he is open to going again and I need him to do something, either that or get a job.
We briefly talked about counseling last week, but I don’t think that he will take the initiative.
I would like to assist him in making an appointment but I’m not sure what consequence to link to it if he doesn’t follow through.
He lives on my property, but I’m not ready to kick him off…yet.
I’m sure he doesn’t think I will ever be able to do that

What do I need to understand about recovery in this second month?

Good morning :sun_with_face:… I understand how you feel. I was (am) in a similar situation as you are. My son (24 yrs old) has been trying to to remain clean for the past 10 months. He has been through quite a lot and I will try not to delve too deeply into his story but I will address his thoughts and actions regarding counseling.
It took him 9 months, and a very difficult situation, to make the decision to go to counseling. He hid his drug and alcohol addiction from us for a couple of years (or more probably) until it got out of control last May and he ended up willingly going to detox. Unfortunately he didn’t follow through with a 30-day program. He came home from detox looking great. He looked like my son and not the shell of a man he had become over the past couple of years. I was so overjoyed and proud of him and he really wanted to stay clean but thought he could do it on his own. No matter how many times I tried to convince him he needed counseling he always dismissed it. He would tell me “you don’t have to be a magician, all you have to do is quit” He would tell me “it’s not rocket science.” It didn’t matter how much I talked to him, give him all my best advice, tried to convince him counseling would be the best thing for him… nothing I said would change his mind. Then, fast forward 4 months later, he was in a motorcycle accident and suffered a traumatic leg injury. Throughout his physical recovery from the accident we really started to push the counseling. Now it was even more important because he was suffering from PTSD from the accident. He still dismissed it, he told us he didn’t need to talk to anyone, he was all set, he could handle it himself. Counseling was for crazy people not for him.:disappointed:
I learned, from being involved with this group, that counseling is a key element in a successful recovery. I also learned that no matter what I said to him it would have to be up to him to make that decision. I felt powerless. I felt like he would never go. If he refused to go to counseling even after almost losing his leg in a traumatic accident I felt like he would never make the decision to go. I worried damn near all day… everyday. It consumed me. But this group also taught me the importance of self care: the difference between staying connected without being attached, the importance of letting go and the importance of my own self care. So I started seeing a counselor, I started focusing more on my physical and mental well-being, I backed off and stopped trying to convince my son to do things and I did my best to not worry about these things I truly have no control over. Being involved with this group gave me more knowledge and knowledge is power. I knew I wasn’t alone. I learned to not give up hope, take one day at a time, and have gratitude for anything positive he would say or do for himself no matter how small it was. I stopped telling him what to do or telling him what he should do. I started just listening to him, offering him encouraging words and positivity, telling him he could accomplish anything he wanted to it was just up to him to make that decision. Only he had that power to make that decision. The path to a beautiful life was there he just had to open the door. I gave up control and put the control in his lap. I told him this was his journey not mine, but I would be right behind him encouraging him every step of the way remaining connected but no longer attached.
It seems to be a common theme that many addicts have to hit some kind of rock bottom before they make a decision to change. My son finally hit ‘his’ rock bottom. His rock bottom consisted of laying in a hospital bed realizing he could do nothing for himself and stay on that gerbil wheel and waste his life or get out of the bed and start living his life. He started thinking about that beautiful life he could have. He started making small positive changes. I told him I was going to counseling and I would tell him how helpful it was for me. Maybe he saw the positive changes in me? Maybe my decision to go to counseling changed his perspective and thoughts about counseling? Maybe he noticed I wasn’t the one to always be texting or calling him? Maybe he noticed the shift of my energy and attention. He used to say counseling was for crazy people, but that’s because of the stigma of mental Health.
Here is a helpful quote regarding that…
“Many people refuse to normalize therapy because of the negative societal stigmas. They may feel that their loved ones just don’t understand them, yet they feel they have nowhere to turn. It’s often this lack of understanding regarding mental health issues that leads to stigmas on therapy.”
Eventually he was able to move past the stigma of mental health care and he found a counselor for himself. That was an empowering decision he made for himself. Because of the counseling he was able to start making more empowering decisions for himself. He may not see the counselor every single week but he sees him and that’s what matters. It’s helping. It’s making him feel better about himself. It’s allowing him to vent to someone other than his mom. He looked forward to going. That led to him making the decision to start working out, eating better and taking responsibility of his own health care (appointments, doctor visits etc). That led to him talking about school which led to him to contacting a school which led to him making plans about his future and being excited. That beautiful life is starting to become a reality. Not every day is great, there are ups and downs but I keep reminding myself that my control only goes as far as the tips of my own fingers. I can only control myself. All I can do is be present. Be connected. Be positive. Do my best to encourage him but also to set clear boundaries. And to appreciate that any positive change is a win, no matter how small.
Sorry this is lengthy, I have a tendency to ramble…
You said he doesn’t have a job and he hasn’t made an effort to find a new counselor. He lives with you but you’re not ready to have him leave, you’re not sure what the consequences should be and you are sure he doesn’t think you’ll ever be able to do it.
Have you concentrated on yourself at all? Do you practice self care, have hobbies, friends etc things that make you happy? That was when I saw the big change in my son…when I actually let go and started concentrating on myself instead of making every moment about him.
I also established rules.
I don’t give my son money. When you have a job you have to work all week and if you do they pay you on Friday. They don’t pay you on Monday and hope you will show up the rest of the week to work.
Chaos is not allowed in my house.
Clutter and messiness is not allowed in my house. Last time I checked I pay mortgage so as long as I’m paying the mortgage he is expected to follow my rules. If not the doors is right there and he is free to leave. I will stay connected but not attached to him. I’ll be here to support him in any positive way I can with love, understanding, compassion, guidance, praise and encouragement. If I financially support him and provide him with a free place to live and no responsibility how will he ever feel the need to do anything for himself?
If there’s no incentive to try why bother trying?
Concentrating on yourself, your own self-care and making yourself happy is a start. Empower yourself. The better you feel about yourself the easier it will be to establish boundaries, rules, consequences etc. for your son.
I don’t want to come across as though I’m telling you what to do, I just want to share with you what I did. My son’s journey to recovery seemed to truly begin after I went on my own journey to find my own happiness, my own self worth and work on my own physical and mental well-being.
I’ll be thinking of you and sending positive thoughts and vibes your way.
Go on line and read “The Journey” by Mary Oliver. It’s inspiring.


Beautifully said!
I, too, have found the same to be true. We were in a similar situation with our son. Although it goes against what a mom’s heart is feeling, it is beneficial for all that we practice self-care. It may be the last thing on a mom’s mind when trying to “save” a child from destruction but it may end up being a key factor in helping them get on the right path. If nothing else, the healthier we are as parents, the more help we are to our kids, in every way.

I’m so happy to hear that your son is on a healthy path. The hope that this gives others is huge! Thank you for your encouraging words!


Yep. I am good at setting boundaries and consequences, but I dont follow through and my son knows this. Therefore, like you said there is no real incentive to change on his part. It’s a merry go round. My son doesn’t believe in therapy or rehab either and just says he will change when he wants. Ugh. I know in my heart that he is not ready now or anytime soon. I thought he was doing good for a bit bit recently found foil and straws in my house. I’m gonna have to enforce my expectations. It’s just so hard.



Thank you very much!


Thank you and everyone else for sharing their stories, it’s good to know one is not alone and to have boundaries and consequences reinforced and hear how everyone has dealt with their L/O.
I am happy that things seem to be working out and that your son found his strength.

One major difference is my son is 38.
When he was 24 his drug use was intermittent and he was able to go long stretches without using and always said he could quit when he wanted to. He worked on and off at least. About 1 1/2 yrs ago he said that he would need help/medicine to help him get clean
Also he is not opposed to therapy( I can see why a 24 y/o would be resistant) and has been a number of times. He talks about his anxiety openly. He knows I have gone to therapist over the years regarding him.

So kinda what I’m saying is I have been dealing with my son’s behavioral health issues, court issues, drug issues and his 13 y/o daughter issues for the past 22 YEARS!!! I wish I had done a number of things differently years ago. Now I am really needing some Progress or a Break.

I have been doing self care for a very long time and have a great support system.
I made the decision/boundary in 2017 that he would never live under my roof again and I’ve stuck to that although he lives on my property in another unit.

I totally agree that listening, letting him be in control, giving him lots of positive reinforcement can be powerful but I have tried soooo many times before. Maybe I know more now and there are more resources available than before and this might be the time it all clicks. But I NEED some initiative, light, progress from him.
So it doesn’t help that I am an action -oriented person and he innately lacks motivation.

OK, enough for now

I really hope your son gets all the love, resources and support he needs to continue with a successful recovery and a happy life of sobriety
Hugs to all


Hi @seapa and @zealand6868 @sammiesame @EMast @jen28 @Christy @Thinkstet - I’m reading through everyone’s stories here and I see so much strength and progress within. Just want to point that out - when we talk about progress, don’t forget that doesn’t just mean their progress. It means yours. You being here and talking it out and working through your own recovery of sorts is something to celebrate. The little things are truly the big things.

As far as boundaries and consequences go… whenever I’m setting boundaries for myself, I always try to remember that boundaries are for protecting me. They’re not about trying to get someone else to do something. And so letting go of the outcome, letting go of their reaction/response, is crucial to sticking to your boundaries. It’s also the hardest part. But if we keep letting the fear of what happens next with them keep us from sticking to our boundaries, then we’re just back in the same old cycle.

It takes a little bit of faith and trust in the process and something higher - something that helps you remember that everything will be okay no matter what. It was hard for me to find that faith when nothing was going right in my life and I had nothing positive to hold on to. That’s when communities like this helped - when other people shared their stories of hope, I held on to that. And eventually, I was able to get better and then share my hope with others who couldn’t find their own.

Sending you all love and so very happy you’re all here, lifting each other up. We’re not alone.


This is a great opportunity, @seepa. I recommend you speak with @momentsandlight to find out your best move forward.
Good questions.



I understand. One step forward a few steps back maybe. Look for those moments when there’s a little step forward. Right now my son’s been struggling with alcohol. He’s not keeping it too much of a secret as his dad found some empty bottles in his room recently. Loneliness is another culprit. It’s hard to push them to try to keep them busy but we do the best we can do and that’s all we can do. Just know that there’s a lot of people here in this village community who know where you’re coming from. And take care of you :heart:


Thanks for your support. Yes we try to do the best we can. All the best for your family and son.


@seapa I empathize with you and I understand your concern for your son. I pray for the healing of your family and his decision to obtain the help he needs!…and so it is! Amen!

I will soon be in a similar situation as relates to boundaries and encouraging an adult child to commit to much needed therapy. Today my daughter called to say she may return home from rehab before Easter. My main concern is how will I avoid conflict when communicating boundaries with her?

So much of what I have done in the past has resulted in my becoming an enabler to the Nth degree. My fear is my history of not standing my ground combined with a newfound strength to say “no”, stick with “no”, and maintain boundaries may trigger her to relapse? And I’m not sure I am ready to deal with relapse in a non-judgmental way?

However, on a more positive note. I am happy to report my daughter is working on her home plan and our family is scheduled for a counseling session via Zoom next week, in preparation of her return. This progress is a blessing from God that has finally brought my daughter back to me. Even though she is not yet here in person; I can hardly wait for the day that I finally give my girl a big welcome home hug!

This group has helped me develop a skill set that will be useful in dealing with my daughter’s SUD. I am prepared to take this one day at a time. I plan to remain connected and not attached. I intend to do my best to help my family heal and become whole again. I will celebrate the smallest amount of progress without expectation or the seeking of perfection.

Today it is my intent to keep self care a priority. I intend our days, our hearts, and our home will be filled with happiness, abundance, and joy for the higher good of all!…and so it is! Amen!


@seapa…when you said your son is 38, my heart sank and my thoughts just raced. That is so long to have to deal with this mess. But then I think of my grandmother who dealt with her son all of his life until she passed. He is still on drugs today and well into his 60’s. I just pray everyday this ends soon for all of us and especially our addicted loved ones.


No kidding! Such fortune for you. Thank you for the meaty post,. It’s so important to remember the context. I often say to myself, “What where you so worried about this day, last year?
Kinda reaffirming and kinda scary- but ask yourself…will it inform your response


Thank you for the advice regarding boundaries and making the concept easier to wrap my head around. Whenever I thought about boundaries in the past, I would think about setting boundaries for someone else versus setting them for myself. I understand it more when I think about my daughter (who doesn’t have the addiction issues my son has) and how it’s easier for me to set boundaries with her than it is to set them with my son. I think the reason why is because I feel that instinctual need to ‘protect’ him and ‘shield’ him and make sure his psyche is okay etc so those boundaries I set for him are more difficult to construct and follow through with. Because most times I’m more focused establishing boundaries surrounding him versus surrounding me, then the initial goal of maintaining my own self preservation gets lost. Thank you for making the concept of boundaries more clear. I’m going to start practicing setting healthy boundaries for myself and I’m sure with practice and time those boundaries will enable me to have a more personally fulfilling life. The caring part can’t always be about our loved ones, it has to be about us too. As usual, I’m grateful for you and everybody else in this community. Hope you all find some peace joy and gratitude for yourself this weekend :blush:


Hi @zealand6868, you’ve got the right idea here about boundaries being around YOU rather than HIM. As a mother of a son with substance use disorder I completely understand about wanting to protect and shield our children. I also know that too much of a good thing, is not a good thing.

It takes active practice in situation over situation in order for our sons to gain confidence and mastery of their lives. If we treat them as less able to take it, make good decisions, need rescuing, we’re not really expressing a sense of confidence in them. So I actively step back and ask my son, “what’s the next best move?” or just say, “You’ve got this.” “You make good decisions, I’m sure you’ll sort this out.” and let it go.

My prior enmeshment with my kids, untangled lovingly. Once I stopped using my kids as my proof of life and got one of my own. I am very proud to be a mother of two competent people. This is one of the challenging parts of parenthood; that the goal to raise competent and emancipated people is one that requires that we actively step back and watch our children gather strength and go.

You already demonstrate so much Self-awareness with regards to your behaviors, that I’m sure this will only become stronger and more satisfying for the health of your whole family.:paw_prints::paw_prints::paw_prints:


I like that a lot! I’ll have to put it on a sticky note for my mirror. :blush:


When you said, “I feel that instinctual need to ‘protect’ him and ‘shield’ him and make sure his psyche is okay etc so those boundaries I set for him are more difficult”… This statement resonated with me and the maternal instinct to protect is what makes this journey soooo difficult. This is where the the differences between protecting and enabling are blurred and indistinguishable at times…at least for me.


Hi @Thinkstet!

Thank you for that response. After I had sent that message earlier I got a phone call from my son a few hours later. As the conversation began, I knew he had been drinking… he sounded angry…and he was talking about going out tonight. . He hung up on me abruptly and when I called back he didn’t answer. Of course down the rabbit hole I went. I told myself not to go there about a dozen times. Boy that conversation with your brain is difficult isn’t it? I slightly talked myself into setting my boundaries and not letting his actions control my emotions. I ate dinner and then I happened to go through my email and saw your message. Everything you said in your reply was so perfect. You completely understand because you have been through what I’m going through now. That took 75% of the weight off my brain and heart. Thank you so much for that. Thank you so much for your words and encouragement and I am so grateful for getting the opportunity to be a part of We The Village. And your message couldn’t have come to me at a more perfect time. It was almost like Faith/Fate had me read it I usually don’t check my messages at 8:30 at night on a Friday. You are eloquent in your message. And I loved the puppy paws emoji :blush: I’m sure I will seek out your advice in the near future. Thank you again​:heart:️


This has been an interesting and fruitful discussion for me!!! I will admit my initial reaction when @zealand6868 was discussing her 24 yr. old son, part of me was thinking…yeah, let’s see if she is still thinking that way when the son is 38 yrs. old. But after reading everyone’s response a couple times i realized that the **principles and “strategies” work regardless if it is a teenager, young adult or much older adult. Of course there are plenty of differences in our situations. Ultimately, their are two categories, the person struggling with their SUD and the Loved One trying to love and assist them.
We have full control over ourselves and our job is protect ourselves by setting boundaries, to let them experience natural consequences and to not enable them.
I am totally in the camp with @zeland6868 who said that he has always wanted to protect and shield her son and make sure his psyche is ok----gosh am I guilty of that.

Thank you again WTV for helping me so much in just 2 months.


Dear @zealand6868
Sweet dreams
we’ll be around!
XO :bouquet: