I’m OK with this question going out to the community as well as our group.
My loved one is in his second month of being sober. He is an adult who lives with us, his parents. He reluctantly went to a treatment center. He tried to refuse, but knowing he would be homeless if he refused, he stayed in treatment the minimal time. He convinced them to release him within two weeks.
Now, he stays in his space in our basement, coming up to eat, but rarely to greet us. He is withdrawn, angry,
(that looks like cold and detached behavior wise). He refuses any type of support. His feelings are locked up and he isn’t sharing them with anybody. He has always been close to us, discussing hurts, losses, feelings, but he has cut us off, his children off, and he and his girlfriend have not spoken for weeks.
I think I understand that he needs to get some kind of therapy or AA or one of the other available resources. But he flatly refuses.
It’s been suggested that I make it part of our requirement to stay sober. Can anybody help me to understand if this is a part of the process for him, if he is stuck and I do need to make it a requirement, or if I’m supposed to not interfere and let him figure it out in time?
His only responses to my attempts to promote support through some agency is that he needs to feel better first, and he wants to get a job so he has money. (He has not filed for unemployment, and made very little effort to find a job. ) We provide him with food and shelter. He has his own car, but rarely goes anywhere because of the cost of gas, and having no money. We have put gas in his car since he came home, one time.
In summary, should I give him more time, or should I insist he chooses a support person/agency?
I’m OK with this question going out to the community as well as our group.
HI @Alair, thanks for the question- I hope others can share their experience with supporting a person with a substance use disorder when that person is living in their home.
My experience with this issue has occurred in my lifetime twice with my son, once with my daughter.
After college my daughter came to live with me because staying in her college town after graduation did not offer her growth, but it did offer a lot of partying around with pals and working at yogurt shops. She lived with me and worked for about 6 months before she was accepted to grad school and then off she went. (She went to school in Australia, where she still lives to this day)
The first time my son came to live with me after leaving home was in his 3rd year at the community college. He was partying too much. He was dropping out of classes. He lost his car to irresponsibility. He had pawned most of his valuables. I went to where he was living, and saw the college-ish squalor of his shared house. Right then I decided to “rescue” him from that place. I told his roommates to keep the rent for that month, but we were gone. We crammed all his stuff into my car and went to my house. I didn’t understand that he was struggling with SUD, I thought he was a poor money manager and I thought that if I made it easier for him financially to stay at my place without paying for rent and meals, then he would be more capable of focusing on his school. HA! What a beginner! I told him he couldn’t use drugs at my house, but if he was straight he could stay with me and get a “fresh start.” He got a job, and he enrolled in the local Community college, but the underlying issues didn’t
get addressed. Shortly afterward he got a DUI. I told him he couldn’t live with me because I realized I wasn’t trained to be a counselor to what was ailing him. He found a rehab and went off.
Fast forward eight years later- he has been sober 5 years and on/off for 3 years. I have bailed him out of debt here and there along the way when jobs ended and rent didn’t get paid. He lied to me pretty significantly for various reasons. Now we communicate much better and his frontal cortex came online (right about 30) and he decided the life he wants, i.e., fulfilling job, loving wife, home of his own are out of reach for him with what he has going on. So, after a lot of Sunday afternoon Skype calls he determines to go back to school and finish his BA. Together we scheme on how, he finds the school. He applies to and is accepted to a university in Tennessee. He comes to live with me for 2 months before he leaves. This time is really different from the first time- it’s temporary, and he is here to prepare to leave. So he gets a casual job and does that during the day, and we enjoy our last moments together before he takes off.
He is 31. It has been a long time. He drives away to move 2500 miles away from me. It’s really exciting. I know he will be ok. He has the tools he learned in rehab. He’s looking for a counselor to help him sift through his underlying issues. And his college session is about to begin in 8 weeks!
I’m glad I could help him. I’m glad I didn’t allow him to stay when he was being a wreck. I am grateful that HE wants a better life. This epiphany was in large part due to him living on and off in frightening settings that he could afford, and realizing that it wasn’t working and he had to find another way to make his life more pleasant. He has a sponsor for the alcohol issue and he’s working the steps. He’s humbled and even though he is still super lonely he knows he is on the right path. His credo is “Take the easy way, have a hard life. Take the hard way, have an easy life.”
Annie Lamott quote: The willingness to change comes from the pain.
May it be forever so.
NICE NEWS! @Alair- going for a walk. It can be so good. It is one step at a time. I always find that looking ahead, like through a windshield, or on a walk or hike, is a great way to share thoughts and ideas, with a lot of space in between for quiet.
Thank you, @Thinkset, for sharing your experience and story of progress. ️
One tiny step forward- I told my son that today, it was time for him to leave the house for a short time. I offered to drive ( he has a DUI pending and hates to drive) or let him drive my car, or of course go for a ride himself. He responded with, what if I just take a walk with you? ( I tried that earlier in the week). Of course I said yes.
One step at a time.
My adult son also lives with us. He had his own house but one of our conditions to continue helping him was for him to sell his house and move back home. This was after 5 miserable years for all of us. He moved home right when COVID hit and everything shut down. For him, it was a good thing. He had to work from home and so did I do I was there to keep him from drinking. He slowly started doing things for himself. He kept drinking but at least we weren’t calling 911 every other week. He still isn’t sober but 2 years later, he is the best he has been in years. When I’ve asked him what helped he always tells me it’s being able to sleep and exercising. I still don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but for today, he is OK. Good luck!
Thanks for this question. Early recovery is tough, especially when they’re fresh out of treatment. I think there a few things important to understand in that second month:
When in active addiction, their brain has been hijacked. We’ve seen it before in our loved ones - they become a different person. And so it takes time to heal from that. Even if it may look he’s not doing the work you think he’s “supposed to” be doing, he may be doing some very hard internal work. Just getting up each day and not using - that’s work. And every day that he doesn’t use - that’s another to celebrate.
Setting boundaries to protect the peace in your home is important. Your home is your safe space, and right now, it’s also his safe space. It can be both. There is a great conversation here that I think you’ll find helpful, where other parents in this community discuss setting boundaries with their children.
Support looks different for everyone. I think connection is the most important thing. If your loved one is not into meetings or counseling, are there other ways in which he can connect? That’s great to hear he went on a walk with you - keep it up! Can you make it a regular activity? Maybe try a different place to walk/hike? Does he have any other activities, hobbies, or things he enjoys that you can support by giving him the space, time, means to do so?
Glad you’re here with us, @Alair. Let us know what you think about these ideas.
@momentsandlight , our food is similar. Probably because it is ballpark food. Chili dogs with onions, and Corn Chips with cheese melted ( we have to adapt our food because of my food allergies). And of course peanuts! We have to have those. Also an assortment of soft drinks as well as lemonade so that the missing beer won’t be so difficult.
If beer and ballgames have gone together prior to this, how do all of you manage that?
I like your statement “connection is the opposite of addiction.”
Thank you, @momentsandlight,
I will read the conversations about setting boundaries. For me, it is difficult to determine if I am being too soft (enabling), when I consider the brain part. I have been studying about the brain, and its structure damaged by the use of opioids. During my career in working with families, brain development was the basis for our curriculum. It all makes sense. The boundaries that we have set are regarding usage. It took me awhile to be strong enough to take a strong stand, but I did, and my son knows for certain that I will follow through, if he uses, at all, ever, immediately he has to leave. I feel like for now, that’s the important boundary.
I love the idea of trying to walk or hike frequently. We used to do that together a lot. After a short walk today, he complained that his legs hurt. Progress is that he didn’t bother asking for pain pills, because I got rid of them. He finally believes that. But he uses the statements about pain as a form of manipulation.
Our other family bond is baseball (Go Cardinals), and we have made plans for opening day to watch it at home together, making special food. I’ll keep trying to find ways to reconnect by asking him what he likes to do, and making suggestions of things he has enjoyed in the past.
@Alair That’s a good question and I wonder if others in the community have experience with navigating events/activities typically paired with alcohol. Fortunately (and a little surprisingly) my husband was able to quit alcohol pretty easily. He was a heavy drinker for a long time and during a good portion of his 20s and 30s, probably would not have been able to quit drinking. But opiates were his bigger issue. Because drinking is not so much of a problem for him, I don’t make it a big deal if he ever has a beer at say, a ball game, as a part of the experience.
It’s a good one and really makes you think differently about addiction, right? It comes from this Ted Talk by Johann Hari “Everything You Know About Addiction is Wrong” - definitely give it a watch/listen! -
I need to pray more and have faith this will get better. To take care of myself first. If I crash and burn my loved one will have no support.
I pray for you and your family’s strength and healing!..and so it is! Amen!
Thank you for sharing that Ted Talk. I feel it is a “must see” for anyone and everyone coping with addiction or the addiction of a loved one. That video is a great resource for our recovery library and is one of my most favorite shares! Was this a resource item available for access at the start of our group that I might have missed? It helped me understand the necessity of connection. Which helped me spark a conversation with my daughter concerning the importance of connecting post-recovery.
Progress to report, prior to returning from rehab Thursday, she scheduled her counseling and outpatient clinic appointments for this week. She has remained home and has not gone out to town without me or my spouse, has not had visitors from her drug connection past, and her cell phone has not been a top priority as in the past. We have had a few family conversations of “need to work on” topics to help her and our entire family continue with progress while leaving past patterns, worries, and disagreements behind. She did require having 2-3 days of catch up sleep her first few days back; which did cause me a bit of concern. Luckily that Ted Talk came along right when we needed it. I chatted with her about the importance of her not “hole-ing up” and that seeking a job, community service, or volunteer work to help her develop much needed connections.
@NAVYARM, thank you for staying involved in this @PeerGroup3. You are right, if you don’t take care of yourself when your son “wakes up” and wants to put his life back together the likelihood that you can help him then is really the joy time, you won’t want to miss a minute. Have a good day and do at least 3 things nice for yourself, just little things- or whatever.
So glad you found the video helpful, @sammiesame! I didn’t share it previously but thankful I shared it now! If you’re interested in other resources such as podcasts, here’s a great thread with recommendations:
Hooray, your daughter is home! I’m sure you’re so happy and relieved to have her back. And I’m definitely sure she needed that rest. Even though she spent a good amount of time at rehab, her mind and body still needs time to heal. Please remember to be patient, that there is no defined timeline for recovery, and that it’s not a linear process. I have to remind myself of this all the time, as my husband still has not made the connections that I know is crucial to his recovery. But I try to notice all the good he is doing rather than focusing on what I think he should be doing.
That sounds amazing! What are the special foods you have planned? We’re a White Sox family, and a polish sausage with grilled onions is a favorite ball park food for us. Might have to make them soon!
So glad to hear you have these bonding opportunities with your son, @Alair . Connection is the opposite of addiction.
I haven’t responded in a while, just a lot going on keeping myself busy. I did want to respond to the topic ‘What do I need to understand about recovery in this second month’. First I would like to thank @momentsandlight for posting the Ted Talk episode “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong”. You couldn’t have posted that at a better time because I had recently gone to lunch with my son. I had met him and his father for lunch after they had come back from a pre deposition meeting with my son’s lawyer. (My son has an active court case going on as he was in a motorcycle accident this past September). I met them so I could learn what went on in the meeting. During the lunch my son was withdrawn, quiet and angry. I did not get much much of a conversation out of him and I left feeling very very agitated. I called his father on the phone later and told him that I was really fed up with our son’s attitude and I was going to have a serious talk with him and tell him I’m sick of his bull****. !!! I was thinking about how I wanted him to react, how I wanted him to behave, what I wanted him to say, what I expected from the conversation, what I wanted… What I wanted… What I wanted…
Then I came home and I watched the Ted Talk episode. Well that was humbling to say the least. Extremely educational and informative and eye opening. It led me to ask myself the question: What have I been thinking this whole time? I’ve been thinking about what I have expected from my son. What i have expected him to do with his life. The choices I’ve expected him to make. The way I’ve expected him to handle his addiction. The way I have expected him to handle his accident and his recovery. This Ted talk was certainly an eye opener because I hadn’t realized how many expectations I have had from him this whole time and that’s the last thing an addict needs is for people around them to have all these expectations. How unfair is that? Here he is trying to figure out how he can find himself again, how he can find the life he truly wants, the life they used to have at one point in time. I have not gone deep into trying to understand how he has felt for the past (probably 8) years. I have only touched the surface of trying to understand what he has been feeling and going through. And I know the reason why I avoid trying to truly understand is because it’s such a scary and horrible and lonely place to go. But now my eyes are opened to a new understanding of addiction. Now I look that my son and his situation with much more empathy and understanding. I’m also now beginning to realize nothing will change overnight. Each day is a new day. Each step forward, no matter how small the step may be… we have to celebrate that progress!!! Yes last week my son was going to the package store package store buying liquor, alienating himself, not calling or texting me and not answering my calls or texts. Fast forward to this week… he is feeling hopeful with his court case, he’s setting up another appointment to see his counselor, he is happy that his sister is moving back home next week, he is talking about how good his workouts are making him feel and how much stronger he is getting.
Boy was I glad I never had that conversation I was planning on having with him. The one where i was going to get after him, tell him to “shape up or ship out.”…PAUSE…BREATH…BACK OFF…BE GENTLE…EDUCATE YOURSELF…BE KIND TO YOUR LOVED ONE…BE KIND TO YOURSELF… This “journey” we are all on takes time. A long time. Sometimes a lifetime. But they CAN get themselves through this and on to a path to have a beautiful life. So can we. Together. With connection, education, patience, compassion, support…LOVE. So please don’t give up hope. Tomorrow is another day. Celebrate all of the accomplishments, no matter how big or small. AND PLEASE WATCH THIS TED TALK EPISODE!!
I hope you all have peace and happiness come to you this weekend.
@zealand6868 Thanks for posting this. You can’t see me but I’ve been nodding along to everything you wrote! Realizing all those expectations I had put on my husband was a huge a-ha moment for me, too. Letting them go was a huge step forward. Hell, letting go of expectations put me on a whole new path!
Yes! Love this so much. Hugs to you and have a great weekend.
Wow! Just wow! You nailed it for me, just as the Ted talk started me on a new path. We are waiting for the legal consequences of a DUI, and all the uncertainty that entails. And I keep expecting him to …and expecting this and expecting that…
Your compassion and understanding demonstrates how we can remove the shame of addiction and instead support the very hard work of recovery. Thank you for your perspective.
I’m glad you and your son made that. Do you mind if I ask, does your state offer ARD? In PA ARD is a reduced sentence for 1st time DUI offense which allows the person charged to plead guilty, avoid jail, go on probation, attend traffic school and get their driving privileges restored quicker. My daughter failed too many drug screens. So, her ARD was revoked by the court. Unfortunately, she did not take the charges or probation serious enough. Please help your son understand that violating probation by failed drug test or a new charge, for example, may cause ARD revoked. If that happens then the maximum incarceration sentence for initial charge may be decided by the judge. When your probation is revoked by the court that violation is more serious than original charge or sentence. I tried to get my girl to put herself under house arrest to keep from relapsing and violating probation. However, she was not ready. So she has been in the courtroom numerous times, had thousands more $$ in lawyer fees, restitution, and supervision fees. All because she was not willing or able to pull herself out at that time. So she ended up in jail 3 times for probation violations and was finally court ordered to rehab. Essentially she has been stuck in this legal mess for near 2 years when she could have been done in 6 months after her first hearing. She could be driving by now if she would have realized the seriousness of being on probation.
Today I am grateful my daughter has returned home. She has passed 2 drug test and is 4 months sober. We are blessed by good God Almighty’s presence in our lives. Amen!
Congratulations to your daughter!!
She made her way home… Passing 2 drug tests and being 4 months sober is a huge accomplishment!! You are blessed by God. And you’re blessed with a daughter who is trying her best. You said…
“Essentially she has been stuck in this legal mess for near 2 years when she could have been done in 6 months after her first hearing. She could be driving by now if she would have realized the seriousness of being on probation.”
Yes she ‘could have been’ done with it and she ‘could be’ driving now but that didn’t happen because her brain was hijacked by the addiction. But look at her now. She’s trying her best, each day, to conquer her addiction. All the court stuff is just a bunch of crap that she will have to sort out eventually. I’m hoping each day she remains clean and sober will give her more strength, hope and empowerment.
I’m not sure if Massachusetts has ARD. My son’s situation is different as another driver hit him and that driver is at fault for the accident. I’m trying my best not to dwell on the past because that evokes feelings of regret, anger, disappointment. Then I have to be careful of thinking about the future because that’s when the anxiety wants to take over. So I take a deep breath.
Today is here.
My son is trying.
Take care of yourself @sammiesame♥️
@momentsandlight We are also a White Sox family!!! I KNEW we were kindred spirits! 🤍:black_heart:
That was my happy revelation today…gonna use it to get through today…especially since it’s now baseball season!!! Will use this to reach out to my sons…maybe the MLB will help bring us together some and distract them from their addictions! If they are home with me watching games then those are at least times they aren’t ingesting toxic substances!