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The Key to Dealing with My Son’s Drug Addiction? Setting Boundaries for Myself

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

I am a hard-headed stubborn guy with the propensity to be a control freak. (I hope there are no other fathers out there like me who are dealing with an addicted child.) It took me a long time to learn that my anger was a result of me not being able to control my son’s addiction. Eventually I learned that, at most, I have a small measure of influence with him. And the only real control I have is over my own self.

When Mom and I first began this nightmare of addiction we heard about boundaries. In my mind that was an easy one. Rules are rules; follow the rules and there would be no trouble. But I learned the hard way — addicts have no concept of rules and how they provide structure to society. If parents of an addict rely upon a set of rules to manage  their addict’s behavior, they will live in an angry and frustrating world.

My famous directive to my son — and it was usually delivered at the top of my lungs — was: “No Lying, No Stealing and No Drugs. JUST WHAT THE HELL IS SO HARD ABOUT THAT?!!”

I am finally beginning to understand, “just what the hell was so hard about that.” This has caused me more anger and frustration than just about anything else I’ve dealt with about his addiction. With me, anger and frustration nearly always dissolved into me hollering at him and anyone in the vicinity, resulting in more anger and hurt for all. In a hurting family, that is the last thing you need –  hurt compounded upon hurt.

I have learned that there is a big difference between rules and boundaries. Rules are easy. Rules are set and everyone follows. Boundaries are not rules. Boundaries help direct  your universe when the rules do not apply or are not relevant. My lack of clear boundaries for myself gave me permission and allowed me to justify enabling my son’s drug use. This has probably prolonged his addiction. This is a regret I live with every day.

Boundaries are healthy for you and those surrounding you. I cannot change my addict’s behavior by setting rules. Any success for me in dealing with my son’s addiction is a result of setting good boundaries for myself.

I choose where I want to go –  I no longer allow my addict to take me where he wishes to go. In a simplistic form, I can make a rule directed at my son that he cannot use drugs in my home. The reality is that he is an active addict; he will use drugs in my home. I will become angry because he violated my rule. I have a right to be angry, right? Did it make anything better or change anything? No, we are still at square one. I am angry that he is using drugs in my home, and I feel out of control and helpless. He is feeding his addiction.  All of this happens because I am trying to control something over which I have no control.

But I can establish a boundary – like this: I do not wish to live in a home were drugs are being used illegally. This actually puts everything on me; there is really no reason to become angry. I now have complete control of the situation and I have several options. I am not trying to control him. I get to decide on the actions in my life.

Boundaries must be set after much calm and reasoned thought. Setting boundaries with my addict in the heat of battle resulted in failure every time. Especially because those “boundaries” (really rules) I thought I was setting were being hollered at him and not being set for me. If you are setting boundaries for yourself and using a calm deliberate approach, success can be more easily achieved and you can control your own actions. That works well with the control freak in me. I set my boundaries to match my values.

To be clear, I do not see boundaries as a solid impenetrable barrier like the Berlin Wall, with heavy life-or-death consequences. I see the boundaries that we set for ourselves more like a rope line. There is a clear demarcation of where we decided we should not go and there is self-imposed security to make sure we know there are consequences for crossing the line. But there may be circumstances that necessitate crossing the line and there may be consequences that you or your loved one has to pay for that crossing.

For example, Mom and I have set a boundary about not visiting in jail because jail is punishment. But, our son is in jail and we went to visit him. Why would we go visit and violate our own boundary? Actually, we went for Mom. Mom had been having bad dreams about Alex and in all of her bad dreams Alex was with all of her dead friends and relatives. She was troubled by this. I’m not sure if she puts much stock in that sort of thing as a premonition or something but she was worried. I just look at it as a dream, but it troubled mom so that troubled me. We visited Alex in jail and the visit calmed her worries and she could once again sleep peacefully. If there are consequences to stepping over our boundary we shall deal with them when and if they arise.

Setting good boundaries for yourself allows you, the loved one of an addict, to bring a measure of control and sanity into a truly insane situation.

Posted by  |  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Taking Care of Yourself, Uncategorized

68 Comments on “The Key to Dealing with My Son’s Drug Addiction? Setting Boundaries for Myself”

Pat Nichols says:
February 4th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Well done Ron,

I really enjoyed your statement of, “I choose where I want to go – I no longer allow my addict to take me where he wishes to go.” That is a priceless statement.

Here’s something to share with your wife, my family does not refer to our son being in “jail” but prefer to call it “protective custody.”

You sound like a very educated parent and one who has a true passion to help other parents’.

I have answered a parent information/resource line for ten years. I have spoken to over 1500 parents who are in crises due to AOD from all over the country. I do it free, it’s confidential and no, I am not paid anything from anyone. I do it out of passion for parents, like me, who are/were in great pain and fear. So if you, or anyone you know wants to join me and other parents just send me an email at and I will email you some info.


Pat N.

Jill says:
February 25th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Ron, this is good advise and very helpful. I will share this with my husband. My son (16) is now in a rehab and will be home soon. We have had rule/boundery issues in the past where we do not allow drugs in our home and the rules were broken and any boundery that we seem to have set, he would find a way to cross the line. I hope that when he returns this will be different and he will be more respectful, however I need some ideas/suggestions on what to do if he starts crossing them again.


emmy says:
March 4th, 2010 at 3:30 am

i wish i could give a suggestion ,but the best i can say is that you and your husband decide on things that you can live with. would you both be able to say “if you cross this line, we will make it so you cannot drive? or some other consequence. Try and keep personal boundries within reason. Addiction is more than poor choices. Will your son continue to go to meetings? will he come back to anything that could keep him busy?
my heart goes out to you both.
from a mother of an adult drug addicted daughter whos child we watch/lives with us.

Susan says:
March 6th, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Many thanks to Ron for this and your other posts. I will keep reading. This post really speaks to where I’m at now, as one of the millions of mothers (and fathers, most likely) who cannot sleep… thank you for understanding that “Mom” needed to see with her own eyes that your son was “still there.” Also to the comment from emmy above, as to the car keys. Our daughter has put me to thinking on that: why have we NOT taken away keys to what is legally my vehicle? I always thought – he doesn’t need my car to meet his friends and party… he does need a car for school, work, or going to meetings… but I’m realizing that I need to be open to realistic consequences and interventions that have a true, practical effect, not just hot air!

Susan Lea says:
March 8th, 2010 at 8:37 pm

what a great idea; “I no longer allow my addict to take me where he wants to go.” I can’t believe how many times I waited with a coat on, sitting in the chair in the living room for my addict to tell me where she wanted to go. I’d get frustrated and start steaming because I had other things to do. She would pick up on my irritation and then a fight would ensue. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t considerate of my time! What a fool I was to think she was even aware that I HAD time.

Now I go places when I want – movies or plays or shopping – and I don’t ask her if she wants to go. It saves both of us lots of grief and makes life more enjoyable for me. Addicts are very selfish. If you wait for them to decide where they want to go, they can be surprised sometimes to find you’ve already left! And if she is going somewhere to meet up with a dealer, the last place you want to be is sitting in a car waiting for her.

Miss Sulaneous says:
March 16th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Your son needs you to visit him in jail, routinely.

You cannot punish and reject the addict out of him.

The more he feels rejected, and is rejected, by you, the more likely he is to continue his addiction.

Punishing your son for being in jail and an addict, by withdrawing your affection, and refusing to acknowledge his existence, is the ultimate rejection. Parental rejection is a form of abuse that leads to drug addiction.

Refusing to see your son in jail, as punishment, is not a boundary. It is a rule: Punish the addict.

Patti Herndon says:
March 18th, 2010 at 7:35 pm

It is helpful to set boundaries with some amount of reasonable consideration that there might arise circumstances along the journey that require adjustments in expectation and action.

It may become necessary to contemplate these adjustments so to remain consistant with the kind of support deemed necessary, in each individual case, toward the goal of continued learning, advances in coping and increasing family system growth for all involved in the process of addiction recovery.
The decision making required with regard to the substance dependency of a loved one is beyond difficult, a great deal of the time.Discernments are best made on a case by case basis by parents who are consistently committed to doing their best to do the next right thing. We should all give ourselves, and fellow parents, credit for that kind of dedication, even if some folks don’t approve of our response to our addicted child’s behavior or the consequences of their choices. It is really not up to anyone else to judge the determinations of what action we take, as parents, in regard to our loved ones addiction and the consequences of their choices associated with their dependency. On that subject of decion making…there is no way, considering the degree of difficulty existing with the process of addiction,(a difficulty that only a parent of an addicted child can truly appreciate), that we will as parents do all the right things at all the right times. But we continue to try, don’t we.

Reasonable, firm boundaries certainly help to provide a some sense of security and some amount of predictability pertaining to a condition that is anything but predictable.

It’s always a good idea to bring on board a mechanism of support, such as a phsychotherapist, or other licensed professional who specializes in addiction and/or co-occuring disorders whenever it’s possible for the family to choose that resource.
In addition, utilizing resources such as the Partnership website, or other quality websites designed to educate about drug abuse, substance use disorder and mental health issues increases knowledge about addiction, prevention and early intervention. All of these tools work in concert to help families in the journey toward sustainable recovery and well being.

Peace to you,as parents,and may that peace extend to all those you love.

Your children are blessed that you show such dedication to becoming increasingly healthy in the process by engaging healthy dialogue centered on recovery efforts.

Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the destination. Godspeed in your travels…

Carolyn says:
April 13th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Thank you for these thoughts. I have enabled my son for too long and the rules vs boundaries comments have helped hugely. Here is a letter I have just written my son, I hope it helps someone else. I would love any thoughts on it:

14 May 2010
Dearest Ron
I am hugely concerned about your marijuana use. I have seen changes in you over the past few months that lead me to worry about your current and future health and well-being. I love you dearly and can no longer stand by and let this happen without taking action.
In my view, you are suffering from substance abuse with marijuana and this is evidenced by the fact that you are smoking it virtually daily and are unable to have a period of a week, or even a couple of days, without using marijuana at all. I believe you are using marijuana in order to function right now and that is addiction to a substance. I know you also drive under the influence of marijuana.
From reading scientific research I know that there are likely effects of prolonged use of marijuana. I have seen a lot of the following with you recently : anxiety, sleep disturbance, irritability, moods swings, lethargy, explosive outbursts, minimal interaction with me, Jill and the rest of your family, changes in eating patterns, frequent absences from school and now Uni, changes of friends, spending large amounts of money, decrease in other activities. Long term I am worried about impaired brain function, memory loss and respiratory illness.
I believe that you use marijuana as much as you do to lessen anxiety, sleep, de-stress and feel better able to cope. I believe that there are issues that need to be resolved in your relationship with your Dad, and me. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to help resolve these issues – I promise you I will take ownership of things I can be doing better and I ask you to do the same. If these issues aren’t addressed I believe that you will suffer long-term with anxiety and that your health and future relationships will be severely affected.
What I want
I want you to significantly reduce your marijuana use to less than 2 times per week and keep it that way. Preferably I’d like you to give it up completely but I’ve learnt to take baby steps.
What do you want? Do you think your use of marijuana – and the subsequent effect it is having on you – is acceptable and good for you now and in the future?
What I offer to help
Love and support in any way I can
I will support you to take ownership of this problem yourself and to be responsible for your own physical and mental well-being.
Professional support by trained, experienced professionals used to dealing with drug dependency
I will pay for you to attend a gym

My boundaries:
I do not wish to live in a home were drugs are being used illegally
I do not wish to live in a home where people are in bed until midday or later then watch TV all afternoon and evening
I do not wish to continue paying the living expenses of my children if they choose not to work or study
I do not wish to enable my children in any way to use Marijuana and become lethargic, anxious, and unmotivated.
My rules:
You are
• not to have any marijuana on you, in the house, or in your car at any time
• to be out of bed by 9 am each day
• to shower and tidy your room each day
• to work three nights per week at xx
• not to use my EFTPOS card at all
• to have your car serviced by the end of the month
• to have the bumper back on your car by the end of the month whether it is repaired or not

My car and parking card will no longer be available to you – including to go to Uni
I will no longer top up your phone
You will hand back the keys to your car after 1 May if the work above is not complete
If you haven’t rectified the situation by 1 June the car will be sold for parts
If your marijuana use continues to be as extreme as it is now I will call in the relevant support from drug and alcohol abuse support centres.
The reason I have raised the ‘car’ issue here is that I think this is important to you and that it’s something you would like to achieve. I believe that decreasing your marijuana use will increase your ability to achieve some of your goals.
I love you dearly. I admire your personal values and respect you as a person. I am extremely proud to call you my son. I believe that you are on a track that will lead you to personal happiness with your dreams and aspirations for your future. However, recently things have begun to change and I can no longer stand by and see you sink deeper into yourself and live a life that is as painful as you have recently described.


Louise says:
May 8th, 2010 at 10:25 pm

My 20 year old daughter has opted out of out patient for the second time. She failed a drug and alcohol test the last time and the programs said she needed to go inpatient. She refuses to do this, saying she can get clean without it. As a result of this, I am no longer allowing her to live in my home, even though she maintains that she is not using. I suspect she is not using her drug of choice, oxycotin, but feels it is ok to drink socially. I am struggling with what other boundaries I need to set. I do let her come over and visit. She has no driver liscense due to a DUI and I know that makes life hard for her. She can get her liscense back next month. I have her car and am thinking of withholding it from her at that time because she is not working a program.

Ron Grover says:
May 9th, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Dear Louise,

I am sorry you are experiencing this with your daughter. I have experienced exactly the same issue with my son as you are with your daughter now. My son is 22. He had lost his license due to not paying tickets. He is an oxy and heroin user.

Two points, first my experience is that I could not punish my son out of his addiction. I tried and it just didn’t work and others have related the same experience to me.

Secondly, my son had a truck that was titled in my name and was insured on my policy. I came to the realization that he is an active user and if he had an accident legally I could be held responsible. More importantly I know he is a drug addict and if he hit someone in it and hurt them or killed them I didn’t know how I’d live with myself. My solution was that he could have his truck and I would give it to him free and clear on these conditions. He must title, license and insure the truck in his name. Seeing how he had no job and no money if was completely up to him. I parked the truck and locked up the keys. We live in a suburban/rural part of Kansas City and there is no transit system of any kind. His solution was to beg and borrow rides. Everything was his choice.

You must not let your daughter have the vehicle if it is in your name due to legal and moral reasons. If it is in her name unfortunately, you probably don’t have much of a choice.

If you want to read more about our day to day struggle parenting our son feel free to check out our personal blog at: . Feel free to write any time.

Ron Grover

Cathy says:
January 23rd, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I have been searching all morning for this and you have come the closest to answering my question. I am in the process of setting boundaries with my ex-husband who is a stage 4 alcoholic and marijuana user. We have an 11 year old daughter who has a ton of her own problems to deal with. My ex’s mother insists that our daughter MUST see her dad. She lays a huge guilt trip on him and “forces” him to come see us (we don’t live in the same state, 2 hrs away). She pours him into the car and drives him up here drunk. He shakes and goes straight to bed when he arrives. I fear I’m going to have as much, if not most of my trouble setting boundaries with her as I will setting them with him. She is a HUGE enabler and I am tired of being manipulated by her as much as I am sick to death of his drinking and being so self absorbed. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you

Renee Freitas says:
April 24th, 2011 at 4:59 am

Hello my name is Renee I have a daughter that is addicted to herion. My life for the past three yrs has been difficult to say the least Im at the point where im taking my life back but i have other family members that have not been going thru it with me. I have recently refused her a flop house and she has turned to family members and they are looking at me like a bad mom. only because they have not had to go thru this should i feel quilty? she has been in several rehabs and jail IM SO TIRED! I love my daughter…… and do not have much hope left……Her name
is Michelle she is 20 yrs old.

kelly says:
April 30th, 2011 at 1:47 am

i have a son 26 that was hurt at work and was given pills to control the pain and guess what he is a drug user now. I fight with him daily, i have paid for suboxine treatment he is doing better then he was a year ago but still using sometimes. I cant continue to live like this. I go to bed thinking of him wake up thinking about him. HE still lyes to me, it has taken over my whole life! I fell like i cant even leave my house because i think if i watch him it will be ok.

Jill says:
May 6th, 2011 at 1:14 am

I have a 20 year old son, is addicted to many different drugs. Did a 3 week outpatient program, 3 day inpatient, but chose not to stay. He is still living in our home making our lives hell. After reading this website, I’ve learned it is hell because we have had no boundries I suppose. He has had many jobs that only last a couple of weeks at a time, I think long enough to get some money, use the money on drugs, then take the 2-3 weeks to find another job, excuses everytime, we allow him to stay in our home because I cannot bare the thought of him living out of his car that he threatens to do. All I want is for him to get on his feet and out of our home. My husband says it will never happen and wants to kick him out to live in his car, I can’t. I guess I probably need to probe this website more, but from what I read I need a better understanding of boundaries. Am I suppose to allow him to live in our home and just live my life around him and not let him stand in our way of doing the things we want to do? Is this what it is saying, or is setting a boundary mean give him a set timeframe for getting out? We are confused as what we as parents are suppose to do, rock bottom they say…tough love they say. The lies are all the time, he can’t even remember the things he has shared with me in the past, and by past I mean the past 2 months. I don’t even know who he is anymore, how can I put him on the streets? We think if we don’t kick him out our own safety could be jeopardized at some point. At what point will he not pay his debts and seek him out at our home? Nobody deserves this life.

Jean says:
May 14th, 2011 at 3:54 am

My son is a heroin addict. He refuses treatment of any kind other than 5 days of detox. He hates God and despises any kind of self help meeting or therapy. He has a two and a half year old son and is responsible for monthly childcare payments. I ache for my grandson and his mother who has never been married to my son. My son can not get a driver’s license because of underage drinking. He could not get financial help/medical insurance because of outstanding warrants. He now has two outstanding medical bills from two stints in a detox at the local hospital. I don’t even know if he will ever be eligible for a driver’s license or even some financial aid with his hospital bills.
Will he ever be accepted into a detox again? I know that I can not begin to help him until he stops using heroin. I feel so helpless and cry everyday which helps nothing.
He wants to work and drive. He wants to take care of his son. I know he has to stop using. But secretly, I wonder – does he have a chance in hell to do any of these things with his record of underage drinking and disorderly conduct.
He has already stolen cash from his sister and I suspect he is stealing things and selling them. He is 24 and I am fastly losing hope that he will see 25. I thank you for sharing your stories of your family’s pain and hope for a better tomorrow. Setting boundaries is a helpful concept.
I have to keep myself going and not fall apart. I just feel despair at the moment. Peace to all.

Colleen says:
July 17th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

A huge thank you for this article! I am struggling with my son’s addiction to pot and meth. I have tried the tough love thing, yet ran when he wanted to move home for TWO DAYS! Then back he went to his addiction and the girlfriend that supports it and him. Like your wife, I have had terrible dreams that the next time I see my son will be to id his body. Our son doesn’t live at home anymore because the only two “rules” we set was ” No Ghetto Girlfriend and No drugs” in our home. He could not comply, so he chose to move out. Our extended families support/ enable my son to continue his life of drugs by accepting his behaviour. I won’t budge for the sake of my son’s life.

Shelia says:
July 26th, 2011 at 1:38 am

Colleen: After reading your post, it was exactly how i feel and our situation. I am also feeling as though i am the bad mother. I am no longer allowing my son to live at my home after many many warnings to get help. I will not budge either.

Thanks for this article.

sherry says:
October 6th, 2011 at 2:40 am

I have a son that is an addict and I’ve tried to help him with rehab and other things but he still goes back to using other things that wont get him tested positives when he goes to court. I constantly worry and cry. Wondering if im going to have him the next day. He has stolen thousands of dollars from us and I have decided not to let him come back home. How do I deal with this? He doesn’t call me and let me know he’s ok. I have others checking on him but its not the same. I feel lost without him.

Kindra says:
November 15th, 2011 at 6:57 am

Thank you for all who posted specifically on ‘boundaries’. Ron, your statement about “I choose where I want to go – I no longer allow my addict to take me where he wishes to go” stood out most. I pray it become ingrained into me these next weeks, months, and years to come. I am a mother of two addicted kids. My daughter, 20 and my son, 17. My son has been in a program for well over a year now and has worked a pretty successful program. Although I am very proud of him and his accomplishments, I am trying to maintain a realistic approach to his sobriety upon transitioning home in over a month. It is a peculiar position and emotion, being the mom of two addicts. At times I very much wrestle guilt and shame from my own past choices that have effected my kids. Yet, needed the reminder about boundaries being more about ‘me’ then a set of rules. Currently I am faced with setting some firmer boundaries with my daughter (who is still actively using), as her manipulations have gotten out of control! At the same time, facing my sons transition home.. establishing safe boundaries for myself and him. But also, knowing how to encourage him to stand up for himself, set his own personal boundaries, etc toward his sister. My kids have a very close relationship; therefore I realize these boundaries will not come easy for my son to establish with his sister. I have been going to Al-anon and this is helping quite a bit, but any/all suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

kathryn says:
November 26th, 2011 at 1:09 am

Need more info on setting hnealthy boundaries with a loved onethats an addict. They mainly borrow money that never gets paid back & manipulates when I say I give in…any suggestions would be great. Thanks

Ron Grover says:
November 30th, 2011 at 3:04 am

Dear Kathryn,

Boundaries are complicated but can be established easily and learned by all.

First of all, be clear about your own values. Understand within yourself where the lines are in your life and for yourself. That is the start.

Be careful and do not confuse boundaries with rules. A good general guide that I used was a rule usually begins with “You” and a boundary begins with “I”.

Let’s throw out an example. “You cannot use drugs in my house.” This is pretty easy. A rule for your addict. It is your house and you get to set the rules, right? Yes that is right, you get to set the rules. Now what are your options? Well, let’s live in the world of “what is’ versus the world of “what ought to be.” Your loved one is an addict with an active disease, they are going to use drugs. That person has no respect for rules or laws. Your addict is going to use drugs in your home regardless of your rules. Have current rules and laws been effective in curtailing or stopping their behavior? If the answer is no then what do you do and what has been done up to this point that has been effective? The point of this is with these rules you are trying to control someone and something in which you have no ability to control.

In reality who is the only person that you can actually control?

“I will not live in a home in which illegal drugs or drugs being used illegally are being used.” This is a boundary statement. First of all this boundary is for someone in which you have total control. “I” is the key component. If this is your boundary then you have choices. If you are in that situation you make a choice. (a)Remove the person using drugs illegally. (b) Remove yourself from the situation. (c) Choose to do nothing.

There are 3 obvious choices and there may be move based upon your own situation but if you notice each of those choices belong to you and depend not at all on changing the behavior of your addict. Boundaries are about YOU not the addict.

As far as money to an addict. If your addict ask you to buy heroin. stick the needle in their arm would you? Enabling and providing cash or any type of item or money to an addict is the same as buying the drugs and shooting them up. Are you willing to give your addict the money for the drugs that kills them? Where should your boundary be as it relates to money?

I hope this helps. You can find more information on my personal blog. It is more about the day to day parenting an addict. My son has been clean since July 2010. If you want to read more about what we went through during his active addiction go back to July 2010. The web address is:

Wishing you well. Feel free to write any time.

Ron Grover

Tess says:
December 26th, 2011 at 10:04 pm

My son is 18. For one week now he is living in a tent in the woods. He did call on Christmas and came home for about 24 hours. I gave him a choice: Go to rehab and he could stay. He said no. So he went back to his tent. He says it’s not about the “marijuana”, it’s about authority. He doesn’t want anyone telling him what to do. He wants the freedom to stop smoking on his own. I am having a difficult time setting this boundary knowing he is living in this environment. He has 5 months left to graduate, if he does. I feel helpless. I struggle with calling the police and turning him in. How do you know when to intervene and when to let consequenses fall as they would naturally? Ex: letting him get caught on his own. He is illegally trespassing and having pot parties. If I don’t intervene and his drug use escalates or he dies in the woods and I don’t know where to find him? It’s just hard to know what to do?

Vivian says:
January 30th, 2012 at 6:04 am

My son is in a sober living facility. Over the last, at least seven years, he has drained me financially. Now he needs me to pay his rent until he gets a job. I get physically sick when I have to deal with his problems. I know he needs support. But, I am drained. I tell myself I am not going to answer the phone, then I feel guilty and answer it. I do not have kind things to say to him, so I make him feel like crap. Someone help me, please, to know what to do in this situation.

Sharene says:
March 20th, 2012 at 1:26 am

I am two years with my son 24 and my Daughter in-law 22 they started off great kids with dreams they had two joyful boys my grandsons, fab patents they started with oxy now two years latter don’t no what thy are using, they lost my grand kids to her parents thankful to them they lost there home car boys toys sold them for drugs, I m screaming inside every day they are on the streets they call ask for money I say no they text they are going to kill them selfs every day of my live past two years has been controlled by this addiction when they had my grand kids it was money for that now I don’t have to pay to see my grand kids but now it’s I will kill my self, I beg them please go to rehab get off drugs they say they don’t do them,,,,, please help

Community Manager Olivia says:
March 20th, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Dear Sharene,

It is so painful to see someone you love hurt themselves, I cannot imagine how difficult this is for you. Hopefully, your children will want to get help for their addiction, and help is available. While you may not be able to help them right now, you can help and take care of yourself. Here are some support groups for parents who have a child with addiction problems:

(757) 563-1600
Meeting Directory:

310.534.8188 or 800.477.6291

Families Anonymous (FA)
(800) 736-9805
Meeting Directory:

I hope this helps,

Johanna Bos, LCSW CASAC
Parent/Substance Abuse Specialist

celina Garcia says:
March 26th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I have a 23 year old son who left yesterday walking and drank all night and got beat up. He told me some pretty hurtful things yesterday and today he has sent me a sorry and that he is on the streets. This is not the first time. I feel like if I go get him I am saying it’s ok for him to do this to our family and if I don’t go get him I fear he will die. What should I do?

Connie L says:
April 19th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I hear all of you. My son is 23 and was the perfect son until about 2 years ago when I found out he was doing Oxy’s. I got him into rehab after I threw him out of the house for stealing my medicine after I had neck surgery. He is my youngest. I thought he would never do wrong. My older son (who is a diabete) is now in rehab. It took going to jail and getting court ordered for rehab. I am hoping the same thing happens to my youngest. He just spend a month in jail and I was so hoping that would straighten him up and he seemed so sincere but when he got out he was right back at it. He even Overdosed at his fathers shop and his cousin did CPR and brought him back. If that doesn’t wake you up WHAT DOES???? I am at wits end and I don’t know what to do. I lay in bed each night and plan my sons funeral. I can’t sleep. He is no longer with me. I moved out of my 2 bedroom apt into a one bedroom. He is now with his older sister along with his girlfriend who I am sure is also doing drugs. She is the one that was on them when they met 3 years ago. It makes me sick….I don’t know how much more I can mentally take. Thanks for listening and any advise I would appreciate. I have 4 children and 3 are drug addicts. The youngest one is the most active. Thanks so much.

Ellie says:
May 13th, 2012 at 2:02 am

My son is an addict. I having difficulty processing my emotions of being scared and angry.

Kim says:
May 22nd, 2012 at 5:46 am

I have read these comments & the pain is with us all. How sad that such a big part of society is going this way, drug addiction is such an insane thing to deal with. I have started to take back control of my life after getting my 27 year old son to move out of our home. I also have had to get an intervention order to keep him away from our home as he kept breaking in and stealing. The text messaging and all have stopped for today. I dont project too far ahead these days and find it much easier, its no point wasting time analysing or thinking what if. Just live for today. Al Anon is a wonderful place to teach us to live our own life for us. It sounds hard but detaching from their problems, and not owning their issues is a great start to taking back our own lives. Let go & let God

Debi says:
May 29th, 2012 at 11:40 pm

I am the single mother of a adult addicted child. I have permanent custody of her oldest child since she was 3 months old. I have put up with so much misery from her. She has decided to hate me and punish me every chance she gets. She knows how to play the rehab game to keep Child Protective Services from taking her other child, who was born addicted to herion. I understand that I have enabled her, allowed her to throw aside boundries. I understand that I need to stop being accomadating, to stop enabling. I should not try top foster a relationship between her and my granddaughter, as it is not healthy. I need to find myself again. I have lived with her addiction for far too long. It is just too painful to have to be around her. I am so tired of being angry. I want a normal life!

mary says:
May 30th, 2012 at 4:55 am

I have dealt with my daughters addiction for 5 years. She has stollen everything I had. I keep praying that it will change but it doesn’t. It is the most awful roller coaster. I used to be so fun, but I don’t even know who I am anymore. I just took guardianship of her son and I thought that would change things but, nothing matters but that damn drug. I’ve tried multiple rehabs but, I guess if they don’t want to they don’t. I want so bad to get my life back and she just wont let us.How do you do it. Does counseling help? It’s like a hell that wont stop until they are dead.

Jon says:
June 6th, 2012 at 9:07 am

Dear Ron, Do you think that some parents may be partially responsible for their children turning to drugs?

Maria Blanco says:
June 12th, 2012 at 10:39 pm

My son is an alcohol and drug addict. He is 26 yrs old, after going to college he’s decided to come back home, I set boundaries : no drug or alcohol use, no lies , I also told him he needs to get a job, he parties a lot and then gets up late and stays in the Internet all day long. My biggest problem is my husband, I don’t get his support, he makes me feel guilty by telling me that I have no compassion and that I like to attack my sin. My husband is also an alcohol abuser and marihuana user, even though now he is doing neither because I told him if he did it he would have to leave the house. Idon’t do drugs or alcohol and right now I am the end of my rope. I am 61 and have a very demanding job, there are days when I want to disappear because I don’t know what to do. I love my son with all my heart and have tolerated his behavior for 7 years now but enough is enough.

vicki says:
June 23rd, 2012 at 4:04 am


Jennifer says:
July 3rd, 2012 at 8:14 pm

My step-daughter has been a drug user for about 8 years I believe. She is only 21…she has a 6 month old daughter and now she has lost custody. Most of her family and surrouding people are drug addicts themselves and don’t think she has a problem hence she does not think she has one either. Since we discovered her problem me and her father have tried to talk to her, tried to get her to move in with us to take her away from that lifestyle…but knowing she would have rules to follow she always refused. When I found out she was pregnant I just knew this was going to end badly…the father is also a drug addict. They both have anger issues and have fought so many times and sorta broken up and gotten back together it’s crazy. I knew there couldn’t take care of a child…they can’t take care of themselves. We tried to talk to them, get them to understand to seek help before it was too late and they lost the baby…now here we are…I thought she would finally have that push she needs to do what she needs to do to get her daughter back. But looks like she’s not going to do anything about it…no detox…no school…no work…well I have decided on boundaries of my own.

I refuse to be part of the life of someone who will not help themselves and will no do what they need to do for their child.

I refuse to continue pretending like everything will be ok when cleary it never will.

I will always love her but will offer or give no help until I am proven that the proper help is being taken.

I refuse to let my son be around people who use drugs.

Thank you for your article, I hope one day I will be able to say that we have been successful with our family.

Pat says:
July 10th, 2012 at 2:36 am

Hello All,

Our war stories sound the same.Detaching with love is the buzz term, but I can’t sam to do that. I can detach, but I am almost unable to feel love anymore. It’s an awful deadness I feel toward my own son.

He wants our love and approval. I believe he needs it. We need to feel loved and approved of too. Too often we get into this enabling then disabling cycle. It’s a vicious ride.I believe drugs are pure evil.

Having said all of the above, I pray. I pray God will help me to keep an open heart, a clear mind, give me wisdom, and help me to let go and let Him get to my son. I have seen miraculous recoveries in other addicts, but Christ was always at the core of their successful recovery. This beast is big, but no match for God. I’m praying for all of you. Anyone on this forum who feels led to pray for us, please let’s lift each other and our addicted loved ones up to an Almighty God. Now would be a good time for miracles. I’m praying that they begin to manifest in your lives. Things may have to get worse before they get better, but HANG ON, and HOLD ON—I believe God is sovereign over all. Even our faulty reactions. He knows our parents hearts, and He weeps for us, and does hear us when we submit our lives to His Lordship and admit that we too are helpless without the power of God in these circumstance. He loves our children more than we do, if that is possible, he created them and entrusted them to our care. He won’t abandon, or leave us as orphans, although some times things get dark. The darkest times ARE JUST BEFORE THE DAWN. I’m praying for this whole generation, that they go FREE, in the name of Jesus! Amen

Kathy says:
July 10th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I am so sorry for what we are all going through. My 17 year old son is an addict. I try to set boundaries, but it so goes against my insticts. He was adopted from overseas. I feel such overwhelming sorrow and that I failed. His birthmom made the decision to send him to the US to be adopted so he would have a better life, not this life.

He has been in and out of rehab, but doesn’t understand what it means to commit to recovery. He expects the clinicians and me, his mom, to do it for him. Now he is suspected in a burglary. He has stolen from me, my sig other and his sister many times, but now a dear neighbor. I am sick. I have started Al-Anon, but cannot shake the though the I can only be as happy as my least happy child.

I appreciate this column and comments. I often feel so alone.

cindy says:
July 13th, 2012 at 12:47 am


My 18 year old who has been in rehab and the emergency room for DXM, just stormed out when I gave him our house rules. I found drugs in his room (again). He claims they aren’t his. Here are the rules I gave him. Am I being unreasonable as he claims? He is not in school.

1.No drugs or alcohol or mind altering substances. You must have an initial drug test and you should expect periodic drug testing for different substances. No excuses such as, “It’s not mine” or “I had a cold” will be accepted.
2.Keep car clean, maintained, and insured
3.Get a driver’s license
4.Save $25 per week in our joint account
5.You are now an adult living in OUR home. You must keep it clean to OUR specifications. This includes but is not limited to:
•Keep room clean.
•Keep bathroom clean.
•Keep kitchen clean.
•Plan laundry times so you are not leaving clothes in the washer or dryer. Do not dress out of the dryer.
6.Help out. Begin to take responsibility for living in our house. This could include but is not limited to:
•Taking out the trash
•Empty the dishwasher

7. Be a part of the family.

Lori says:
July 17th, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I feel so sorry for all of you and can relate to most. My 28 year old son has been an alcoholic and drug addict since he was 14. Although he completeted a 3 month recovery program and has remained clean and sober for 7 months we are still feeling the affects of this addiction.

Because of his past drug use he is still learning to act his age and be responsible for his actions. He has a new girlfriend who he started dating just months before he went into rehab and I know she is still doing drugs and drinking. He says it doesn’t bother him but it makes me sick to think that this girl is subjecting him to the lifestyle he fought so hard to get out of.

I want you to know that just because your child may be sober does not mean that everything is okay now. He has been going to NA meetings everyday, counseling every week and has a sponsor that he talks to regularly but he still talks about feeling like using. Every day is a new day for us and we pray to God that He will keep our son safe and us sane.

What I have learned through all of this is that I can only control myself and I can’t control my son. He is an adult and makes his own decisions even if i don’t like them. I can only tell him how I feel and the rest is up to him. Setting biundries is the only way you can live with an addicted child no matter how old they are. They need to know that they can do whatever they want in their life but they can’t or won’t take down anyone else with them. And you cannot enable them or they will never see the consequences of their behaviors.

Good luck to all of you.

Ann says:
August 4th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I was visiting my children at their fathers house….it was early in the morning and I watched my son sleep as peaceful as an angel…he is 20. His distructive, abusive, drug addicted self lulled me into some kind of dream state…and altered state if you will. I thought to myself how easy it would be to purchase a gun and while he say sleeping…end his life and the horror that he has cause our family…forget that it took me years to get pregnant and years of tears to raise him….I rehersed in my mind calling the police and telling them of the attrocity. I rehursed the speach I would give my family and resolved myself to a life in prison…then I snapped out of it…I quit caring for a while…his father an sister ignore him…he comes and goes in the house…I just can’t believe that I have given birth to such a monster…

Ron Grover says:
August 10th, 2012 at 1:36 pm


Where there is life there is hope.

Please go to my personal blog and read about my son. My blog is a more personal account of parenting an addict.

Be sure to go back before July 2010. Before he had done everything and in July my son was speedballing. We knew it probably would not be long before he died.

Something triggered in him. He had a profound experience and went cold turkey in his girlfriends basement. My son has been clear and sober since.

Where there is life there is hope.

Ron Grover

Jen from Aus says:
August 17th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Ron, thanks for the saying “where there is life there is hope”. I too have felt like Ann and it scares me. I will read your blog to keep myself moving forward in this journey so many of us have to endure as parents (around the world) of drug addicts.

Diana from Milwaukee says:
August 20th, 2012 at 11:08 pm

My 26 year old son has been a heroin addict for the past five years. He has tried to quit once before, to no avail. Rehabs, counselors, social workers, doctors, he refuses to listen to anyone and thinks he can quit on his own. He has now succumb to taking Suboxone Film. He takes it in front of me ($20 each) and it comes in the form of a white or clear small strip. Half inch. I have read that Suboxone is orange in color. He tells me it is a generic form of Suboxone. Is there a white or clear form of Suboxone Film?

Jan says:
September 1st, 2012 at 4:57 pm

After reading all of the comments from loving mothers and fathers I understand the hurt each of you have gone through. I am still going through difficulties with my adult child but at least she has shown improvement. I could write a book that would shock each and everyone on this post of what I have been through in the past 5 years. However, this past year I had to search for other mothers in the same situation is was in. When I found Moms In Prayer International online I called to get help. After talking to a state director of the ministry program she came to my house to speak. What a wonderful blessing. After learning of this ministry our prayer meeting has started to grow. We have been meeting once a week praying for each child, giving praise to God and testimonials of what God has done in our child’s life. This program is wonderful and if you ever need to talk to somebody you have another mom that knows what you are going through. PLEASE CALL MOMS IN TOUCH INTERNATIONAL – and become a part of it. REMEMBER, we as mom’s has made some terrible mistakes in the past – but the BEST MOM YOU CAN EVER BE IS A “PRAYING MOM”. Love you all!

Marlene says:
October 7th, 2012 at 2:20 am

Gosh,this all sounds sooo familiar. My son is now 26 and has been using since he was 13. I am hear to tell you the best thing is to not let them live with you. I enable and do the things for him he must learn to do for himself. It is heartbreaking. But I guess after seeing him almost die many many times I have had to learn. Me running around with a safety net only prolongs the outcome. He is in jail now conviced of a felony for distruction of property. Gee, he did nothing wrong (yeah right). Just drove the car and the other guy did the damaage to the cars with a golf club. I have had to repeat that I love him but he must take responsibility. I have learned also that starting drugs at such an early age stunts the maturity. Anyway, I hope my words can help someone. I have had to learn boundaries for sure. I love my son but I do him no favors by giving in to his manipulations. I now support him emotionally as he knows I always will but i will no longer enable. It has taken me many years to learn this.

Marlene says:
October 7th, 2012 at 2:29 am

An addition to my last message. I have just been diagnosed with Crohnes disease and have severe psoriasis. Both are caused from stress, worry and anxiety. Please learn from me and take care of yourself. Your health will suffer if you do not. The one thing I remember so well when visiting my son in a rehab center after him being angry with me, an aid walked me to the elevator and said “go home and take of you, it is sure not you he is worrying about”. How true. They are selfish.

Mindy says:
December 7th, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I logged onto this site looking for some answers on how to deal with young kids who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. My daughters boyfriend abuses prescription drugs and alcohol. He has been in Jail and Prison for it and is right back to his old ways. He has parents who have given him a job, pay for his College and offer him a very nice home to live in and yet this kid, in his early twenties, is blowing it. He now has given pills to my daughter who never did that and I fear she is getting dependent on them. His parents kicked him out and he is now here. The pills were found and disposed of, but I’m sure he’ll just go find more from someone. He lies and now my daughter is lying to me. My heart is racing right now just thinking about it and I’m scared to leave either of them alone in my apartment. I’ve asked him to leave. I don’t want him here or illegal medications. I can understand why his parents have kicked him out they’re tired of being hurt. They know they can’t help him and I’m sure it’s frustrating to watch your child kill themselves when they could have a bright future. That’s how I feel and he isn’t my child. I hope he hasn’t dragged my daughter into it beyond a point of no return. After all the drama he has been through the last 48 hours, all he is asking is, “Where are my pills”. Not, look at the mess I’ve created, look at all the people I’m hurting, or what am I going to do. He can’t function sober and he definitely can’t function after taking the pills. It’s pathetic to watch. He is the only one that can help himself and I think after everything his been through, even with all the pain the drugs have caused him in his life, he still wants to be high. I don’t want to watch someone destroy themselves and now my daughter.

Dave M says:
December 8th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

All of us are Far From Alone !!! We are in an epidemic…I don’t believe it will stop untii the courts ger tough on the Dealers and The athorities are backed by the powers to be….in our case here the RCMP..They actuallu appear to do very little about the problem of Hard Drugs..I do realize that their hands are tied to some extent by the screwed up government laws as well as the drug dealers out smarting them…so to speak…however way too much effort is being put into marajuana in canada and the usa when we are faced with the hard drug epidemic which is the real assult on our children which as well devestated the whole Family and society as a whole…lets face it marajuana as mind altering as it is is Not what causes Steeling..lying..deciet..manipulation..destrictuve behavior..I could go on and our children as well as many parents as well which in turn devastates entire families…I have my doubt that the long term results of drug addicion can only lead to countless let down for all involved..the lack of education that parents have to reconize the symptons and their denial that their child is possibly on drugs that is causing them thier unsual violent Etc behavior which had peviously been totally out of character lets the problem escallate to an almost unmanagable and hopeless situation that in the end destroys families and lives…I have lived the hell for 7 years with my now 22 yo son…damn he’s trying..Finally…but headway is hard….we did the jail..the whole deal..big time…Funny thing that in jail here they had oxy’s and needels that were smuggled in…LOL..what a JOKE The system is,,,,wake up…stop filling our jails/prisons with pot heads/dealers…legalize the stuff so we can Tax it and fill our jails with the real criminals ..Organized Criminals Etc that are reeking havoc on society. God Help Us ALL ..the future can only get worse at this rate..Our Governments are a Total JOKE !!!!!!!!!!!!

Carol says:
December 16th, 2012 at 2:14 am

So, like all of you, I’ve got a beautiful 23 year old daughter that started with weed, switched to Oxy, and then heroin. She decided to admit herself to an inpatient detox. I was very glad that she did, she definitely needed to go. She then went to a 10 day rehab, and is currently supposed to be in a sober living program. I say supposed to be because she was trying to figure out a way to get out of the halfway house before she even got there. She actually told me that she didn’t need to be stuck around “those kind of people”. Needless to say, she was quite annoyed with me when I reminded her that she is also one of them.

I have not heard from her in a week, she told me that she can not have access to a phone until she has been in the program for 14 days. I truly hope she is finally telling the truth, but I am afraid for her. She isn’t anywhere near as tough as she thinks she is, and would be an easy target if she is living on the street.

I also feel an immense amount of guilt over her addiction. Was there something that I missed? How could I have been so stupid and gullible? I have told her that she will not live in my house ever again. She has tried to manipulate her sister into letting her sleep on her couch, just until she can get back on her feet. I’ve been working with my older daughter on how to say no.

It is heartbreaking in every aspect. I have told her that I will not stand by and watch her die. She will kill herself eventually, either by choice or by overdose. I love the daughter I used to have, but I really don’t like the woman she has become.

jeri says:
January 6th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Dave M- I think you are getting at what so frustrates me. Who is flooding the market with these lethal prescription drugs knowing they are addictive to all? – I have never met anyone using these new painkillers who did not become hooked. It”s about profit and we are lining up to keep the big corporations filthy rich at the expense of our lives. @ Pot was never a problem for me and did not lead to pills. -I experimented with stronger drugs but they scared me because they are uncontrollable. This heroin shit is coming from afghanistan and is result of our war on them. I suggest reading about Columbia, US involvement and the politics of drug wars. Teach our children the big picture. – I wonder about the extent of drug problem in socialist cointries where needs of humanity come before profit? NA meeting was very depressing for me with the internalizing and self help. I understand it but wanted to jump up and yell break off your chains and start the revolution! Most of all educate our children about the horrors of capitalism- look what it has done to the majority in this world. Hope this is helpful.

Jen says:
January 7th, 2013 at 7:03 am

Is there no hope? I can’t seem to find any. My 18 y/o daughter was doing heroin also. I only found out 3 weeks ago after I found these weird wax paper things in her room. She’ s already using her emotional blackmail. Expects me to give back her phone or will live with her so called friends. It is so devastating. I had hope at first because she was trying to kick it by herself many times and we didn’t'have to do an intervention. seemed motivated. She tells me drugs have been in the rehab too. This is such nightmare. I can’ t believe this is happening.

Jen says:
January 7th, 2013 at 7:06 am

Forgot to add she is in rehab now. 17 days.

Jen says:
January 7th, 2013 at 11:33 am

Big issue is the car when she gets out. I am not comfortable about that but she feels she is being punished for coming clean and getting help. I told her she has to earn her trust back and that we will make sure she gets to meetings and outpatient program. Any feelings about this?

Liz Albright says:
January 7th, 2013 at 8:58 pm

I do not have children and can’t possibly imagine what it is like to go thru this with your own child. I am ,however, a sister in law of a 37 year old alcoholic and heroin addict. As long as I have known my husband, his brother has been using. He has three children, two of which are in the custody of an uncle to my husband and his brother. The third lives with his mother and unfortunatley,frequently sees his father. My brother in law started abusing drugs when he was 15 and hasn’t stopped. He has been sent to rehab three times and in jail countless times.He has hurt everyone that has tried to help him. His maternal grandmother died without a penny to her name because of him and the only thing he said when she died was “oh, I guess she really was sick”. These family members, including his youngest son’s mother, have bent over backwards time and time again only to get slapped in the face by his disregard for their time, money, or health. He sits in jail this very minute with his 4th theft felony. He is facing prison for a long time of two stolen beers at a convienence store. He has no car, no drivers license, no real friends (only users), no job and we just moved his stuff out of the apartment his mother paid for. He does have a mountain of debt and three hurting children. Please heed the advice of the professionals given to you or you might possibly end up with your very own 37 year old Jeremy.

Phil says:
February 18th, 2013 at 12:41 am

Reading Ron.s post and all the comments is very educational. My 21 year old son, who is very addicted to marijuana today walked out of the home because he violated our boundary of smoking in the house. I gave him a choice. go to detox or leave. He has chosen to leave. I have stopped giving him money and took his cell phone away. I think he is now dealing to raise money for his habit. This has been going on for 3 years now (since i came to know about his addiction) and I had to learn the difference between rules and boundaries the hard way. We cannot control somebody else’s life, only our own. Boundaries are for us, not for them. We have to recover independently of them.

Sami M says:
February 23rd, 2013 at 2:59 am

May I recommend two books that have helped me deal with my son who is an addict. BEAUTIFUL BOY by DAVID SHEFF and TWEAK by NIC SHEFF. They helped me to realize that ONE: YES, HE IS MY SON WHO IS AN ADDICT. TWO: IF HE CHOOSES TO USE, HE CHOOSES TO LEAVE MY HOME. Giving him the consequences of his actions means HE PAYS THE PRICE; I CHOOSE NOT TO.

PamC says:
March 16th, 2013 at 5:05 am

I do not understand the boundaries. My son is 22, a heroin and whatever addict. 4 rehaps later, no end in sight. We lost my husbands 23 yr old niece and his brother to overdose. So the dynamics have changed. My 20 year old son has had it with this dysfunctional household. My family is imploding before my eyes. I am done! My husband is not. How in gods green earth do you put boundaries on a 22 yr old when it doesn’t matter what he does so long as we don’t bury him?! But in the mean time I lose my 20 yr old.

Vivian says:
April 18th, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I am flabbergasted, I knew I wasn’t alone but it is clear the war on drugs is lost! My beautiful son is an addict and I have fought a valiant fight but ultimately lost. I won’t speak to him for all the pain he put our family through. I came to this site because I wanted to know how to stop being so angry with him. I have found myself in many of these posts; thinking it would be easier if he was dead, thinking it would be easier if I was dead. It’s been to many years & financial stress, too much yelling & to many tears. I pray all the time and ask those who know him to pray too. It is unbearable at times and I never stop hoping God will hear all our prayers. May God help us all!!

Cheryl says:
August 22nd, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I stumbled upon this website after I explained my situation (my life)to a co-worker. My daughter is now 27 and has been a heroin addict for maybe 5 years. She’s been to rehab at her request and I visited and went to all day Saturday meetings trying to inform myself on how this happens, what are the affects, and what to do after rehab. I learned about the stunt in maturity and the possible relapse after rehab and that part really angered me. I wanted my daughter cured! How can these children of ours, who we have given life and love to, choose to hurt us with their lies, deceit, manipulation, and stealing. My health has been affected, we installed cameras outside our home, we lock up or hide valuable items that we think might get stolen, but you can’t lock up every CD, DVD, book, and countless other items that could be stolen for drug money. And yes all these items have been stolen because I didn’t see the signs of relapse until too late. We are prisoners in our home and can’t leave her in it alone. I’ve been to the pawn shop numerous times re-purchasing cherished items! It’s got to stop and although my daugher doesn’t ‘like’ or ‘respect’ rules or boundaries, I finally put my foot down and said no more. Like some of you, death for either of us sounds bitter sweet compared to the daily fear of what would be missing or found during routine bedroom searches. I recently read the book “Setting Boundaries With Our Adult Children” written by Allison Bottke and I can tell you without a doubt that this book is empowering, faith based, and encouraging for all of us parents who don’t know what to do when our children make choices that are harmful to themselves and to us. I bought a drug kit and told my daughter that if she was to live in our home then I would randomly test her for drugs, she is to get a job and keep it, there would be no more lies, and communication would be required at all times. If her test is positive at any time or if anything goes missing from our home, then I have told her that she can pack a suitcase and I will drive her to the closest shelter of her choice or to any of her so called friend’s homes/apartments. I’m not doing this anymore and I think she realizes I mean business. This has just happened so time will tell how it plays out, but I still cannot emphasize enough the reading of the book I mentioned. It will give you strength to stand up and say “No More!”.

Patti Herndon says:
August 28th, 2013 at 1:04 am


Please keep reading books and other resources on addiction/recovery. We need to take in a lot of information, from multiple sources in order to develop a balanced perspective.

A balanced perspective is what will give us discernment regarding the responses that will best serve the healthy change and sustainable recovery of our son/daughter who has a substance use disorder. Please add to your learning the book “Get your loved one sober: Alternatives to nagging, pleading and threatening” -Dr. Robert Myers and Brenda Wolf. And, also, please get the book, “Born For Love: Why Empathy is essential and endangered” – Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz.

Do some research on CRAFT, (community reinforcement and family training, too). In addition look into ‘Motivational Interviewing’, ‘ACT Therapy’ (Acceptance and commitment training/therapy) as potential resources in regard to counseling support for your daughter. The more options you learn about in recovery, the better decisions you stand to make regarding response for your individual circumstances.

In the goal of learning how ‘best’ effectively to respond to your particular daughter’s needs/her substance use disorder, and toward discovering and utilizing her innate strengths in her journey of recovery; there would be great benefit for you in visiting the SMART Recovery Friends and Family (self management and recovery training). Please google SMART Recovery Friends and Family. It’s an invaluable, evidence-based recovery training and support resource.

Cheryl, your daughter requires a balanced, tailored approach, in terms of support, from you/her family. Ultimatums, especially those from family members, don’t generally result in helping someone with a substance use disorder achieve sustainable, lifelong change/recovery.

It’s understandable that you are angry and scared. That’s a common emotional state for parents with children with substances use disorder. But, existing in a state of anger and fear/anxiety is toxic to your daughter’s recovery (and to your health as well)…because those kinds of emotions left unacknowledged, unmanaged/treated leech into the relational dynamic between you and your daughter…every interaction you have, every conversation…It’s there. And, that negativity impacts her ability to hope for herself, separates her from her belief in her own ability to make healthy change, it will act as a barrier in her taking recovery-purposed actions on her own behalf, little by little.

That kind of contention in the relationship will result in ‘stall’ in terms of momentum in healthy change/recovery. And, Cheryl, that’s the only way sustainable change occurs in recovery -little by little. As parents we need to prepare for a marathon. Recovery from an addiction is not a sprint. It can’t be ‘commanded’ away by family members or other loved ones.

*And, by the way…feel free to contact me if you’re interested in knowing more about increased risk of harm and the dangers there are for addicted women at their local homeless shelter. I spent about two years volunteering my time at my local homeless shelter. I witnessed many tragedies related to young people having been ‘kicked out of their homes’ by family members who believed they were doing a good thing -’tough love’ having been their chosen approach in ‘supporting their loved one with addiction’.

I was fortunate to be able to spend time with shelter residents/guests… talking with them/listening to them share about their circumstances, what had brought them to being ‘homeless’ etc.. Most always the personal story included, as mentioned, the implementation of ‘tough love’ -because their family members were ‘fed up’ with their ‘addict’. It was usually the case…it would become clear, after some amount of conversing, that their family had not been properly supported or educated regarding what measures/what options -helps and supports- ‘could have’ been put in place BEFORE they resorted to ‘kicking them out’.

A healthy mutually rewarding relationship between you and you daughter that includes empathy, genuine listening and open dialoguing will be key in her journey through recovery. There are some very good counselors/therapists, as well as other resources, to utilize that serve building/increasing the strength of your relationship.

Sometimes we are too single-focused on “enabling” and “boundaries” and “denial”, as well as other common buzz words and phrases associated with addiction… because, after all, that’s what we hear so much about. We are socially cued to tune to these things. But, the reality is… often times we don’t have a real, applicable understanding of what these concepts are are and are not, as they relate to our individual circumstances. As a result, we neglect to consider how critical an impact our spirit of approach, the way we choose to interact on a daily basis has in helping to facilitate our son/daughter in engaging their own reasons to make healthy change. Enabling and boundaries are things that we need to consider. But, if we are only focused on those things…it’s not likely we are doing an effective job of supporting our son/daughter in their recovery.

Sometimes we are just ‘mad’ at them and we go to great lengths to validate that anger…like reading and quoting from books that we interpret as ‘expert advice’ that we regard as telling us to “stand up and refuse to let ‘our addict’ push us around”. But, that frame/that perspective just stalls recovery. It always will, too.

We parents need and deserve help and support with HOW ‘BEST’ to advocate on behalf of our individual son/daughter, ourselves, our family. One size approach to recovery WILL NEVER fit all. And prayer is just that…it’s prayer. It’s very helpful. It centers us. It inspires our faith and belief. But, ‘prayer’ won’t solve our problems. Faith makes thing possible….not easy.

It took a lot of time for me to finally understand how to authentically help my son. I listened to a lot of people in the early years…and I received well intended, but, mostly, misguided, ineffective (and even some dangerous) advisements. My son is in long term recovery now, after over a decade of trauma experienced as a result of his addiction. I learned that a lot of the things I had been ‘taught’ about what I should and should not do in response to his addiction were just irresponsible advice -lacking a science-based research. I was determined to learn about addiction…all of it -biological, psychological sociological. I’m still learning….but my son is healthy and has a healthy future largely because my family recognized that the approach we were applying wasnt working for him. We needed something else.

When our child is in the hospital with an infection and we administer an antibiotic that doesn’t facilitate ability to fight off the infection, we don’t just continue to administer ‘the same’ antibiotic -assuming that it will work at some point. We can (SHOULD)apply that same logic to addiction treatment.

When what we have been trying/been applying, in terms of response to their addiction, isn’t proving to support them in making healthy change in a reasonable amount of time, logic and love dictate that it’s time to try something else….and that we continue to try something else until we see the results we are aiming for.

We can’t control everything our son/daughter thinks and does…but we CAN support them in making the changes ‘they’ desire to make in their lives by educating ourselves on how people recover and apply that learning to our individual circumstances.

Godspeed to you and your daughter, Cheryl.

Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the destination.

Charles J Deguara says:
September 3rd, 2013 at 2:16 am

Thank you for sharing this with the world. I believe that it is through understanding and sharing experiences that we can better help substance abusers and it is only when we understand them that we can hope to help them.

I recently wrote “Dear Drug Pusher” a collection of short story style letters that details the substance abusers experience with their drug pusher as well as the experience in certain cases of the family members involved. I hope that my work can help people effected by drug pushers. The way I hope that the work helps is by offering insight. I am not a professional however i have been around substance abusers most of my life and believe that my insight can be helpful.

Do visit my site to read an excerpt and see if my book can help you.

Ann says:
January 5th, 2014 at 6:56 pm

My brother has been a drug addict for five years. The most recent episode he stayed with me, while in an outpatient treatment program. He has lied and stolen money/valuables from everyone; his behavior even resulted in property damage, while drunk and/or high. Recently, he enrolled in college and attended one semester. However, he could not attend the next semester, due to limited funds. So, he remained, at my home, doing nothing. He started working for a labor pool, but I realize he is drinking and smoking/buying weed, at my house. I confronted him, about this, but he denies or minimizes it. He has a criminal record, but was cleared for a regular job. He wants to take it, but he has no transportation. Therefore, I would have to drive him to/from work. Honestly, I don’t want to do this. I know it may help him financially and boost his self esteem. However, frankly, I am sick of taking of care of him. I am ready for him to get out of my house. I feel he is an adult and he needs to assume responsibility for his life and his choices. Also, I am tired of how his choices impact my life. I realize I need to take care of me for a change. I feel like I am barely hanging on by a thread. He was supposed to go back to school this semester, but he did not complete the necessary documentation to return, since he missed a semester. Along with that, the school will not allow him to stay on campus now, as a non traditional student, because of his age. I was floored….this was my out. I don’t know what to do. I feel stuck with him. My mother and my sister make me feel guilty, because of how I feel. My mother told me I am being mean. I am single with no children, but DAMN!! I wish him well. I want no harm to come to him. I know he would be dead or in jail, if he had not come to my home. However, I realize this is not effective, this is enabling……and I am exhausted. I don’t like, who he is because of the drugs. I don’t like his manipulative, addict behavior. I feel he needs to leave for the sake of what’s left of our relationship. I told him I have tried to help him, but it has not done any good. In fact, I don’t know how to help him anymore. The only person, who can help him is himself. He needs to assume responsibility for his life, instead of me. I don’t know, if he has even decided to change. I can’t focus….I have gained weight and I feel that I have isolated myself and neglected my life, in the process. Am I wrong for feeling this way? Should I drive him to work? I just don’t know anymore.

fad says:
January 13th, 2014 at 5:49 am

I have been dealing with this for about 4 years now and it still bothers me that it is called a disease. I mean if you teach someone the consequences of what will happen if they try drugs and they try it anyway, how can you call it a disease. I think I am just searching for any understanding at this point. My son has been everything from pot to pills and from huffing to heroin. For starters, and I know it should be at the top of the list, my husband and I never seem to be on the same page. I say I can’t live like this and kick out our son and then at some point (like tonight 5 minutes before my husband left for work 3rd shift) my son will text my husband and say he’s coming home. my son arrived home quite late and then after a bout a half an hour he was nowhere to be found. Since the door was left OPEN I called for him outside. he didn’t answer so I locked both doors so that I would at least know when he came in.after quite a while when he didn’t come in I really began to worry because it is cold out and I worry about things like whether he overdosed outside or even hung himself in the barn. I finally decide to call his cell phone and he informs me that he got a ride into town to get some food. Yea right! after being gone for several weeks he’s only been home for about 30 minutes, we live way out in the country, we have a ton of food, it’s late at night & he sneaks out without telling me! so at this point and boiling with stress anger and worried and I tell him not to come home. This is our vicious cycle .

Ron 1 says:
January 15th, 2014 at 3:54 am

I have many issues if somone can make suggestion ?my son 28 has been fighting the drug issues he said it started at 14 ,now 14 yrs later still the rule breaking and games, I don’t know what to do .i and my wife are raising his 7 yr old daughter.were fighting the issues with him he can’t come to my house ,meds disappeared ? Deny of course .keep him away total well possible ,but her at seven has tremendous problem with mom ( who has not been in her lif for 3.5 yr not even calling ?) and don’t understand why her dad can’t come around as he wants drama ,mental,lying ,taking ,Granddoughter actually wrote santa a letter in October.asking for her mom .,christmas morning we ,,,hopping with the time laps she would forget mom,(yea rite) she went to christmas tree and looked around and cried ,looking for mom,,this killed me and meme, one more thing my wife has no kids we are in our late fourties and she don’t understand the heart strings with my son ,understood it’s all about the 7 yr old ,but you can’t cut sons doughters etc out of your life completely, been fighting these issues for years ,out of ideas ,,,,,,,,Please any NORMAL ,REALITY,NORMAL,Suggestion,ideas or rehab,doctor s,we do counseling ,he has dropped this but we go for the 7 yr old Any help will greatly be appreciated .THANKS FOR YOUR TIME ,

Rose says:
January 23rd, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I am a Single mom my son has been using drugs since he was 13 years old, he uses the excuse of his parents splitting up, he was angry with us…well I was not dumb to this, and I confronted him, of course I got ” your stupid man,
I am not doing drugs, then the blame came, it was all my fault, cause I had to work to pay MY mortgage, pay my bills, buy food etc…then he he was 16 and left alone for 12 hours, well that became a Drug party,
it was awful, long story short, my son was using needles to inject oxy cotton, hydros,Pam’s,you name it, meth, he has done every drug on the street…
He took from, money, computers,digital camera, laptop, cash, jewelry, pounded it, sold, for dugs, sneak into my purse when I was sleeping which was zipped up beside my bed, and steal my Visa card…go online and rack up the bill…
I have lived through it all, watch your son walk down the street with a 60 oz. bottle of JD swigging it out of the bottle straight, and cops showing up on a daily basis…
My son got in with real BAD drug dealers, that threaten him, his life, I as a single parent, was beside myself, I did everything I could to try and help him,,,Bottom line,,,,he did not want help…
Finally one dad his absent father, who was only in his life when HE found fit to be, was there off and on, took a bad turn , was in hospital, my son drove 5 hours to see him, spent 4 days at his side with his big sister (step) and that was the last time he would see his dad,
5 months later he passed away,,,,then we were dealing with Guilt, not trying to fix relationship, then things turned BAD, UGLY, my son did fentnnol and got into riddlin, it stopped his heart, his brother found him, he had been dead 9 mins, they got him back, and that day he flew home, about himself into Detox, treatment…
He arrived home, Yesterday, He said Mom, I don’t want to do drugs agin…and he told the. At treatment, if even one or two of you learnt anything from what I have been through, and done, DONT do drugs.
So now we are going to start from scratch, and start to rebuild…
He is now 24 tomorrow….God was watching over my son that morning, and my son is to live… Or God would have taken him home….
Stay strong, hide money, pills, cc,everything that’s worth money Put it in a safe deposit box … Drugs are patient, waiting around each corner, to grab them, suck them back in… They are ruthless, and they have no feelings…they will take your child’s soul, and spit him out….,

Rose says:
January 23rd, 2014 at 1:59 pm

DRUGS are PATIENT,RUTHLESS, HAVE no FEELINGS, THEY dONT care, They are at every street corner, waiting, and they will always be right there, they will be there ,and just want to darken your day, suck the life out of you…take your soul… And Remember…..THEY Will KILL you in time….

Rose says:
January 23rd, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Just one more thing to add…
For all the parents out dealing with kids addiction, Do Not for one minute blame yourself, ONLY if you were a user, then, that does not help…
But OUR kids make there own choices, we as parents did a great job raising out kids, but we cannot stop living due there choices, but we do, They will blame everyone else for there problems.
..Except themselves…
They will Hopefully wake up one day, and do what my son did, he said mom, the drugs are taking over my body, and I don’t want this anymore, I am tired of drugs running my life… If he didn’t get them he was deathly sick, and it’s a sickness YOU don’t want to see….
Stay strong… Good lick. god will help who wants help… Amen..
May God watch over his children and help them come back to us….

Roger says:
January 27th, 2014 at 7:02 pm

My son and daughter are both addicts. I used to drink, and now, with the help of “Antibuse” and the desire to never drink alcohol again, I have nearly five years of sobriety: no pot, no pills, no drugs whatsoever. My ex-wife had a DUI, many legal and relationship problems, and (quite frankly) I was just plain lucky I hadn’t a DUI or legal problems in my drinking days. No love interest: too crazy a situation for a normal person to deal with…therefore,no girlfriend. Right now, my ex has over five years of sobriety from alcohol, but smokes a lot of marijuana with her boyfriend. Those two make a choice, but it enables my son (who lives with them)to smoke pot and just be lazy. Then she complains about how lazy he is. He has been told by me “I will not give any more cash”. In the past, I’ve enabled him with cash, gifts, paying legal fees, taking and finishing college classes for him, and other things I never should have done in the name of sympathy. This weekend, he just got done lying, misrepresenting problems, and needs in order to get money for pot. I told him if he needs something, his mom can get it, and I’ll send her a money order. For the past five or six days, he has been calling me at least once a day, begging for money. I end up telling him several times no, but it inevitably ends up with me yelling at him and shutting my phone off for long periods of time. My daughter has pulled the same crap about cash, and I’ve told her the same thing. Now she is under court-ordered treatment and has a big hammer over her head: act right, or go directly to jail. I cry a lot and am sick of the way my kids have no regard for me; but that’s an addict for you. They will lie, manipulate, and do whatever it takes to get cash to get high. I don’t mind buying food for them, but that may have to stop, too, depending on how abusive they get. It’s my choice, though. You’d think two DUIS, a felony, and everything else would stop my son from drinking alcohol/smoking pot, but a year after 120 days in jail he’s in as bad an emotional state as he was before he went in. Just emoting here helps me, and makes me realize that failing to uphold boundaries has created an unhappy me. Lots of guilt, but too bad. That’ll pass. Praise my higher power: Jesus.

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