Dear Dr. Archer,
I have a 22 year old son who grew up around drug abuse in and out of our home by his father and me, as well as his father's relatives.
I have been clean for ten years, but his father still uses pot and cocaine occasionally. His father used to physically and mentally abuse not only him, but his brother, as well until they were 15 years old. My husband owns his own company, so he was able to set his own hours. I worked 10 hour days, sometimes six days a week, so I was not aware of what was going on.
When I found out, I threw my husband out. He had told my boys if they told me what was happening, that they would get it worse, and so would I. Yes, he would occasionally hit me, too. The day came when they ran away. When they came back, two years later, my husband tried to make up for the abuse by being their friend and giving them everything they wanted. He did change. No more abuse of any kind.
My problem is that my son has been taking drugs for quite a while, then he got clean for a year, but now he is doing it again. He gave us the common story of I'll stop and I'll get a job. My son has one child and one on the way. We have been hearing this for two years now and he hasn't done anything to help himself. We have now been supporting him and his 'fiance' for over two years.
I am afraid to throw him out because of fear of what he might do. He doesn't obey any of our rules and thinks evreything we have is his and he should be able to get it or use it at anytime. He has no respect for person or property. I have tried rehab, counseling, and threatening to throw him out. I am at my wits end and I am afraid for him. How can I help my son get on the right track, being that it seems like he doesn't want to help himself? And please don't tell me that I can't.
It is time for an intervention. An intervention is a confrontation generally used as a last resort for getting a loved one the help that they need, but denies needing. An intervention works because it is relentless. Pain may be felt by the recipient, even though he is the one we love. Why would we do this? Sometimes, in order for a loved one to understand themselves, we have to help them see themselves for what they are. It's unattractive, but sometimes it is the only way to lead somebody on a better road. Lydia, I must tell you that an intervention will not help your son if you worry more about his feelings than about him seeking help. Now is the time for tough love. I suggest you get a professional involved to help with my advice below and to be a part of the intervention. Contact your local AA group(s) for guidance and a recommendation.
*Stop enabling. Family often try to protect an abuser from the results of their behavior by making excuses. Stop that, and let him experience the harmful effects of his use, making him more motivated to stop.
*Make a clear plan. Gather information at local treatment options and find one that meets your son's needs. Family interventions are delicate, that must be done properly to minimize the negative effects on the family and user.
*Make the confrontation. Choose a time when he is sober. Everyone must be in a calm frame of mind. It can be a surprise to the user or a planned meeting.
*Be firm and specific. Tell him you are concerned about his drug abuse and want to be supportive in getting help. Back up concerns with EXTREME examples of ways in which his drug abuse has caused problems for everyone.
*Demonstrate the severity and reality of the situation. Let him know that others outside the family, have noticed and been affected by his drug use.
*Ask others to help. Choose one person to be the initial spokesperson. It will be much more effective. Each person should have an opportunity to offer his thoughts.
*Everyone needs to remain calm; make it personable. No Children! Be sure to say how you really feel; do not be afraid.
*Make consequences Clear. Let him know you mean business. Tell him unless he gets help, you will have him move out of the house. DO NOT make threats you will not cary out.
*Offer hope. Let him know there is a solution. Let him know you will be there throughout his journey.
*Listen. If he asks something like where would he go, that is a sign that he is reaching out for help. Support him. You should have a bag packed and ready to go for him, as well as travel arrangements and acceptance into a Drug Rehab program set up in advance.
*If he refuses help then it’s time for tough love.
Now is the time, Lydia. Follow the steps above and confront your son with the ugly truth. Stick by your guns, here. We are talking about your son's life. Please let me know how things go. I care.