How do you handle a 24 year old son that has been in&out of prison 4 times hooked on heroin?

Elizabeth Ann - posted on 05/30/2014 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My son is almost 25. He has stolen many things to pawn to get money for heroin. He has hurt every one that he says he loves the most! I am so tired of all the lies the manipulation and just not getting better! It has now come to the point that I can no longer be the nice Mom! The next time he calls me from prison I have to do the tough love thing which I have done over and over!! I think it is time to just tell him "hey look around you do you like your bed room and are you going out Friday night with your friends? He has had so many classes by now about addiction that he could teach one himself! Thoughts??

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Guest - posted on 05/30/2014

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It sounds like he is beyond the point where any class on addiction is going to be enough to help him. He needs in-patient treatment or at the very least very frequent (at least 3 times a week), intensive out-patient therapy with a licensed psychiatrist (not a family counselor or psychologist or clergy member, this person needs to have an MD and a detailed understanding of the brain chemistry involved in addiction).

That said, what Shawnn said holds true. He will not rehab until he is ready, and to get to that point, he has to hit rock bottom. If he will not agree to therapy and stick to it, you have to let him go. If he agrees to go, then misses even a single session, you have to let him go. Many parents tend to do the tough love thing and let their kids get really, really close to bottoming out, then they swoop in at the last minute because they can't stand the thought of their child hitting the bottom or they fear their child will never come back to them if they do not help him. This just starts the cycle over and over again leaving the child dangling at the end of a rope barely holding on to the shredded, tattered threads of their lives, but still to attached to break the cycle.
LET GO.
Do not bail him out of jail, and do not even speak to him when he calls. Most jails require you to call collect, so you can refuse the call.
Do not allow him to live in your house--even if it means he is homeless. He has to run out of people willing to help him before he will rehab.
Do not give him cash, money, or food. He will get help before he starves to death, and once he has run out of people to help him, he will likely get that help from an organization that will help him turn around.
Do not give in and see or speak to him until he has a real job--meaning his is actually employed by a business, not working under the table or doing odd jobs--and his own, secure place to live--not a shelter, not a friend's house, not his girlfriend's apartment, but his OWN place.
Once he is there, he will come back to you, and then you can take him back.

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Elizabeth Ann - posted on 06/04/2014

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Shawnn I had a feeling when I first posted about my son from your response that you either had dealt with this before or you had done some counseling. It would be great if he could move to Utah where my brother lives. However like I said before my brother will not have anything to do with him!! Also when he gets out this time he has to live in Wisconsin for 2 years! Also with no ankle bracelet which I don't understand why they would not put one on him? It also gives him a lot of time to hook up with his junkie so called friends!! With the regards to moving I don't think that it matters one way or another! I am saying this because you know as well as I do where ever he ends up there is heroin every where and every place! He called me when I just got back from seeing a friend who lives in Arizona. He started talking and I said to him stop talking and listen to me! Look around you how is your bed room and do you like the food there? I also said gee what are you doing Friday night are you going out to dinner or a movie with your friends? I think I stunned him just a little because I had never said that to him before! He did get really quiet and then said well I have to go now mom. I love you take care and I will call you some time soon. The thing that really gets to me is that his dad has many problems of his own. He was an alcoholic and has been clean now since 1999. However he has severe depression and OCD. I think he would rather spend his money on dumb things like gambling buying things he cant afford I could go on and on but I wont. I just wish that he would just try to spend some money on getting more help for his son!! Like an in patient facility or having him see a social worker or a psychiatrist! I also want to thank you for all your words of wisdom!

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/30/2014

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Well...He may be half right, but generally it's recommended once hooked on heroin to never return to any recreational drug, including marijuana.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind pot, and have partaken of it myself. I actually prefer that to drinking, for many reasons. HOWEVER, I'm a 44 year old parent of 2, and I researched my choices before making them. I never, ever wanted to even try anything other than that, because I was afraid of addiction. So, when I met my (now) husband, that was my ONE condition: no hard drugs. If you have to snort it, swallow it, or inject it, it's NOT ok.

Now, you could counter his "i wish" statement with "Well, we could move to WYOMING, where you can get high on all the open space available, and not have to worry about being addicted to something that can kill you"...although the addiction to open space is a bit tempting...LOL. In reality, though, if he doesn't know anyone in Colorado, he'll be less likely to start up the heroin again. This doesn't mean YOU have to move, though...after all, he is an adult!

Have a great (quiet) weekend!

Elizabeth Ann - posted on 05/30/2014

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Shawn thank you so much for your thoughts and insight about my son! I know that you are tuned in and you really understand what I and every one else is or has been going thru!! I will tell you one thing about my 3rd son who's name is Cory I cannot believe how he is so cunning and manipulating!! The old saying that he could sell you anything is so true with him!! I do love him dearly do not get me wrong. However the time has come to let him struggle and find his way be it going down further or fianally really getting this time?? I am so sick of his tricks and let me tell you do they learn a lot from just being in prison!! He actually wanted me to move to Colorado because he said "well if I could just smoke pot legally I would not have the urge to find heroin any more! Ya right he cant think that I am that dumb! Well sighing off for the night. Take Care! Elizabeth~~

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/30/2014

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Elizabeth, STAY STRONG. I know your heart is breaking, I really do!

Here's some 'success' stories, so that you know this CAN be beat: I currently supervise graduate students at the university where I work. One, I could tell, had 'something' going on...I wasn't quite sure what, but I knew he was taking something. Turns out, it was heroin, he was very close to rock bottom when I found out...so close that, within a week of my discovery, he was being sought by the Dept of Criminal Investigations in relation to a heroin ring he belonged to. I didn't get the down & dirty details, but he did get himself voluntarily into rehab, and is going on 3 months clean.

Second, my husband is a recovered addict. He's been clean over 26 YEARS now. His cocktail of choice differed with who he was running with, but it covered everything from crank cocaine to heroin, to meth. 26 years ago, after he blacked out and woke up in the hospital, he determined that he wasn't going to do that any more, he moved to my city, where we met. We've been together 25 years, and married for 24 this year.

One key to your son's success is going to be him staying away from ALL of his old 'buddies'. If this takes a complete relocation to a new state (Utah, perhaps?) then that is what needs to happen. Getting himself out of the drug culture and having to meet totally new people and get a totally new circle of friends is a recommended step, actually.

Please continue to take care of yourself, go to support meetings with other parents of addicts, and take advantage of counseling with your Pastor (if you have one). PM me if you need to...I'm not always on, but usually pretty frequently.

Elizabeth Ann - posted on 05/30/2014

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I have done every thing that I can do at this point in time. I have been to so many meetings along with my ex husband at this point we could teach a class also! I am not giving him money. Also as far as the family thing goes both of my parents have passed away. His 2 step brothers will not have any thing to do with him nor will I. My mom passed in 2011 from severe alzheimeir's so she did not know what was going on. However he really did a number on my dad who passed away in 2012!! Also as far as the money thing goes I was a nurse for 26 plus years. Now I am on SSI and disabled with RSD!! My 1 and only brother lives in Utah and also has nothing to do with him! The last time he got out of prison was on a Friday. On Monday I had a good paying job set up for him from a friend. Thinking that if I did not give him any time to slip up it might help?? He did work very hard and was doing well. Then he had 2 weeks off from his job. Then once again the only thing he wanted and thought about was his heroin!! He will not live under my roof and has not. Or drive my car ever again .I have had it with him!! I will let him hit rock bottom when he gets out this time. I don't know what his Dad will do? That is up to him?? I will not go and visit him this time I have to get on with my own life! The only sad thing about this whole thing is no one wants to see their child pass away before I do! Thanks for your thoughts please keep them coming!! EAB~~

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/30/2014

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He's not ready to rehab, and until he is, this cycle will continue.

Instead of trying on 'tough love' for a day or two and then giving up, you need to stand firm. Tell him you love him, and BECAUSE YOU LOVE HIM, you are not allowing him in your home, near the rest of your immediate family, or at family events. You will not pay for any more of ANYTHING for him, you will not bail him out, nor put money on his jail books for him to have extras, you will NOT be involved with him until he makes the decision to rehab and sticks to it.

Get into Al-Anon. They have excellent support for family members of addicts. DO NOT BEND. This is the hardest part. Once your son hits rock bottom, and commits to and successfully completes rehab, you can allow him in your home under conditions. He'll understand.

Constantly tell him you love him, and that when he's ready to face his demons, you'll be supportive.

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