We have been treating my 24 year old son for depression for the last 9 months and then found out he has been occassionally using alcohol, marijuana and mushrooms. I told him I wouldn't pay for his antidepressants if he was using drugs or alcohol. He convinced me and his therapist that he was done with that. He has been living with us since June. He was working full time but now he is only working afternoons and is up all night playing video games (which he has never done before). He goes to bed around 4 in the morning and sleeps til at least 1 o'clock. We aren't giving him money, but we are providing a place to live and food. Am I enabling him? Would you kick him out or am I over reacting? My biggest concern is suicide. I lost my wonderful brother that way. My history makes me so scared.
Hi, I've been down that road many times with my son, who's now 31 and on a roller coaster ride of rehabs/sober living homes. I don't know how long your son has been using, but probably longer than you suspect. A parent group leader told me that an adult child should only live at home at the most 6 months and with a signed contract requiring him to be working full time or school/part time job unless he/she is disabled. The list should also include some chores and ZERO tolerance for drugs/alcohol. I believe your son should be tested randomly and given some time to get a job and move out. It may sound harsh to you, but coming from my experience, I believe that we enabled our son too much by not enforcing our standards and rules. We have paid dearly for our weakness. Marijuana and mushrooms may be causing his depression. As a condition for living at home, I would also require him to be in counseling. I understand you frustration, fears and worry. Are you attending AlAnon or another support group? It's a must. Truly I was a basket case last year and since AlAnon I feel better and have begun to work on myself.
Hello fightingformyboy...This is a tough spot. I don't know all the details but because of the economy adult children moving home has increased by 30 some per cent. You write he is using mushrooms, alcohol, pot. Over 90 per cent of every generation does when his age and younger and then on into their 30's MOST come out of it alright. Mixing the antidepressants with alcohol can be highly dangerous and he has to be fully aware of this. To protect him I would tell him that on the day he thinks he may drink he is not to take an antidepressant.He needs to pay something for food at least. If you feel he is out of control with his using start locking up or removing ALL valuables from the house. Put checkbook, credit cards under lock and key. Does he smoke cigarettes? It's just not so simple to kick kids out these days. Many families have to camp together . Feel fortunate that he doesn't have wife and baby. Tell him you love him and understand his frusration. What interests does he have? See if you can get a grant to get him in school. Make SURE the occupation is NEEDED.Otherwise you are just wasting time and money. Thousands upon thousands are in school now and when they finish up there won't be jobs. Also there's such a thing as creating your own job. This takes lots of creative thinking. Please take care of yourself and quit thinking about your brother's tragic death. You son is off the street and eating ok. Things can be worked out....have him pay more at home even if you don't need it....Make sure he does chores to help out. By all mean DO NOT make his bed, wash his clothes, etc. Best wishes, Deb
Hi Fightingformyboy,,,I have been in the same situation. Depression is bad, the antidepressants should help, but the pot and alcohol will increase the depression as well as playing games all night and then sleeping all day. He's probably staying up at night because he can be alone and isolate himself from life and the problems that come with it. Sometimes just a simple routine each day will at least give them a sense of getting better, but I admit that it's so hard to get them to even move when depression is involved.
It's so hard isn't it? You tell him you love him and give him some rules and perhaps bring up his sleeping habits, etc. during therapy.
One thing you can be extremely thankful (as Deb said) for is that he does not have a wife and children. The only thing more painful than watching your son go through this is watching your grandchildren not have a stable father. I've been there and believe me it is hell on earth,,,just breaks your heart.
He is young and can overcome this hopefully. My heart goes out to you and I will certainly keep you in my heart and prayers. Please keep us posted, we care :o)
Thank you so much for your help! I love your suggestions and your comforting words. You are right, I have not had him help enough. All he has been responsible for is his own room, the bathroom, and his laundry. I know that he should do more. He is good at home repairs and I will get him busy with that. He used to be easy to talk to, but now he is so sullen. I will have to time the conversation just right, but we do need a plan to get him out of our home. Thanks for reading and responding to my post. I already feel better just knowing that someone understands.
Hi again, I was just thinking that perhaps this is one of those cases where getting him out of the house may not be the best solution? Believe me I am not a professional and could be totally wrong? I'm just thinking that if his main problem is depression and he is self medicating then getting him out may be too much? I'd love to hear other's opinions on what they think. Hang in there, you are doing the best you can and I'm sure he knows how much you love him. Please keep us posted, we care. Ann
I think Ann has a good point. When our son lives alone he tends to spiral down quickly - loneliness is a big trigger for him. You have to monitor the situation and if your son behaves in ways that you cannot tolerate then having him live with you is not the best solution. There has to be respect on both sides. It's certainly reasonable for you to expect certain things from him as a member of the household such as doing chores, helping financially as far as he can, etc. However, you've probably found that his depression may cause him to operate on a different time frame and take forever to accomplish things. Can be very frustrating.
Yes he is still young. My son is 24 also. Just came home after 4 and half months of treatment. I would drug test him for sure. I was told that until they are clean six months doctors do not like to make diagnosis regarding mental health issues. Take care of yourself and take his play station away. Isolation is not a good thing whether your son is an addict or has mental health issues or a combination of both.
I went to my local library here in Queensland , Australia and your book was on the shelf. I read it and felt terrible for you and your family. I am a middle aged woman who has not had the experience that you have been through but I felt your pain through every page and it brought me to tears. I realized that you don't have to be a parent of a drug addict to go through the pain of life and how to deal with tragedy that life throws at you. Your book has helped me understand what drug addiction does to those that love the addict. Thank you for explaining what meth does to the brain and how difficult it is to stay away from it.
Fighting, The big question he has to answer before you do anything to either get him more help or kick him out is - Does he want to get better? Does he see himself as unhappy or depressed, does he have any hope that there is something other than his day to day video game existence? The sad fact of life is that we can't help anyone more than they want to help themselves. While you would move heaven and earth to get your son back to feeling more enthused about life, he has to want it too. Until he makes that decision ( and sometimes making their life hell can speed that decision along) there is little you can do to make his life any better. The only thing you can do is care for yourself, set boundaries so that you are not sucked under, and pray for his willingness to be willing to get help. It's not easy and I wish there were some magic cure for a suffering child...My heart goes out to you and know that you are in my prayers tonight.
Thanks for all your suggestions. I talked with my husband and we decided to see if he will accept more responsibility around the home before we take more drastic measures. His mental health is a big concern for us. We explained how much we needed him to be a contributer and then held our breath to see if he would carry through. And he has! We didn't mention anything about the video game thing, but the last three days he hasn't been playing through the night. He has been helping with car repairs and home repairs. And thanks for your warnings. I almost did his laundry today. I can feel your prayers. This is a really hard time for our family and I want you to know that I love all of you! You make me stronger just knowing that someone cares.
Tough love gets tricky with addicts that have dual diagnosis including depression. Kicking my son out only resulted in him living on the street and overdosing, ending up in the ER nearly dead so that wasn't a solution. I found that it was not possible for me to enforce rules in our home and contracts and promises were worthless (addicts have learned long ago how to "tune out" their parents) but my son did follow rules when imposed on him by others in rehab facilities. You may need to get your son out of your house into a program in order for him to break the cycle of drug use. Addicts will be more likely to behave in those environments where there is peer support and mentoring from recovering addicts. There are few comforts and no guarantees with this brutal disease but I only know that parents, though not necessarily "enablers", are usually powerless in dealing with their adult addict children.
Hello All, How right you are Lori, how powerless we are. I would literally ache from wanting to do something, anything to change the way all was going. Everything I did did not work. My two oldest were always bingers so sometimes I was misled into thinking they were going to be alright. One has died and I expect a call about the other one. The way she is going and how deplorable her health is now I don't feel she will live another 5 years. I feel I've been to hell and back. I work at changing my day to day life. The other people in my life deserve better. Love to all, Deb
I feel your pain. I have been there. You have to live with yourself whatever decision you make. Advice is cheap. Only someone who has been there knows whast you're going through. I just never could find it in my heart to kick our son out, but everyone's circumstances are different. All I know is what helped me was to read the Bible and pray, pray, pray. Turn him over to the Lord. God is the only one who can give you the peace you so desperately seek. Niki
Yesterday we learned my husband has cancer. The treatments are going to make him quite sick. We are hoping this will be a blessing as we as a family fight through it. Our son is having a tough time with it, but perhaps helping his dad will give him some purpose to life. Time will tell. I am praying for the best. He is a loving boy, and I am hoping that he is up for this and that he won't feel overwhelmed.
Niki, that is great advice. Praying helps. So does Al-Anon and reading Al-Anon literature.
Fightingformyboy, I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry about your husband's diagnosis. And I know the agony of watching a beloved son suffer with depression or addiction.
Your boy is a man now, and he probably wants to feel like one. Giving him more responsibilities and requiring him to rise to higher expectations at home is probably good for him, so you are to be commended. It's possible for him to improve under your roof if he is held to a standard of behavior. Praise him for becoming a better man, young men need to hear this. He'll get there
Thank you Motto. I am really trying so hard. Every day I find a project for him to do and then I praise, praise, praise him for how helpful he is. Today He turned in a job application and I am so hoping that he will get the job. When he is working he is actually happier. I have really felt all of your prayers. I am feeling more hopeful.