Dear Barb—Finding Bottom

Dear Barb:

I am the mother of a thirty-five-year-old son who is a drug addict.  He has been on drugs since he was a teenager.  I have always hoped that he would be able to get off drugs, but through the years it has only become worse.  He will get clean for a few months at a time, but he always goes back to it. 

My husband and I have tried to talk to him about his addiction and he always assures us it has nothing to do with us.  There were no traumatic events in his childhood, he says he just likes to get high.  He has not been able to keep a job longer than a month at a time.  We have even paid for expensive treatment but to no avail.  Family and friends tell me to let him go, he has made a choice for his life and there is nothing I can do.  My question is how can I turn my back on my son? My husband feels the same as I do.  We don’t know what to do, but we don’t want to sever ties with our son.  Do you have any advice for us? Thanks so much, Angela. 

Hello Angela:

You are in a position that no parent ever wants to find themselves.  You have probably done everything you can to try to help your son, now it is time to help yourself.

You obviously realize you must stop enabling your son, as it is very difficult to see your child struggle with addiction.  But it is important to realize that you cannot save your son, he is the only one who can do that.  You need to step back and allow your son to face the ugly realities of his addiction.  It is time to stop making things easier for him such as by helping him out financially, or providing other ways to make his life easier.  He must hit rock bottom and face the consequences of his addiction.

Set boundaries around yourself and your finances and tell your son you will not under any circumstances help him.  You may have said this in the past and not followed through on it, but this time you must show him that you mean it.  It will be difficult, but unless you stop enabling this behavior, it will be unlikely your son will find a way out of this lifestyle.  When your son comes to you for money or help, instead offer to help him get into a treatment facility, make it known that this is the only assistance you are prepared to provide.

Discuss the situation with an addiction counsellor and find out what options are available and present them to your son.  Do not keep rescuing your son, because all you are teaching him is that you do not believe he can take care of himself.  It is also important that you seek help for yourself.  Addiction affects the entire family and there are support groups and resources to help family members dealing with addiction.  Check in your area for Nar-Anon groups.  Nar-Anon is a 12-step program for family and friends of addicts.  Hope this information is helpful, best of luck to you and your son Angela.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
%d bloggers like this: