A son is struggling in the sober house setting and his mother is very worried. He is having problems there with one of the residents, and seems to be overly involved. There is also pressure from the courts lurking, though he was given a break with one hearing due to being at the sober house.

His parents have been practicing CRAFT when engaging with him, in hopes of continuing to steer him towards recovery, but still feel this is a dangerous time for him. He never pursued any counseling nor an IOP, not even an MD visit. Just meetings, but not even daily. They would like to make their continued help with the rent contingent on some sort of counseling if he’s not using, or detox if he is. Or let the consequences happen…

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Allies in Recovery, AiR, Dominique Simon-Levine, dominique simon levine, addiction, addiction recovery, recovery, Craft, early sobriety, family, treatment, early recovery, sober house, sober housing, self-care, relapse, relationships, drug test, influence, therapeutic group, relationships

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Dominique Simon-Levine encourages this mother to stay on this path and hold her position

This early period of recovery is fragile, as you say, even dangerous. As important as it is to remove the drugs, it is even more important to add in things that take the place of the drugs and that provide meaning, guidance, and that support recovery and health…a job, volunteer work, exercise, self-help, a recovery coach, a therapeutic group (read this post addressing pursuits that competes with use).

You’ve been aware of this and have been trying to interest your son in these healthy strategies. It is an uphill battle. I do think that continued rent payment of the sober house can be made contingent on following a treatment plan. The self-help is important but is not proving to be enough if your suspicions are correct.

Sober houses can breed complicated dynamics

Sober houses play an important role in early recovery but they can be uneven and too dependent on the people staying in them. Good management and governance are key. One studied approach is called the Social Model. Not that you can do much about the model in place at your son’s house, but readers may like to read about how some sober houses govern themselves… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4220294/

Learning how to be in a relationship of any kind is important to a continued and sane recovery. Many of us have never learned how to navigate relationships. We get tangled up, upset, and resentful. It can turn into an obsession, and is especially hard if we’re living with that person. Perhaps you focus on this skill and suggest to your son that managing this problematic relationship is important to his sobriety. A process group or therapist can help with this. Being in relationships is a life-long need and so learning about them is going to be important to a continued sobriety.

His efforts are paying off but he needs to keep at it

Your son was recently forgiven an offense by the courts because he is in a sober house. Let’s hope this left a mark on him. He is going to need that sober house and his continued sobriety as evidence of the effort he is making in the next hearing coming up.

Again, you know this. It is another leverage point for trying to influence your son to stay put. If I were to pick one treatment that your son would need to agree to in exchange for rent payments continuing, it would be an early recovery group, men only if possible. You would ask for a consent form to be signed by him to let you know he is attending. Stress that you are not interested in what is said.

Does the sober house drug test? The house should be following your son and helping with the issues that come up.

Early recovery is a difficult time

Your son may be wavering but it doesn’t necessarily mean a full-out relapse. He has two important pieces in place: a safe home and self-help. The house should be prepared to address a potential relapse or at least the beginning of one. The house should also be helping with the interpersonal issues that come up between residents.

Your influence is limited. You know your son best. It is hard to stand by and let things unravel and yet your reach is limited. It is worth trying to use your leverage to get him to address relationships through a therapeutic group. The need to be in treatment and in sober housing is very important for the court.

This early period in recovery is difficult. Wavering is not unusual and it doesn’t mean he is giving up, just ambiguous. This is normal. I hope this site is able to help you differentiate between what you can do, and what you need to let your son be responsible for. Thank you for letting us know what is going on with him. Your difficulties are similar to others’ on this site.

A membership at Allies in Recovery brings you into contact with experts in the fields of recovery and treatment for drug and alcohol issues. Our learning platform teaches you the CRAFT method and guides you through the best techniques for unblocking the situation. Together we will move your loved one towards recovery. Learn more here.

 About the Author:
Dominique launched Allies in Recovery in 2003. Her work has been featured on HBO and NPR. She is a facilitator and a trained speaker on issues of addiction and the family. She has worked extensively developing and evaluating federally-funded substance abuse programs for organizations and clinics throughout Massachusetts and New York. With an interest in recovery and substance abuse that spans 20 years, she sees a huge need to help families develop the skills that will help a loved one recover fully in a supportive, whole, and lasting way in their families and in their communities. Her mission is to have Allies in Recovery fill that gap.

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