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He Crashed the Car & His Marriage Is in Trouble

boy car accident police ambulance

Allies member rlabib wrote in with concerns about his son's situation — struggling with addiction, no money, no job, depressed and trying to raise a young child. The parents live thousands of miles away and feel treatment is the only answer.

"I have a married son with a three-year-old daughter, they all live in Houston, TX, and we, the parents live in Norfolk, VA. My son had a car accident about 10 days ago and got fired from his job because he did not show up to work. I know for sure he has drinking and drug problems. Now the relationship with his wife is deteriorating gradually due to his unstable temper and behavior. I am sure the only help for him is a rehab, I need some guidance and help in how to get him to a rehab. He has no money, no job, and he is very depressed.

Thank you so much"

Your son’s family life is in danger: he crashed the car, and lost his job. And all this is happening clear across the country from where you are.

We have written before about the use of CRAFT when you are far away from your Loved One. The approach was not designed for long-distance intervention… but the principles of CRAFT still apply.

Here are links to three posts that I thought had some connection to your situation.

In terms of what you can do right away, I suggest you ask your daughter-in-law to look at the Learning Modules on this site. Of course, you as his parents should also follow our Learning Modules, but I am more urgently concerned with stemming your daughter-in-law's frustration and trouble with her husband. She needs support and training that provides practical ways to:

  • react to her husband,
  • help her understand addiction,
  • help her process what each of them is going through, and
  • how to stay safe.

The CRAFT approach that we teach on Allies in Recovery is gentle and loving, which understandably may not be how she is feeling right now, with her husband having lost his job and a three-year-old child to care for.

As his parents living so far away, you will want to look at the communications module in particular, since phone and internet may be your only ways to connect with him.

It's too early to be turning to Learning Module 8, which is the intervention part of the approach, but do look at it. Your son may be in a window where he is willing to take action towards his addiction.

Part of what YOU can do is this. You'll need to do research on what treatments are available in the Houston area. Include treatment options that he can do while staying at home and inpatient treatment options where he would go away from home for a while. One is not better than the other. The important factor is locating quality treatment, that he can afford or that's covered by insurance, and facilitating his access to it. Our Resource Supplement provides ways to search for approaches that are well studied. It also has links to national sites that can help you search that part of Texas.

Here is the link to look at our page on the different models of treatment.

It’s going to be work to do this…but see if you can find a treatment place for each of the modalities you think best applies.

Write down everything you find, with lots of detail for each place: who your son should call, when (times), what he needs to prepare for the call, then criteria for admission, insurance etc. etc… Everything you can think to ask and have answered for him. You son is not in any shape to be doing the research.

Finally (for now), you can’t parent your way through this. He is an adult. You can partner with him, you can be his ally. You are support. You are there to help him figure out treatment and engage him so that he will go. Imagine creating a path to treatment with him. If he is in a desperate financial situation, keep your financial help short-term. The same goes for any other thing that stands in the way of getting through that door to treatment: make getting treatment easier for him but do it in stages, protect yourselves too.

It is so difficult to be dealing with a grown child with addiction issues. It may take time. He may not get traction into sobriety right away. Pace yourselves. Do your homework with us. We provide the best studied approach and solid places to research the field of treatment. Write in for more guidance as you need. Keep us posted.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Unfortunately my daughter in law gave up on him, and told me : take him , he is all yours, I do not want him and do not want to have anything to do with his addictions and treatment. She kicked him out and that is why I had to fly him to live with us again.

  2. I have had it with my 38 year-old-son, he was almost hit the ground in Houston, TX. and through a good member of our family in Houston, we booked him a one-way ticket to come here and stay with us at our home. He is an alcoholic, but his first three months went well, eating and sleeping and walking around the house, no cash in his hand, we buy cigarettes for him. Couple of days ago he started going to 7-11 store and hanging out there talking to other bums and asking for a beer and came home drunk. He is married with à three-year-old daughter.
    I am not sure how to handle it anymore, I am not aware of the best action and course to take. Please help and direct me to the right path. He has no medical insurance, he thinks he does not need any medical treatment. He is out of his mind. I am not talking to him any more and told him that I will not support or help him anymore. I am sure there is a more suitable plan for handling such cases, but I am not aware of the right plan. Please help and guide us in our crisis. Thanks

    1. rlabib:
      Being unemployed, homeless, and going through emotional turmoil… these are such difficult and disorienting experiences. Our society does not offer a great deal of support in such situations, and when you think of it, should it? Except for family support, people are left to find their own way. As someone who experienced homelessness, joblessness and ultimately familiar separation, as a direct result of my ongoing inability to curb my addictive tendencies, I ultimately turned to state-funded addiction treatment services, residential care, and the slow, difficult process of trying to put my life back together.

      Anyone in Massachusetts has access to medical insurance, if they take the time to investigate the process. People who find themselves “stuck” in life are faced with the existential question: What do I do about this? Unless they confront this question, things continue in uncontrollable fashion, and circumstances determine outcomes. How someone starts engaging in actions that have a direct effect on determining circumstances is the key. The truth as far as I can tell, is that you have never “handled” this situation: “I am not sure how to handle it anymore.” Help him by guiding him to local homeless shelters, or suggesting initiating treatment, and then let him know that he will have to find another place to live within a specific time period. Or, continue, and allow his set of circumstances determine outcomes for you.

  3. Thanks for this thoughtful question and reply. We are also hoping our adult daughter recognizes she needs treatment and takes the necessary steps. We lent her money last month before the most recent troubles came to our attention. I will not lend any more except to keep a roof over their heads. She is not owning her problem yet and that is so important in moving forward. We are clearly offering love and emotional support but she will not discuss the problem with us so our support isn’t direct communication.

    1. The key in all this is to keep the contact open. Your daughter will open up to you when she is hurting if the bridge between you is good. By this I mean you stay on easy topics with her while on the phone when you are reasonably sure she isn’t high. Any sense that she is using, you make some excuse and get off the phone. If she isn’t talking to you about the misuse of alcohol or drugs, don’t bring it up. If she does bring it up, say you are willing to get her help when she is ready.

      In the meantime, this post and the others we are referencing can help. Your daughter may not own her problem today, but tomorrow something could happen that makes her willing to look at it. Be ready with some ideas of treatment, a therapist, the location and time of a local self-help meeting. The openings are typically brief. Listen for them. See Learning Module 8 for our discussion of wishes and dips, the cues that she is not happy with her circumstances or wants more from her life. Having detailed treatment ideas prepared in your back pocket can make the difference in getting her through that door of treatment in time before that window closes. Things change on a dime when substances are involved.