Is.54:10 is confused and discouraged, and wary of being manipulated by her son who has begun using again and is still at home.
"Dear AIR Team, My adult son has SUD. He has been abusing opiates for many years. He now lives at home, with the understanding that he must stay in some sort of treatment program and not be actively using. 6 months ago he had a relapse. At that time, he willingly gave up his keys and took his car off the road (this was his idea, he said he didn't trust himself to drive). For months we drove him to work, appointments with his counselor, and to the suboxone clinic, as he is on a MAT plan. Per our request, he reached out to a recovery coach as well. He seemed to be doing quite well, and we were so hopeful that he had turned a corner. During this time he saved up enough money to purchase and insure a nice, used truck for work. We felt that he was ready to start driving again. I guess we were wrong, because he has used again, at least three times in a three-week period. He stayed out all night on two different occasions. My husband is fed up and thinks its time to ask him to leave, but I'm not so sure. My son is going back to counseling tomorrow, and says he is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He says he doesn't want to go backwards and doesn't want to let us down. Are we being manipulated? Are we enabling him by letting him stay? I'm not sure that he is willing to do the hard work necessary for long-term recovery, although he says he is. I want to believe that he is sincere and truly desires something better. Any advice? We are so confused and discouraged, we could use a fresh perspective."
Dear Is. 54:10
Your son is living at home and has relapsed. You and your husband are divided on whether to ask him to leave.
Thank you for writing in. This is a core issue for families, one that we have written about several times before (see topic on blog sidebar = home as a reward).
Your son used opiates several times after months of being abstinent. He says he will do everything to succeed but you have your doubts. What you may be feeling is his ambiguity: I want to use, I did use, but I don’t want to use, I want to succeed. Ambiguity resides in all of us when faced with change. It is part of the change process. If, as family members, we wait around for a 100% commitment from our Loved One, we will almost certainly be waiting a long time. Family members must make decisions and take actions in an environment of probabilities.
David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy, put it like this: “A world of contradictions, wherein everything is gray and almost nothing is black and white.”
Your son is on MAT, is still talking to a recovery coach (?), sees a therapist, and says he wants to try again.
The truck was purchased with money he earned, I assume, so maybe he has a job. He knew that driving was a trigger and asked you to take his keys. After months of being ferried around, he thought he could drive again and this freedom—to some degree—caused a relapse.
A structured, safe environment such as you provide your son, with taxi service to appointments, has no doubt helped him get some footing. Stepping out of that closed, protective space may have caused the problem. But he has to step out at some point, and there are all sorts of perilous things in the greater world. It is a learning process with feedback for him.
He’s back on his feet and promising to do better. Go back in time in your son’s life and you will probably see a series of trials and errors, promises to stop (either to you or to himself), followed by starting to use again. See this post for a graphic representation of the elliptical process of recovery. It is less the turning of a corner than a slow, curvy road that eventually straightens out.
I see a lot of willingness on the part of your son. He is doing more than most to fight a crushing addiction. Look at his actions: MAT, giving up his keys, recovery coach, therapist.
And what about you and your husband? What can you both tolerate? Can you agree to having him stay in your home if you make things a little more temporary? We've written about a bed in some common space with a foot locker for his things. Alternatively, is there a safe place he can go live? Maybe this is just too hard on you both and your son needs a sober house. This is also about what you can both accept going forward.
Along with the restricted space in your home, can your son agree to add more into his recovery plan? Seems like self-help is a hole. We provide a list of options in the Resource Supplement. What will it take for him to get into that truck and drive to a self-help meeting rather than to the dealer?
CRAFT suggests small steps, and this applies to both you and your son. Your son has relapsed. There must be natural consequences… His living situation just got a little tenuous. He is now in the den. He is now being asked not to come home when he is high, being welcomed back when he is not. He now has to check out various self-help options in the area.
If you and your husband can do this, it may be the right level of consequence. The aim is of course to let him feel the discomfort of the natural consequence, while being careful not to squash his motivation to jump back into recovery.