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He Outfoxed Us!

mansion pool

stacynewmancilento can't believe the scene in front of her eyes.  After she stopped providing cash to her Loved One, he left his rented room and joined a high-rolling criminal circle, who he's calling his "family" now. He lives in a mansion and blames his parents for pushing him to this point. What would CRAFT have this family do next?

© stephen leonardi via unsplash

"He out foxed us.

We have been using CRAFT faithfully. Sadly – and shockingly – our son has entirely out maneuvered us.

We provide a rented room in a shared house for our now 27-year old son. When we established a boundary of not giving him any more cash (money, in any form, triggered more substance use) and offered to take him grocery shopping or have groceries delivered, he up and left his room (after a short self-guided detox from opiates) and moved into a multi-million dollar condo and is fully sponsored by (and working for?) what we assume is a criminal organization. Gifts galore….restaurant bought out for his birthday (during lockdown), thousands of dollars of designer gear in a birthday shopping spree, and now a Rolex being sported on his wrist. He calls them family. He has no suspicion that they mean him any harm and no qualms about being treated as "family" by virtual strangers.

The reason? He claims "we left him alone". We told him to "work for it" (meaning money). We didn't do either.

Our only CRAFT option is to not reward this behavior by being in contact with him while he is engaged in criminal activity or associating with these individuals.

We are stunned. And out foxed. WHAT IS OUR NEXT MOVE?"

Hello staceynewmancilento,

The story you tell of your son's move from a room in a shared house, to a quick self-guided detox from opiates, to participation in a criminal organization which is setting him up with a cushy, luxurious lifestyle, is indeed astonishing.


He may or may not be using — but either way, use CRAFT to discourage his criminal behavior

It is unclear whether or not your son continues to use opiates or other substances, but in any case, he seems to be continuing to engage in unhealthy, dangerous and illegal activity.

Has he gone off the deep end … or is this just a highly dramatic way of rebelling against his family and/or punishing you? Or something else, or all of the above…?

Either way, the families here on the Allies in Recovery member site have reported countless ways in which their Loved Ones have embraced — at least for a time — shocking or horrifying behaviors, including criminal activity and violence.

Our Loved Ones exhibit so many different kinds of "lows" — from shocking to perplexing

And so many more have spoken of their Loved Ones' behaviors and low-low-low points, during times of active use, that really feel like a repeated kick in the gut, or just like the epitome of pitiful. I'm reminded of Annie Highwater (guest blogger and podcast host) and her story of the terribly low period where her adult son was actively using opiates and sleeping outside in the dugout of a local baseball field, where he had once excelled as an athlete. Life has some deeply painful and perplexing twists.

I feel that you are right to continue to apply CRAFT to the current situation, especially since your son's substance use may well be wrapped up in his activities.

The idea is to consider his active connection to this criminal circle (his "family" as he says) as the undesirable behavior, ie the substance.

The more you can disengage when he is with them, the better. The more you can keep coming back to your own selves, taking time and making space for the complicated feelings brought up by his current behaviors and choices, the better. The more you can ignore his blaming and accusations, the better.

Through your disengaging, through the cool distance you work to put between you for the time being, you are amplifying the contrast between the warm-fuzzy-loving-support that being near you and embracing recovery can feel like, and the less-loving, less-authentic, less-deeply-satisfying tone that underlies his current choices.

Can you find a way to signal to him that you have faith in his ability to move to a healthier place?

Laurie MacDougall (podcast host, guest blogger) often speaks of the way our deep worry (and impulse to save them/do their recovery work for them) can inadvertently bleed onto our Loved Ones and send them the message that we don't think they have the resources or ability to succeed at their own challenges.

I wonder if you could practice a sort of letting go meditation, into which you weave in the idea that your son — as lost as he seems today — CAN overcome these current challenges. Practice cultivating confidence in his inner compass and his innate ability to see the light of his own truth.

All this being said, I'd encourage you to stay in contact, and keep seizing opportunities to spend light, enjoyable moments together. Keep the conversation easy-going and avoid the touchy subjects.

If/when he moves into the blaming or starts provoking you with talk like "they're my family now," disengage.

But as much and often as possible, keep working at the bridge building ­— that is, soft-spoken, authentic reminders that you are there if/when he's ready to get help.

Keep your list of "treatment"/recovery options refreshed and handy

Speaking of help, it would still be helpful to continue working on a list of "treatment" options (which in his case, might be focused on substance use, or might be focused on a mental health issue he has, or his well-being in general… you know him best).

Wishes and dips are likely to come back up to the surface, if not right away. The safer he feels with you, the more likely he'll be to confide in you when he's ready to be done with these thugs. Which is one reason to avoid talk that will feel to him as though you're judging his "friends" or his current choices.

We're thinking of you in this extremely difficult time. Keep us posted on how you progress.



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"...)