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He Was ‘Chipping’ at the Sober House

kicked out

Mothra's son is heading back to detox, because of "chipping" at the sober house. She had noticed something was off, and wonders if she should have cancelled their dinner together?

"Hello again, AIR. Seems like when things are going well we just peruse the site, and then when things are rocky need a little reinforcement. We visited our son last week and right away I knew something was off. Weight loss, indirect answers, WAY too long in the bathroom…all those subtle little hints I've learned to pick up over the years. He called dad today to say he was going back into detox because he's been "chipping" (using here and there in smaller amounts so as not to be obviously high.)

I had my usual gut feeling that he was using or getting ready to use and still I didn't cancel dinner out already planned. I kept the conversation neutral, we had dinner, a nice time, said our goodbyes and drove home. Then the call today.

As for me, I just kind of accepted my powerlessness over the whole issue, and honestly I'm just exhausted by it all.

Should I have cancelled the dinner? He was not obviously using to anyone else but me. His dad didn't have a clue. Should I have spoken to his sponsor? Should I have mentioned my concerns directly to my son (just resulting in a series of lies)?

I think I blew it by not blowing the whistle, especially because he had dangerously overdosed the last time.

I'm so glad he's in detox, though I don't know for sure. I'm hoping he came forward himself but more likely got found out by someone at the sober house. Also according to him the sober house will take him back yet again…so no consequences there either.

He refuses all MAT.

Was there a better way to handle this most recent episode?

Thanks for any comments."

An overdose would scare many of us into never using that drug again. This isn’t the case when you are addicted. You might be more careful or make some other small changes, but an overdose alone doesn’t change much. Using that drug to squash the pains of withdrawal or the apathy for life, simply put, feels much more important.

Your son is using again, after three overdoses in quick succession, including one in detox. As his mom, you’ve had your suspicions but still had him to dinner and didn’t say anything to your son or husband when you saw that he was high. So yes, there was a better way to handle the dinner. You could have called it off, or cut it short. But no one is perfect at this; it is hard to do these things perfectly every time.

So don’t worry about it. There will be other opportunities to push further to those edges of rewarding non-use or allowing consequences, removing rewards, and disengaging yourself when you see use.

When the world is being divided in two—are they using at this moment or not—practically everything in the day between you and your Loved One can be fodder for applying the principles of CRAFT. As the family member, you do what you can.

I can understand wanting to enjoy your son at dinner, being too tired to break up the whole evening because of a suspicion he is high, not wanting to worry your husband.

Remember, this is equally about you. You do what you can.

Your son is in a good sober home. If they did send him to detox, they will probably want him to complete a more intensive program before returning to the house. Your son called to say he had been chipping. He is talking to you, hurray! Your effort to work this program is paying off in terms of your communications with him, and we commend you for the perseverance… you are doing what you can for your son. May you enjoy that walk in the woods today.



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. Thanks so much for the encouraging words. He’s out of detox and back in the sober house, though they moved him to another house. Working with his sponsor he says, but no other demands from the sober house. He says a counselor at the detox connected him with a local clinic for vivitrol, which I greatly support. He will need a lot of pushing to follow through.

    I heard from him today..although he didn’t ask me for anything he was very whiney..not a good sign. Then he talks to his dad and all is well. I just don’t know. I can’t understand why the house is not insisting he attend an IOP or get some counseling. I’m losing faith in the house…do they just want a body to pay the rent? Is it our place to challenge them? He works for the owner…does he just need him? He’s a very hard worker. The owner gave us his number after the overdoses and told us to call “anytime.” Wondering how far is too far, though mostly I feel nothing is too far when it’s down to life or death.

    Thanks as always, and bless you all.


    1. Your son is back in the sober house after yet another overdose and a trip to detox. This time the house is suggesting vivitrol, but that’s it. You question why more isn’t being suggested to him, like an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). You are understandably worried.

      You have probably reached the limit of your influence here. You can suggest more to your son; you can suggest more to the owner of the sober house, but that’s probably it for now.

      Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response to Mothra here: