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He’s Asked Us To Pay For His Car…

People on Subway

mariaburt has agreed to pay for her Loved One’s sober housing, but now he’s asking for her to cover his car and insurance as well. He’s not working yet and has amassed a huge debt already – shouldn’t paying for the sober home be enough?

I have a 30 year old son that has been dealing with addiction for over 15 years. He has been to rehab several times and we have helped him countless times. He also has a 2 year old son. He has been homeless and after we decided to not help him any longer or better decided to no longer enable him, he checked himself in a 30 day program at the Salvation Army. He is leaving in 7 days and he is asking for us to pay the sober home living as he is totally broke. We said yes to his request and now he is asking us to pay for his car and insurance. He has not had a real job in 9 months and has a debt close to 40k. We are concerned that he might not be able to find a job without a car but his insurance is so expensive because of all the accidents he has had. We believe we should help him with the sober living at the beginning but not with the car and insurance and others. Please let us know if we are on the right path. I would love to hear your comments.


It’s a good move to shift the pattern between you and your son by not paying for things while he was using. Well done. He checked himself into a 30-day program at the Salvation Army – good for him. You’ve agreed to pay for his sober housing once he leaves this program. This also lines up with what we’d recommend: supporting the sober housing and the financial support to stay in the house. Sober houses help people find jobs, but certainly – especially in our society – the issue of a car is another concern.

I wonder what the sober house administration would say about the car. Is it necessary? Certainly many people arrive at sober housing without transportation, with a host of reasons for why the car is gone.

How about a little spending money – very little – and money for public transportation until he has a couple more months of sober living and a job under his belt.

Can you put him off for a couple months with something like this…

I am so very proud of you for stopping the drug use and for getting help. I am relieved. I am not worrying all the time like before. Thank you for taking this important step. We don’t have a lot of money to work with. For the next couple months, I would rather help you with a little spending money and money for public transportation. I’m sorry we can’t do it all, but let’s see what happens in the next couple months. We will talk about the car in two months. I love you and am so grateful you are doing well.

The car and insurance can be seen as a reward, in CRAFT terms, but it is difficult to dole out in small bits according to how your Loved One is doing. We’ve written on the topic of car use in many other posts. Remember, we give rewards when they are abstaining, and take them away when they’re not. I would push back on the car for now. Let him be a sober guy in a sober house, sharing rides and taking the bus. It’s too early for the car and may backfire. If it does, you’d be out the money that you could be using in small amounts to support him staying in the house.

Stay encouraging about his progress, and keep that possibility open for help with the car and/ or insurance down the line. This really helps protect both of you. The boundaries are yours to draw, and your hesitation about covering more than the sober house right now sounds right on target.

This isn’t about punishment, so make sure to work on being calm, loving and open in your discussions about it. It’s about taking things one step at a time, and not getting in over your heads. He’s racked up a huge debt and so much has fallen on you over the years – but it is great to have this new start to work things in a CRAFTy manner. The small amount of spending money and help with public transportation can be seen as a reasonable compromise. These come with encouragement to keep on this path and a promise to look at things again after a few more months.

It’s a great question that you’ve posed, and it’s great that your instincts are already telling you to draw this line. We’re happy to hear of the steps your son is taking. He is fortunate to have your support. I hope this is helpful – 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"...)