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He’s Begging to Come Home

boy passed out on couch - no book on floor

AiR member jezabelle had her son "sectioned" but he ended up in jail rather than a treatment facility. Now he's begging to come home…

"I have a 23 year old son that everyone told me to just cut him off. I couldnt do it but I did have him sectioned (which means I go to court and tell the judge how my son is addicted to drugs and he decides whether to put him in a facility for 30 to 90 days)… He decided to send my son to a prison where they have drug addicted people and treat them and make them go to classes The cops came to the house and took him away and when I went to court he didn't even look at me My heart was broken. He has been there for 27 days and is up for a review to see if he can go to a half way house but…. He is begging me to come home. Says he learned his lesson and he never wants to be where he is again. I want to believe him but the counselor says she is worried that he just doesn't get it. He calls me all the time begging to come home and saying to give him a second chance; I want to believe him. He told me he would leave the halfway house as soon as he got there. I told him I would tell them he could come home. I hope I am doing the right thing. Please… any advice would be appreciated!! It's coming soon. It's Saturday and he is up for review on Tues."

Hello Jezabelle: It’s awful but when the state of Massachusetts doesn’t have room in its treatment center contracted to take section 35 men, they send them to Bridgewater, a county jail. There is some treatment in the jail but men live out their stay in the general population. It must be hard to bear knowing your son is in a jail, when your aim was to get him treatment for addiction.

He is safe though, which might not have been the case had you not sectioned him. When a judge sections someone, it means there is ample evidence of danger.

I understand your son is very unhappy in jail and is letting you know it. I’m not saying jail is like a treatment center, but Loved Ones complaining about treatment is something that mostly needs to be sympathized with but otherwise ignored. How many times I have seen a Loved One successfully convince a family member to pull them out of treatment because the conditions were just too awful and the family became convinced they had made a grave mistake sending their Loved One to that treatment place. Bridgewater has been taking section 35 men for a very long time. They know what they are doing. I don’t advocate jail stays as treatment, but since it happened, you might as well chock it up to a negative (natural) consequence of drug use. There is no way to know if and when a negative consequence will have the desired effect of “scaring them straight.” 

What I am about to say next is also hard to swallow, but I suggest you let the system move your son to a halfway house. Having him home with little treatment will almost certainly get you back to where you were before you sectioned him. Your son will be in danger; you will be living with someone actively using or on the verge of relapse in short order. Your son needs more treatment. If you close your door to him, he will be more likely to accept a halfway house. 

And there is more. You will also have to help your son find the treatment he needs and help him engage with it. Halfway houses provide little in the way of treatment. They are sober places with a few house/sobriety rules. An intensive outpatient program might be the place to start. Insurance companies are likely to pay for it and it will take up a good part of each day for 3-5 weeks. It will start the process of addiction education and therapy that can greatly benefit your son.

As hard as this sounds, I am going to tell you that you are in a good place! Your son is safe, the system is helping to step him down to the next level of care. Let things evolve. This is what you would be trying to get him to do if he came home. You would be trying to get him to leave and go live in a sober house.

If he chooses to leave the sober house or not go because he can’t accept it, it may be a choice of home vs. shelter….but you’ll need to hold a very strong line for your own wellbeing if he comes home. Here are a couple posts we’ve written about having your Loved One come home.

It's Time for Him to Go
Using Home as a Reward
He Has Relapsed and He's Sleeping on My Couch

All of this is harsh and frightening. But you took an important step in getting your son sectioned. Let it play out as best you can. One last thing. If your son is taking opioids, you will need to be trained and to have narcan on hand. Your son is at greater risk of overdose when he leaves jail. His tolerance will be way down. Many people don’t realize this and go to use a dose comparable to what they used to tolerate. Please make sure your son understands this risk by providing him information available on our Resource Supplement under Preventing Opiate Addiction.



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. Well my son Michael is home from sectioning him He spent 45 days there and swears he doesn’t want to go back and he is done with drugs. Have to be to eat ,he was sent to MASAC in Plymouth and his ounsler o my camera me twice Never got back to me about a plan . I’ve left more than numerous messages for him and NOTHING. I am going to call the Superintendent and let her know how little interest he bad. It’s sad. So now I am going to look I to counseling for him He likes 1 on 1 cou saying. He wants to go back on Su is one but I don’t understand why. He is been clen for 45 days why does he n3ed it?. I have Suboxine in my lock ox but am afraid to give it to him . Y do3s he n3es to be o anything?. I Too am going to counseling and am back on my antidepressants I need meaning in my life for I feel there is none. My question is… Should I give him his Su is one back?. Help me understand y he needs it

    1. Jezabelle: Your son sounds motivated after his return from a civil commitment. We suggest you load him up with services, which should probably include suboxone. Start with this. Can you help him get an appointment at a suboxone clinic to see if he is willing? Tell him it is an exploratory visit. He is not committing by going to talk to the clinic.

      Your son’s motivation without treatment will wain. You don’t stay in recovery long by sitting on the couch. Suboxone would protect him from the opiates and the possibility of overdose. This is critical. 45 days is at once impressive and also a drop in the bucket. Protection from relapse will be greatly supported by addressing the biology of addiction through a biological medication. Suboxone will protect him from cravings going forward.

      So glad to hear he is willing to get counseling. Hurry if you can. This can take time to get right. Michael needs to find someone he can connect to. Also, peer support, an NA meeting or Smart Recovery. Can you find what’s in your area?

      He is home with you. Now is the time to set down your expectations about drug use in your house. We have written extensively about this (the tab “home as reward” along the right side of this page).

      A new start for the both of you. Let us know how it goes.

  2. I am so confused. EVERYONE says I’m making a big mistake making him come home.. They say he will use again and should go to the next step which is recovery in a halfway house. Vivitrol I now find is for someone who is very motivated and I don’t see him like that. As far as he’s concerned he will be ok with vivitrol and counseling not meetings. I feel like someone died That’s how sick I am. I can’t eat or sleep anymore. I miss my son but everyone says big mistake. Help me what should I do? He hasn’t called yet and my stomach is in knots it’s knowing I’m gonna tell him he can’t come home. I hope he signed the release so I can talk to his counselor

    1. Dear Jezabelle, I just saw your message and as we know – MUCH can happen in our situations in a matter of days, if not hours! I am wondering if anything has changed regarding your son’s arrangements for staying with you, if he has returned already, etc.

      Whatever the case may be, first know that you are not alone. Not in how you feel, or what you are facing. Many of us have been there, I myself have been there! I wanted my son home so badly many times. He seemed sick, weak and lost. But then he would come stay and within a matter of time, chaos exploded again and we were all such wrecks again that no one had peace. We went round and round like that for a long time. He finally found the strength to find his way on his own, it was just not going to work in our home.

      I said all of that to say this – no one could tell me what decision to make, I was the one living with the consequences and emotions of taking him in – or not taking him in. That is a decision you will have to work through and it takes time. You have to do what is right for you in order to be okay and for your home to have peace, safety and sanity.

      It is a difficult road and a complex call to make. I am wishing you loads of wisdom and peace as you find your way.


      1. Dear Annie thank you so much for saying that EVERYONE is telling me not to let him come home But talking to him he sounds so broken I can’t sleep night knowing he is in that place. He swears he want to turn his life round and I am trying to believe him. My son needs my help I am the only one he has left His review is coming up this thurs and then I am hopefully getting him on Fri. I am waiting for the phone call from his counselor. As much as I want him back home on the other hand I don’t I am scared and I told him I will section him again if he gets high I can’t take it anymore. My life has become so controlled by my emotions (mostly sad and angry). It’s nice not having him here but I know he has no where else. I just hope he gets it this time .. I have to admit I am scared.

        1. Dear Jezabelle – I so understand, it’s terribly hard. I would say you are very human to be scared. I always called it “primal fear” because it was so strong and consuming, I could barely control my emotions during it. That is where I knew my own recovery was needed; in all of those surging fears and emotions. I tried to deal with them every time I recognized one coming on. It gets better over time, peace is possible.

          My son lives out of state now. I will tell you those emotions still surge from time to time! I stop myself and reflect on my decisions to involve myself when he has struggles now, which is a bit different since we are at such great distance. But either way, when I reflect deeply I usually realize my stepping in comes back to me needing to feel safe about him, I want to feel safe about his safety! I want to fix it all so I can feel stable, because I tend to feel very unsteady when he has needs and comes to me with them.

          There are times I do get involved but most often I stop, breathe, think and decide not to. That’s when I give encouragement and speak hope instead and then pray for the best as he figures it out on his own. I will say – things always work together for the best eventually. And sometimes we’ll find that my stepping back and letting him figure it out is what led him to not only the best outcome, but newfound strength and pride that he got through it. That’s what I have seen make a man out of him. Whether the situation has been small and irritating, or it seems like a Level 10 crisis.

          It’s a process, a learning process at that! And no one is perfect at handling it. Nor do we have to be. You will work through it one way or another regardless of what you choose. And you won’t have to alone. Allies in Recovery is a wonderful foundation to return to daily for comfort, encouragement and support.

          Let us know how things go and how you are! Keep going, you are worth the effort you put into yourself – as much as your son is worth recovery as well.

          Rooting for you!