Become a member of Allies in Recovery and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate and guide your loved one toward treatment.Become a member of Allies in Recovery today.

He’s Bullying Me For Drug Money


kwg6551's son is asking for money and weaving impressive webs of lies to get it. He becomes angry when kwg6551 doesn't agree to provide the money he's requesting…

"Hi, I’m just wanting to see if anyone has any advice on how to handle when my son asks for money. He has a great job making good money actually makes more than I do, but when you are drug addicted having a good job and making good money is never enough so he will call and tell me some of the most awesome lies you have ever heard. I will have to say some of them are pretty impressive. I have tried the reflective listening or when he texted for money I have used the I understand what it is like but he will yell and hang up or block from receiving my text and tell me he is cutting off communication because all I think he wants the money for is to buy drugs, which that is exactly what he is doing. I was under the understanding that it's best to keep communication open but I can not continue to give him money to use for drugs. What do I say or not say when he wants money, I’m running out of ideas and excuses to try to keep the open lines and frankly I’m totally exhausted and dread when he calls or texts me because I know exactly what and how the conversation will end. Oh, and the best part of this situation is he believes that I think he is sober right now and there is no reason now to let him have money for groceries, gas,etc. if I start to say anything remotely close to what did you do with you money that’s when the sob stories begin and the lies follow and anything after that is yelling and hanging up."

Your son is bullying you to give him money. That is what he is doing: bullying.

Sounds like you are doing the right things: reflectively listening, understanding statements…these communication skills reduce the likelihood of conflict. They buy you time to come up with an answer.

Sounds like you have a twofold problem that goes beyond communicating with him. Your son is being abusive. He must be desperate to get high and doesn’t have the money. He is coming to you, his mother, for money. As his mother, you are “supposed to help” in his eyes, you are responsible for his wellbeing. His stance is that the excuses are true and you are being unfair.

Moving Away from the Abusive Exchanges

What would happen if you said any of the following:

  • I’m sorry, what little money I have I am saving for your treatment
  • I feel deep down that you are not sober, I cannot give you money. Please don’t ask again.
  • If I know one thing, it is that you are not sober. I love you too much to support your use. Please do not ask me again.

Say this in a text if that’s easier. Don’t respond to defensive responses. Let him know that you know he is actively using, that you are here to help when he is ready.

In the communications module, Learning Module 3, our friends Magdalena and Arnaldo act out the scenario you are going through: a son asking his mother for money. It’s worth reviewing.

It is very hard not to take it personally when someone is abusive, but you must try. Your son is active in his addiction. He is going to try everything—and I mean everything­—to get high.

I wonder if you can visualize a bubble around you that softens the insults directed at you. The bubble is there to protect you. Defend your space inside the bubble.

Lines of communication can stay open without it being about handing out money. Perhaps for today, you send the text and he stops talking to you. You are still leaving the door open for him to come to you. You don’t have to participate in abusive discussions about money just to keep the door open.

You Are Using. Mom is No Longer in Your Pocket.

The second main point here is that your son is using. If he succeeds in wearing you down with his verbal bullying you will not have the energy and motivation to help engage him into needed treatment.

The CRAFT stance: Mom is no longer in your pocket, son. Mom is there for treatment when you’re ready.

So pull that list of treatment options together. Stand ready for when you hear him soften or become vulnerable about his life (a wish or a dip), watch or read Learning Module 8.

For those on the site whose Loved One isn’t using, who want to help with money (or for those whose Loved One is using and want a relatively low cost, safe way out), take a look at this debit card for those in recovery. It limits what the card can be used for and tracks purchases. It offers another strategy for navigating this tough issue.



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"...)