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He’s Heading Home & I’m So Anxious

jail - release

mlb2t is experiencing anxiety at the idea of her son returning home from jail. Can this work, or would it be crazy to let him come back, given all of the drama that preceded his incarceration?

"I have been following along with everyone and everything for the past 8 months and have been keeping up with modules. Life has actually been calm for about the last 8 months. My oldest son is living with me and has been clean from both drugs and alcohol for about 8 years. He is proud of himself, is finishing his associates degree and plans to continue on. He also works part time. He has become a responsible adult. On the other hand, my second child has spent time in jail since last November. I had actually turned him in on a warrant. At that time he was so lost in drugs and had overdosed a few weeks before I had turned him in. By the time he was brought in he had been shooting up in his foot. He ended up in the hospital for almost a week and was told he was lucky he went in when he did because he could have shortly lost his foot or died. He is now scheduled to get out on November 10th and the plan is for him to come to my house. I am a nervous wreck over this. At one point early in his incarceration he was paroled with the stipulation that he go to a long-term rehab. I was thrilled, but this never happened. I am sure he had something to do with this not working out.

I go to see him for food visits and try to talk with him about plans and all he ever says is that he is going to get a job. He never elaborates. Even just writing this I can feel myself tensing up. Well wishers tell me he can’t come to my house, but when I ask where they suggest he go they have no answer. I even spoke with the people at the jail and I was told that he goes to the address on his paperwork. I asked what if I don’t want him there, I was told he would be in the street. I even had one suggestion that I move, like it is just so simple to up and leave. I like my house and I don’t want to leave. I also know that this program works best if the person is close. I guess that at this point I am looking for some advice. I have been through so much with this son that I start having anxiety just thinking about him coming home. It has been so calm I worry my 2 sons will fight again and my older one tells me this won’t happen. I don’t want to live walking on eggshells again."

Hello mlb2t. We’re glad to hear from you. Things have been calm for you because one son is doing well and the other is in jail. The son in jail is due to be released and your worry and stress are mounting as he is supposed to come home. The jail is not giving you other alternatives for treatment or housing.

I work in a jail and I am glad to report that this “release” process is changing. Jails are becoming de facto treatment centers and the release of an inmate is now case-managed much more carefully.

Your son does not sound very willing AT THIS MOMENT to do much to address his drug issues. It is frightening because he has gone to very low places in the past, hiding in the woods, walking around with serious wounds caused by injection drug use.

There are places your son can go upon being released, depending on his level of willingness.

No willingness:

  • The shelter
  • A cheap hotel that you pay for for a month or so

Some willingness:

  • Your son will be abstinent from drugs when he gets out. He would meet the requirements for a sober/transitional house. Can you provide him with the details of a few?

There is a new jail release program in Springfield funded by SAMHSA and run by Baystate Health System. It is the same team that worked on Bridge, an earlier funded SAMHSA grant. Can you contact them and get their help putting together a list of options for your son before he is released? Can one of them contact your son and offer their help?

Perhaps your son does come home. I worry for you if he does. At the very least, perhaps you follow the suggestions made in this blog post:

  1. A daybed and locker in the den (you convert his bedroom to something else)
  2. suboxone or methadone, overseen by an MAT clinic

Finally, you may want to prepare civil commitment papers. Massachusetts is opening more beds, including in the Ludlow jail (I know, a jail). It is serious treatment however, despite its location. Should all of the above fail, we’d want you to have this ready to go.

We have followed your situation now for years. You are so strong. You deserve continued peace, especially in your home. Pull in help, such as the folks at Baystate. Work on a plan. Let your son know he is not coming home, and if he does, it is night by night, with the support of a medication-assisted clinic.



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. It is now about 3 weeks until my son gets out. I have tried to look into the SAMHSA grant and have contacted 2 people that work between the jail and Baystate to ask them about it. I received no response. I could not find anything on my own. When going for food visits I try to talk with my son but he tries to avoid the subject. I persist and sometimes he will at least talk about plans when he gets out. I asked him if he had been approached about any programs or studies when he gets out and he said there was one they talked to him about but he didn’t qualify because he isn’t on disability. It seems one always has to have some kind of underlying condition to be considered. I am grateful he doesn’t, but I feel so helpless. When asked what he is going to do when he gets out, he told me find a job. I said that is great, but I mean what are you going to do right when you get out and he laughed. The answer to that was go to the liquor store. Right there tells me that he has not changed much. I proceeded to tell him that he is going to contribute to the house, he is going to pay bills, if he wants a phone he is going to pay for it. One positive thing is that he told me he has to make an MD and dentist appointment when he gets out.
    My anxiety level is sky high, again I’m starting to lose weight and I easily lose my serenity. I have tried to do things that I have been told I’m the past might help, by making things different in his room so he doesn’t go into the same environment. His room has been painted and most of the furniture has been exchanged. His dresser was falling apart so I got rid of it. I did not buy him anything new, but was given 2 dressers in good shape. I don’t know if it will help but I will try anything. I have a cat that gets insulin twice a day, so now I have to hide those needles again, he has taken them in the past, even if they have been used. I want to have some faith, but I have been through this so many times that it is hard to believe that this time will be different. My other son can’t wait for him to come home and thinks things will be different this time. I really hope he is right

    1. The stress and fear that you have about your son’s eventual release from jail is palpable. You have been through so much with your boys. Your son is showing no signs of greater insight into his condition and just plans to come home and get a job.

      We know from past incidences in your home that your son can be violent. He is also a very serious IV drug user who has put himself in tremendous harm.

      The jail has discharge planners and case workers available to guide your son into residential treatment, medication assisted treatment, and more.

      I don’t think your son will seek this out and entertain any of this when he has your home to return to. He would however need to do something to get himself situated if your home was not available to him.

      I don’t know if you ever found any help for domestic violence. You are in danger of having a repeat of what has happened in the past should your son come home and start using again.

      There is a different path for the both of you. Being home has not helped your son in the past and it has certainly not kept you safe or at peace. It also risks destabilizing your other son.

      The control you have over this situation is limited, as you well know, but hoping your son will be different without any evidence feels quite worrisome.

  2. I’m back!!! My son Michael is back on drugs because he got a job and has money in his pocket,..My problem is that he never admits he’s using. Always when I confront him and let him know that I know he’s high. He denies it all. He cries and then begs me to believe him, but I know my son. I know the signs. I can’t help him if he won’t admit it. We get into this huge fight because when he’s high…He is all over the place…talking a mile a minute, walking back and forth. He has said horrible things to me and it’s unreal he could talk that way to the only person that is trying to help him. I told him to get out that I don’t want anything to do with him anymore. I don’t want him in my house. He gets violent and destroys my house. He has put holes in the walls. Broken and lost my things. But in my mind he is very troubled and has the mind of a 10 yr old. I told him I we’re going to section him but he tells me he fights there everyday and is scared to go back. Please please help me. What do I do. How do I get him to admit he’s still using. How do I do find peace. When he’s high me and my fiancé goes upstairs and lock ourselves in the room. Please I am desperate for any advice. I love my son but can’t take it no more

    1. You’re trying to get your son to admit that he is using. But really, don’t you already know? Your observation of him, the time of day, the time of week, the fact that he has money in his pocket from getting a job… So why ask?

      Does he need to admit this to get help? At some point, he will have a moment when he does admit this to himself. Will he admit it to you? You, who are trying to get him to seek help? He probably doesn’t even think of an answer when you ask him if he’s been using, the knee jerk thing to say is “no.”

      So why ask?

      Go to Learning Module 4, please go there and look at this very issue—accusing someone doesn’t work very well. Please see what does. Let us know if this shift works any better for you.