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He’s Hiding Away for Most of the Day

Silhouette of Man at Window from Back

MYATES isn't sure what to make of her Loved One's behavior while holed up in their home. He reached out for help from her after jail, and is getting MAT… she knows he hasn't gone anywhere as they live far out in the country. But he's secluding himself so much, she can't tell what he's up to. 

© Noah Silliman Unsplash


Thank you for allowing me to join this Allies in Recovery group during these challenging times for all of us. My 33 year old heroin addict son spent 90 days in jail asked to come home for shelter and help entering a Suboxone MAT Program. It took about 10 days to navigate the process; intake, assessment, counseling and appointment with a physician. His step dad and I live out in the country 11 miles from town, which I believe has been beneficial, but his decision to not use while awaiting MAT has been his alone. (By the way, his MAT program is also an hour and a half away as our county has no MAT programs.) He has been on the program now for three weeks and attending bi-weekly group counseling, weekly one-on-one counseling and has had two doctor appointments for Suboxone re-fill prescriptions. Everything now of course with the pandemic is by telephone which I am truly grateful.

All sounds wonderful, but he has self isolated the guest room. He stays in bed all day and all night as far as I can tell. He only comes out to use the bathroom, get something to eat (mostly at night) and make required telephone calls for behavioral health care. Read MYATES’s full comment here.

Welcome to this community. We’re glad you’re here. You helped your son get on Suboxone, a medication for opioid treatment. He is home, but also on wait lists for residential programs. You are questioning his behavior, which mainly involves hiding in his room.

Things are indeed complicated by the Covid virus. In some ways they are easier and in other ways they are more difficult. You are grateful the trips into town for the clinic have stopped. Your son is newly on Suboxone but is now being seen (almost?) entirely by telephone.

Suboxone is a partial opioid (agonist) that keeps away physical opioid withdrawals. The other part of the drug is a blocker (antagonist) that prevents the person from feeling the high of an additional opioid. Together, the agonist/antagonist reduces the craving for opioids.

So Suboxone is an excellent start but it doesn’t address the mental/emotional/ social/ spiritual needs your son also has. I feel for your son. It sounds like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Group and one-on-one therapy, now online, is important and he gets that through the Suboxone clinic. Is he liking it?

You’ve gone through the possibility that your son is using but you don’t see how he could be given the distance from town and the lack of transportation.

From your comment, it doesn’t sound like he is using opioids. It does sound like he has nothing in his life that holds even the most remote interest to him. That happens with all drugs, but especially with opioids (and stimulants) that cause such tremendous spikes in the reward center that anything else in life pales and holds absolutely no interest.

None of this is certain, but your son is being seen by a clinic who is following his use. So, I suggest you drop your search for a clear answer, and act like he is not using given the situation you’ve described.

If he is not using, then what is going on? I would be concerned for his mental health, especially depression. Has he struggled with this before? Is he the type who sleeps when depressed?

If your son is dropping daily calls he needs to make for wait lists to residential treatment, you’ll need to pick this up. He will be forced out of his room in a treatment center. More will be available to him that will challenge him in a treatment center.

You have no reason to change his setup in your home, but keep in mind the cot and locker idea we describe as a possible way to communicate to him the transitional nature of your home.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas in this. Really, though, he is safe, abstinent (?), and has started a treatment. I can’t stress enough how much any appreciation for life falls away when consumed in the world of drugs. Stopping the drugs doesn’t make life happen or the person any more inherently appreciative. The rewards come from trying new things and having them feel good.

He’s coming out of a stint in jail, is in a pretty different environment at your house than whatever else he’d been accustomed to, and is in the midst of all the mental-emotional and physiological processes that go along with early recovery. It’s hard to express how much turmoil this can create. You’ve provided a place for him to land, at his request, and you are keeping a respectful distance.

But he’s ultimately not conformable being really present around you right now. That’s the message. He’s probably having a hard time being present with himself. This is part of how he’s coping with the pain and other hard feelings he’s experiencing. He’s hiding away. But he’s not angry or confrontational. Coming out of jail, addressing his heroin use, he’s got some big emotions to grapple with. He likely doesn’t feel too hot about himself, to say the least. His internal landscape is under major construction right now. It’s a raw time and it’s safe to say that very few have inherent, adequate tools to work through this easily.


The counseling and the doctor’s appointments are important parts of his process. It’s encouraging that he has these. Your compassionate support and your willingness to be there for him when he does need you is huge, whether he’s able to acknowledge this right now or not. For now I’d bide my time, trying not to jump to conclusions, but making sure not to let things slip through the cracks, such as the calls to get him in line for residential treatment (again, if you need to take over with this, go ahead). Keep things light, so the focus is not on following up on or nagging about tasks he needs to complete (calls, etc). So you assess your son to be using or not using, and then try to put the question out of your mind for the time being. Tomorrow, or even later that same day, you may need to revisit/ reassess. Try your best not to carry around a constant questioning about his status – that is just too exhausting. 


You want him to be more open with you, and for him to be around more in your own home. It will take some time. As you practice patience with that, keep your focus on what you can do. Keep learning from the site, and practicing CRAFT when you can. I’d especially revisit Learning Module 4 on communication. It sounds like you’re doing a great job of offering him support and even-keeled conversation, while not pushing him either. That’s not easy, but he probably appreciates the space. Try to find small rewards or gestures that show him your love and care, offer them when you have the opportunity, and gently step back.

When the time feels right, perhaps you say, “I’m so glad you’re home. I know you prefer to be alone, but I’d love to be spending some more time with you when you’re ready. I know what you’re going through is hard. I’m here for you. And I’m proud of you.” and leave it at that. Keep it nice and light. Make this just about the connection between you and him: about your willingness to be there for him. If you get no response, so be it. Take it as a cue to refocus on something that helps you feel grounded, peaceful, and happy. And try again the next time as you see fit.

Your son is lucky to have you and his step dad. Keep on doing what you’re doing. It’s hard not to have your son in your life the way he could be. Let this site provide you with the support you will need in the weeks ahead.



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. Thank you for this advice as I’m going through the same with my daughter – ( she wasn’t in jail) she’s on a MAT program (Methadone) & is staying with me & her dad. She stays in the guest room – rarely comes out… I get it…. she doesn’t feel good about herself… our problem is that she won’t do her virtual IOP or her therapist – she says she doesn’t like i t- she enjoyed going prior to this “shelter in place”- i know she’s very anxious about the Covid on top of her addiction…
    thank you…