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He’s Home and Stays in His Man Cave All Day

woman reaching out to boy, boy afraid

AiR member dziodzio435 feels worried and scared and fears making the wrong choices…

"my son just came home after doing 45 days. was going to do 90 days but didn't. he's been going to meetings and is still sober. he's just hanging out in his man cave which is dreary and is not eating properly – once a day if i'm lucky. i keep on him to do more to eat because he says he's not feeling good because he's on medicine and not eating. i know i'm wrong to push him but he just came from a regimented living environment to doing nothing. i'm worried and scared but i know i'm handling this wrong. i want to do what's best for him so he stays successful."

One would hope that the structure and activities of an inpatient facility would rub off on your son after 45 days, and it has. He is going to meetings and is taking medication. How much change can someone expect to see after a month and a half? Your son isn’t eating correctly and seems stuck in place, just sitting around in his room all day.

This period after treatment is often cause for concern for many families. Getting off drugs and alcohol isn’t sufficient to immediately embrace a new life. It takes time. What replaces those long periods of drug use? Your son has to discover substitutes that provide meaning in his life and that are rewarding. Getting off drugs and alcohol doesn’t miraculously translate into coping skills for life, or to good healthy behaviors, like healthy eating.

Critically important though, is that he is going to AA (I presume it’s AA), hopefully every day. Studies of AA have shown that it maintains abstinence. Why? Because it supports sober thinking. It provides something to do each day. It helps people feel nested in a community of peers. It teaches relapse prevention skills. AA isn’t the only way to get these important ingredients – one can go to therapy or another peer support program – but something like this is needed to fight against the drug use thoughts that inevitably creep in. In recovery, it's essential to introduce new behaviors and activities that can help to fill the huge hole left where drug use previously existed.

I was sitting in a case management meeting at a treatment program last week. A case manager voiced surprise that his client had been told to go to 90 (AA) meetings in 90 days. He thought this was a lot. I agreed it sounded like a lot, but how often did his client use or think of using before he got sober? Every day, he answered. Well then, the best way to combat those thoughts is to push back with thoughts that counter the desire to use every day.

It is unnerving to see your son mostly sitting on the couch, not doing much else. Life may not come knocking on his door with its offerings — he is going to need some gentle encouragements to step out and make it in the world. Using the principles of CRAFT can help guide what you can do: for now, let his eating habits be his responsibility. Reward treatment attendance and his regular medication visits; step back when he doesn’t go. Give him room to figure this out. (See Module 5 for more guidance on rewards)

AiR is planning a podcast that addresses your question. Many families are surprised to find that issues continue after treatment, that their Loved One still struggles with so many aspects of life. You are not alone. We would also suggest listening to the podcasts we’ve already published on the site. I hope you find them soothing and that they give you a small amount of peace in this day.



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. Good Evening. I’m responding to this as a person in recovery not as a mother whose child is an alcoholic and drug addict.

    When you become a member of AA there are lots of suggestions to try. When a person new to being sober is given suggestions, it’s usually what many others have found has helped to keep them sober. In the beginning, it’s usually 90 meetings in 90 days, get a sponsor, and one I needed was sit down, shut up and listen. The 90 in 90 suggestion is to help the newcomer get a strong base under them and to help to get to know others in the program and if person is struggling, hopefully they will ask for help. Getting a sponsor will help in having 1 person you can go to or call when you are struggling. The sponsor will also help guide you in other areas of the program such as the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of AA. When I say sit down, shut up and listen it’s not being cruel or anything. It’s in hopes the newcomer will hear something that will help them.

    Before I came to AA, I thought all drunks were basically homeless derelicts. How wrong I was.The first days certainly taught me a lot and as the days, weeks, months and years went by I was happy with the suggestions I was given. Without them, I seriously do not think I would be sober 28 years. A lot of my family didn’t understand why I went to so many meetings. I also got they didn’t think I was an alcoholic. I knew what my actions were while drunk, in a blackout (after being told by now ex-husband). It’s finding a new way to live, finding a balance between your family, yourself and sobriety.

    I hope this helps. I certainly don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone’s beliefs.