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He’s on the Streets with Nothing

Homeless Man with Eyes Shaded

DetachLove3's Loved One is out on the streets with nothing. He'd been in rehab but the step-down house they'd offered fell through. None of the other housing options they tried worked, and now she has no way of reaching him… 

© Jonathan Rados via Unsplash

My adult son left a 90 day rehab just as COVID19 was breaking out. The publicly funded rehab had indicated they had a step-down house for him to move into, but the funding was not available and he was given 48 hours to leave the program. I let him stay with me for a few days, but conflicts arose with my live-in life partner who is 30 years sober and very rigid in his viewpoints about me 'enabling' my son, who is 34 and has been in over 10 rehabs over the past 15 years.

Anyway, the long story is that after paying for an AirBnB, a hotel room, and giving him money for first month's rent for a room, my son is now on the streets of Atlanta. He has lost everything, even his phone. I have not heard from him for three days. Some are suggesting I should file a missing person report. But I am not willing to take him into my home if he is found. I do want to know if he is alive and I always want to remind him I love him, even in the toughest moments.

The virus just makes this super scary.


Your son completed a 90-day program and was due to go into a sober living situation but the funding didn’t materialize. You had him briefly at home, but that doesn’t work with your partner who differs with you on the approach to getting your son help. You tried to keep him housed by paying for rooms, but that has since ended and your son is now on the streets of Atlanta. You haven’t heard from him in several days.

During this Covid crisis I imagine the police everywhere have their hands full. If having him found by the police will lessen the worry for you, I suggest you try. I don’t think the police would be obligated to bring him home to your house.

Your son is 34, old enough to take a good look around and to see the patterns of his life. He just came out of yet another program which he completed: a very good sign. You can rest a little in knowing your son knows the score. It would be hard to deny where alcohol and drugs have taken him. At 34, the body hurts, the hangovers are worse, and he is now living in the streets.

There is not much you can do to locate him. You have a few options:  1) call in a missing persons report. 2) During Covid, homeless programs all over this country are working night and day to help those who are homeless. Here is the link to the homeless mission in Atlanta. Call them and ask them what else you can do to locate your son.

Since there is little to do on this front, let’s look through the CRAFT lens and consider the time on the streets as a natural consequence your son is experiencing as a result of his use. It happens. Problems that arise from using drugs roll into early sobriety like a large wave. It is extra challenging to stay abstinent in the face of financial, housing, and family problems that are unresolved; problems don’t go away just because one finally got sober.

It is never a bad idea to revisit and refresh your work with the Learning Modules on this site. They are designed to help you and your partner better understand the most beneficial  role you can play with your son. Your partner has been sober a long time. If the two of you would be willing to look together at the program we have created and do the exercises too, I guarantee you will come away with a new and useful approach to take. The program we have developed creates a way for you to co-exist with your son that doesn’t lead to accusations of enabling or frustrations that flare up with him being thrown out. Your partner will hopefully recognize the good sense of the program and you will both be in step when dealing with your son.

Recovery, like so many things, is not a one-size-fits all approach. For your partner to have such strong beliefs about how to proceed could mean that he found something that worked really well for him when he needed it most, and it continues to work – for him. This is not to be diminished in any way. But as many members on our site have found, there is not a single solution for getting our Loved Ones connected with the help they need. Being flexible and open is at the foundation of our approach, as it taking each new opportunity as it comes, instead of being stuck on how something did or didn’t go in the past.

Another unique feature of our program is that it bears in mind the health and well-being of the family member as much as that of the Loved One. It must be challenging to have the fundamental disagreement with your partner about the approach to take with your son. At least you can hopefully both agree that he needs help. It will be up to you to feel out the right way to get on the same page with your partner. Certainly that friction isn’t helping the situation, nor is it helping with your own peace of mind.

Try to introduce the idea of coming fresh to our Learning Modules with your partner and see where that leads. At least you can use all the CRAFTy communication skills you have to make clear to your partner that, in the end, if he doesn’t agree, you accept that and are still committed to practicing CRAFT to the best of your ability. Make it clear, in a neutral and heartfelt way, that this is important to you – that this approach feels right and you are invested in it. You have a lot of support here, and we know that you need it. All family members do. Try to come up with an agreement that feels reasonable for both of you, to establish what your partner can do to support you in practicing CRAFT. Keep your focus on what you can work out together and agree on.

In the meantime, it might be helpful to delve into some reading that can lend you a broader perspective during these scary times. Have you read Annie Highwater’s books: Unhooked, or Unbroken? We also love Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff. Here is an excerpt from his book that we have up on the site.

There is always something new to try. There is always a new way of looking at the same problem. Your heart is aching because you can’t see or hear from your son at the moment. But what can you do now to make the most of whatever conversation you have next…or the one after that? Try looking through the eyes of some of these authors I’ve mentioned above, and/ or someone who inspires you and gives you courage. And decide how you’d like to approach things the next time you can connect with your son.

As you lean back into the Learning Modules, you’ll see options for helping your son when you do reach him next. What that help is can vary a great deal depending on your situation. It worries you deeply for him to be out on the streets like this, especially right now. Can you be ready with something to offer when you do hear from him next, and a heartfelt message about how much he means to you? This doesn’t necessarily mean opening up your home again, or that home is even the place for him to land next. That is for you to determine. But if possible, I’d try to make that decision after diving back in to the Modules with your partner.

Whichever steps you decide to take next, CRAFT will lighten your load considerably and will provide you with solid communication and behavioral skills you all need to address addiction in your family. So, as I see it, your 3rd option is seeing if you can convince your partner to watch the modules on this site and do the exercises to get yourself in a stronger position to help…. and see where that leads. There is so much you can do on your own to prepare yourself for helping your son when the occasion presents itself next. This work you do behind the scenes on this front will help make your communications more effective when you do have a chance to connect with him again.

You have come to a good place to sort through the current worries you have and to hopefully lighten the burden you face as your son struggles to gain recovery.

It is tragic that you are unable to reach out to your son, just to let him know you love him, and to find out his status right now. We feel this pain acutely. There are so many members on this site who have been in similar circumstances. Our hearts go out to you. As you dive back into the Learning Modules and lean on other resources such as the books I’ve recommended, you can hopefully see new avenues forward, that protect and preserve your health and well-being as they usher your son into safer territory.

Thank you for sharing your situation with us and for reaching out. I hope this is useful as you continue to sort through what you can do and what you can’t do in the meantime. Please let us know how it goes, and let us know what else you need. We are all here for you.



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. My son found his way into another detox (with a bit of direction I was able to get to him through periodic calls from borrowed cell phones). He is now going into a large sober living program. I did not make the arrangements but am paying the first two weeks rent because he had no ID and isn’t employable until that gets handled. Do the only way to get him admits the program was to find the first two weeks. The amount required isn’t causing me undue financial distress.

    I’m using CRAFT to stay detached and loving in my communication with my partner. I have let him know that I appreciate his input, but that I will never sever my communication with my son and that I will carefully consider all options before providing financial assistance to him. We are dancing through this together with some starts/stops. But I’m so much calmer now that my son surfaced.

    I like the suggestion of watching the curriculum with my partner. I will make that suggestion. Thanks so much for your dedication and sharing!!!!!!!!

    1. Thank you for sharing this update! We are so glad for the encouraging news and are breathing a collective sigh of relief with you. You are doing a great job. Keep it up!!! A dance with stops and starts sounds pretty accurate. We’re all in that dance ourselves.

      All my best,