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High Anxiety, Son Lost Job and Home, Awaits Trial

woman writing in journal

Allies member katie1chad has been through a roller coaster with her Loved One’s addiction, related incarcerations, etc. Now living far away in order to put some distance between herself and the constant troubles, she still struggles with anxiety about the heavy turmoil in his life. How can CRAFT help this member navigate a supportive yet healthy role in her Loved One’s life – and for herself – while he faces some particularly serious consequences of his addiction?

My 29 year old son is an alcoholic and has an extensive record for alcohol-related offenses. He and his girlfriend, who also drank, lived with me for 2 years until August 2018. I was a nervous wreck from all the drinking behind closed doors and arguments between them. I sold my house and moved 1000 miles away. Simultaneously, he lost his job of 8 years and was arrested for hitting his girlfriend. They, of course, broke up and he has no job, income or place to stay. He has opted for trial which is scheduled for end of January. I am a single parent and the only family he has. I am very uneasy about him living on the streets, so I try to help him but only pay for things directly, not give him money. He is severely depressed and needs treatment. At least he has a place to stay right now till his next court date Jan. 9, but his life seems unmanageable. How do I keep this from bringing me down. I have had high anxiety for 10 years now. Thanks for your wonderful site.

Your son is in bad shape and this is causing you great strain. You took a huge step and moved away, in part because of him, the drinking, and the fights with the girlfriend. Annie made a few very good suggestions. I also would like you to go through My Learning Center and each Learning Module in its entirety. Don’t skip Learning Module 2 on safety. Learning Module 7 talks about some of the especially difficult emotions we experience, and can help you in working through the anxiety you speak of.

Going through the whole program will show you a way to address your son and his needs. It is a pathway that will settle you some, providing a proven way forward. It shines a light on what you can do, while suggesting ways to let go of things that may not be working. Having this kind of a guide helps. Your son is going to need help figuring out treatment for addiction. When you’re able to, can you research options for his location and start a list for him? You would hold onto that list until the moment is right to bring it up…  See Learning Module 8 on getting your Loved One into treatment.

I hope the court mandates your son to treatment. It may be treatment for the domestic violence or for anger, but either one would be a start. If your son goes to jail, consider it a break in the action. Jails are becoming the de facto places for treatment in many cases these days.

You spent a lot of years living with the chaos of addiction and abuse. We have written about the real potential of post traumatic stress within the family:

You must get your health back. This means finding a way to manage your thoughts, the tension in your body from the anxiety, and the isolation that ensues when you feel forced to focus disproportionately on a Loved One with addiction. You have taken meaningful strides towards this goal. Don’t forget to acknowledge and appreciate each of these steps, to give yourself some credit for the work you are doing. This will help you keep your momentum as you continue along this path back to your own health and well-being.

Stay with us. There are good ideas on this site. We are all working on the same things. This community helps connect so many who have felt they must face this work alone. Thank you for adding your voice to these conversations. We are grateful that you are here.



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 Dominique! I am so grateful to have found this community. I need support and feedback, especially being a single parent. I have ordered the workbook suggested and come to this site every day. I have watched several modules and find them very helpful. I look forward to continued interaction with everyone here. It is saving my life


    1. I ordered that workbook yesterday. And today I have an appointment with a new psychiatrist. I am trying to rid myself of that nagging feeling that something is wrong. Working on myself is my new project! Thanks for all the support.


  2. Dear katie1chad,

    I hear the frustration and tension in your words. I understand how it is when your adult child has what seems like unending turmoil and troubles. It’s exhausting and worrisome. My adrenaline used to spike just seeing my mom or son’s number come up on my phone!

    It sounds like you have created space and separation by moving, so you are aware that it’s necessary to remove yourself from toxic drama (that you didn’t create). When my family was in the midst of turmoil, it always included urgent problems and high pressure, right-now needs from my mother, son, brothers…etc. Sometimes I’d help, sometimes I’d give advice they didn’t listen to, sometimes I would freak OUT on them hoping they’d make different decisions and have better outcomes. I rode the rails with them every time.

    One day a therapist asked me, “Why do you think you might be working so hard to fill tires that they continue to punch holes in?” Oh. My.

    It was an eye-opening metaphor I never forgot! She was right, there was always a new round of turmoil popping up when the last one calmed down. Even if I didn’t do the work to solve their problems, or rescue them from repetitive crises, just hearing about the chaos triggered stress in me. I felt an urgency to act, to DO something… even if it was just to suggest what they needed to do. It was our family dynamic. I completely understand your anxiety. It helps to let it be for a span of time, even if it’s just a few hours, and focus on peace, deep breaths, take a short walk, nap etc. Sometimes that’s all it takes for our family member to work through to a solution of their own.

    I learned to do what I had to do for myself to be peaceful and okay. It took a while to not feel selfish for it. I was even told I was selfish at times. But I had to take care of myself for the greater good, otherwise we were all going to sink. That’s not selfish, it’s healthy.

    I would say, take it day by day and monitor how you’re feeling. When anxiety rises, consider what triggered it, and tend to those emotions. Emotions are data, not directions. They’re like weather, they will pass. Find your way back to calm before you act on anything. Tweaking myself even just that much made a profound impact on my well-being over time.

    There are wonderful places on this site – like the Sanctuary, that are awesome for our anxious moments! I can’t recommend that enough. I also worked through DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) with a counselor, which is very helpful for moments of distress. There’s also an inexpensive workbook on Amazon that can lead you through it. ( I still go back through it if my triggers return.

    I started finding that the healthier and more internally at peace I became, the healthier and more at peace my life became. Which eventually fed into my relationship with my son. We are all connected, your peace and wellness is bound to have an effect on that of your Loved One.

    Wishing much peace and strength to you and your son as you both navigate the stress. Remember, you are not alone. You have Allies on this site.

    Peace and hope,


    1. What a caring and useful note, filled with compassion and wisdom.Thank you, Annie! I’m sorry you had to go through turmoil and pain to gain this insight. But we’re grateful to you for sharing it to help the rest of us. How generous.

    2. Thank you so much Annie! It’s so hard to concentrate on myself when I’ve been a single parent for so long. It was critical I remove myself physically from the situation, and my new home is my sanctuary. I will use it to practice calming techniques. Thank you so much for this supportive site. I have a phone call scheduled for Friday.


      1. Your home is your sanctuary, I love that. The chaos took a turn for the better for my family six years ago, but I still have my safe spaces to this day! In the worst of it, sometimes my sanctuary was my car. Or the hallway at work where I would go just to breathe. Every step you take toward your peace helps the situation.

        Believe me, I am as thankful for this site as you are!

        Best wishes to you!