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Home from Jail for the Weekend

woman making breakfast for man
Illustration © Eleanor Davis

Allies in Recovery member frankstr 's son is in jail, still addicted, and may soon be able to spend some weekends at home. What is the right thing to do? What is the CRAFT thing to do? Refuse? Let him stay?

"Our son is in jail. He is still addicted and suffering from PTSD.

He possibly can gradually earn more freedom on his way to society. He can spend a few weekends at home. Last year he lost his home. Therefore he asked us to spend this weekend in our house.

This is a dilemma. What is the right thing to do? How to help him? Refusing? Or let him stay these weekends?

He already did spend a couple of months in our house because of homelessness.

It was a difficult time for us because of prolonged heroin use, sometimes hostile behaviour, avoiding contact. Most of the times he stayed in his room. It was not possible to come to agreements.

Then he went back to his home and his addiction got even worse, escalating into problems with the law and ending in jail."

What to do when your Loved One comes home from jail for the weekend? The difficulties of life with a Loved One who is addicted do seem endless at times.

I see these weekends as an opportunity for you, the family. He is mandated to your house, and most certainly urine tested. If he uses, he will lose the privilege. So it’s likely you don’t have to worry about drug use. If he does use, you will be quickly off the hook for weekend duty.

I would suggest that you:

  • watch Learning Modules 4-5-6 prior to his arrival,
  • hold hands and take a long collective breath, and
  • make a commitment to not react to him and instead to respond in a CRAFTy way.

The short answer is to apply CRAFT to the weekend like any other situation. At least you aren’t faced with the dilemma of whether or not to ask him to leave….. the period is just too short and his mandate is probably to stay at your house.

You can look upon this as a CRAFT intensive. Review Learning Modules 4-5-6 …it’s about practicing communication and behavioral responses to your son’s behavior.

I think you will find that since he isn’t using, and he is back in a home environment, he won’t be as bad as when he was homeless and staying with you. Your son is likely to relish the opportunity to be in a home environment.

I think you’ll have occasion to reward his non-use. If he is cranky, or goes into hiding in his room, so be it. In this case, use the “he’s using” triad:

  • disengage,
  • remove rewards,
  • allow natural consequences.

Make the meals easy to remove, or at least be prepared to remove yourselves from the table; don’t try and bring his mood around; don’t sit with him as though nothing is happening. Find a way to back away.

If the unthinkable happens and he does use, let the system provide the consequence. It is out of your hands. He will be caught. He will lose all privileges.

On the whole, I see this as an opportunity to build the bridge and show him that he has a family and a home that is loving when he doesn't use.



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. I can understand exactly how you feel. My son is in jail at this time, not because of drugs but because his anger and not taking his medication properly got him into trouble. He has been off illegal drugs for about 7 years, but still has many issues. He has a possibility of getting out the middle of August and I am frantic. He blames me for him being there. He takes no responsibility for any of his behavior. He has destroyed my house in the past and I am afraid the same behavior will happen again. My other son is here and all the 2 of them do is fight. I am hoping that I can work it out that my oldest when he gets out can go to respite or somewhere other than my house. It would have to be court ordered or I bet he would not agree. I always look back and wish I had done things differently, but I can’t go back only forward. I’m tired of living like I’m walking on eggshells. A short term like a weekend might work. If he knows he will lose this privilege it might work out. I have found only the person can make the change for themselves, we can work the program and help ourselves. I know how hard it is to be going through all of this.