Become a member of Allies in Recovery and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate and guide your loved one toward treatment.Become a member of Allies in Recovery today.

I Had Him Sectioned, But He’s Back Home & Using Again With His Mom

mother arms out to son, son cowering

AiR member Christy wrote in about her sister and nephew, enmeshed together in a co-dependent culture of use. She is quite distraught and feeling helpless as she watches her nephew in a downspiral.

“Hi, I wrote before this regarding my nephew and sister who are both on something or other. About a month ago, they were both rushed to the hospital and were actually in at the same time, my sister, for respiratory issues…when i went to check on my nephew at home, i saw needles and booze all over his room…i told him he either goes into tx, or i go to court…Naturally he didn't want to do either, so i went down and had him sectioned. They saw he was very sick with fever and blood poisoning and sent him immediately to the hospital. I guess it was r/t blood poisoning from needles…He almost died!! When he got out, they wanted him back and court to finish the sectioning and was sent to Highpoint Brockton…At the end of that time, he had choices and to go on to further recovery…Like all the other times, in spite of her claims to refuse his calls etc, she let him come home!!! That upset me so much! Now he's back, still taking drugs and has NO LIFE whatsoever…I refuse to talk with her or get involved with her craziness anymore. I got so mad on the phone yesterday and told her that she is killing her son …I know I should have butt out, but it gets me so mad that she's so indifferent to his situation!! They BOTH seriously need help. A nurse is coming in daily for my sister, since she's elderly and giving her her meds so she can't over use them, since she forgets. I am so distressed over this whole situation. HE ALMOST DIED, and she would have never even known! This boy was a normal little kid, but his parents screwed him up totally to the point he just does not care. She had the NERVE to ask me to help her AGAIN to section him! So typical of her…So selfish! I told her this time, she has to do all the work herself!! I'm at a huge loss right now. I am so sad and downtrodden. This beautiful child ruined by their selfishness and addictions, which they never sought help for….Just needed to vent, since I am sick to my stomach about this situation. It will only get worse. I feel so burdened, because my whole life was caretaking either my parents or both…and now that they're gone, it's my sister and nephew…I'm too old for this!! I can't take it anymore!! Please offer some advice because watching him die, is more than I can bear!"

You have shown courage and commitment with your nephew. Getting someone sectioned is not easy. Seeing him choose to go home after his forced stay instead of accepting more treatment and a recovery home is incredibly disappointing. The chances that your nephew would have gone on to further treatment would have been much better had he not had the option of returning home to a home that enables his use. 

As we’ve mentioned before in these posts, you are dealing with a very difficult situation. A mother and adult son who use together is very tough. This is also true in intimate relationships where both use.

When two people drink or use drugs together, one is always urging the other one on. The role can switch back and forth: one day mom wants to put on the brakes and the son comes home with drugs, the next day it’s the son who is thinking of stopping and mom scores a bottle of pills. On and on it goes. The emotional entrenchment between the two is almost unstoppable. They depend on each other for the culture of use in the home.

Your nephew knows you want to help. In response to your first comment on AiR, we wrote “They Form a Closed Loop – What Can I Do?” We provide you with some guidelines under “The Stance to Adopt: This is What You Can Do.” As a reminder:

The stance is one we have described in other posts: you maintain a bridge with them. You are loving and calm, but detached whenever they are high. You don’t step in when you see one or both high. You are at a close distance, ready to help, list of treatment options in hand, support at the ready.

The message you send is clear: I am here, ready to help, when you’re ready. And then you wait.

If the stress is too great, you look into a civil commitment in your area. This is no magic bullet but it completes what you can do. (read full post here)

This is still the best guidance we can offer. You remain at-the-ready with treatment options or another civil commitment when an opening presents itself. You let first responders step in when you sense something is wrong at their house.

The rest is about you and for you. You’re terrified for your nephew. You’re enraged by your sister’s selfishness. It’s very hard to walk around with these strong negative emotions. Learning Module 7 describes how to quiet your head. You may find Al-Anon useful. It focuses mainly on your own life and not the person with the addiction. It is important that you find a way to focus back on your own life.

You have to believe that you are doing what you can. For all of us that love someone who abuses substances, we can adopt the stance laid out on this site: calm, bridge-building, positive, assertive, and treatment oriented… but the rest is up to your Loved One. Not everyone will make it, that is abundantly clear. But following the framework on this site is the most loving and effective we can be, faced with the addiction of a Loved One.

So hold on to yourself and know that you are doing all that you can.



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 so much for your kind and wise response! It’s hard and it will have to “sink in” but for now, I’ll try to follow your recommendations. It’s hard to focus on my life when someone is dying in front of me but I know it’s necessary and the only thing I can do!…It’s unbelievable to me that his parents (dad gone) were so indifferent and not proactive in his recovery. The only thing I heard was “what can we do? he has an addiction”…all the while, they were drinking and pill popping…Do I think he had a predilection to addiction because of his genetics? That’s a tough call. IF he wasn’t exposed to it all, then I say NO! He just had bad parenting. and that’s what breaks my heart.

    Honestly, I am too emotionally drained from years of this and want to break free from all the craziness…i just want and deserve peace and quiet at this time in my life. How on earth do I do that when she calls me everyday, asking for food, or gas money etc etc…It’s got to the point(years ago, actually) where I just want to move away and not hear another thing from them, seeing that all of it is their negativity and one crisis after another! Don’t I have that right? I feel care taking has been so ingrained in me from all the years of emotional abuse. I went to Al-Anon for years and just want to move on in my life. Thank you again!

    Thanks again Dominique…You’re a saint!

    1. Hello Christy: It’s very hard to stand by while someone hurts themselves. It’s exhausting. Your family leans hard on you and you show great compassion towards them.

      Module 6 describes ways of limiting engagement with Loved Ones when they are using. To this, we would add caller id as a way of not responding to your sister’s calls. Explain that you are trying a new strategy in order to relax: you will not pick up the phone and will check messages every couple hours. If you can’t bear it, check the messages from them right away to assure yourself nothing serious has happened.

      Learn2Cope in Massachusetts is another good community meeting that you may find helpful.

      Peace to you and keep us posted.


      1. Yes, I’ve already employed the caller id method…I simply take the phone off the hook so I don’t even have to see the ID, otherwise it’s constant. I try not to think of the bad things that may happen, and stay focused on what I need to do, which is hard at times. I want to let go and let God, praying that something positive will come out of all this. I realize they have to be the ones seeking help. My sister said that he is seeing an addiction counselor 2x a week but that just started. Hoping he sticks with it. I wish she would get help for herself and realize how detrimental her enabling is. I guess she’s terrified of being alone…and other issues. I won’t judge her, but she does get me mad in her handling of him. Anyway, thanks so much for your responses. It really helps to know there is a place like this …I did look at…I’ll have to check it out again to see what they offer. Thanks again Dominique. You’re a wonderful human being to be able to develop a site that helps so many! Blessings to you.