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I’m Feeling Scared and Mistrustful

Whitewashed Windows

Milliemouse worries about her Loved One’s pre-relapse behaviors after a really good few months. Scared of what’s coming next, and of the tensions that drive a wedge in their communications, she reaches out for help.

Hi there. My 30 year old son moved back in Jan 1st after 3 months in rehab for cocaine addiction. He had also been abusing alcohol in order to help soften the come down from the drug. He has been a marijuana smoker from about the age of 16. He was doing really well – going to meeting twice a week, checking in with his sponsor, working his 12 steps, no substance abuse for 6 months but In the last 3 weeks this has fallen off. He has started back smoking weed and meeting attendance is down. I on his request had been controlling his money and giving him a daily allowance for food and weekly for gas which he had to account for. But as you can imagine this became exhausting and was also leading to me interrogating him and showing signs of mistrust. Today we had a semi- melt down and he says he wants back control of his money and will be looking to move out. He has a good job and is maintaining that. He says That he can’t start back with all the accusations and the control issues. I told him I am scared he will relapse and go back to his former self. He told me that person is gone but today I saw all the pre-rehab signs like anger coming back. Later today he sent me long whats app messages about how ashamed he was of his reaction and that I was right he was slipping in his program. He said he went to a meeting and called his sponsor (who says he didn't ) And then he went out in the evening on a "date" and coming home hit his truck. Said he was not under the influence of drugs but instead of coming and telling us he opened our fridge and drank! Again this morning he's ashamed but is maintaining he was sober at the time of the accident. And he has called his sponsor this time. I'm scared, scarred and full of mistrust! Can your program help me? I have been attending Alanon twice a week for 7 months. But seemed to have had little success. HELP!

Your son is relapsing after a good amount of time. You’re seeing it in his behavior and in the return of his anger. You are full of mistrust, which makes complete sense. Trust takes a long time to fully return and the family is likely to be on the lookout for any trouble.

Your world is immediately turned upside down and all the fear is back. What to do?

Relapse happens. With cocaine and alcohol your son’s tolerance will quickly return to pre-sobriety levels. He’s already crashed his truck.

Control and interrogations won’t solve the problem, and can cause a breakdown in communication. Learning Module 6 talks about how to respond to use. Can you review it? You are going to need to work both Learning Module 5 and 6 to manage your response to him over the next couple weeks and help frame your communications with him in general.

I suggest a sit down in a moment when things are calm between you. Perhaps you say something like this:

“I have been so thankful of your efforts these last six months. I feel like I have my beautiful son back. I love you so much and am so proud of what you have accomplished. You are struggling. It happens. I am very scared for you and for me. I am going to redouble my efforts to not control or interrogate you. I am going to hold on to myself while you figure out next steps. What can I do to help? I know from reading that your tolerance to alcohol and cocaine will quickly go up. I am so scared. What are you willing to do to avoid a full blown relapse?

A detox program is the quickest way to get you back up on the beam. It will give you a couple days of abstinence: a head start. I will help with that or with any other treatment you come up with. Here is a list of ideas I have put together (detox/inpatient, the rehab he attended, Highwatch in Kent CT (12 step retreat) etc.).

You are not going to be able to stay here if the relapse continues. It’s too hard on the family. Please consider more treatment to support you. I will do my best to stay out of your life. Please consider more help and we’ll talk again in a couple weeks. Addiction is cunning. They say this in AA. We are all caught in it, it’s painful, but I know we can pull out of this.”

AlAnon isn’t designed to address the person in your life who is addicted. It is formulated to help you put the focus back on yourself; to help you live alongside the person with addiction. CRAFT takes a different stance. It says there are strategies you can take to improve the immediate environment around your Loved One. Those strategies involve looking at how you react to your Loved One. By changing how you react, you change the environment around you LO. Through this moment-to-moment awareness and each small shift you make, you create substantial changes that affect everyone involved. You get out of the way and let him feel responsible for his use and for the consequences of his use. Remain loving and caring, but be clear that treatment (and this can include daily AA meetings) is the best answer. Tell him you are working CRAFT alongside him because you want your family back.

Take this stance for a couple weeks. Give you son a chance to get knocked around some and to realize the depth of despair that cocaine causes. Please stay close to this site: keep us posted. Your son knows what recovery feels like, he knows what to aim for. It’s great that he has this reference – and accomplishment! He knows there are tools and he knows where to find them. This isn’t quite like before. He is not naïve to what is going on with him. This is hopeful. He won’t be using drugs without moments of shame, embarrassment and guilt. He is in the process of getting to long-term recovery.

Hang on as you work these shifts in communication into your interactions with him. Be patient with yourself. Don’t try to make any big decisions until you’ve gotten a few weeks down with these methods. Trying to stay grounded in the present will also help you not spin into worries of what might happen next. Take it day by day. Hour by hour even. Find new ways to care for yourself during this time as well. This is a vital part of the puzzle. Thank you for reaching out. We are 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. Thank you for your advice. My son did actually use cocaine which he admitted to his ex-girlfriend. He is yet to tell us but he knows we know. He went to his meeting on Thursday and told his group and again on Friday. He stayed quiet and did some step work Saturday but did not attend any meetings Saturday or Sunday even though he was invited to attend by his sponsor. My husband and I are trying to change how we react to him , trying to get out of the way and let him feel responsible for his use and for the consequences of his use as you suggest . He was very angry at himself up until Saturday as he DOES know how good recovery feels!! And he DOES have the tools to get back on track again. He did the next right thing which was go straight back to his meeting and he was told by us and his sponsor that that’s the best thing – he has to take his daily dose of medicine. I tried not to get anxious over the weekend when he didn’t go to the meetings – I am trying to pray and meditate which includes praying that God will guide me to say the right thing and react the right way – not ask him why he is not going to a meeting tonight!! I do not want to push him back into use – he told his girlfriend that it was my talking with him and being upset about the marijuana use that made him go out and use again. He wanted us to be ok with his smoking because he had done so well with his alcohol and cocaine sobriety. How the addicts mind works!!! Hopefully he will keep in touch with his sponsor who will be the one encouraging him to keep coming back.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that your son is relapsing. At the same time, I am always heartened by someone’s efforts toward recovery. The seeds that are planted can be quite powerful and it sounds like they have taken root in your son. He knows how good recovery and sobriety feel. He knows how life changes when he uses. This is where he has to do all the heavy lifting. Being aware of that, owning up to the relapse, and going to meetings is a good sign. I have always appreciated the illustration “trajectory of sobriety” that AIR uses. Take a breath, practice self care, keep the positive talk going.

      1. Since I was last on here I am 99% sure my son has used cocaine again. We have had no discussion as I have no proof other than he lied to me about how much money he had withdrawn from his bank account. I have not asked him why he lied nor Have I accused him of using. He did tell me the next day that he had had a “thought” to use and had messaged his CA group as he knows how awful it makes him feel when he comes down. I am pretty sure he never messaged anyone or called his sponsor and that he did use and he was voicing the pain of the down.. This was a week ago and I have not detected any further use of cocaine. But he is still smoking pot for sure. he has not been to any meetings despite me suggesting I would drop him and pick him back up. I think he feels he is a fraud attending the meetings when he has used and is still smoking. He told me today that he no longer has an obsession about cocaine I.e he doesn’t have the overwhelming daily thoughts to use but as Dominique said in the first post his tolerance will quickly get back to where it was before rehab. I am trying to arrange a family counseling session with the treatment center and I am going to broach this with him tomorrow using the tactic that I am struggling with his recovery and trying not to control and interrogate him and that I would like for him to attend with his dad and I a session with the counselor so we can ALL get the help we need… I am hoping this will lead to him agreeing to individual counseling sessions. I know in his heart he does not want to go down the road of relapse again but he is lonely and anxious – he has no friends other than his pot smoking and drinking friends. and this is a huge part of his anxiety.

        1. You’ve done a good job of not over-reacting to your son’s probable relapse. I love that you can see him trying, you can see that he is scared and doesn’t want to go back to regular cocaine use. It would be easy to focus on the relapse and not see the underlying dilemma your son is struggling with. You are finding a way to avoid that trap, and your compassion makes such a big difference.

          So maybe CA (Cocaine Anonymous) isn’t working the best for him at the moment. Perhaps the 12 steps are not the right place for your son right now. In my experience, no one is excluded or shunned in a 12 step meeting for having used. But it can be difficult to walk back in, having used. The counting of days “sober and clean” adds to this difficulty.

          So, what else? A family facilitated meeting is a good idea. “Just come once. We are all in this together and want to take care of ourselves as well as you.” Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response to milliemouse here: