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I’m Finally Putting My Foot Down, He Can’t Come Home This Time!

dandelion sunsest

mlb2t found the courage to do a civil commitment on her son who has been struggling with drugs for 15 years. She has come a long way and it's been an exhausting journey. The journey is not over but she is clearly at a crossroads here, and in a better position to lay down a boundary and stick to it. Here are some suggestions on how she can stay safe and remain firm while truly helping her son move forward.

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"It has been quite a while since I have said anything on this site. I have been dealing with drug and alcohol addiction with my son for about 15 or more years. He has been to therapy, he has been in jail, he has been sectioned but still continues to abuse drugs and alcohol. About three weeks ago I did a section 35 on him.

I have done this before and it is always so difficult and emotional to do it. He wasn’t able to call for a few days but when he was allowed it was horrible. All he did was scream and yell at me and call me names and blame me for everything. I told him I wouldn’t speak with him if he was going to treat me like that and speak to me that way and to call me when he could talk to me in a civil way and I hung up.

The next time he called, it was even worse and so I just said I’m not talking to you when you’re like this and hang up again. I didn’t answer his calls for a few times and one time my other son answered the phone and spoke with him. At this time he asked if I could send him applications for some of the residential treatment places. I looked the places up but I could not find any applications for any of them. I sent an email to one and I did get a response and she suggested that I call his counselor and talk with him because the referral has to come from the place that he’s at. That was the Opportunity House and I believe either Gray’s or Gary’s house.

My son did call this evening and I gave him the information that the referral has to come from the place he’s at and it should be done soon. He said his counselor isn’t cooperating with him and if he wants to get out in the 45 days or 50 days he doesn’t think that he’ll be able to get into those places on time.

Has anyone ever had any experience with any of the places? I don’t believe the Phoenix house has a good reputation. So I’m just wondering if I should call his counselor and speak with him and tell him what I found out?

This is the first time I put my foot down and said he cannot come back to this house. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but something has to change and doing the same thing that I have done in the past will most likely not work. I’d really like to see him go to one of the residential places but he told me he doesn’t think he has time to do that and so he is just gonna say he will go to a shelter so that he has a home plan and can get out of there. That scares me so much but I want to be strong and not have him come here right now. I have been trying to do things for myself but I am so depressed it’s hard to do anything. I guess what I’m asking is for some support and trying to make the right decision. Thank you."

It is good to hear from you mlb2t. For those who haven’t been following mlb2t's story, which you can do by clicking on her membername, the short of it is that her husband has had drinking issues, past tense, and her other son is abstinent from drugs now and has a serious mental illness he addresses with treatment. Her other son has been using actively for 15 years, as she mentions above. Two out of three are in recovery now. Can anyone imagine your situation times 3!? We'd wish this on nobody.

I'm determined not to make the same mistakes this time

mlb2t: you have made such strides in getting to this point with your son. When he has been in jail or is sectioned he tends to agree with plans like a sober house, but then somehow ends up squirrelled away in your house after being released. I hear the resolve in your voice. This time it is going to be different. You are reaching out for support to help you hold the line.

We are glad to help.

Put on your case manager hat!

You are going to have to case manage your son’s exit from civil commitment. I assume he is in the new program located in the Ludlow jail. It is rare to have the doors locked, even with a civil commitment, but the program at Ludlow is within the walls of the jail. So maybe you have 40-50 days. At least there will not be any surprise appearances at your door.

Here are some tips for helping him and really making your vision into reality:

  1. As for helping your son with treatment, don’t rely on email. Push to talk to people by phone.

  2. Get everyone on board: Ludlow, Opportunity house, or another place. Work on several to make sure one comes through. In answer to your question, it's very hard to critique any one program in real time.

  3. Reach out to the case managers we both know in Springfield for a current assessment of the houses.

Now the hard part. This part is ALL YOU:

You are going to have to hold strong. If he leaves the sectioning without a place to go, let him go to the shelter. If he leaves a sober house after a month, let him go to the shelter. Your son is using opioids, which, right now, I have on good information, is almost entirely fentanyl in your area.

In my mind, homelessness or shelters is less risky than the drug. You’ve been going around with your son for 15 years. Let us help support you to hold strong. Your son has always wheedled his way back into your home. Assume this goal hasn’t changed, that he will try this again. In an ideal world, your son graduates from his civil commitment and goes straight into a residential program. No stops along the way. You will need to be persistent with the residential/recovery home piece. Finding a spot for your son will not be easy.

Last but not least: Your safety is everything

We can all agree, your son is so much more than the addiction and the behaviors linked to using. You know this better than anyone — you've been fighting to get him help because you know and love who he is, you have a vision of what he could be again.

Yet the reality is that violence, outbursts and threats have unfortunately been part of his using behavior for a long time.

There is a good chance your Loved One will act out when he finds the door of your home closed to him.

You should have your safety precautions thought out ahead of time.

A restraining order to force him to leave you a safe zone is not out of the question should he cross a line.

I know you've been through the materials but it might not hurt to take 20 minutes and watch the Safety Module (2) again now.

In the past, we have suggested you be in touch with domestic violence support professionals. Have you done so? This might be a perfect time to do so, to reinforce your stance and feel safer and more supported for the next chapter.

Here is the link to a post we wrote for you in the past that gives a few specific options you could consider to protect yourself and your home and use the law to reinforce your desire to not have your son use your home as a place to use or hide out.

Dear mlb2t, you have come so far and it has taken time, but you are at a crossroads with your son. This is about what you can control. This is about setting that boundary and holding firm. Let us support you through this.   



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 hate myself for being so weak and letting Billy play on my emotions and vulnerability. I know the best thing would be for him to not come here, but it scares me to think of him at a shelter. Since the decision is made that he will come here, I will need to have some rules that I can enforce. I constantly have this feeling of doom, sadness and heartbreak. I am now retired and want to enjoy life, not live with a feeling of dread. I wish I was a stronger person.

    1. mlbt2t we hear you and understand your struggle.

      I personally believe that becoming “a stronger person” is a matter of little choices in the moment, each day, adding up over the months and years to something that you can feel is strength – something that is holding you up, and, by extension, others.

      In the meantime, as you put one foot in front of the other, please don’t add to the stress of what’s already happening by hitting yourself over the head. It doesn’t help!!

      The best any of us can do is make our choices and decisions with consciousness, and once we’ve made those decisions, put our whole self behind them (otherwise it’s like we’re not even trusting ourselves). Support yourself by supporting your decisions.

      Tomorrow may bring a new perspective, newfound strength, more determination to do things differently, but in the meantime please grant yourself (at least) the inner peace of knowing you’re doing your best.

      We are still, and always, rooting for you, your son, and your family.

      Reach out when you need us or to keep us posted. Also, check out Fireweed3’s recent comment, speaking to the power of CRAFT:

  2. I hate to say this and I feel like such a failure but nothing has worked out and I am not strong enough to see him go to a shelter. He will be coming back to my house and I feel like again I have failed to be strong and have him go to a shelter. I guess it’s just the mother in me that can’t let him go to the shelter. I did tell him that if he doesn’t follow what I want him to do then I will get a restraining order.