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Is He Sabotaging His Recent Success?

Man in Sunset

mandybrownaz sees glimpses of hope in her Loved One and continues to work the CRAFT method. But her son still uses even when things seem to be looking up. How common is it for people with addiction to sabotage themselves when they see success in the real world?

I have been trying to apply the CRAFT principles I’ve learned here and through the book; Beyond Addiction, with my 25 year old son. Previously we were in “tough love” mode (my husband still is: too hurt and angry from years of chaos, lies, stealing etc.) but it was not easing my own peace of mind so I’ve tried to spend time working out, or having lunch with my son when he seems to be doing the right things. Occasionally, he will come to church with us and go to lunch with us and friends (who are always warm, welcoming and encouraging to our son).

Last week, the gym where he trains (he is a strength and conditioning coach) clients, hired him as their operations manager and coach. He was very flattered as he greatly respects the gym manager, a former Army Ranger, who asked my son to work for him because of his work ethic and talent. It’s the first employee he has hired and he’s been in business for 5 years.

I thought it was great news. But two days later, my son was clearly using (usually high quantities of adderral), and I had to tell him that I loved him but could not be around him when he was using. He was upset and called and texted me later to apologize (never did that previously).

My son is terrible with money. He gets it, he spends it: no discipline, despite being raised and tried to teach him restraint, saving and prioritizing. In addiction, like many, he’s gone through thousands—both his AND ours.

My question, and I apologize for the lengthy backstory: is it common for addicts to sabotage themselves when they start to see success in the real world? A friend’s daughter (heroin) has relapsed after quickly rising in a job and being promoted, then: boom! She was lost.

Thank you. And how should I encourage my loved one to stay the course?!!!

I am hopeful for your family. Your son is responding to your CRAFTy strategy and is behaving in ways that get him noticed and got him a job offer. Yes, substance users use in both good times and bad. It makes little sense to those around them.

He gets a great job offer and then pops some aderrall. So he isn’t out of the woods yet. He has very hopeful prospects; he also has your support and encouragement. But external circumstances don’t always immediately bring about internal changes. He still has work to do.

Keep the course. He’s doing what he knows to do. Your response and behavior are RIGHT ON! Perhaps your husband can see that things are a little more quiet, that his son is heading in the right direction. CRAFT is easier on the spirit than Tough Love. It is also way more effective. Dad: I promise you will feel better if you also practice Love Love when your son is doing well, instead of just Tough Love all the time.

People get abstinent in increments. It will continue to look incremental until the internal decision to stop is so profound that it changes their landscape. Then they hang on, and don’t use, one day at a time.

Does your son have a learning disability? Or is the Adderall just easier to get than other drugs – is his problem stimulants more generally? Stimulant addiction is very psychological. There is very little physical dependency. To the degree you can, keep influencing his immediate family environment that way you are doing. Come on Dad, you can help here. Let the job keep him structured in daily life… the exercise field is such a good place for someone who has lots of energy and likes speed.

Hang in there. Don’t get too hung up on his use. Take it one day at a time. Just keep reacting the way you have been. Step in when he isn’t high; step away when you see use.

You said “Sorry son, I can’t be near you when you’re high” …. and he apologized!!!! This is amazing. Way to go!

You are working it. Thank you for keeping this up.



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. Thx for the share and the wisdom from Dominique.

    I have experienced progress in stages. The stage of getting out of complacency with the SUD then into wishful thinking, circumspection, hoping, trusting, going to rehab, recovering, relapsing, maintaining, excelling…so one stage “I need this drug”…then “I don’t think I have what it takes in this next stage”… e.g. perhaps the focus for a new job in another stage and so need external additions…

    CRAFT says to ignore that we would see less of and resonate that we would see more of.

    So I think we can focus and put commensurate diligence into THAT space of what to ignore and resonate.

    My guess is ignore desperation and thinking I am all alone in this next stage.
    My guess is to resonate morale–we’re in this together and so I am sharing the concerns I have in every stage with a trusted person who may have wisdom–I think building trust to walk into the bright light exposing flaws as long as the people around me won’t stigmatize my flaws and yet build my trust that the sponsor, mentor, parent will have the time, wisdom, and intelligence to uplift my morale, fill in my lack of wisdom and help build my confidence that I will become that which I will need to become each day and stage in my life.

    Older people today have gotten a bad rep from the public attention given to “trusted” servants in traditional roles that were meant to be spiritual, wise, caring, knowledgable etc yet those adults were proven untrustworthy. Now we all pay the price by being ignored. Sometimes for good reason because we want to help yet we don’t have the wisdom necessary to be helpful.

    “Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore.” – Einstein

    I love this quote since it proves the CRAFT method is pure genius!

    I think the thing to ignore is self-esteem that seeks to do things all alone and look outside.

    So the corollary of conduct to acknowledge, resonate and reward seems to be morale and trusting sponsors, mentors, and wise people. If my LO ignores me then it might be that there is a missing piece of wisdom that I will find if I diligently seek to find it. I must ignore my own desperation and resonate my morale to come here to Allies In Recovery, reach out to real wisdom in the world and realize I am made to not be able to do this alone and I never am and so I reach out. My LO learns this along with us.

    People recover and excel from this low place all the time. The media only reports failures mainly.