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.

It’s A Fragile Time

Hands Group Support

Milliemouse suspects her Loved One has used again, but she has held her tongue about it. He has a recovery group but is struggling to feel comfortable there. The whole family is anxious right now, and it looks like he could use some other supports.

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 We have had no discussion as I have no proof other than he lied to me about how much money he had withdrawn from his bank account.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.

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.”

In Massachusetts there are recovery centers opening up that provide community and support at a very low threshold. Is there anything like that near you? These are spaces open to the public that provide activities (meditation, yoga, generic recovery meetings, and more). One can volunteer and/or just attend. This is also a place to go to find a recovery coach.

Recovery in isolation is hard. Recovery in the company of old using friends is extremely difficult. It’s a lot easier to hang on to recovery when you are socializing or working alongside people who don’t have an issue with substances or who are working on recovery themselves. That’s, in part, why walking into a self-help meeting can be so useful. There are other models of self-help groups out there: smart recovery, refuge recovery, and more (see our Resource Supplement to explore some of these options).

Your son’s recovery must feel very fragile. It comes across in what you write. It’s time to write up a list of recovery options. Survey widely for interesting ideas: an internship at an organic farm?, wilderness camp?, alternative self-help, a good counselor… etc. You could use the family meeting to present this to your son.

“Pick a couple to try. If you don’t like it that will be up to you. I am scared for you right now, and I want to help you find your way to more solid ground. I know in my heart you need to add a few things in to your plan that you enjoy – that will help you create a positive place in this world. And there is a positive place for you in this world.”

Just a note on cocaine: addiction to cocaine is considered to be entirely psychological. There is no physical addiction, though there are serious psychological withdrawals as your son has experienced. The blackness of the landscape when withdrawing from cocaine is about the darkest dark can be. Cocaine use typically also means you’ve gone through money you did not have and binged until the drug was gone. There is shame and embarrassment, and deep anger at one’s self.

To stop using cocaine, one needs awareness of the psychological cycle that has captured the mind. Cocaine, more so than other drugs, makes clear that it’s all about craving, since nothing physically is pulling at you, really. This process of becoming aware can be facilitated by education. He may have been taught this in rehab, though some may not get the message through straight-forward education sessions. And sometimes hearing it once is a start, but it takes hearing about it in another way to really have it sink in. Look at our recent post about Refuge Recovery. It’s gentle and will feel more open than CA.

You have put the brakes on negative talk, accusations, etc. when you suspect his use. Well done. This is not easy, but it will help as you continue to shine a light onto a stable path for him into sobriety. You all must be tired of the anxiety of “what’s going to happen next,” so be easy on yourself. The family meeting and suggestions for individual counseling are great ideas. You’re using the resources at the treatment center to help nudge him into safer terrain, and you’re using this site. Keep doing this, and keep finding new ways to support yourself as well. And start searching for those alternative recovery options. Finding the right fit is a process. If the CA isn’t it, there are other models out there.

Thank you for writing in. Coming home from treatment is such a tricky time for everyone. Sharing the situation with us is helpful for you, and helpful for others on the site too. Our hearts are with 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. I could have written this post just substitute Meth for Cocaine. My son now 90 days clean from Meth has continued to smoke pot and says he feels like a fraud attending AA/NA meetings-which effectively cuts him off from the recovery community. He does have an individual counselor and I asked to attend his session last night to voice my concerns for his recovery moving forward. I had hoped the center where he receives counseling had some other resources for him, but it seems the have IOP and that’s about it-and that is more than he wants to do right now having just started a new job and making that adjustment. Why oh why does everything have to be so hard in supporting this kids who at least partially want recovery! I thank you for your post -at least I don’t feel alone. I will research other recovery groups in our town and encourage him to attend AA/NA even with his pot use. It is so hard when you can see they need more support than they are getting but don’t have the initiative to find it. p.s. the individual counseling I think helps him work on the underlying issues so that’s something but they also need community.

    1. Check out SMART Recovery. It’s very choice-driven; they are very open to encouraging someone who is abstinent from one drug (like cocaine or meth) but not ready to abstain from another drug like pot or cigarettes or whatever. Meetings are positive and uplifting. Hopefully there is a convenient meeting in your area:

      1. That sounds like it would be a great option-however no meetings in our area-closest is 2 hours away. I will keep suggesting AA/NA. For today I helped him sign up for some puppy training classes to take his new puppy to. I figure any healthy activity I can encourage at this point is going in the right direction.

        1. Too bad about the lack of SMART recovery meetings; there are not enough of them. But puppy training classes are a great activity to add to his life! Hang in there! It’s a long road to recovery, but it sounds like you are doing a great job!