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It’s Always the Same Old Story

Old Steamboat Moored

1delapisa is worn out from watching the same patterns unfold over and over in her son’s life. Down to nothing after losing his last job, he uses whatever he can to stay afloat. He’s starting another job now, but his load is so heavy to bear. She hopes and prays for something better for him, but feels it is pointless to try to guide him anywhere.

I haven't been here in a while. My finances have me working 3 jobs. My son lost last job over 2 months ago. He once again used unemployment, anything he could, to stay afloat. Once again all is gone. Probably selling more personal possessions, his loved guitar, again. His dad, brother and only once myself are keeping him with Suboxone and insulin for type1d. I give him rides to store where he comes up with money for cigs. Has managed to keep food. His work search has once again come through. Starts a new job Monday.
Reality check, he still sleeps the days away and nights. That is a disease related to drugs taken improperly, Suboxone, antidepressants, Adderall. Depression always. No therapy/counseling. Same ol story.
I just finished watching 7 seasons of Nurse Jackie. Around season 5 mentioned to son to watch. He's actually started watching. Now I don't want him to see season 7. No point. Maybe if he's still alive in a few years he will finally understand. Either he wants to get straight in his head or he doesn't. I’ve even learned about wonderful adults doing great things in recovery, working, living, with the Suboxone help. It is pointless for saying/guiding anything. I am addicted to my addicted son. I just want him to live a life, stay around for friends, family. He's a good person and I enjoy talking with him and being around him. It just doesn't happen much. I'll just keep up my prayers.

It’s good to hear from you. I am sorry your son is still sounding so shaky. This is a good opportunity to talk about the scope of CRAFT, including its limits. It’s important to be frank about your ability to control him. Within the CRAFT model, there are steps you can take. These can be very grounding when you can’t see a way forward. They can work wonders. But a Loved One can only change if they are ready to. This is the limitation that we are all grappling with.

CRAFT provides the family the best framework for understanding and acting when a Loved One struggles with substance problems. The family learns the stance that works best, which creates the best environment around the Loved One. This is the limit of your control over addiction. With CRAFT you are informed about what you are seeing, how you are acting, what you are willing to do that will be helpful (like getting him into treatment).

The rest is up to your son. He is an adult. You can’t make him change his thinking. He has to come to this on his own, with the help of a family that has taken the CRAFT stance and the help of treatment. Yes, that means professional treatment, but also includes a broader definition of treatment… this includes things like attending church or connecting with other spiritual practices, starting a meditation practice or even joining a baseball team. It includes a community of concern such as AA or Smart Recovery.

Formal treatment is uneven and it’s siloed. It’s one piece of the puzzle, but the family member needs to see themselves filling the role of a case manager of sorts. Assuming the life of addiction has deteriorated a Loved Ones’ ability to tend to themselves on this level, this kind of management helps get your Loved One into the right place, and then the next right place, etc. Ultimately the goal is for them to become self-sufficient – to take responsibility for their own lives – and learn to manage this on their own. But as we know, this is a process. They can’t shift from complete lack of responsibility to full adult functionality overnight. But we can help by pointing them in that direction and being willing to hold that space of responsibility in the meantime.

The more the family member is willing to work with them towards this end, threshing out a plan and being committed to sticking to that in order to get their Loved One through the roughest patches, the better the outcome.

Is the Suboxone your son gets prescribed by a clinic? Or is he buying in the street?

Perhaps the Suboxone isn’t holding him – would your son consider Methadone? If your son is buying Suboxone on the street, then the next thing to try would be getting him into a clinic for medication assisted treatment, whether that be Suboxone or Methadone.

I would like to convince you to try for this. You love your son and you enjoy being with him, but you sound exhausted and really fed up. We want you to be able to see a path from where you are now to the life that you want for him. Accepting that this may never happen – that it can’t be forced – it is a part of the process, but simultaneously, you can set individual goals – think of them as stepping stones – that lead him towards the life you know he is capable of living. One at a time, you can set up these goals – doing all the behind the scenes work you can to help make them a reality. You can see these individual goals as a way to close the gap between how you are feeling now and what you know and hope is possible for your son.

Can you use all the wisdom of CRAFT and the community here to set this goal of getting him to a clinic where he could get medication assisted treatment? A clinic should provide him psychotherapy and hopefully monitor the diabetes to the degree they can. They can certainly talk to him about it. This would make such a difference.

If you can, don’t push your son on anything else, not diabetes management, jobs, housing, or anything else. Just commit to preparing the request for the clinic (Exercise #21, Learning Module 8). This would be the only thing you bring up. With all that you have going on, this helps channel the energy you do have available towards this one thing and this one thing only. The rest of the time you keep it light.

And the rest of the time, you tend to yourself. The rest of the focus goes to your own needs. Yes, addicted to our Loved Ones. We hear you and definitely know what you mean… I’m sure many of our members understand what you are expressing here.

This is your life. There are limits to what you can do for your son. You can work on making your day a little better – a few minutes at a time – by going to Learning Module 7 and to the Sanctuary. There is something here for everyone. Make it a point to find new ways to uplift yourself, on the sanctuary or wherever you are drawn.

Wherever you fall on the continuum of entrenchment and hyper-focus on your son, it is important simply to recognize this is going on. When you do see this, try putting just a little more distance between what your son does and does not do, and how you take it in. So shake it off, when you recognize you are lost in thought about your son, and pull up your life instead, even just for a moment. This is the one area in which you are 100% at the helm. Though it can sometimes feel otherwise, the more you devote to shifts in your own life, little by little, the more you will see changes in your scenery. You deserve it. We all encourage this, wholeheartedly, no matter what else you do or don’t do.



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. 1delapisa, I understand what you mean by being addicted to your addicted son. It’s a very difficult place to be. When I was first presented with the idea of being addicted to my son’s addiction, I didn’t understand it. I was still in the mindset that there was something I could do to change his ways. I also struggled with the idea of “accepting” my son for who he has become because I thought that meant being okay with his SUD.

    My son’s SUD has not changed. His patterns are the same and he doesn’t seem to want to change. It’s sad and painful to see him in this state. What has changed is me. I’ve come to realize that my addicted behavior towards my son’s addiction was not helping anything. I was in a dark, angry, and sad place, which wasn’t the best place to be if I wanted to help my son.

    Over the past year since I joined AIR, I’ve been applying what I learn from Dominique, AIR, and the CRAFT community – little by little – as I’ve been able to given the roller coaster of chaos that SUD brings to a family. As I began to work on my own “recovery”, through self-care and by staying connected to other parent support groups whose LO suffer from SUD, I began to learn how to release control of trying to fix my son’s SUD. This propelled me to a better place, mentally and emotionally, and now I can more clearly understand the insights and suggestions Dominique shares on this site. I also realize that we have to be patient – patient with ourselves and patient with our LO. I know there is still so much for me to learn, and my recovery is not a linear or a smooth path, but it is a path forward and I hope my son will join me on it one day.

    Doing what Dominique suggests in her last paragraph is not easy by any means, but it is critical to helping us change our scenery. Please know we are routing for you and for your son. Peace.