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It’s Time for Him to Go!

Woman locking self into bathroom

AiR member mlb2t describes the continuing crisis in her family…

"Things came to a head in my house this morning. I feared for both my life and my son's. My oldest one with paranoid schizophrenia went into such a rage that as much as I did not want to do it I had to get the police involved. He accused my middle son of stealing his suboxone and no matter what I said or did I could not get him to calm down. I honestly don't think that the suboxone were stolen. He got so violent and attacked both my son and myself. When I tied to call 911 he grabbed the phone and my pocketbook with my phone in it and would not let me call. I finally just told him to give me my pocketbook and I was going to leave. He did that and when I got in the car I called crisis and they eventually connected me with the police. I met with them and they went to the house and brought him to the ER. It was such an emotional event. It wasn't even the active drug abuser that was the problem. Going forward though there is no way that the 2 can stay in the same house as me. I really want the addict out. He does not seem to want to get clean. I don't want drugs here. I need him out. I need help in how to do this. I feel like I am so alone. I reached out to my family this morning and have not heard from them since. It is like I have the plague when it comes to them. I was given a domestic abuse support number to call and I did, had to leave a message and never got a call back. That was 2 days ago. To go to counseling myself I have a sixty dollar copay each session, that gets so expensive. I'm not sure where to turn anymore."

You're Facing a Hard Decision

Asking your Loved One to leave your home is a hard decision.  Your Loved One is not making any effort to curtail or stop the drug use. Allowing them to stay in your home while they continue to use drugs, in essence, has become an inadvertent support of their use.

In your case, allowing your Loved One to continue living with you also endangers you and other family members.

If he will only leave against his will…

Here are some resources for you to consider. There are two types of restraining orders, and a No-Trespass order that could be applicable to your situation:

  • The Abuse Prevention Order:  This is a restraining order focused on an abusive situation, which includes violence, threat of violence, and causing fear. This type of order is most often used with someone you know, including a family member. This order can include the instruction to no longer live with you. A judge might issue an order that the defendant not abuse you, not contact you, stay away from your home and work address and not possess any firearms.  Read more here.
  • The Harassment Prevention Order:   Unlike the Abuse Prevention order, this can be used against anyone, no matter your relationship with the person.  A judge can order the defendant to not abuse or harass you, not contact you in any way, to stay away from your home or work and/or to pay you money. Read more here.

This following page explains the differences between the Abuse Prevention Order and the Harassment Prevention Order. Read more here.

Finally, you may consider a No-Trespass Order. In Massachusetts, if you have lawful possession of a property, you may seek to prevent someone from trespassing on that property.  You may be able to file a no trespass order against the person that is trespassing on the property. Read more here. Look at/print out the form here.

Your son can leave the house voluntarily or involuntarily.

Voluntarily leaving the house is a request to your son that he leave. Two things will help this effort:

  1. Script your request using the communication techniques outlined in Module 2 and in Key Observation Exercise #15 "Making a Request.” 
  2. Help you son figure out where he can go by creating a list of shelters, detoxes, sober homes. Add to this any help you are willing to provide towards rent that would help him to get started. 

Being asked to leave the home can be seen as a punishment. You want to counter this feeling with carefully chosen words that express your love for him, the effect his living with you has had on you, and how you can help.

Follow the request from Key Observation Exercise #15.

I've drafted an example below.

1– Write out what you want from your Loved One below.

He needs to move out

2– Put yourself in their shoes with an understanding statement.

I understand that this is a huge and difficult thing for you.

3– Own your part. Example: I am the one who likes the sink free of dishes.

This is about me. I am so unhappy right now, so sad, and frankly, I’m scared for you and for me. I am the one who needs for you to leave.

4– How does it make you feel? Example: I feel so overwhelmed when the sink is full of dirty dishes.

I have struggled to make this work between us and your brother. It doesn’t work, and I feel sick about it.

5– Offer to help. Example: Would it help if I got a different kind of sponge or a second dish rack?

I’ve created this list of options for you.  I’ve tried to think of everywhere you could go, whether you want help for the drug use or not. In addition, me and your dad are willing to put down XXXX with a landlord to help get you started.

6– Be positive, be brief, be specific. Example: Please put your dishes in the dishwasher before I come home from work.

I love you and will never stop loving you. You are my son. But it’s time you look for a place and leave by (two weeks??) time.  (give the date).

If your son refuses to leave voluntarily, you will need to take steps for his involuntary departure. I hear you when you say you hate calling the police, but if your son refuses to leave the house, you are going to have to consider legal action. I have written a lawyer who works with families of those struggling with substance abuse. 

You are taking steps to protect yourself and your family. Your son will no longer have the protection of your home in which to use drugs. You cannot control what he does, but you can pull away from him right now for both his and your own good.

Our thoughts 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 have been following along with everyone and everything for the past 8 months and have been keeping up with modules. Life has actually been calm for about the last 8 months. My oldest son is living with me and has been clean from both drugs and alcohol for about 8 years. He is proud of himself, is finishing his associates degree and plans to continue on. He also works part time. He has become a responsible adult. On the other hand, my second child has spent time in jail since last November. I had actually turned him in on a warrant. At that time he was so lost in drugs and had overdosed a few weeks before I had turned him in. By the time he was brought in he had been shooting up in his foot. He ended up in the hospital for almost a week and was told he was lucky he went in when he did because he could have shortly lost his foot or died. He is now scheduled to get out on November 10th and the plan is for him to come to my house. I am a nervous wreck over this. At one point early in his incarceration he was paroled with the stipulation that he go to a long term rehab. I was thrilled, but this never happened. I am sure he had something to do with this not working out. I go to see him for food visits and try to talk with him about plans and all he ever says is that he is going to get a job. He never elaborates. Even just writing this I can feel myself tensing up. Well wishers tell me he can’t come to my house, but when I ask where they suggest he go they have no answer. I even spoke with the people at the jail and I was told that he goes to the address on his paperwork. I asked what if I don’t want him there, I was told he would be in the street. I even had one suggestion that I move, like it is just so simple to up and leave. I like my house and I don’t want to leave. I also know that this program works best if the person is close. I guess that at this point I am looking for some advice. I have been through so much with this son that I start having anxiety just thinking about him coming home. It has been so calm I worry my 2 sons will fight again and my older one tells me this won’t happen. I don’t want to live walking on eggshells again

    1. Please get yourself to a Learn2Cope meeting ASAP. Put your problems out there and all the folks in the meeting (who have lived through this) can give you the support and guidance you need. I understand why you are anxious and I have heard lots of parents tell the same story. While you can’t heal your son, you can take care of yourself and see what your options are. You are stronger than this problem.

      1. I have been to the learn to cope meeting in my area, in fact I attended for quite a while. I found that the meeting focused on the younger generation. There was a lot of good advice for them and I did get some good information. But my son is 31 and can’t be forced into much. I have section 35’d him and that was a failure. When he was texting suicide threats and hiding in the woods behind my house I tried to section him again. There were dogs and helicopters searching for him and he managed to escape. My oldest son tells me that he has to want to quit for himself, no one but he himself can do this. I have been to so many support groups over the years. I have learned from them and I have decided that I am going to do what I want to in life. I do enjoy myself, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about him. I will continue to practice what I get from AIR and hope he decides to go a different route this time when he gets out. This last time in jail will be the longest he has ever been there and the longest he has been free from drugs.

        1. I am so sorry about the worry that you have to live with. Our daughter is 39. We are still pretty new to this recovery business. She has always been an abusive drinker but her life really started falling apart in the last 6 months. Her partner contacted us for help so that’s when we found out how bad things had become. We have been working the AIR program and combined with Learn2Cope meetings can see how to survive. For now she has been getting some help but we will not hear if she starts abusing again so we live with that worry you speak of.
          I am trying to take care of myself with diversions and developing my own self. The worry is there but I’m pushing it away and letting other things in for now.
          I hope you can find some peace in your life until your son finds a healthy path.

    2. I am really looking for some suggestions for what to do when my son is released from prison. Just thinking about it my stomach is in knots. I am so frightened that he will stay away from drugs for about a month as he has in the past and then go right back to them. I know others understand this feeling that have gone through this. I just need some guidance in how to deal with him when he comes home. I also worry for my oldest son, not that he will revert to drugs, but that he will get angry and frustrated with my younger boy if he doesn’t stay on the right track. It is so nice right now. The house is calm, we work together and I can trust him when he goes out. There are no arguments or breaking up of my house. I want it to stay this way.

    3. We’re glad to hear from you. Things have been calm for you because one son is doing well and the other is in jail. The son in jail is due to be released and your worry and stress are mounting as he is supposed to come home. The jail is not giving you other alternatives for treatment or housing.

      I work in a jail and I am glad to report that this “release” process is changing. Jails are becoming de facto treatment centers and the release of an inmate is now case-managed much more carefully.

      Your son does not sound very willing AT THIS MOMENT to do much to address his drug issues…..Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response to mlb2t here:

  2. I haven’t commented in a long time. Right now I am struggling with my own depression. I barely make it to work each day, but yet I believe that work is one thing that keeps me going. Yes both my boys have struggled with addiction but presently they are both in recovery. The problem that exists at this time is the severe mental illness the my oldest son struggles with. This is another terrible illness that carries such a stigma. I have done so many sections to get him help and when he comes out he only seems worse. When he goes in he won’t sign a release for me to discuss anything and even when I call because I am allowed to tell them things they just can’t tell me anything, I have been hung up on. How can he expect to be helped if no one knows the true story. Yesterday when I was at work he came here looking for me and started screaming in the lobby to all the people there swearing and carrying on about how the world is horrible and everyone is going to burn. I directed him outside and told him to leave. I was so embarassed. I called his therapist and crisis. Here I am his mother, I know he has diagnosed mental illness and I still felt horrible and wanted to run away. Things have been so bad since last November I have practically tried to make myself invisible. I don’t know how to live anymore. I’m always told to do things for myself so I do but the problem is still there and as soon as I am alone again I am crying and just so unhappy. I don’t know what to do.

  3. Not allowed in my house unless she can pass a drug test. Mother asked her to move out after driving her younger sister under the influence. Boyfriends parents were filled in (boyfriend also probably using). Lying to everyone where she is and staying at a “friends”. Two years, 4 relapses and I am just so tired yet I want her to want to live and don’t know how to reward her attempts at sobriety when they seem only a means to manipulate us.

    1. Trying to tease apart genuine efforts at sobriety from those designed to get something from you can be maddening, partly because even your daughter couldn’t tease them apart if she tried.

      Life under the influence happens minute by minute. One minute you’re fed up and scared and you reach out. The next minute your internal “evil twin” appears to talk you into a scam that will help you score. People you love be damned.

      Read Dominique’s full response here:

  4. A Massachusetts Attorney, who wishes to remain anonymous, has shared some comments about the above options (Abuse Prevention Order, Harassment Prevention Order, No-Trespass Order):

    “A Restraining Order (Abuse Prevention Order = 209A)  is more directly related to this kind of situation. The mother will have to allege, by way of affidavit, that she is suffering abuse by the son, a household member. She may be asked to adopt her affidavit in Court, and she may be required to testify about its contents if the son contests the order….

    … In short, although issuing a notice not to trespass can work under some circumstances, I think the much faster route is a 209A order. It can be issued during business hours at Court, and after hours on an emergency basis at a police station.”

  5. I thank God for Dominique. There is so much turmoil in my life right now and I am so overwhelmed with everything. I am having a hard time holding things together and instead of my sisters being there for me they stay as far away as they can because at least one of them is afraid that someone in our town might realize we are related. My major problem right now was not even my addict, it was my son that is a paranoid schizophrenic. It was so frightening the other day that I finally had to call crisis and get the police involved. He was attacking my other son and breaking up my house. Luckily he went peacefully to the hospital. He got violent when he got there, so they saw how things can be. Since he has been there I have only spoken to one person and that is because my son gave verbal permission to speak to me once. My son has called me and just yelled and screamed at me and told me that he is not my son. He said that I destroyed his life. What he doesn’t understand was that I was actually trying to help him by preventing him from possibly killing someone and him going to jail for the rest of his life. Hopefully he gets the help he needs. Some of his anger stems from my other son who is an active addict and is still in my home. He is so angry at this fact because he is trying to go to school and make something of himself, where the addict just sits around all day doing nothing. I do want to get the addict out of my house and Dominique has given me support and suggestions as to how to do this. I have spoken with the addict and given him the calm suggestions but he does not seem interested in these. It looks like I will have to go to housing court to have him evicted. Again police have to be involved. I feel so isolated by my family. I can’t believe not one has even asked how things are. Now on top of all this I have to figure a way to have all the things repaired in my home and eventually buy new furniture for my room that was destroyed. It can be embarrassing when people come over and ask how it happened. I guess I just have to ignore that and do what I have to. My energy is depleted between going through all this and trying to work. Then when I did speak to my son in the hospital last night he told me that they are going to let him go home Monday. It is amazing that this can happen without anyone even asking if I want him to come back here. All I hear about is his rights, what about my rights as the person who owns the house he is coming to. I feel so alone without any support from family. Even his father has not asked how things are. That is why I thank Dominique so much for the support she has given.