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Look Into Section 35 but Keep Learning CRAFT!

man holding baby woman frightened

“Is section 35 a good option? My son-in-law is addicted to alcohol and cocaine. He also has ADHD and bi-polar. His doctors are trying to regulate his meds but he is still using. He has threatened suicide, to make his wife feel sorry for him. He also has a two-week-old baby. I am nervous for my daughter and grandchild.”

Section 35 can be a short-term solution when a Loved One is out of control, as a form of intervention, but as we’ve written on this blog before, it can fail like any other treatment and it can do potential harm to your relationship.

Your son-in-law has both mental illness and addiction, which is not uncommon.  Some studies put co-occurring disorders as high as 80%. Sectioning is designed for those with mental illness and/or substance abuse when there is imminent danger of harm. It does sound like your son-in-law would meet those conditions.

You are right to be concerned. Your daughter must be scared for her young family. Nothing prevents you from advancing the request for a civil commitment, but the judge will almost certainly need to hear from your daughter about the details of her husband’s use and the danger he is in.

While you are looking into Section 35 as an option, you and your daughter should be looking at the modules on this site.  The CRAFT approach includes an intervention that has the highest rate of success of any form of intervention. Your family also needs the skills of how to relate with your son-in-law, how to communicate, and how to take care of yourselves. We also have written posts specifically about cocaine that you may wish to read, in particular this post links to an article about how to protect yourself from financial harm (see #2 and link near the bottom)

I suspect that your son-in-law’s problems have gone on for some time. They are also likely to continue for some time, Section 35 or not. In the Introductory Module we talk about the elliptical nature of addiction and recovery.  This graph describes how most people get to a sustained recovery.

man holding baby woman frightened
Illustration © Eleanor Davis
inspired by stephanie covington

The graph shows repeated “sampling” of abstinence, with successive efforts lasting a little longer each time… but some breaks should be expected, so relapses, which are difficult to bear, are unfortunately likely. It can be a long haul for the family.

What your family can do now is to get prepared: develop the skills that can best help your son-in-law and yourselves get through this period. People do get sober and do live good meaningful lives despite mental illness and substance use disorders. There is every reason to believe your son-in-law can get there. Training the family on CRAFT is a critical piece for the family. It is what you can do that is loving, respectful, and has the best chance of succeeding for your family.



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"...)