Woods just emerged from a rough spell when their Loved One relapsed after leaving his inpatient program. Now he’s not using but short on rent for his job… Should they help him or allow him to lose the job as a natural consequence?
Hello. I need guidance. My son left inpatient early, came home, and promptly relapsed. He was always willing to do outpatient and Suboxone, but our treatment center said he was not a candidate for outpatient. They recommended we tell him return to inpatient or leave the home, which is what we did. He chose to leave. He lived in his car in the Walmart parking lot of our town for six days, using, no doubt. I was frantic the entire time that we would find him overdosed in his car, but I was trying to do what the treatment center advised and send a message. We invited him to a family birthday party, and he was obviously withdrawing. I told him he was welcome to stay and be sick in our home, but if he had to use, he had to leave. He stayed. We then softened our stance and said he could stay as long as he was in recovery or pursuing recovery and on Suboxone or Vivitrol. So within three or four days he’s on Suboxone and he’s enrolled in outpatient. So my question is, now that he’s doing what he should, are we still supposed to not rescue him and let him face the consequences of his actions? It seems like all the advice about that is regarding people in active addiction, so I’m not sure if it also applies to someone pursing recovery. An example would be, he’s late with booth rent (he’s a barber), so do I let him lose his job? (He can get another one in 2 seconds, but he likes this place). The reason he’s late is because he was using his money for drugs that week he was in the parking lot and also because he was withdrawing so he couldn’t work. So to me, that is a consequence of using. But now that he’s not using, I’m not sure if that’s right. Thanks.
First off, I am sorry you had to endure the stress and anxiety of your son living out of his vehicle in such a state. That is not easy. I’m not a fan of family members being told hard and fast conditions to follow without some time being spent understanding the larger context. I will assume the inpatient center knew your son well. You did bar him from home, and it worked. Good.
There is a long-standing debate about inpatient vs. community treatment. For those snatched out of a community into a residential program, the fear is that a LO won’t learn how to manage recovery in their own home community, and thus will more easily relapse. For those in outpatient programs, the fear is that the LO can more easily drop out, and/ or that the home situation is unstable and will not support the treatment goals.
I like to let the home situation guide the decision, at least in part. If the living situation is not good, residential care is needed. If the home situation is good, build that community care circle around the LO.
Your question deals with consequences from the recent past in the face of positive and encouraging recovery behavior in the present.
CRAFT says respond in the day to that day. For your son’s situation this means rewarding today’s efforts at recovery and low/no use. The problems that collect with someone’s active addiction are too long to list, and often too painful to hear.
Your son lost money while using and is now in trouble financially. For today, reward, as long as he isn’t using. The past is the past. I’m not suggesting you instantly transfer all the money needed to get your son out of hot water. Rather, work on creating and maintaining a gentle loving stance to his non-use. Ask him what he is going to do about the money that is owed. This helps you both engage as partners in supporting his recovery.
The context today for your son is non-use, and doing what is needed not to relapse. So I would help him a little to save his job. The job is helping the non-use in this context, if I understand correctly. Having him sitting at home jobless is not going to make either of you happy. But the job also puts money in his pocket which may be a trigger for him. So part of the solution could be finding a way to support getting his upcoming earnings directed at what is owed. But let your son lead with the solutions. Talk with your partner if needed to clarify, behind-the-scenes, what you are willing to do.
It’s great to hear your son is doing well. Thank you for sharing your situation, and for this excellent question. This is helpful for many other families too. Keep in touch as things unfold. We are all here for you.