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Son Breaking In

Stop - boundaries

sikimasai writes in about her Loved One repeatedly violating boundaries: coming home after drinking, stealing and more recently, breaking in when they were away. She had to ask him to leave, but is still trying to keep communication open. He has agreed to meet with her and a counselor… Wondering how to use CRAFT in this situation.

Hi, So my son has been drinking for a long time now. He is 27 and was living at home but I had to ask him to leave for repeatedly coming home after drinking which I cannot allow and also for stealing at home. This has happened a few times now and the last time we went away for the weekend he broke in, stayed here and stole and pawned the TV for the second time. I also have a 12 year old son at home who is being affected by this behavior now and is worried about it. I have to protect him from this and cannot have it around him. We have seen our son a few times since this happened and I try to keep communication open but am not sure how to use CRAFT with this situation because I don’t feel like I can have him stay here at all (except to come visit, eat sometimes or see his little brother which he has) due to the stealing. I would like to have a conversation with him with a counsellor present so that we can really hear each other and he has agreed to do this. Mostly for the purpose of communicating and moving forward.

Your son feels it is okay to break into your house when you are away, use everything, and steal and pawn whatever he can. Other families have written in about Loved Ones breaking in. Here is a response that lays out legal options that can protect you and your home. It is possible to put one of these options in place and still meet with someone who can help facilitate a discussion between the two of you.

You will need to be the judge of how your son will receive this. It would be a natural consequence for your son – “I am putting a no trespassing order in place so that you think twice before breaking in again.”  It would also protect your home and things. It’s a clear signal to your son that he is not entitled to take advantage of his family.

Having a facilitated discussion with your son is a great idea. Well done getting him to agree to it. A lot could be said in that hour. You have already set the terms for when he comes to your house: when sober come to dinner, visit with us, visit with your younger brother… This is a good stance and it aligns with the CRAFT principles.

The meeting with the counselor could be an important opportunity for you to be heard by your son while also underlining your love for him. You might say:

“The drinking is a problem, I believe you know that. It doesn’t make me love you any less. I care for you deeply. You are my son. I want my family whole.

I am at war with the drinking, not you. I can’t do anything that inadvertently supports it. Towards this end, I am getting a no trespassing order. You cannot come over to the house unless invited.

I love when you come over sober, so I’d like this to continue. Your brother needs you. I need you.

I worry so much about you. When you are ready to do something about the drinking, I will help in any way I can. I’ve worked up a list of services (present the list which includes detoxification, inpatient, outpatient, self help). I will help you pay for any of these and help you with transportation (..and whatever other barriers he throws up). I realize you may not be ready to look at your drinking, but when you are I am here.

Thank you for being willing to meet today. I want you to know that I am working on improving the way I relate to you. I want us to have an easier time together. I will do everything I can to make this so.

The principles of CRAFT can still be used when there is little contact. Whenever you see your Loved One – and I mean every time you are in contact – you can try to apply the principles of softer communication and reflective listening. You can step in with rewards when there is no use and step away, allowing natural consequences and removing rewards, when there is use. You can line up treatment options for when you see an opening to bring it up.

The Learning Modules have a lot of details on putting these principles into practice, and this blog will support you as you apply them. Hang in there.



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"...)