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Son Home From Jail, Drinking and Dangerous

man passed out on couch woman looking on

mlb2t is exasperated and exhausted with her Loved One who refuses to get treatment.  Living at home, out of jail again, he is drinking constantly and not looking for work at all. With no support, and years of enduring these patterns, this family member is at her wits’ end.

How do you get someone to go to detox and rehab that flatly refuses. He said it doesn’t help. I asked him what would help and he said a job. He has been home for a month now and hasn’t applied for even one job. I explained to him he needs to apply for jobs and may have to apply for several and his answer was all my friends parents helped him get a job. That is just an excuse for not pursuing anything. I just feel he really doesn’t want help. He just wants to be drunk all the time. I am at my wits’ end. I don’t want to go to courts anymore, 10-15 years of that is enough. I have no support, his father has never been involved in any of this and my family won’t even speak to me. I really believe this son is a lost cause.

Your son is back from jail and living at home. From what you write he is drinking but has not yet relapsed back to opiates. Your son says he wants a job but does very little to get one. I am sorry that this is happening. I suspect that a job would mean money in your son’s pocket and further relapse. He has bucked all efforts to get his addiction treated.

So, of course, you are at your wits’ end. You want to know how to get him into treatment. That is the right question. The answer is CRAFT. It is a process. The details of CRAFT, walking you through this process, are in the Learning Modules. It takes a willingness to apply the CRAFT method, and plenty of patience. Both of these you may have in short supply, given how long this has been going on with your son.

Another answer is civil commitment. Your son has done very dangerous things in the past. He has been and may continue to be a danger to himself and to others, including you.

Your son is an adult. He can walk in and walk out of treatment. CRAFT addresses motivation and teaches the family how to look for windows of opportunity and a little motivation for change….that’s when you talk about treatment. The family has to have that option for treatment ready when that wee bit of motivation is poking through.

However, as we have noted in earlier posts, when there is violence, we can’t recommend that you try to solve this through CRAFT. In this situation, the empathetic listening, the painstaking process of building and maintaining a bridge between you and your Loved One are not the appropriate tools for the job. In this case, we would say, please don’t do CRAFT with your son. He has been physically abusive in the past, and might be again. Our suggestion is a civil commitment followed by solid aftercare that doesn’t involve coming home.

You need your home to be peaceful. You need calm space around you so that you can regain your well-being, and get your life back. Your son needs much more than a roof over his head. You cannot personally manage the seriousness of this situation. He needs professional help.

So take a deep breath and look at the paperwork for a section 35 (a civil commitment in Massachusetts). The link is on our Mass Message board.

I’m worried that things are going to get worse given the patterns, and your son’s current behaviors. We need you safe, and your son in treatment – and out of the house.



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’d like to give an update to what is going on at this time. I never did get a section 35 for my son because I felt I really wanted to work the program and try that first. I didn’t feel threatened or in any danger for my son so I really worked the modules, remained calm and my oldest son worked the program along with me, in fact he taught me a thing or 2. My son has been home from being incarcerated since November. He has not done much of anything but sit around the house and drink, he hardly ever went out. My older son and I would try to encourage him to go to the after incarceration services, but he never was interested. As time went on he got interested in cooking and started making almost all of the dinners. We would praise him when he did well and I would stay away from him when he was drinking and just tell him I enjoyed him much more when he wasn’t. Things have been much more pleasant around here doing things this way. I didn’t nag him about going to any programs or getting a job, I just praised him when he was doing well and walked away when he wasn’t. Then out of the blue he asked my older son if he knew if there was walk-ins at the after incarceration services every day. The older one said he thought so but wasn’t sure so the other one asked me if I would look it up. Considering he has no phone or computer I agreed to do that . I told him they have them Monday through Friday 8 to 11. He didn’t say anything more that night but the next day he got up early and asked me if he thought he should go. I told him it was entirely his decision and if he wanted to go I would be leaving in a short while to go to work and I could drop him off on my way. When I was ready to leave he was ready so I did bring him, dropped him off and gave him money to take the bus home. I was nervous all day long because I don’t have complete trust in him and I didn’t know if he had an ulterior motive. I thought about him all day but try to stay calm and he finally called me and told me he had signed up and has another appointment to start the program on March 15 I thought about him all day but try to stay calm and he finally called me and told me he had signed up and has another appointment to start the program on March 15. He also told me that he had shoveled the driveway. That was an accomplishment in itself because getting him to do anything is worse than pulling teeth. I praised him for going and signing up and he told me that he is going to try to eat better and is really trying to cut down on the drinking. It is so much more pleasant without any of the yelling and screaming. I can’t say that I don’t ever make a mistake because I certainly do but I am really trying hard and thankful that this is working. This is a small step and for me to trust him he’s going to take a lot. I will just keep encouraging him and try to give him some kind of reward for doing well. I don’t think he has ever talk to me as much as he has lately in his whole life. It is really nice and I enjoyed being with him right now. He makes amazing meals and does most of the cooking for dinner. It is so early in the change that I just can’t get comfortable yet but I hope over time I will be able to. I am so thankful to the program and I will keep working it to the best of my ability. Thank you so much

    1. This does sound hopeful mlb2t. It has been such a long rough ride. People get tired of themselves. He may be finally realizing the pattern he has been in. He’s avoiding the largest pitfall, which is the opiates. He has reached out to a post release program in Springfield. We did a little cartwheel here (okay maybe not a full cartwheel).

      1. Unfortunately it was short lived. He has been up and down since. Now he is just getting so angry. He has an appointment to go back to the program, but not until March 15th. His birthday is coming up on March 24th and I don’t know how to deal with that. I want to acknowledge it but I’m not sure how. Right now I don’t feel he deserves anything. It has talked to some of his old friends and after that his whole attitude changed. He said none of them care about him anymore so he is not going to care about them. It is just so unpredictable and I feel like I am sitting on a time bomb. He is so unhappy with himself and he wants to blame everyone else. When will all of this ever end. I want to live again and feel happy doing it, not worry if I go on a vacation what is going on at home. He said that he has come to the realization that he will never be happy, never have a family or house or ever have anything. I don’t even know what to say to him anymore. I was so hopeful and now I feel that I am at square one again. I see my older son trying to be so calm with him and distract him by getting him to do other things. I know he is totally frustrated also.

  2. One of my sons used to say, “a job”, when I asked him what he needed, yet I also admit now that I personally thought all he needed was a job and had told him that many times and so he was only telling me what I told him. When he told me he needed a new job I told him to keep the one he had while looking for a new one. I had all the answers! A true genius, yet I wasn’t the least bit curious to the second story and the real question behind his pain and malcontentedness.

    No one is a lost cause because no one is lost. There you go; another answer. Yet, I question myself now when I think I am lost. I breathe and remember who I am. We are always there, the same child, looking for love, or a deep breathe, in a world that punches us in the stomach and takes our breath away. I have forgotten who I am many time and what I really, really want has been replaced by others opinions because I have been looking for the answers in something, anything really, other than who I am and always have been and will be. I need “love”, has been replaced with “a job”, or anything else because the world thinks they know who I am and all I need and I think it is a mistake.

    A young person that hasn’t matured(I trust this and yet you can guess whether by wisdom or hard knocks), now thinks “others are smarter than I am”. I will give the person that comes into my house, invited, room to breath and patience to “unwind” and “unravel” the confused identity the world around him has him trapped inside. Peer pressure gives people a “fix” to shut them up. A mentor/coach/counselor that rehab, or happenstance or a deliberate search, affords your son can change everything. “People recover all the time” was told to me by only one of hundreds of peers I went to during my ordeal. THAT was my mentor. One human being that gave me hope despite the thinking of peers that “all is lost”.

    I also, trust the advice Dominique will give you as well. No one has your answer. At first I was absolutely not right for my LO. I was not a mentor I was a scared cat clawing my LO. I was a baboon distressing my LO. I learned a few things along the way to this point today where I have only questions–and yet A GIFT with the question–A QUEST! No one has your son’s questions. The one with the questions is the only one that can lead the search for the answer. He may have the wrong question. Or perhaps he only has all the answers that this culture and scared LOs thrust into his face out of fear. Having all the answers is cutting off our nose to spite our face. Every quest begins with question that will give room to breath and patiently look for new answers. Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. ” Demoralization might begin with all the answers and not a question. I am determined, NOW, not to distract my loved ones with answers. I am interested in my LOs question and I am interested in sharing MY QUESTIONs in order to role model my lack of answers that spurs my curious spirit. The problem is if my LO’s face is glued to a smart phone or “jonesing” for a quick “fix” the LO must unravel safely in order for my love, that will give him the right question, to reach his/her heart. My construct seems clear in the light of Dominique’s “take” on your situation as well, “We need you safe, and your son in treatment – and out of the house.”

    My heart is full of hope for your situation and context. Watch this TED Talk by Gabor Mate and perhaps you’ll see what I am referring to as “situation and context” and be as inspired as I am to love, love, love…love…until I am no more. This MAN deserves a Nobel prize winning following: I think it may give you peace of mind and hope as well…yet you are worth things working out for you…you are worthy of love…you are important enough to have a son walk willingly into recovery and find continuous recovery soon enough. I would suggest repeating this until you relax, “I am lovable” “I am worth this working out as it should for my son” “I am important enough to receive the tools, advice, love, wisdom, and discussions here and everywhere that trust in my Higher Power will give me.” Hope this helps.

      1. Thx for reading my post Dominique and encouraging me and holding me accountable to finding THE question.

        The other day my loved one was over and as all us parents know these days we are disconnected because of a social media device in their face. I had a new question. How do I get him to drop the phone?
        I decided to give my LO room to breathe, relax and realize that my acceptance and bestowal of the time and space was unconditional. I simply realized my ego was involved in wanting the terms of the connection to be “immediate”. I think now I realize a person coming home at the end of the day. First doesn’t really want to “connect” per se, they want to shower and get the grime and day’s work off before they relax, spread out and stretch themselves to interaction with another. I think spiritually the analogy fits for the time and space my LO needs before they are ready to relax and drop their guard (aka their social media devices).
        I took the 5th tradition of al anon and CRAFT together to realize once I’ve bestowed room to breathe and expand to my LO, “what next?” or “What can I do or communicate?” to be the “understand” and “encourage” words of the 5th tradition. I also realize that understanding this is important now that my LO is in active recovery and has acquired some wisdom that I can appreciate it and understand the wisdom of his acting out of love as esoteric as it can be to an old timer like me.
        The encouragement piece I see as plenty of things I can notice and “reward” through communicating my recognition of it, such as: kindness, discipline, compassion, devotion, persistence, connection, self-respect and dignity and the respect of others. I think I can resonate with these things I see in my LO and really create some true attunement to the positives and growth possibilities that my LO must actually be searching for in terms of empowerment and adult skills that will give them the ability to solve challenges, meet needs and embody value that they themselves recognize fully.
        I think I needed we people need to control something(clearly its ourselves yet true love is always yearning to help) and realize from my own philosophy to control the controllables and so I need to know what love, understanding and encouragement are once I’ve got my LO in proximity of influence/love.
        My question for now is this wisdom true? Is this something that has been missing? Can I actually learn to trust my recovery and its loving influence and the recovery of my LO? Another thing is now that we’re both in recovery(me CRAFT) I think wishes/dips are ongoing. My LO mentioned looking at career development options and such. So clearly the focus on growth will be ongoing and different.
        I can’t always be a mentor to my LO since there will be limits on things I understand enough that the LO in interested in. This is where a sponsor comes in I think. A sponsor is someone with transcendent knowledge on a subject that isn’t threatened by someone that “wants what he/she has”. I think this is very important and so I have been sharing the wisdom of constantly searching for and finding a mentor/sponsor in the things we’re interested in developing. Unlike simply peers sharing in a meeting a sponsor has a quality of CRAFT and Al Anon program working. Same goes for other concepts my LO will be looking for in recovery.
        I think my attitude is that I will give the answers to the question “what wisdom is my LO is not finding that is causing the most pain that I can help with?” Either with my own wisdom & understanding or my encouragement to be inspired to seek and find a mentor/sponsor that has the wisdom my LO is needing.

        and by the way…my LO dropped the phone and we had the best time together…ever!

    1. Thank you so much for these inspiring words. I believe that my son also needs to learn to love himself before he can even move on. At this time he has been talking with me about things and actually wants to make a better life. I hate to even say it, for fear that I will jinx things, but drinking has been less and there has been no drugs. His older brother is also working with him and probably doing a better job than me. We are both trying to practice the craft method to the best of our ability. Thank you for your inspiration and I hope the new year brings good things.