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We’ve Closed the Family Bank

Allies in Recovery, AiR, Dominique Simon-Levine, dominique simon levine, addiction, addiction recovery, recovery, Craft, strategy, MAT, rewards, heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, drugs, section 35, methadone, buprenorphine, treament, detox, opioids, opiates, drug addict son living home

Ginger¥ has closed off funds for her Loved One, but now she barely hears from him. This causes some anxiety and she’s looking for guidance about how to practice CRAFT while also giving him space.

I’m looking for more advice. We have told our son no more cash. Since then we hardly speak. I realize that most communication was related to what he wanted us to do for him, and now that the extras are gone I guess there’s not really a reason to be in touch. He is still in outpatient because he asks his dad for a ride to get his prescription filled.
I feel anxious because I don’t hear from him. I know that CRAFT says to stay in touch. Should I let him decide how and when? That seems like the right thing to do. I don’t want to open myself up to manipulation because I want to talk to him, and he has a lot of experience controlling me through guilt.
Then I think maybe he’s actually trying to figure out his life, which he couldn’t do when I was always “helping.”
I’m just looking for some validation that I’m not making another big mistake.
I appreciate your suggestions.

It sounds like your son is still on MAT. So the deepest concern/fear is somewhat abated. This is helpful.

Your son is rarely in touch now that you have “closed” the family bank. You could see this as an opportunity to build back relations more on your terms – on CRAFT terms. The work of rebuilding relations is a vital part of CRAFT. It is an opportunity to change basic patterns that may not have been helpful to your relationships in the past.

It’s ok to let him be. Yes, let him work out his life. There is plenty of work for him to do here. Perhaps you send an occasional text, “enjoy your day, love mom.”  Or, “Come to dinner”….. or…. “remember, we are here if you need more help than just the clinic…” Keep it light, and keep it open. Don’t write to him when you’re in the thick of the anxieties; wait until you’ve digested your feelings somewhat in order to let yourself hear what you really want to say to him when you do reach out.

Really, both you and your son are going through a dramatic change in your dynamic. I don’t see it as a negative. He will get past the “closed” sign on your checkbook. CRAFT asks you to make changes, like being careful of what you pay for. This is part of the work. He now has the opportunity to right himself on his own, which is much more meaningful.

Are there parents here who have been through this? I hesitate to use the word withdrawal, but in some ways this situation is a bit similar. You and your son have been in an intense dance, and you chose to take one step back. Everything needs to rearrange a little to take up the slack now. It’s worth being aware of how this is making you feel and why.

You are used to a certain pattern of communication, and as you said, a fair amount of guilt and manipulation from him. Right now, you’ve made room for the patterns to start to shift. It’s uncomfortable because you’re both in new territory. But there is great opportunity here, to come out on the other end with a healthier dynamic.

Try to ease up on yourself about doing the right or wrong thing. CRAFT lays out a general map, but the individual twists and turns really are different for each situation. Giving him space to work some of this out isn’t the same as letting him call all of the shots. You’re working towards a partnership, a two-way street, a new way of relating. And with CRAFT, you’re cleaning up your end of the equation in the immediate environment you create for your son.

Some of this is about bringing more awareness to your own feelings and reactions, to help yourself find a more centered place from which to think about things. It is well worth it to spend this time tending to your own needs, to your own peace of mind, when you feel those anxieties pulling you out of balance. Since he’s not in touch so much right now, there is space for you to tend to yourself. Step into it. There is space here for your own healing as well.



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. Hello,

    I have experienced this. It was painful. I can tell you it worked up sadness and nervousness in me like nothing else. Brought out the worst. I don’t know what specific action is best for you as far as reaching out, or waiting and allowing him to initiate. I only know when it was us, I had to go with what I felt peace about. And believe me, it was a learning process.

    I started coming up with strategies (I had to, it seemed like I was always doing the wrong thing) such as – if I felt emotion surging within me to connect with him – I normally allowed a 90 second distraction (sometimes I needed more time due to the level of distress I felt. In those cases I allowed for up to 15 minutes to an hour or more), before making the decision to contact. (this is an example of DBT therapy, you can find information about it on this site. There are also many great workbooks that lead you through it, I bought one on Amazon that I LOVE).

    Many times doing this caused me to allow those emotions and fears (which can be overwhelming) to subside just enough to think with clarity. I would then sometimes sent a text, email, leave a voicemail, or write a note to put in a card for my son, letting him know I was thinking of him and I’d always be in his corner.

    If he responded with needs, demands, pressures or emotional bullying, I would repeat my process. Always leading with peace and space.

    Doing this allowed me to heal and gather myself. Over time it spilled over into our relationship.

    Another thing I did during that time, for a span of time I shut off my phone, and logged out of all devices for a two hour period. During those two hours I focused on work, took walks and bike rides, got lost in a book, or a Netflix series/movie, etc. I held myself accountable to this everyday at around the same time of day if possible. I think I did it for about a month. It was SO helpful.

    Sometimes I would turn my phone back on after those two hours and there would be a full story of our cycle in texts and voicemails! First would come the greeting, “Hi Mom,” then the messages turned into asking for something, then asking why I am not responding, the messages would build in urgency and desperation, move into what a terrible person I am, how I won’t hear back from him…silence, and then “Sorry, I just got frustrated, it worked out.”

    The storm had risen up and passed over without me even knowing, almost like sleeping through a tornado! That taught me a lot.

    That said, I don’t know what is right or best for you. But those answers will come to you as you take care of yourself, I promise.

    Wishing you much clarity, peace, and wisdom,