Ask the Expert: Acknowledging our powerlessness, we seek words of encouragement

Relapse and Rebound, RepurposeQUESTION: My son started drinking @ age 13. He is now 43 yrs old and has not found sobriety. He has been in & out of rehabs & hospitals for the past 30 yrs. He is dually diagnosed & fails to be compliant with his treatments. He is a chronic relapser. He has a history of harassing, threatening, intimidating, verbally abusing people & destroying other peoples personal or real estate properties.

It has been very difficult to watch his self-destruction. Over the years there is nothing that we haven’t tried to help him get better. We have had to accept our family’s powerlessness over this disease. We had to pursue our own recoveries in order to find some peace & serenity. We needed to let go of him to be happy again.

Many times we thought that he had hit his bottom, but the insidious disease keeps winning & taking him over, again & again.  As much as any parent doesn’t want a child to go to jail, I am hoping that he will be sentenced & kept there. I am hopeful that maybe this is his bottom and he might realize how alcohol has destroyed his life & driven people that love him away. I see this as the last resort for his healing, since nothing else has worked. If jailed for 6 months or more, will he be evaluated & offered rehabilitation? I try to keep up my hope, but if he doesn’t learn from this drastic lesson, what can we expect the next time? This is all very heartbreaking. All I can do is pray. Any words of encouragement, I would appreciate. Who is this stranger, my son?? I read this helpful website every day. I am grateful for it:) Thanks for being there!

prison for addicts Brad DeHavenEXPERT ANSWER: When you get on a plane, the instructions are to put the oxygen mask on yourself before your children. YOU need to survive and at some point if you assess that everything you are doing is too much and not enough at the same time, then you are enabling the continuance of the same behavior.

Your son’s bottom is different than yours. If everything else that you have tried has yielded this result, then perhaps prison will bring his bottom to him. All you can do is love him and pray because at some point he has to understand how destructive his behavior is to not only himself but those who love and care for him. Addiction travels many difficult paths and you are certainly living one.

Best to you and yours!

Bradley DeHaven

Photo of Ricki TownsendEXPERT ANSWER: You hit this on the mark!! Your child is a stranger. This is a brain disease, and eventually our loved ones are no longer available to us. Their entire lives become addiction.

So many of us have loved ones missing to addiction. I am sorry that there is no magic wand; change must come from him.

You are doing well if you have made your boundaries strong and rigid. You will find kinship and wisdom at meetings like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. please go to a minimum of six meetings, and try different ones until you have found the right one. Celebrate Recovery support meetings are also available to you at most major churches.

I would also encourage working with an addiction therapist who can help you move forward with the pain you are carrying.

It sounds like your son has lost his belief in himself for the time. If you talk to him, let him know you love him and believe in him, but hate this disease and what it has done to him. It is possible to love your child while hating his addiction.

Ricki Townsend, Board Certified Interventionist, Drug/Alcohol Counselor, NCAC1, CAS, RAS, Bri-1

Ask the Expert: Can my household ever be safe and happy when my son is so deeply lost in his addiction?

War zone of addictionYOUR QUESTION: My son that just turned 18 has been in and out of trouble with marijuana. Over the last 2 years it has gotten worse and more things have happened. He is the oldest of my 4 children. My 18 year old can hang out with us have a great time and then the next day or night be a totally different person. Little things have started missing around the house. It would be a couple of dollars here and there or a few video games. Lately he would have mood swings and say he just wasn’t sleeping well. I found out he had been taking Kpin along with drinking or had taken some of his grandparents pain pills or sleeping pills. We had started locking our bedroom door each day with a lock that needed a key to open it. I worried what medicines he might try to get. He always acts like we are crazy to ever think he would do something like that.

This Monday his mood swings had gotten worse and he blew up over something small and was extremely disrespectful to his father and myself. He had gotten so mean to his brothers lately that I worried about him being home alone with them. He doesn’t have a job and isn’t in a hurry to get one. This last blow up he had was so bad that we kicked him out of the house. We don’t know what to do.  If we let him go see friends we knew he would come home messed up. He would tell us it was just pot or that he had taken Adderall with pot. I don’t know what to do. It is hard because having other kids and not sure what to say or do about the entire situation in front of them. We have tried to not mention a lot around them but the older two have noticed so much on their own over the last year. Are we doing the right thing by kicking him out and not allowing him home unless he gets help and gets a job? I just worry about him coming to our house and doing something when we aren’t home or in front of the other kids.

Photo of Ricki TownsendEXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND: Thank you for your questions, which I will try to address. Please feel free to call or email me if I have missed anything.You mentioned that your son is being inappropriate at home, stealing, and acting inappropriately to his family. Lying, stealing and manipulating are very much symptoms of drug abuse, and opiate abuse in particular. It is critical to recognize that addiction to drugs has been proven to be a brain disease that requires significant help to turn the tide.

The disease of addiction affects all members in the family. We as the family unit are no longer “normal.” Instead, stress becomes the norm. And as much as you think you are protecting the other children in the family, even your four-year old notices something different. The children FEEL “something different.”  While you love your son, until he chooses sobriety, you must protect the rest of your family. Build a life with them full of laughter and activity.  They deserve all of you. Yes, this is hard when one of your children is struggling.

I recommend that you find a good Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meeting to attend with your husband. The parent meetings would be the best for your situation. Also, if by some chance you live in the Sacramento area, I also encourage you to call Full Circle Treatment Center. The can talk to you about parenting classes and how to handle difficult situations when they arise.

Would you allow a stranger who makes you feel unsafe in your home? You need to have the same boundaries with your son:  he cannot be in your home if intuitively you feel uncomfortable. Do you drug test him? You can have kits mailed to you, and you might want to drug test every time he comes into your home, even for a visit. If he just can’t seem to go, that is considered a positive test, and he loses the privilege of being in your home.  You can purchase inexpensive drug tests at Recovery Happens.

My suggestions go against the grain of normal parenting where we trust our children.  Yet a child who is abusing drugs or alcohol is not trustworthy, and the rules of normal parenting do not apply.  In this strange new world, I hope you will seek out professional support for you and your son  Please ask yourself if you would be trying to handle this on your own if he had cancer or diabetes.

My hope is that you and all similar families realize you do not have the education or resources to manage this serious disease and all of the behavioral challenges it creates. No amount of love will heal this.  No amount of protection will heal this. You cannot do this on your own. I wish you the best.

EXPERT KENT MORRISON: There are several things that need to be mentioned.  First, from what you have mentioned it highlights that your son has progressed beyond just smoking pot.  The mood swings, not sleeping well, etc are signs of pill use.  Kpin (Klonopin) is a heavy benzo (benzodiazepine), and mixing it with drinking can be very harmful if not deadly.  He has also resorted to stealing as a means to continue using drugs, again a sign of pill use.  Pills can be very expense and very addicting.  I think there are two recommendations that are in order.  First, I would strongly advise you as parents to seek professional help from a place like New Directions to talk more about exactly what you are experiencing with your son and what your options are.  Second, I believe that your son needs professional help and asking him to leave the house can help only if he becomes desperate enough to want help.  But it is a hard line to hold and if you break down and let him back in without getting him help, it is likely he will continue to violate your family boundaries and his drug use will not get better.  So in summary, I think seeking professional help as parents is your first step and then implementing a plan to address your son is step two.  Last, I would also think about having your other children talk with the counselor/therapist you decide to make sure they a have a chance to process what they are experiencing as well.

 

Ask the Expert: Does my daughter want me to help or to leave her alone?

mother and daughter on beachYour question: How do I know if my daughter is crying out for help or is really just pushing me away? My daughter is 23 and has had emotional issues dating back to her early teens. When she went off to college, she turned to drugs for self medicating. Our family has been dealing with the ups and downs that come along with this. She now lives 2,100 miles away and I am so afraid for her. I have little knowledge about where she lives. I have her “so called” friends messaging me on Facebook telling me they are afraid for her life and that her addiction is out of control, yet she assures me this isn’t true.

She hasn’t worked in almost a year. She is living from couch to couch and my parents continue to send money. I have asked them not to, but even I cave sometimes (not often) when she calls crying and saying she hasn’t eaten in days. I talked to her twice last weekend. I could tell she was out of it by the sound of her voice and the fact that she was so out of it, she thought she called me. She did call me later that day and asked for money for food. I told her I couldn’t give her money because I was in fear she would use it to buy drugs that could kill her.

I was clear that the way I was willing to help was when she is ready to come home and deal with her problems and get help for them I would put her on a plane in a heartbeat. Of course, she was angry and told me she wasn’t an addict. We have tried multiple times to get her into rehab, but she has checked herself out or quit going. How do I just give up or quit trying? I know she has to want it on her own, but I can’t help but think about the guilt I will carry always wondering if I did enough to try and help her, if she dies from a drug overdose. How do I know if she really wants me to come save her or just leave her alone?

Photo of Ricki TownsendAnswer from Expert Ricki Townsend: Thank you for your questions. So many parents are grappling with this same distressing situation. It’s so hard to know what is truly going on and how to help.

First of all, mental health issues and chemical dependency often go hand in hand. It sounds like your daughter  may have had some mental health issues in the past, and she is finding relief by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.

If her friends are sharing their fears with you, I would tend to believe them over her, in most cases. While in active addiction, we lie to our families to get what we need from them to survive, which is money to buy drugs or alcohol to quiet our screaming brains. I am sorry that your parents do not understand this disease and that they are partnering up with your daughter to support her addiction and a possible overdose. Chemical dependency impacts the entire family, and the entire family must “circle the wagons” to support a loved one in a healthy recovery. Until the whole family is in agreement, your daughter will seek out the weakest link to support her addiction.

You sound like you are healthy in your interactions with your daughter. I would continue to say, “I love you but will not support you in your addiction. I love you enough to let you hate me for this. I will support you in treatment only.”

I recommend you continue to participate in parent Al-Anon meetings. I also strongly encourage you to please seek professional support, just as you would for any other life-threatening illness. I’ve worked with many families long-distance to develop a plan and to find the words and the actions to make it work. Please give me a call at 916 539-4535 if you’d like my assistance. Or there are certainly many other capable family counselors/addiction specialists nationwide who could help guide you on this very tough journey.

I wish you well

Ricki Townsend

Board Certified Interventionist, Drug/Alcohol Counselor
NCAC1, CAS, RAS, Bri-1

 

Ask the Expert: Should I clean out my son’s bedroom while he is in detox?

bigstock-Yes-No-Maybe-Signpost-2866212 (2)Your Question: My son is 24 and living with us. He is about to complete a 4-5 day detox (his 1st and we hope last). Should we go into his room and clean it out? There are things he probably doesn’t want us to find/see. We want to be respectful of his privacy, but did he lose that privilege?

Photo of Ricki TownsendAnswer from Expert Ricki Townsend:  Before answering your question, I’d like to gently suggest that detox without treatment has very little chance for success. Supporting your son in recovery really calls for residential treatment, ideally for 90 days.  If you really want to help him and support his recovery, I hope you can find a way to line up residential treatment.

It’s critical to understand that detox followed by abstinence versus recovery are really different.  A detox only removes alcohol from the body and brain and creates a scaffold of abstinence, which gives the addict no insight at all into why he or she is using in the first place. In contrast, in recovery, we learn about the brain disease of chemical dependency, and we fill our tool boxes with education, wisdom, coping strategies and other tools to live in a healthy and insightful way. In recovery, addicts and alcoholics also connect with and find support from a community of like-minded people who want the same thing:  sustained recovery.

A 24-year- old addict really shouldn’t live at home. He is much more likely to reclaim his health in rehab or even transitional living (AKA “Half way houses”) while he learns more about recovery and regains healthy self-sufficiency and life skills.

You have every right to live in a drug-free home, and that includes making sure his bedroom is drug-free. If he becomes angry when you go through his room, please make sure he understands that he can choose to live in your home or not, but the price of admission is sobriety.

I’d also invite your family to find an Al-Anon meeting where you can get support and learn how to have good, strong boundaries. I wish you the best.

Ricki Townsend     

 

Ask the Expert: Should I even consider letting my son back in my house?

1179314_28920035 angry boyYOUR QUESTION: Our son has been growing with his infatuation with drugs over the last 3 years. I fear it is now at an addiction level. My son wouldn’t follow my house rules. He would often argue with me and steal from his sisters as well as me. He would do drugs in the house. I attempted to send him to boarding school in hopes the change of situation might offer him a different path if he chose it. He didn’t. He now has been living with his Dad ONLY for the last 7 months. My son denies any drug issue, but it is there. His father doesn’t want to seek help for him. Doesn’t want to do a forced rehab. I can see both sides… if he isn’t ready for help– it won’t take. But his dad wants to make him stay at my house again. Dad thought I was too structured and controlling AND he has let him come and go as he pleased. My son didn’t do well at all in school. He has a network of drug friends. Should I even consider letting him back into my house? I am looking to protect my daughters from this situation– NEVER MIND I HAVE A CHILD WITH CANCER– so I have been busy trying to get her well…. and she doesn’t need the added stress of a brother verbally abusing her mother and on drugs.

Photo of Ricki TownsendANSWER FROM EXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND: You didn’t mention your son’s age, and there are definitely different issues and legal obligations to consider if a child is a minor. My response assumes he is over 18.

Infatuation, discovering, experimenting: these are warning signs of dependence or addiction if they go past a month or two. As a colleague of mine explains, “If you are experimenting, you are going to know after the first couple of times if you like it or not. If it goes past this, then you are heading into addiction.” Addiction is not about a one-time event; it is about an ongoing love affair with intoxication. Three years into this, he is well beyond “experimenting.”

You mention “forced rehab,” and I’d like to point out that in most cases rehab IS forced because no one wants to go to treatment. They are forced by the courts, by families, by jobs. Once in treatment, a light bulb often goes on, and the addict/alcoholic realizes this is what they want, and they embrace the community of healing and the education of rehab. All of this happens because the brain is allowed to start the healing process. As the brain begins to heal, rehab often inspires people to change because if they  don’t, they will lose their jobs, their marriages, the friends, and their health, for starters. They aren’t forced; they have a choice at that point, and it becomes clear to them as their brains begin to heal.

As far as your daughter, she deserves your full attention because she is trying to get well and she needs your help. That being said, you may choose to require your son to drug test as a requirement of being in your life or your home. If he chooses to do drugs and tests dirty, then he is making a choice not to live with you.

You have the right to allow or not allow toxic people in your life. If your son is being abusive, then you can calmly let him know that he can’t come by until he changes his behavior. That is a good example of what I consider giving people a reason or incentive to change. You can find support for a healthy family by attending Al-Anon meetings. I also offer family counseling over the phone and have worked with many families across the nation. I wish you the best during this stressful time.

Ricki Townsend

Ask the Expert: How can I survive the sorrow of being cut out of my daughter’s life?

a mother's broken heartYOUR QUESTION: My daughter is an addict. She is 25 years old. She has been in detoxes twice for heroin addiction. The last one was 3 years ago. She was clean and sober for 9 months and doing very well living in a half way house for women, attending meetings and seeing her professional.

While in rehab she met a man 11 years her senior. She announced to me that after knowing him for 6 weeks that they were going to move in together. I did not agree with this for obvious reasons but there was no big argument….She totally cut me out of her life which is totally uncharacteristic for her.

Around two years ago, she slowly started to reconnect with me and told me that she started to drink again. I was not allowed in her apartment, and her boyfriend did not want to see me or speak to me. She became pregnant with the same man she met in rehab. She visited me on my birthday this August. We had a nice visit until her boyfriend demanded she come home immediately, and she fell to pieces. They fought on the phone… she left the next morning and I never saw or heard from her again. She has cut all of her family and friends out of her life. I am not sure if this is her doing because of her addiction and mental illness or if this is his taking control of her.

I have tried everything in my power to connect to her and she refuses. Out of desperation I have called the police the house they live in looks very unkempt on the outside and has all the shades drawn …with no baby furniture or sign of a baby.. (I have been by 3 times in a year; she lives 30 minutes from me) so this freaked me out. The police did a wellness check and all seemed to be fine. I called child protective services because I am worried that they may be doing drugs and that the baby maybe neglected….. There is not much they can do without evidence. I have no facts… I have no evidence…. and this is killing me… to the point of a nervous breakdown a few months ago….

I have a daughter and a granddaughter (whom I have never seen) and they are out there out there. I have never been an abusive parent and am not an addict myself. I just do not know what to do anymore…. the anxiety is terrible…. I do say the serenity prayer and have excellent professional help…. I used to go to Al-Anon but I found that it made me more depressed and that I cried even more….

I just feel so stuck in this horrible place…… I just want to reach out and grab the two of them but I can not… I feel just terrible…. the anxiety and the sadness is always there although I do have really good friends and am a lover of life…. a teacher, a student and a musician…. but some days I cannot love life cause what I love the most is cut off… out there somewhere…

How can I weather this? Some days I just cry……and miss her sooo much.

Photo of Ricki TownsendEXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND: What I saw in your email was largely a mom who is driven by grief. When we live with loved ones in addiction, it is so important for us to feel grief in a healthy way. I suggest you think about doing some work around your sorrow and the loss of dreams that you had for your daughter. The weddings, the grandchildren…whoever prepared us for this? Each day it seems as though our hearts are being rubbed with sandpaper. A grief counselor can help you deal with your deep pain.

You mentioned Al-Anon made you cry even more; possibly again this is a sign of deep grief. Did you have a sponsor? I hope you will try this again for at least 6 months, really going deep within the steps with a sponsor. We must honor those 3 c’s, they talk about in Al-Anon: You didn’t cause her behavior; you can’t control her life and decisions; you can’t cure her. Only she can make herself better, and only you can make yourself better.

In your email, again, all I see is a mom wanting the best for her daughter and herself. From your email, it sounds like you have done everything a mom could possibly do. Honestly, every one of my clients is simply doing what they feel will help the children and grandchildren. They say the just want the “best” for them. Sometimes, the “best” can just be sitting back and letting things unfold.

You mentioned you are seeing a therapist. Please continue this and possibly consider working with a grief counselor. I have some very good referrals I could email to you. I also work with families on a monthly basis over the phone. If you would like to email me, I would be glad to share how this is done. In your email, you stated your love of life. You now have some new steps to take in order to live every day with some joy and peace, and deepen your love of life. Work the twelve steps, work with a therapist or sponsor or a grief counselor like me…Just keep moving forward, one day at a time. You are welcome to email or call me to discuss this further at ccrtowns@aol.com, 916 539 4535.

Ricki Townsend, Board Certified Interventionist, Grief Counselor, Drug/Alcohol Counselor NCAC1, CAS, RAS, Bri-1

Ask the Expert: Should we continue to pay for our son’s methadone?

301883_8582 mother daughter walking on beachYOUR QUESTION: Our son is not using on the street and goes to a methadone clinic every day for his dose. For years we have spent all our money trying to get him to completely stop and are broke. Are we wrong to stop helping him with money? He works but doesn’t make enough. It’s at least $11.00 a day at the clinic. He feels he is not an addict because he goes to a clinic. I am so messed up on when to help or not to help.

Photo of Christy CrandellEXPERT CHRISTY CRANDELL: Is he getting counseling at the clinic? If so, ask to attend his next session with him so you can get some of your questions answered. Methadone can be a successful replacement therapy when used with counseling and tapered over time. Does your son seem to be moving forward with his life? Do you feel like you are working harder on his recovery than he is? The answers to those questions are a good indicator if you should continue to offer your support. In addition, I would recommend you find an Al-Anon meeting in your area where you can find additional support for yourself.

Best regards – Christy Crandell, Founder of Full Circle Treatment Center

Photo of Ricki TownsendEXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND: Your question is one I get asked often by clients, and my response is usually very simple: this is about you. How do you feel about paying out of your own pocket for Methadone? Have you googled what professionals think about Methadone, what it does and how it works? This information may help you make your own decisions about spending any more money on an addiction.

You may decide that you no longer want to spend your hard-earned money on his Methadone. If so, please communicate to him in a very short letter why you will be discontinuing this payment. Remind him in a respectful way that you have supported this approach so far, but now you are finished paying for it. If your son wants to continue relying on Methadone, then allow him his free will, and he can figure how to get it, such as with another part-time job. Otherwise, he will have to find a way to detox from it. I personally would want to give him two weeks to 30 days to take action and be free of your Methadone support.

Remember, in Al-Anon we learn that we didn’t cause, can’t control and can’t cure this disease. It is up to him.

Blessings – Ricki Townsend, Board Certified Interventionist, Drug/Alcohol Counselor, NCAC1, CAS, RAS, BRI-1

Ask the Expert: How can I support family members who are dealing with a child’s addiction?

Family DiseaseYOUR QUESTION: I just learned that my 37-year-old niece has been caught using drugs. I would like to know how I can support my sister-in-law, who is devastated. I don’t want to intrude, but I want her to know I am here for her. I don’t want to say the wrong things. Any suggestions for what I should or shouldn’t do or say?

Photo of Ricki TownsendEXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND: Your question reminds me of my own life when my own niece was on drugs a few years ago. I went to my sister and respectfully said, “I am here to support you. How can I support you?” Use the I messages, such as “I am concerned about you and want to support you in whatever way you need,” rather than “You should be doing this or doing that”. Be a good listener. Really try to hear how she is doing, and then respect and honor whatever she says. Maybe she wants phone support a few times a week, or maybe she wants some company at an Al-Anon meeting. Or maybe she just wants to be alone with her feelings. I know it is really tough to just stand by, but sometimes our family and friends need their space. If she says she wants no support, then I would encourage you to respect this, and find some Al-Anon meetings you can attend to learn about the disease of addiction. That way, when she is ready for help, you will have the tools and knowledge to support her. The best way to be a loving sister-in-law is to be with her wherever she is and to be empathetic to the feelings she has, no matter what they might be.

Photo of Christy CrandellEXPERT CHRISTY CRANDEL: “How fortunate for your sister in law to have such a loving and concerned family member. My best advice would be to just walk beside her without judgment and let her know you are there for her whether she wants to talk or just go to a movie and forget about it. It could be just the beginning of a long journey. You can also offer to attend an Al-Anon meeting with her if she feels like that would be something that would help her. She is lucky to have you in her life!”

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

1267396_90532399 muddy hill“Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That’s the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what’s left, that’s the part you have to make up as you go.”
-Katharine Weber

Ask the Expert: He’s a good kid with a bad criminal record…should I keep him out of college?

making the right decisions in recovery from substance abuseMy son is 20 years old and is in his sophomore year in college and I have come to learn today that he is an addict. He is a study in contradictions…graduated with honors from high school and arrested for felony drug charges. Starting quarterback of the high school football team the in jail for probation violations. When he went off to college 2 years ago he had an academic scholarship, a spot on the college football team, a car, a driver’ license and now he has lost it all. He got 2 DUI’s and is back in jail for smoking marijuana while on probation. As far as I know he does not do any other “hard” drugs but his treatment counselor and his probation officer are recommending long-term residential (12 months!) treatment. My heart would break to have to send him off and be able to see him for months. Do you think this kind of treatment would be best? He has a 3.0 GPA in college and I would hate to see him get off track with his education.

Photo of Christy CrandellEXPERT CHRISTY CRANDELL:

Sounds like a great kid with a very serious problem. My own son was given the same recommendation for inpatient treatment when I had him assessed at age 17 for a drug problem. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the advice and he ended up in prison for 13 years for crimes committed while trying to get more money to get more drugs – something I could never imagine he would do.

I know you are worried about his college completion but he is already off track with the choices he has been making in the last two years. The fact that he continued to use marijuana after having the DUI’s and being on probation is indicative of level of his addiction. Please listen to his treatment counselor as his life could depend on it.

Learn all you can about the disease of addiction and find some support for yourself as you begin this very difficult journey. A local Al-Anon group is a good place to start. Above all, do not despair – many people live an abundant life in recovery!

Photo of Ricki TownsendEXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND:

Thank you for submitting your questions. I know this is a difficult time and the decision you are asked to make seems impossible.

After reading over your question, I agree with exactly what has been recommended for him, and nothing less. He has already shown you he cannot continue in school. Failing more will only be a negative experience for him. His self esteem is already low, with all that he is going through. His whole life is ahead of him. Give him a chance to heal and get back on track, joining so many others who have gone back to school later in life and found great success.

Most importantly, taking a critical year off to get healthy will not derail his academics, but addiction will.

Your son’s accomplishments muddy the water and make it hard to see that he is already in deep trouble. First of all, you mentioned “hard drugs.” With two DUIs, he is already on the drug that is most likely –statistically- to kill him. And he may be on other drugs besides pot and alcohol: as one father said in a meeting, “If you think your child is on one drug, think again, and throw everything else in the mix. If f you think it’s only been a couple of years of substance abuse, then add about four more to that.” I could not have stated this better myself.

Two DUIs by the age of 20? And then you add that he is willing to risk jail for pot? Your son sounds like he is in the throes of addiction. Please remember addiction is a brain disease, a disease that is chemically driven by mood-altering substances including drugs and alcohol. He needs serious help.

For your son to change, you need to change, too. I encourage you to do two things.

1. See an addiction counselor or other therapist to help you work through our own fear, grief and pain.

2. Start going to a “parents” Al-Anon meeting to get ongoing support. There you will learn what other families are doing to help them through this difficult time.

Again, thank you for submitting your question, which will help other families who find themselves in a similar situation.