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18 y.o. Son Stealing From Family, Possible Addiction. Kick Him Out?

My 18 y.o. son has a history of alcohol and marijuana use. I've never been sure if it was recreational and what would be average for a teenager or if it was something more serious.


Over the past 2+ years he has sold all of his own things for money, the family wii system and lately some of his sister's electronic items. He has taken family member's medications, change out of change jars, lied, has gotten fired from 2 jobs for too many absences and is now not consistently at work like he should be at his current job.

He has a DUI and is getting through the legal process of fines and classes for that. He has no car but did keep his driver's license. We help him get to and from work or let him use one of our cars. He seems to have stopped hanging out with alot of friends he was regularly with. That just abruptly seemed to happen.

He's not showing much respect at all for household rules or basic things like cleaning up after himself. He makes some decent money at his job but it's always gone from paycheck to paycheck and he has absolutely no new possessions. He's not putting gas in a car or paying any expenses besides some classes he's had to take. He doesn't even go buy the clothes or shoes he needs. He has nothing.

The family therapist I've been seeing is telling me to give him the option of a 30 day drug treatment program or move out, NOW. If he doesn't have anywhere to go she says we drop him off at a homeless shelter right then or give him a list of the ones in the area and let him go figure it out. She thinks in this way he'll hit rock bottom.

Right now he does not admit to stealing anything. I have enough proof to believe he did. He says he does not have a drug problem or any problem at all and we're the ones causing him stress and making him unhappy. I doubt he will agree to the treatment program.

How do I send my son out to live in a homeless shelter or on the street??? I'm not sure he has anywhere to go. How will he get to his job that he needs to pay for all of his legal stuff? I don't even have confirmation of a drug addiction or know what drug it is? I don't know how to do any of this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel sick to my stomach and just horrible.

Alcoholism-and-Drug-Addiction-Help.com Answer



Your family therapist is absolutely correct. Your son has to start being held accountable and forced to take responsibility for his life. And you do that by giving him the choice - professional help, or he's going to have to start fending for himself.

Kids don't just steal practically everything they can get their hands on for a recreational drug problem. Theft at that level is usually a sign of a serious drug addiction. And the fact that you're letting him do as he pleases, without having to contribute or help around the house means you're just further enabling the problem.

So it's time to get serious with your son. And you have to be firm, because that's ultimately the best way to help him. But do it from a place of love. Make it clear to your son that you love him and want the best for him - and that's why he's left you with not other option but to force him into making a decision ... professional treatment for his drug problem, or he's going to have to start taking care of himself.

Until your son learns the fact that he's entirely responsible for how his life turns out through the choices he makes, he's likely to continue down the path of self-destruction without any thought of the consequences.

That's why by making him realise that choosing to continue with his current lifestyle is going to come with some seriously unpleasant consequences, may make him re-evaluate the path he's chosen and take changing his life more seriously.

The sooner your son learns this lesson the better. Tough love isn't about wanting to hurt your son, but show him that his well-being is entirely in his hands. Because the key to a happy and successful life is taking TOTAL responsibility for where we are in our lives, and then making any changes we need to make if we're not happy with the way things stand. And teaching that is probably the biggest gift you can give anyone, including your son.

All the Best

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Try getting a ladder, bucket, cloth and a good quality window cleaning rubber blade. Get him to knock on doors asking people politely if they would like there windows cleaned, he will be apprehensive at first but once he realizes he can make money of his own back without upsetting his family he'll do it, it will build his self esteem and stop him from stealing hopefully - I was a thief and that's what my Mum did for me. I've not stole anything since.

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My son is 35 and has struggled with alcohol, cocaine and dabbled in heroin since he was 15. He has been to 2 rehabs in the past 5 years. I have seen progress like obtaining a G.E.D., obtaining permanent full time employment and having a good work record. However, within the last 2 months he has shown signs of deterioration. Missing work, blowing money, stealing from the family member that he was living with, sneaking vehicles and getting tickets for alcohol, ignoring bills and financial obligations. He shuts down and becomes angry when confronted about these things. The last straw was taking the family member's credit card and running up $150 worth of cab rides, alcohol, etc. We told him he had to leave...surrender his key. He has also taken her car while she was sleeping. Because this family member is very young...I feel for her safety and well being. He brings strangers into the house. I gave him a social service book with the name of a homeless shelter, who I talked with...so I know that he could get in immediately. They also have advocates for all the needs of the homeless, including addictions. He is my only son, so I'm hurting, but I know I had to do this for us all.

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To same situation
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I am the original poster. Did your son have anywhere to go when you made him leave? Where did he go? My son has no car, now he has no job so no money. I know he has to get out but how do I make him live in a homeless shelter or on the street?? I'm so scared! I'm not sure he has anyone that would take him in. I'm gathering information for a 30 day treatment program to offer as an option or he will have to just go. I think he'll be in denial and not own up or admit he needs help. His dad, his grandparents and i are preparing to confront him with these 2 options. I'm terrified and so worried. How did you get through this? How long was he out? I like the idea of the friend. I'm wondering if I could get one of my son's friends that he used to hang out with who has said he's worried about him to join our meeting when we confront him. Thanks for your reply. It helps to know it's not just us and others get through it.

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same situation
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As I was reading your column it felt like you were talking about my son. Throwing him on to the street was the hardest thing I ever did and it broke my heart but it was the best thing I did for him. I told him we love him and want whats best for him so I you cant live here anymore. at first he didnt take it serious but I packed his bags and told him about group homes or even contact social services to help find him a place but if he wants to continue the drug abuse and stealing he is no longer welcome in our home. I told him when he is ready to turn his life around and wants help for his drug addiction we will be there for him. I reassured him we love him and always be there for him but he cant live with us for we are not just sitting and watching him destroy his life. We even had one of his friends tell him if keeps the drug abuse up he will no longer be able to keep being his friend. His eyes opened quickly, he admitted right away about his drug addiction and he wants to stop. Its been 2 weeks now since he stopped and we see the difference in him already, he got 2 goals at his last hockey game and 90 on his last test. We praise him up and so does his friend. He is starting to feel good about himself again. I am not saying he wont go back to his drug use sometime but at least I know I am trying to help him....notjust sitting there watching the drugs takeoverhis life. Throwing him out was the best thing we did, I know it sounds terrible and I struggled with myselfto do this but I knew something had to change. Good luck

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