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My 19 yr Old Son Has a Substance Abuse Problem: Should I Kick Him Out?

by ellen
(costa mesa, ca)

My son has a substance abuse problem. We sent him to wilderness and then for a year to a program in Samoa. When he returned we enrolled him in community college after a 3 month treatment program followed by sober living house.

He actually ended up getting worse in sober living and failed all of his classes. He claims that he got into more drugs there and needed to come home. He showed up on our doorstep and we took him back in.

He is still smoking weed and maybe doing more??? He drank all the alcohol in our house (stole it) and does not want to go to military or conservation corp. He doesn't follow-through on looking for work and hangs out with the same high school buddies that use drugs.

We keep threatening to kick him out. If so, should we give him any money. He has an account we haven't allowed him to access. We know he is going to have to go, but how do we do this humanly?


Hi Ellen

The only was to approach this is in a totally calm and honest manner. Anger and disappointment won't help, but only speaking with absolute truth and love.

Tell him you love him, but are not prepared to have him living at home while he's using drugs or alcohol. He's an adult now so needs to start becoming responsible for the choices he makes, and as his parents you're not facilitating that, because you're just giving him a free ride by allowing him to stay at home. In fact you're enabling him and making it easy for him to continue with his current self-destructive lifetsyle.

So if he wants to continue with his alcohol and drug abuse he's going to have to do it at his own expense and from his own place. You want to make it clear that you totally oppose his addictive tendencies and can therefore no longer have him living at home while he keeps on with the way he is.

Once he's ready to change and truly committed to turning his life around by engaging in an addiction recovery program - you'll support him 100% - but until that point he's on his own.

That all gives you an idea of what to say - but I think the key is in how you say it. If you do it in a calm, authoritative way and don't get angry or upset, the message is likely to hit home harder.

And giving him money is not a a good idea - because he's just going to blow it on drugs and alcohol. He now needs to learn how to take care of himself and become fully accountable for his actions - and understand what the consequences of his current habits entail.

Unfortunately there is no easy way to do this. Never shut the door on him and make it clear that if he gets clean and sober, you'll welcome him with open arms, so the choice of what he now wants to do with his life is entirely in his hands.

Good Luck and God Bless

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