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Should I Pay for Recovering Addict Son's Counseling Sessions?

by Kathy
(Nashville, TN)

My 28 year old son is a recovering heroin addict. He came out of a 28 day rehab last June. His rehab counselor told my husband to watch for signs of impending relapse--such as not attending 12 Step meetings.

When our son came home he decided not not even begin attending AA or NA. His reasons were because he doesn't believe he has an alcohol problem, just a drug problem, and doesn't want to give up drinking.

In the seven months he's been home, he has never gotten drunk. He will drink a few beers a week. Since he refused AA and NA, my husband and I suggested he see a counselor. He agreed and has found the sessions very helpful. He was seeing the counselor once a week for the first few months, then twice a month, and now once a month.

He would like to see his counselor three or more times a week, but my husband and I can not afford the expense. Our son is not working, so we are completely funding these counseling sessions.

My question is about enabling. My husband and I have enabled our son over the years and are now realizing that we must stop. We are getting ready to talk to our son, have a contract written up, but we are not sure about the counseling sessions.

From my reading, we as enablers need to stop all flow of money to our son. I'm not sure if the counseling sessions would be considered enabling. I am irritated my son refuses AA or NA which would be free for him to utilize. He has relapsed twice in the seven months he's been home, so he definitely has lots more work to do on his recovery. If we stop paying for the counseling, then he will have no recovery work at all. Answer

There should be no negotiating from your son's side Kathy, in terms of how he wants to go about his recovery. Those who are serious and desperate enough about turning their lives around, do whatever it takes, even if it means AA or NA and working a 12-step program. It shouldn't be up to him to pick and choose what he feels like doing.

No doubt counseling is helpful ... but there is no way it will facilitate the kind of change and growth that comes from working a 12-step or another spiritual/personal development program properly. If anything it should be used as a tool/aid along with a proper recovery program ... not in place of it.

So by you letting your son effectively call the shots here - you are enabling him. Your message should be, you'll fund x number of counseling sessions/month, provided he actively works a program of recovery. And if it isn't the 12 steps, then there are others out there that are also helpful and work.

So putting together a written contract is definitely a good idea. But decide on a number of counseling sessions a month you can afford ... and then insist that if he wants you to fund those sessions, he's going to have to actively work a program of recovery as well.

You're on the right track, it's just a question of you being the one's putting in the necessary boundaries and expectations in place, rather than letting your son pick and choose doing what suits him.

Good Luck

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