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Drugs:
“My son's problems are killing my family.”

Dear Annie,

My son just moved back home after a year of being on his own. He's been involved with drugs, drinking, and hasn't held a job. I fear mental illness, or maybe it's just the drugs, because he used to threaten suicide. We've had him locked up for 72 hr. hold, and he "played the game," said all the right things, and is out. He's home again, and I can't get him to hold a job, help around the house, or keep him from lying and stealing around here. Since he's over 18, I can't get him to go for the help that I think he needs, and I don't want to send him out, for fear that he'll get back to the drugs. How do I get him to grow up and accept responsibility?

He was a decent kid, who graduated from High school, and just seemed to fall apart after leaving home. Please give me some advice, I'm at wits end, and the stress is killing my family.

Worried Sick

Dear Worried Sick,

My heart goes out to you and your family. This is a very sad and problematic situation but it's not hopeless. Your son needs to be in treatment and yet, as you say, he's an adult so you can't force him. But without treatment he probably won't turn his life around. By letting him hang out at home, without a job or any responsibilities, you're enabling him to continue in this lifestyle. It's quite likely that he's still using.

Even though you love him and can rationalize the wisdom of having him under your roof, you are simply not helping him face his problems and deal with them as an adult.

My suggestion is that you do some research and find a highly regarded drug and alcohol rehab facility in your area. (If you need a referral, get one from a family therapist or your physician or your county department of Health.) Check out the programs and talk to the staff about your questions and concerns. Get their input about how to stage an intervention with the whole family expressing their love and support for your son. Hopefully, with a treatment center set up to receive him, and the love of the family, you can all come together and get your son to agree that he needs help.

I wish you well.

In friendship,

Annie

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