Janet A. asks: Our 37-year-old son began smoking pot in his teens but is now using dangerous drugs like fentanyl on a daily basis. My husband and I have been trying to get him to stop, probably enabling him, but we’re not on the same page in the ways we think we should help him, and nothing is working. His brother and sisters are very worried too. Help?
I’m so glad you wrote to me about this. You’ve mentioned some really important things in your short question – thank you for that.
First of all, you’ve given us a great example of how addiction is a ‘progressive’ condition: it doesn’t just get better on its own, but rather continues to get worse and worse until there is some skilled help to deal with it. Your son began using pot in his teens and over the years that has progressed to substances that could actually kill him. I can totally understand why you and the rest of your family would be worried about this.
You also said that you and your husband have probably been enabling your son – and when we think we might be enabling (as opposed to practicing helping behaviours), we likely are. It would be good to find out how you’ve been enabling him so that you can both stop that cycle, because all enabling does is contribute to keeping an addict stuck in addiction.
And your concern that you and your husband are not on the same page is a dynamic that many families experience when they are grappling with the addiction of someone they love – especially a child. I understand that your ‘child’ is an adult now, chronologically, but when people are in active addiction they often behave like they are children – and parents often disagree about how to deal with this, for a variety of reasons. But when parents give their kids mixed messages, they just confuse a situation that is already fraught with chaos and sometimes danger. It sounds as if this is what you and your husband are experiencing – and recovery from all of this IS possible.
It’s important to remember that you are both having a very difficult time with this. With some help, you can both learn how to speak your truth to each other clearly and find mutual solutions. Once you are able to do that, it will be a lot easier for you to set clear and appropriate boundaries with your son – and also teach his siblings how to do the same so that his whole family is united and coming from the most loving place possible. Your son is using very dangerous substances, so time is of the essence. At Love With Boundaries, we work with families just like yours. We offer a free 30-minute consultation, where you can tell us more about what’s happening for you and let you know more about how we can help you. When people are interested in having this consultation with us, all they have to do is fill out a short Questionnaire and we will get back to you right away to set up a time to talk. Here is the link.
We will look forward to hearing from you.
All my best,