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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
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We have a 40 year old son living with us addicted to prescription

Customer Question

We have a 40 year old son living with us addicted to prescription drugs. We have sent him to treatment it did not work. He has no health insurance. The insurance ran out. We know the condition he is in if we evict him it could mean his life. We don't know what to do
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue. You assume that if you evicted him, "it could mean his life". Well it could, but probably, he might just as easily overdose some day living in your home as elsewhere. So on average, I would say that parents are too fearful about the consequences of setting firm limits and evicting their child; one can evict them with the understanding that they can come back home if they are in an outpatient program or attending NA regularly (which of course if completely free). The truth is, you son doesn't sound like he is ready to face having to live a live completely free of his drugs. he harbors the belief that he can cut back, or somehow arrange his life so that if he 'needed to', he could still use and function---he simply hasn't figured out how to do this yet, but wants to persist in trying to do so. This is a complete fallacy of course. What you might want to do is evict him to a shelter that is affiliated with the salvation army or other treatment program. Granted, he has no insurance, but there are heavily subsidized treatment programs in most cities that can take him if he is motivated. Your message to him must be: 1) you can only be in our home if you are in treatment. Period; 2) if you want to come back home, you need to prove to us that you are in treatment, and agree to go get urine screens whenever we ask you to; if you don't want to do this, you don't need to live here, of course; 3) we need to see copies of job applications you put in each day---we expect 3-4 applications; you can print off copies of the .pdf file records you make, if you apply online, or photocopies of any paper applications. Again, you DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS if you don't want to, but you simply can't live here. We must be guaranteed that you are clean if you live in our home; you put our home at risk with the authorities if you are using drugs or have any drugs in our home at any time; but we cannot accept your promises that you wont' have drugs and threaten our property ownership, so we have to have regular, clean urine screen results on a random basis; 4) you simply haven't come to fully accept that you absolutely must figure out how to live a drug-free life; we think you continue to believe you can have drugs to 'fall back on' if you are clean for a time and have to face excessive stress. But this emotional crutch for coping has to disappear completely from your life. So this is why we think you haven't been able to get clean and stay clean--deep down inside, you really don't believe you MUST do this. 5) If you don't want to comply with the above, you should go to a shelter for a time and maybe talk to a counselor there, or at the Salvation Army, or go to an NA meeting and ask for some help about how you get started again with abstinence; once you are abstinence and can produce a few clean urine screens, and are attending NA meetings again, you can come back home.

Now, this is one hypothetical approach. Notice that it doesn't 'toss the guy out' with no hope. It makes it clear that he can be at home with you BUT he has to do it your way, not his way. He has insisted on living in your home on his terms, not yours. So the rules have to change. What do you think?

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