How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Mark Your Own Question
Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Dr. Mark is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My family is falling apart. I am a grandmother married 48 yrs.

This answer was rated:

My family is falling apart. I am a grandmother married 48 yrs. and my daughter with 4 young children moved in with us over a yr. ago. She has 6 children. We discovered that our oldest grandson age 19 is on drugs after going through a drug treatment program 2 yrs. ago. Pills then but am afraid it is much worse now...possibly heroine. He stays away......has a girlfriend also on a sweet kid and struggled all his life in school diagnosed dylexic but did graduate. Just left where he is living with his older sister and he is in bed so didn't see him. I AM SICK WITH WORRY. WHAT SHOULD I DO??? I DON'T WANT TO DO NOTHING YET I DON"T KNOW WHERE TO TURN. If anyone can tell me what to do PLEASE!!!
Carole Pixler

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how worrisome this situation must be for you. You are clearly a very loving and caring grandmother. You and your husband are now facing a potential tragedy with your grandson and you know it. I am so sorry this is happening. There are so many influences in kids' lives today and the opportunities to go headlong into life destroying addictions is so readily available now.

So let's see what we can do to help your grandson who you love so much. I'm going to give you the most open, frank, and honest answer I can. You are clearly intelligent and caring enough to handle what we are going to be talking about here. But it's a lot, so please know that I am only being thins honest because drug addiction takes hold of a young person and doesn't let go easily at all. So easy answers don't work.

The first thing I think you already know within yourself. When it comes to addictions, you can't HELP someone see the road to getting better. They have to be willing to open their eyes to look inwards, toward themselves. If he's not ready to do that, you can shout from the top of the tallest building and it won't matter a bit against the needle or any pill he's popping that is running his life. BUT, if you don't take the attitude that you're helping him (he'll run the other way) but instead take the attitude

that you love him, care about him, and want to let him see what you see and then decide for himself, you've got a breath of a chance! But not more.

So first, I need you to contact Nar Anon. that's the part of of Narcotics Anonymous for families. You need the support for yourself and you need to learn the SKILLS for how to help him and not just ENABLE him to keep using drugs and live on the edge. Here's the address for finding a meeting. Not all meetings are the same. So if you don't like the first meeting, go to a different one. And if there isn't one near you, ask them how to find an Al Anon meeting. Even though he is not drinking but using drugs, the principles are the same.

Because he is still trying to pretend, we have to take this next step. You need to take him to Starbucks when it's not busy or some other neutral place you can have a quiet chat with no one listening. Neutral is critical! Okay.

Next, you have with you this checklist from Narcotics Anonymous with you and a pencil.

Read it over now and you'll get the idea. It's about as complete as you will get from anywhere! The point?

YOU are not arguing with him about whether he is addicted to heroin or anything else or not or if there's a difference between recreational use and addiction. YOU are telling him that you love him, you care for him, and you are worried because whatever it's called, it scares you that you are seeing him DEPENDENT on this drug.

Next, let's role play: "Oh, you don't think you ARE dependent? I've done this checklist thinking of you, and I think you do qualify. And I care about you enough to want you to do the checklist with me. Will you do it with me?"

I hope you get the picture of what the discussion needs to look like. I need you to be free form with it and not frozen into my words and progression. You don't know what he's going to say, but be honest, sincere, and honest again. He can take the form with him.

Next, have ready phone numbers given to you by the contact people at Narcotics Anonymous in your area. Here's the meeting locater:

You finish by telling him you love him and you want him to know that you were once his age. That you're not any longer. That you want him to consider the fact that one day he's going to be your age. What does he want that to look like when he's your age? It won't happen on its own. He will make what he looks like at your age. If he wants to look like a burnt out trashed user, what's that going to be like? You're concerned...

Okay. That's your chance to help. Pretty dramatic, but NA is his best chance. They are everywhere because they are the best chance anyone has. I am a psychologist telling you this!

Now comes something that you also know that is hard for me to write because you're a good person:

More than this you must not enable him to keep using drugs. You can write nice letters. But that's all. Do NOT offer help. As long as he is using he cannot be enabled. So, you can hope and pray and that's it; most anything else is not constructive. He has to sink to wherever he needs to sink before he can pull himself up. Enabling him with money, shelter, etc. just sabotages his process of pulling himSELF up. You took the truck away. Good. Not even smaller things, though, are allowed. Discuss this at your Nar Anon meeting.

So there you have it. I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Mark and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I want to thank you for your reply! I know in my heart that you are definitely correct. His mother has told me the same thing but as his grandmother I still see my little blonde boy running up the walk and not the "user" he has become. He has alot of potential but only he can make the decision to do something with his life and I thank you for pointing that out to me. I will look up the sites you gave me and follow you advice and let you know how it goes. I must do "something" even if it only helps me.


Thank you, Carole PIxler

Carole, Two things:

First of all, please write and do let me know how things go. It means a lot to me when people do that.

Second, please don't underestimate the power of prayer for someone else. To pray for the goodness of someone else to come back out of hiding deep within and no longer be covered up by a horrible drug addiction. Your desire for goodness for him is an important role to fill as well. Don't give up. But don't enable!

All the best to you, Dr. Mark