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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5824
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My 21 year old son has been drinking, smoking pot, taking

Customer Question

My 21 year old son has been drinking, smoking pot, taking ecstasy and using cocaine for years now. He had anxiety issues and went to the hospital 6 times in the past four months, usually after heavy drinking or drug use, because he says he can't breathe, shakes and feels weak. We brought him home from college because he was calling us every other day in the middle of the night saying he felt really sick. I looked on his phone and the weekly food money we were sending him was being used to buy drugs. I told him he needed to go to rehab and he rolled his eyes. How do I really help him?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is very difficult to help someone who uses and is not interested in becoming sober. Your son's response to you suggesting he gets help is very normal, however. When someone uses and is in denial that they have a problem, they will use all their defenses to resist any suggestion or request they get help. They feel they have it all under control, when in fact they do not.

The first step is to talk with other family members about what you would all like to do about your son's use. When you work together, you have a better chance of helping your son. One suggestion is to tell your son that you want him to get help. Be ready to provide options for him such as inpatient treatment programs and therapist resources.

If he still refuses, talk with your family about doing an intervention. An intervention, with the help of an intervention specialist or a therapist, is when those who care about your son, such as family and friends, all meet together with your son and confront him about his use. This is helpful in breaking through the denial that most addicts have that prevents them from seeing they need help. Here is a link to help you understand intervention better:

Also, consider contacting Al non and Narcotics Anonymous to get help for your family. The more support you all have, the better you are able to cope with your son's problem.

Set rules for your son and stick to them. If he is staying at home with you, then tell him he needs to complete chores and find a job. Stop giving him money or go out and buy what he needs instead of just letting him have cash. Letting him have money just keeps him in the abuse cycle.

Learn what you can about drug and alcohol abuse. The more you know, the better you can deal with your son's addiction. Here are some resources to help you get started:

Stay Close: A Mother's Story of Her Son's Addiction by Libby Cataldi

Addict In The Family: Stories of Loss, Hope, and Recovery. by Beverly Conyers

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this helps you,

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I wanted to add the links for Al Non and Narcotics Anonymous for you:

Let me know if you have any more questions,


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