SERIOUS Son Issue, or, Can There Be A Happy Ending Here?

Dear Doper Folks, I know I have harped in the past regarding my job, which is almost a non-issue now (10 weeks until I leave this job and this town!), but I have an even more pressing, serious, positively frightening issue to confront these days. I was hoping to get some advice, although I am so ashamed of this turn of events that I’ve never mentioned it before here, and none of my close friends know the extent of it. Please be honest with me, even if it’s painful, ok?

I have a 19-year-old son who is literally terrorizing me. He is admittedly taking every form of amphetamine he can get his hands on (illegally of course) and as a result, has a severe case of amphetamine-induced psychosis. He stopped seeing his counselor when he was diagnosed & was frankly told by the counselor that he MUST eliminate the drugs to eliminate the psychosis. He is completely, absolutely and without exception NOT going to stop his behaviors on his own, as he does not want to, in the slightest.

Living with him is unbearable. He goes on lengthy, incoherent rants that he is being watched by the FBI & other governmental enforcement folks. He stays up all night, or even for days on end with lights on, music blaring, or TV full-blast, then sleeps for days on end. He’s lost 2 jobs in the past two years, does not currently work, has not worked for 6 months, and will not seek employment. He blames me endlessly for the “genes” that are making him insane, and is in my face often (I work 3 jobs so I cannot be around as much as he’d like, to blame and accuse) about what a terrible job I have done raising him, which caused him to take amphetamines in the first place. He eats everything he can lay his hands on and then complains that I don’t stock the kitchen well enough for him (you would not believe my grocery bills, literally causing me to have had to take the 3rd job!). He smokes, and flies into deep rages if I don’t keep him supplied with tobacco (I buy it in bulk bags and buy him filtered cigarette tubes to make his own). But even this is not the worst:

I have a younger son, who will be 16 in April. This child has been through an emotional upheaval in trying to deal with his brother, and his poor soul is wrung with pity and fear for his brother. MOSTLY they get along great, but only because young son makes every attempt to keep the peace. Young son has no addictions, but I do know in my heart every moment of the day that he suffers greatly from his brother’s illness, and it is a priority for me to get him out of the house as often as possible, and very soon, permanently. I am far more concerned about young son’s health than I am about myself, or older son.

So—young son and I are moving in May. Older son is ONLY invited on the condition that he checks himself into a treatment facility and goes thru their program prior to being allowed to live with us again, and this is as much the wish of my SO (with whom we are moving in) as it is my wish. Older son steadfastly refuses and accuses me of abandonment (tho he is fully an adult, his illness is MY fault, so I am abandoning him in his illness and addiction–his view, of course).

We are 10 weeks out from the move. Everything is in place except older son, who is continuing his abberant and abusive behaviors, thinking that I wouldn’t REALLY leave him behind. Everyone I speak to in a professional capacity about this (my doctor, health professionals, Al-Anon, National Drug Hotline, two lawyers) has advised me to leave him to fend for himself, even if it means the streets (he owns a car, an old vehicle but in great shape, and he may end up living in that, tho that sickens me). Anything else is “enabling”, and will not help him overcome, in the slightest.

I have agreed to stick to my guns about treatment and leave him. I believe he must reach rock bottom before he will even think about climbing out. I know I do him no good to provide him with food, tobacco and a place to act upon all his addictions. But mostly I know that I am not going to subject young son to this for any longer than I have to.

But it HURTS. It hurts my younger son too, he is anxious about what will happen to his older brother, tho he understands the reasoning and clearly sees why this decision had to be made. He lashes out at me on occasion for it, however, but I don’t take it too personally, except to feel awful that I have put him in the situation to have to feel anger.

How in hell do I ever reconcile this with my own emotions & my younger son’s feelings and break even?

Can this parent-sons-brothers relationship be SAVED?

Is leaving older son behind the best I can do under the circumstances? He is borderline violent about being taken to task for his addiction, and I cannot DRAG him to treatment myself as he is larger than me all around. I AM heartily sick of the abuse from him as well, & while I understand why it is happening, it is just dismaying to me to live with it.

Thanks for listening,

That sounds so awful, my heart goes out to you and all your family. I haven’t had to go through what you are going through now, but I know of other situations that are somewhat similar to yours, and believe me, you are doing the right thing by leaving the older one behind. You have to save your other son and your own sanity and happiness. I hope you can hold on for the next 10 weeks. You could call 911 and have him brought to the hospital, if it comes to that. And then don’t accept him back into your home when they try to discharge him. They will have to find some kind of placement for him. Just hope that he will wake up and get straightened out one way or another. His living with you is not going to help him or anyone else.

Please talk it over with someone who has been there.

link to Montana Alanon groups, although you may already have this

Are you and your younger son in counselling or going to Al-Anon or something like that to help you deal with all your conflicting emotions regarding your son/brother? This is some heavy shit to deal with - you can’t make your son do anything, he may fall a long way yet before he decides to get himself together, and it sounds like he’ll try to drag you with him all the way, but he’s still your son.

Here’s one way to look at this situation; by not putting your foot down and kicking older son out, you are basically condoning his actions and living the way he is. I’m sure that isn’t the message you want him to get; what he’s doing is in no way okay. And you still need to protect your 16 year old, even if it is his brother you’re protecting him from. Living with an abusive drug addict is no life for a 16 year old (or you, either).

If he doesn’t agree to accept treatment and follow through, I really don’t see that you have a choice other than to do what your doing. You really do need to stick to your guns and not bring him with you while he’s still using. Best of luck to you and my heart really goes out to you and your other son. Maybe this will be the wake-up call that he needs. You and your other son can’t be held hostage by his addiction like this. Supporting him so far hasn’t helped and it can really get worse.

We had a neighbor with a boy like this and one day when they came home from work their entire house was empty. He apparently owed money and gave them the keys to the house. I’m sure your sons friends are pretty much like he is and frankly that sounds dangerous to me.

I don’t have much advice, but all my sympathies. But I will tell you most likely if you continue enabling him it will happen all his life. I have an aunt who still comes to her two elder sisters for money and handouts - and she’s well into her 50s. And then she disappears from their lives, leaving chaos and bills behind. it’s their fault, too, for letting it happen.

I wish you best of luck. Please keep us posted.

Just to address the happy ending part. My brother was in a similar situation at about your son’s age. It did take more than one in-patient treatment, serious involvement with AA for a long time, and being kicked out to fend for himself. (I think my parents did help him get a job while he was in a half-way house situation for a while.)

He ended up going into the Army and has made a career out of it. It hasn’t been easy and he’s been deployed a number of times, but he is a successful person and clean and sober today at the age of 43 after being addicted to multiple substances starting in his early teens and going through his early 20’s.

I think the early years have prevented us from being as close as we otherwise might have been, but he’s certainly reconciled with the family and I’d trust him with my kids any time.

Thanks for the responses so far. I am attending Al-Anon, when I have time for meetings, and I spend as much time on the phone to the National Drug Hotline, who’ll listen to you if you need it, as I can afford as well. Younger son does not want to go to Al-Anon, he feels embarrassed about this situation, and he is a painfully shy child anyway, never comfortable in groups. I simply try to get him out of the house as much as I can (he has some great friends, thankfully).

The only reason we have 10 weeks left to wait is that younger son begged me to allow him to finish this year of high school without interruption. We are literally leaving town the weekend after his last day of school. I wonder sometimes if young son had known how bad older son was going to get with his behaviors, he might have changed his mind about the wait. We haven’t discussed that, & now it is so close to the end of the school year that I guess we’ve both resigned ourselves to living with the circumstances until May.

Wow, you guys don’t know what a load off it was to write this whole thing out! Really emotionally good for me. My doctor recommends a journal too, but there’s something about being able to get feedback that makes this feel so much better. Thanks, with tears in my eyes.

I am so sorry. Sorry for every time he has screamed at you, manipulated you and made you feel guilty for trying to do the best you can for your child.

You have to realize that he is his own person and the choices he is making are his own to make. You need to protect your son that needs protecting, and that is the 16 year old. How good of a mother can you be to your other son if you are working 3 jobs to support and avoid your older son?

Get the hell out. You have to realize a few things can happen. You can continue to be abused by him and he can continue using. You can stop the abuse you get and he can continue using. He can decide to stop using or basically, he can continue to use and have no one else to blame but himself, even though that probably won’t be the case, he will still blame you.

The road he is leading down could very well lead to his death. You need to accept that. If he wants help, get him the help he needs. Treatment. Not money, not rent, not food.

You sound like you have talked to all the right people. Have you listened to them?

Can there be a happy ending? Depends, do you want one enough to do what it will take to make you happy? Have you come to grips that as a parent, it isn’t your job to make your children happy? Why are you sacrificing your other child, your SO and yourself for a drug addicts happiness?

My totally non-expert opinion. Yes, there can be a happy ending here. But that happy ending is unlikely to appear in the next 10 weeks, or even the next 6 months.

A happy ending may not even be recognizable when it occurs, but will be apparent in retrospect. (Ever read one of those periodic threads about quitting drugs, alcohol or smoking where someone writes their name and how long they’ve been “clean” “dry” or “smoke-free”? Those people have happy endings between themselves and their drugs of choice).

I think you need to get counseling for yourself and your younger son, and move without taking older son with you. And that’s as far along the advice line as I’m prepared to go.

My sincere best wishes for you to have a happy ending.

Wow, that was pretty harsh. Did you read her post? She attends meeting and spoke with people and she’s moving to stop the situation.

I don’t know about an eventual happy ending, Becks, but I do know that you are moving into a dangerous time, having a psychotic son whom you are leaving behind who knows it and who resents it.

Please be very watchful and clear-eyed about his behaviors and if you feel at all threatened or unsafe, call the police or sheriff at once. This is not the time to be giving your older son the benefit of the doubt if he is acting erratic or threatening.

The future will work out however it will but for now you must see to your own personal safety and that of your younger son.

My husband is a year and a half clean from drugs. You can not rationalize with someone who is on drugs. My husband did things while he was using that are absolutely contrary to the person that he is. Now he looks back and can’t believe the things he did. (Example: Ask for money for diapers to use for drugs) If you need someone to yell at, talk to or whatever, please feel free to contact me. I am also the gal that turned her brother into the police to send his ass to prison while he was on drugs. I’ve been around the block.

I did not mean it to be harsh at all. It is not uncommon for people who are being emotionally manipulated to tell themselves that their situation is different, it’s not like that, you don’t understand him and what not. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is actually LISTEN to what people who have some distance have to say.

I hear her struggling with her decisions to do what others feel are right, that shows me that she may know what the right thing is, but her thinking is probably clouded by her love for her son.

I also know that a son of a bitching drug addicted asshole who is running her goddamn life and making her every fucking waking moment filled with dread probably doesn’t deserve all the heartache his mother has felt for his own well being. I want to cry for her. I want to hold her hand and say that everything will be ok. I’ve been there. It freakin’ sucks. It also sucks when you have to walk on eggshells because you might be the straw that broke the addicts back. She is carrying a hell of a heavy load. I hope she finds the path out.

It’s a long, long freakin’ road, no matter what she does.

I wish I had better advice, but the best advice has been posted already. You are already talking to and listening to the right people. I don’t know what it is about your post that leaves me with this nagging fear for your safety though. Is there any chance he could become violent/desperate come moving day? Could he be a threat to you and your youngest? Short of having a sherriff’s deputy there on moving day, I’m not sure about how you’d keep yourself safe during this. We all want you and yours safe and for you to keep posting.

Please be careful…

You don’t have a right to have law enforcement present but you can certainly request that, if you feel violence may become an issue. They may tell you that they can’t send a deputy out to stand around but they may be willing to have a car drive by periodically. In any event, if you have notified them of a potential situation in advance, they will be better prepared for your call in the unlikely event you do have to call them.

If you feel this might be a problem on moving day, it probably would be worth you while to lay some groundwork with local law enforcement. If you’re in the city that would be the police department; if you’re outside the city limits it would be the sheriff’s office.

I’ve already thought out the moving day scenario, and not only will my SO be there with me that week, but I will not hesitate to call 911 if anything untoward occurs. I would do the same thing now if push came to shove in a real sense. I won’t stand for seeing my younger son physically hurt, or having hurt inflicted upon myself. It may in all likelyhood come to this, I accept that and actually feel it might be for the best if I do call 911 and have him taken to psychiatric lockup. At least he’d have three or four chemical-free days (altho there would be other drugs given, in the hospital).

Everyone says this, but it’s that sense of “this cannot be happening to me” that stalls my brain. Auntbeast is right. I know the reality, I have lived with it, I have tried to “love” my way thru it, I have tried self-blame and self-help, and this is far beyond all of it. I don’t mind the “reality slap”. I need to keep that perspective very much in mind as things come to a finality here.

I am full to overflowing with pity and sorrow. But I also need a realistic plan, and some realistic notions of “what could happen”.

Man, that’s hard. I mean, if this guy was anyone other than your flesh and blood, it’s a no-brainer - get the hell out as fast as you can. Being a young male, that was my first reaction to your OP - I can hardly imagine the bond between mother and son. But I do know what a strong bond that is, no matter what happens, and I can see how it makes this situation so… hard. You have all my sympathy, and I can only echo others’ advice - you have to be cruel to be kind (I know it’s a cliche, but it’s so apposite in this case). And don’t hesitate to dial 911 if you feel threatened.

Just to provide another happy ending story: my brother (step-brother, technically, though we’ve been family since I was two) went down much the same path, with the same blame on his mother. He raped me repeatedly when I was a kid, and when finally confronted about it, he stole my father’s car and drove away, not to be heard from for several years. He spent some time, as I understand it, basically turning tricks for crack on the street. And despite all that, he’s pulled his act together and is once again a mostly functioning human being with a marriage, two gorgeous girls and has come back into our family. He contacted me two years ago and we resolved our differences after he took and then paid for me to take some courses through Landmark Education (note: I don’t recommend Landmark for your older son right now. It’s not for the currently psychotic or drug abusers. It might, however, be good for you and for your younger son. You can google and find their homepage.)

Anyhow, we’re finally back to being all together at holidays and it’s actually drama free. So yes, it can happen. But it won’t happen as long as you’re around for him to blame for everything. He needs to take responsibility for himself, and he can’t do that while you’re shopping for him and keeping a roof over his head. He needs to learn what it feels like to be strong and responsible and capable, and right now he can’t do that because you’re (out of love, absolutely I get that) treating him like a 4 year old. (Because, of course, he’s acting like a 4 year old.)

When I was younger, I got an apartment with my best friend from high school a (I thought) recovered heroin addict. After a bit, it was obvious she was still using, and I moved out and left her. She hated me at the time, of course, but later on told me that my leaving was her wake up call. “All those years, you stuck by me when everyone else left,” she said, “and so when *you *left, I knew it was bad.” Once I stopped paying rent and watching her baby while she suffered through the shakes, she simply had to do it herself. It took her a little while to really hit bottom, it wasn’t instantaneous, but my leaving was a big part of it. Only after she hit her definition of bottom - not mine, not her mother’s, not her parole officer’s - was she able to get better.

I am so sorry this is happening to you and your sons.

Please, please be careful. Once it sinks in to Older Son’s head that you really are going to leave him, he may very well snap. Speed freaks often have no conscience left and I know of crack and speed freaks who have done some horrible things for money for their next fix.

Yes, you have to leave him. I know it sucks, and I know it hurts, but for your sake and the sake of your younger son you have no choice. Older Son will not get better the way things are going now - and may even get worse. Your decision to leave is very painful, but it is the right one.

The upside is that this may be the wake-up call Older Son needs. It may take reaching rock bottom for it to happen, but it is much more likely to happen without you feeding him and providing for his needs - and tolerating his abuse. I hope he does decide to clean up his act.
Keep us posted - you know that all of us are going to be concerned if we don’t hear from you!

Another poster has gone through somewhat similar (definitely not identical) issues with her oldest daughter. You might want to get in touch with norinew and see if she has ideas for you.