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Helping other people to help themselves

answered 03:02 PM EST, Mon August 13, 2012
anonymous anonymous
Hello Ms. Edwards,

I apologize that this message is so long. But I will try to summarize the best I can.
I have a 24 yr old son, who we've been trying to help for the last 10 years with his mental health issues and addiction problem.

My husband and I have never had drug/alcohol addiction, however my dad and my grandfather have been alcoholics.

My son's problem started when his older brother (who had an opiate addiction) relapsed and tragically died of an overdose at the young age of 20. Our remaining son who at the time was 14 spiraled into a deep depression and debilitating anxiety kicked in shortly after (prior to this, we did notice that he had anxiety issues, but exaserbated). He isolated himself and threw himself into an online game that he used to cope. He would stay up all through the night playing and would have little communication with anyone. Despite our efforts of counseling, drug therapy prescribed by a psychiatrist, SPECT scan by the Amen Clinic, (which showed that he had anxiety disorder and mood disorder) etc. nothing seemed to work. He would have out of control rage and take it out on my husband and I.

After a 1 1/2 years of this he went back to school, but when he did he started using alcohol first and then it turned into other drugs. He eventually was arrested at the age of 18 for posession of ecstasy and stolen property. He was ordered to a 6 month program, which he did and seemed to be doing better once he was out. Unfortunately, he soon got back into the drug scene and started using opiates.

He has been on suboxone, which he has weaned himself off of just recently. He is sober now, but his addictive behavior goes into other areas of his life. Prior to giving notice, he worked in Las Vegas for a well known magician. After 8 months he decided to leave because of addiction to gambling and anxiety issues. He's now home with us (in California) and needs help to get his life on track. My husband and I have depleted all our savings, retirement, etc. to try to help our boys. My husband left his lucrative position when Aaron was 16 because we felt that we were losing him, too. Now we are at a point where we both are without work and financial means to help him. If you have any suggestions of low cost group home for young men who have mental health issues along with addiction issues to get some life coaching and possibly medication to help with debilitating anxiety would be so much appreciated. Or if you have any other suggestions? We are at a point where we know there's not more we can do, but want to try to reach out to other experts in this matter. Thank you so much - CC

Jill Edwards Says...

Dear Mum and Dad

Your is a story of devoted work to support the son in his difficult life. You are telling me that you are running out of resources for yourselves as people and also financially. I am hearing that he has been able to make some improvements in his life. He has weaned himself off of suboxone and when he attended a 6 month programme, he learned to take responsibility for himself and was a little better. You have lived your life putting your addicted children first. You have had a very hard time and so have your children. I think you should contact some of the groups that give support to the family of addicts. AlAnon is one but you will be able to find local groups. These groups will help you to look after yourself in the face of addiction and guilt and as you do this, your son will learn that doing some thing useful in taking himself forwards will give him self respect and a happier life. You both need help to make this change. It sounds crazy, but having gone through the process of standing firm and letting my son take responsibility eventually led to a happy and constructive relationship between us. The drinking has not stopped but he is the one worrying about it not me. It will take time, but I ask you to get some help for yourselves so that you can manage the process which will lead to help for him, and give him the opportunity to take responsibility for himself. You wont change overnight, your change is more difficult than his, but it will bring sanity into the situation.

I am writing from the UK, so I dont know any local support for your son. It is his job to go and find some. He needs to know the financial reality you are living with.

If you want to work with me further by e-mail, then contact me at mrsjilledwards@gmail.com.

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Page last updated Aug 13, 2012

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