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When You Help You-You Help Her

answered 01:32 AM EST, Mon October 06, 2014
I don't know how to talk to my mom about going to rehab. We are not living in the same state and no one else in our family talks to her. She is homeless. Recently things have taken a turn for the worse, she has addiction and mental health issues. She is really paranoid when talking on the phone and she is very moody, I feel that if I mention rehab over the phone she will just get upset and most likely hang up on me. I want to fly out there and discuss it in person, but am not sure if that is the right way to handle it either. I'm so lost I dont know what to do I am so afraid of losing her, but if she doesnt get help I dont see her living much longer. Any advice will help. Thank you

James Cloughley Says...

Thanks for reaching out to us--you have started off making a good decision. It is difficult to think straight and be real when you live in a vacuum. Without knowing a great deal more about what's happening for you it is difficult to be specific with any feedback. Having said that we can talk generally about options, approaches and next steps.

If you have decided to attend a rehab program that tells me that things have gotten pretty serious for you. Are you mandated to attend or is this a free will decision? I'll assume its a free will decision if that's OK. My suggestion would be to not tell your mom specifically what you are planning to do. And again not understanding how you communicate with her makes it a bit more difficult to develop any kind of plan to help her. Does she know you have challenges of your own around using? Again I'll assume she does. If she is as ill as you have stated she is--mental health issues, paranoia, mood swings and the addiction problem she most likely will not understand what you are telling her anyway regarding your decision to enter re-hab. Right now I would guess if she is relatively cognizant of her own being she is feeling isolated, alone, disconnected and the more she uses the more this is reinforced in her. It's likely that the drugs? or alcohol? or prescription meds? she is into are contributing to her paranoia and other related mental health issues and you are not going to be able to stop that from happening whether you see her or not. I'm not sure flying out to see her in person is right for either of you at this moment but that is a decision that is up to you-I'm not aware of the relationship you have with her. I believe establishing a 'contract' with her to speak by phone on a regular basis is the best way to go right now but that might depend on how delusional or paranoid she is. She may not be able to do this but it might be your best shot. The immediate goal is to try to establish a connection with her and help her understand that you care about her and tell her that you love her and that she is important to you. She needs to have this reinforced as often as you can--she needs to have some sense of value/worth to someone and it sounds as though you're the one she has chosen to be most important to her.

What you could say to her is something along this line: that you are looking at getting some help with your problem (don't mention re-hab) because you have decided that you would like to try another life style--that you have had enough of the one you are currently involved in and you would like to know what she thinks about that. You could ask her how she is doing but keep it general. I wouldn't mention her addiction issues at the moment---make this about you and not her. The hope is that by telling her this you may plant a seed for her as well. It sounds as though she will need some help with her mental health issues first before beginning to attempt to try and deal with the addiction and for that she will need to get some psych support of some kind. You need to understand that this is going to take some time to shake out but the sooner you begin the better are her chances. The more you help yourself and the more she hears that you are doing better the more hope she could generate for herself doing the same. Perhaps she dreams of having a relationship with you but doesn't know how to go about doing that--again not knowing much about the family history I can't suggest anything with certainty.

If you are in 'regular' contact with her can you say or tell when she is at her 'best'--what time of the day? Is she less messed up at night or more at night? If you can determine that then you agree to be in contact with her at the time of the day when she is likely to be at her 'best'. If she doesn't stick to the plan of when you'll next talk together just try to contact her when you can. She may forget about the plan to talk at a certain time or get it mixed up some how. This is going to be quite stressful on you so you need t find or organize some type of help for yourself. Perhaps an O/P counsellor through the referral agency or re-hab you are dealing with. If you are into any of the A's--A/A or N/A or C/A--any of these places could provide you with a relatively safe haven for a couple of hours when you need it or until you get into the treatment program you are considering. If you don't look after yourself you will not be much help to your mother.

I understand that you feel lost--who wouldn't feel that way with what you are dealing with. Also try to understand that there is only so much you can do to help her until she decides that she wants that help. In any event if you don't commit to a plan to get cleaned up you will be of little help to her regardless of what she decides. Not to put any pressure on you. You just need to be sure that this is what you want to do because once you start a process with your mom she is going to need you to be clean and sober to hold the 'light' for her.

I'd appreciate it if you could get back to me with any comments or thoughts you have about my response. If you feel that you can provide me with more info--great. If you got what you came for--great Just ask to connect with me again and if there is anything that I can do to help you I'd be happy to do that. All the best--Jim

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