Home \ Expert Q & A \ Addiction Treatment \ Addiction Treatment: William Anderson \ I used all my parents' school money for coke. I'm afraid to tell them. I'm broke and can't even function. What do I do?
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I used all my parents' school money for coke. I'm afraid to tell them. I'm broke and can't even function. What do I do?

answered 08:20 PM EST, Thu December 29, 2011
I am 20 and I have been using a lot of cocaine for the last year. I have not lived at home for the last 2 years but I was home for the holidays and it really opened my eyes to the life I am living how and how it’s not a good life. I was so ashamed to be snorting coke in my room before Christmas dinner but I just couldn’t stop myself. I was never a problem when I was living at home and I have a good relationship with my parents.

I have borrowed a fair amount of money from my dad this fall. I told him it was for design school and equipment but I really just partied through it all. I am so ashamed and I know I need to get some help but I can’t imagine telling my parents and having them know how I have been lying and basically stealing from them all this time. I would love to get clean on my own but unfortunately I have no money for rehab and I can’t seem to stop using on my own.

I want to get clean and then get a job and then pay them back and then maybe I will tell them or probably I never will. But I need to start by getting clean. How can I get help when I don’t have any money?

William Anderson Says...

It will all come out, and probably soon. The best you can do is manage it to best preserve yourself and your relationship with your parents.

Go to a city large enough to have a drug treatment center that is geared to regular people instead of movie stars. In Sarasota, which only has about 50,000 people, we have a treatment center called "First Step" that is very reasonable and even has sources of funding, like churches, that they can appeal to for broke people.

Just go there, tell them you are in a crisis with coke, and ask to talk to a drug counselor. They will probably be able to help you break the news to your parents in a way that will not alienate them. Just get up and do it now. Don't call. Just go.

As an alternative, if your family belongs to a church or synagogue, you can probably go to the minister, priest or rabbi and ask for help. Clergy are usually quite experienced with situations just like yours, and they've helped families get through it many times before.

I have no idea about your parents, their financial situation, or their familiarity with addiction, so it is impossible for me to know what their reaction might be. Sometimes, if they have experience with addiction, you can just come clean with them without the assistance, and they won't totally freak out. They might be very understanding and be ready to help. If you're not sure, go to the treatment center or the clergy.

I have been the counselor in these situations many times, and I have always brought the crisis to a stable conclusion that very night, so that everyone is OK and things are already starting to get repaired. Don't waste any time. Get going on this now.

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Page last updated Dec 29, 2011

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