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Son's addiction problem - Carers UK Forum

Son's addiction problem

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My son has been diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety and PTSD a few years ago and had some support from CAMHS, he is now 20 yrs and is living at home with my wife and I - his parents. He is attending college, doing an art & design pre-degree diploma. The trouble is that he has an addiction to cannabis and this has turned him into someone who steals from us (and anyone else who might be in the house) and a perpetual liar.

It seems there is very little we can do as he won't accept any help. The GP has referred him to a drugs unit but it seems as though he doesn't attend. He spends his whole time finding spurious reasons to get money from us and is in the thrall of a dealer who gives him weed "on tick" resulting in crises when he has to pay up and comes to us in panic to bail him out.

I simply don't know what to do and spend half my time thinking that it would be better to throw him out of the house. I have no idea where he would go if that happened and it would probably mean the end of his college and many other problems. However, how can he continue to stay at home, stealing and giving us such anxiety and stress?

If anyone can offer any advice or suggestions that would be much appreciated.

Hello John and welcome
I have a 23 year old with anxiety problems that we didn't spot when he was away at Uni. He's now home and somewhat better but progress is slow and uneven.
So I have been some way down the route you need to explore, however I must say that everything points to contraindications in people with mental health issues who use cannabis. It seems to have severe impact than in those without. My boy doesn't use, and hasn't had any earlier diagnosis, so similar but not the same

There are various website's you can explore and some have help lines for parents. Youngminds can be good

My boy still won't go to GP but after a really low point he now goes to private counselling which we pay for, so he is outside the 'system'

As parents we too are trying counselling to help us, understand and help him but are struggling to find appropriate help as most seems geared to individual counselling.

It is really really hard,a nd I too waiver between hard and soft approaches. Praise, and lots of it seems to help as I think low self esteem is underlying, but I also believe in firm love and clear rules in our house. Luckily my boy seems quite compliant, but this too is a worry :roll:

Sorry, I'm waffling, but that's because there are no simple answers, if any at all.
There is at thread on MH which you will find interesting, if not least to know you are not the only family struggling with this
https://www.carersuk.org/forum/specific ... tal-health

Future learn runs a free course on understand in low mood and depression in young people. I found it useful . It is available now but hen doesn't run again until October so at least start it now. You can pay to extend the time if you need it
https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/dep ... ung-people

Hope at least some of this helps, it's so so hard
Hi John

Sorry to hear about your son's drug habit, together with your concerns, and the upheavals it has brought into the family home.

When did he start smoking cannabis, as most users start using drugs to suppress feelings they can't face? I am not saying this is the case with your Son, but there is still a stigma around mental health issues with the young, especially around their peers, so in their eyes smoking a joint not only "chills" them out, but makes them look pretty 'cool'. Unfortunately this is not the case, as we know, so I can empathise with what you are going through as a parent.

I'd like to point out dealers seldom offer 'tick' but they may, if the person asking is considered reliable, and trustworthy. They certainly would not be entertaining your son if they were aware he had become a proficient thief and a liar. Nevertheless, if giving your son the money to pay off the dealer, takes you back to square one, next time he pleads to dad to bail him out, make it the last time. Dad goes with him.

Seriously John, if you throw him out, the chances are he will turn to dealing, and I think this is what your fear.

AskFrank has helped so many people break the habit, young people. They can offer you as a parent support, organise programs for your son, but at the end of the day, your son must want to stop abusing drugs, and with your support at home, I feel optimistic for you all.

Hope I have been of some help
Thanks very much to both of you for your advice and the links. I've been reading through the various threads you have suggested and also think the ask Frank site could help. My main worry is that I don't think he really does want to stop at all but I'm sure that his use of weed is interfering with the effects of his other prescribed medication. Apart from that the whole thing is unsustainable financially. We've already bailed him out on the understanding that it would be the last time, but he's done it again. This dealer must have realised that our son is good for the money as I suppose he knows that we are going to bail him out. We're thinking of going to the police to ask them what we should do, I'm not sure whether this is a good idea or not.

As you have already bailed him out for "the last time" then that really has to be the last time a otherwise your words are meaningless and the behaviour will just keep happening.
At 20 he should start to learn the consequences of his actions for himself.
It's very very hard to do, especially as he won't get it right first time, and it may take a long time but by cushinoning him you are actually enabling his habit.
Better to be strict and clear but make sure you are supportive. Say no to more money but discuss and give him web sites to visit or offer to accompany him to a drop in centre for example. You need to emphasise love and empathy but no money or enabling.
For example people tell me my boy is cushioned by living at home, but he's only eligible for jsa at £59 per week. He couldn't even rent a room for that. But we do take half that for his keep. Of the rest he has to put fuel in the care and pay half its insurance. Without access to a car he wouldn't be able to attend interviews or look for work. He also does all the food shopping and cooking as part of his "keep". We hope this is tough enough that he isn't cushioned or coasting and have recently seen signs his low mood is lifting and he is thinking more like an adult than a hiding child. It has taken 3 years to get this far.
Tough love.

if it was me i would go to police. With his history he should be regarded as vulnerable and you could mention you need help with safeguarding him from these pushers. However we do live in relative safe rural village, whether I'd feel safe to this in an inner city I'm not sure. Worth a phone call to them at least methinks

So on your side, it's tougher parenting them now then when he was a child, especially when everyone else says he's an adult and can make own decisions, yet every decision is a bad one , ho hum

John, you're in an excruciatingly difficult position, and with absolutely no easy answers - possibly no answers at all....

I often urge 'firm love' (bit less 'tough' than tough love, but it sets the essential boundaries of what is, and is not, acceptable behaviour). However, the problem in some circumstances, and I would say that they include yours in respect of your son, is looking at the 'worst case scenario' of applying that 'firm love'.

The closest I've come (not personally, but in 'real life') to your situation is a friend of mine whose son went off the rails after college. They moved away, lived with an old friend who had a very good, very well paid job (he'd done a degree in a highly employable subject, unlike their son, alas....arty, and not easily or lucratively employable).

Basically, their son spent about three years chronically living 'above his means' . He could only get low paid work (supermarkets, etc) but aspired endlessly to live more expensively than he could afford. He mixed with people who had a lot more disposable income than them, and always tried to 'catch up' etc etc.

Obviously, he got into debt. My friend and her husband bailed him out. Again. And Again, and Again.

I asked her, later, just WHY on earth she had gone on 'enabling' their son to evade facing the blunt truth about his unaffordable lifestyle, and her answer shocked me.

'We were terrified of three nightmare outcomes. He would attempt to embezzle the money and end up in jail. He would get caught up by serious 'bad guys' who would end up framing him for their crimes, and he'd end up in jail. Or, worst of all, he'd realise the horrendous mess he was in, and get so frightened, scared and horrified, that he would kill himself'.....

So, when you describe your son's situation, I can see why parents go on 'bailing out' their off the rails children - because the alternative could be so, so much worse.

In the end, my friend's son DID 'see sense', and was brought back trom the brink. (Ironically, my friend tells me he now tells her she and his dad should have been MUCH tougher on him!) (but that is him forgetting just how potentially dangerous the situation was for him).

It's not a helpful thing for me to relate, but it does indicate just how much 'control' a wayward child can exert over loving but terrified parents.
On a slightly less depressing tack, it would seem, wouldn't it, that your son is 'self-medicating' with cannabis. Cannabis, like alcohol, is used by him to 'mask' underlying problems and fears. (The trouble is, that both cannabis and alcohol do not do that 'for free' - ie, they can cause horrendous further problems of their own ,such that the original problems are nothing in comparison!)

However, it would be 'logical' to think that IF his underlying problems could be successfully sorted, then his 'need' to self-medicate would disappear.

You say he was briefly under Cams - and that he has been offered counselling for drug addiction he is refusing to take.

Would he accept any MH-counselling though?

Also, you mention PTSD, but do you have any idea just WHAT the trauma was?

Anxiety can be about anything and everything, and usually what it is 'about' is not the actual problem - it is the 'being anxious' that is the problem. ie, you can dispose of one cause of anxiety ,and then he'll attach his anxiety to something else - the anxiety is the underlying problem, WHY he is so anxious?

ADHD is much trickier a beast - is it in the 'brain' (ie, something you're born with), or has it arisen out of a 'dysfunctional' mind.

Ouf of the three afflictions, which do you think is the 'worst' and what is the most/least explored?

Finally, when did all this start up, and do you have any idea why? Grimly, the longer someone has MH of any kind, the more of a 'habit of mind' it becomes, the dysfunctional mind BECOMES the mind itself, and the person 'forgets' they were ever anything different.
Old thread, locked for usual reasons.