Recovery Parenting 101...Homeless Son

03 March 2014 Written by 

When my husband was an active alcoholic and out of work I did just about anything to pay the water bill and buy food to support my kids. So it was a particularly difficult moment when I was faced with allowing my oldest son, Max to become homeless as a result of his own growing addiction. He was a partier and had just graduated from school in Key West as a scuba instructor. His dream was to work on a dive boat in the South Seas and he came home for a visit before setting off. But then he broke his leg in a freak accident.

For a while, we all took turns changing his bandages and getting him whatever he needed. He was 30 years old and healed quickly, but he was given pain meds that came in the mail. His supply was steady and seemingly without end. He ate them like candy, saying the prescribed amount was not “touching the pain.” At the same time his physical therapist said he was doing fine and should be able to stop taking all medication. A few weeks stay turned into seven months. 

I knew something wasn’t adding up. My son was

  • losing weight
  •  irritable when the pills started to run low
  • Sleeping all day
  • Not interested in finding a job

It took a while for me to get a clear picture of what was happening, but eventually I saw the elephant in the room. Another person I loved was facing addiction. I was heartbroken and angry, and I didn’t want to feed, house, and pretend that this addiction would go away. By now the leg was healed and Max was able to run and bike again. In the beginning he would do chores around the house and say pleasant things about how much he appreciated my letting him stay. But then he stopped helping and complained constantly. All of these things are red flags.

I often tell my kids once they turn 18, “You are too big for the nest. It is not your fault, it is Nature’s way of making you uncomfortable and getting you ready to leave the security of your home.” In this case he was not only too big for the nest he was filling it with drama and addiction. As the only parent I had a hard decision to make and I knew I knew I would need support and I looked for help from Al-Anon where I:

  • Attending extra meetings
  • Talking to my Sponsor about my boundaries
  • Reading literature on Pain medication addiction
  • Saying the Serenity Prayer over and over again

So how does a Mother ask her son who has had surgery on a broken leg to please stop taking his pain meds or leave?

I struggled with this until the drinking started. I had heard about the non-stop party in Key West, but he had been home seven months and hadn’t drank. Apparently Max felt he deserved to drink since he had been through so much. Unfortunately the drinking got to point he found himself passed out in the back of the convenient store with no idea how he had gotten there.

This was as they say the last straw. Sometimes God does for you what you cannot do for yourself. Seeing my son hung over the next day threw me into a tail spin. It was the motivation I needed. I had to let him hate me, but I had to love him well.

I let him know he had used up his chances and had to find someplace else to live, and couldn’t come home again.

At first he lived on friends’ couches. Then he found a friend’s sailboat he could sneak on to at night. The harbormaster noticed him and told him to stop. Now he really felt the sting of his situation. He had been gone a month by this time.

He called and said he really needed to crash for the night. I told him the better solution was to walk down to the Salvation Army. He called the VA instead and was told if he returned to school he would be able to afford an apt with the student loans and VA helping.

School and money were two weeks away and he was sleeping wherever he could for the night, sometimes in a field, sometimes near a clubhouse. It was heart wrenching, but he was on this journey and I was doing what I knew was best for me, and him.

One day he came to me and asked if he could sleep in his Dad’s condo. Before my husband’s death we had purchased a small place for him to “get better.” But sadly, he hadn’t. Not the place was empty and getting ready to be rented. My sponsor advised me not to let him use it, but I knew it would only be temporary because the tenants were moving in shortly. It was the best I could do and my Sponsor understood how hard all this was for me. 

I let him stay there at night and before long he found an apartment close by that he could afford. Did he feel his pain medicine and alcohol use had gotten him here? Not yet sadly… he felt it was just bad luck and he continued to use both. His journey would take him even lower before he saw a problem.

Without attending meetings, calling my Sponsor and friends in recovery who had faced similar trials I am sure I would have helped the disease harm my son. I had decided that if addiction was going to take another loved one’s life, it would have to do it without my help. And that helped us both.

A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop

Read 2368 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 November 2016 18:03
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Madeline Schloop

Madeline is the widow of a man who died of alcoholism and the mother of 5 young adults whom she parents with the tools of Al-Anon. Her children continue to be affected by the disease of alcoholism. Her stories  deal with life's daily trials and what has and hasn't worked.
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