Dear Sheila,

Throughout my life, I have dealt with loved ones who have struggled with addictions: Alcohol, drugs, pornography, and gambling. I frequently felt that I needed to be a helping hand. I found out later that I have, at times, enabled those behaviors. What troubles me is that my son is a drug addict. Our family has been supportive with treatment, but he has not been working with his sponsor. He has been smoking pot, and he has anger issues. He has started asking me for money in strange amounts. When I shared with him my concern, he got extremely angry with me. I assured him that I was coming from a loving place, and if he needed the family to help him get additional resources for a successful recovery, I would help. He got angry when he said that he needed money for a car part, and I kept questioning him about it. I told him I would buy the part at the auto store and that he could pick it up from there. He hung up on me and text messaged me again to express how angry he was with me. He never did pick up that part. He has not returned my phone calls or messaged me. He told our family friend that he loves me but no longer wants anything to do with me. I’m very hurt.

I am not in a financial position to pay his way. He is almost 24 years old. I cannot enable his addiction. I pray for him, his safety, and his recovery. How can I love my son at a distance without interfering and keep from enabling his addiction?

–Loving Without Enabling


“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” -Brené Brown

Dear Loving Without Enabling,

It’s such an incredibly difficult journey for a mom or any parent to deal with a child, even an adult child, who has an addiction issue. So, I commend you for doing your best to help your adult child through that and for setting such firm boundaries. Firm and loving boundaries are an incredible way to help somebody kick an addiction. There are also important support groups that a parent can join to help you to continue to stand your ground on this, and to continue to love and help your son through things that you would normally help your son with, like the car parts. You would never forgive yourself for paying for something that would harm your son. So, you are making the right choice.

Then it’s up to your son, because he is an adult now, at 24 years old. We can open the door for someone, we can give them all of the resources, but we can only help as much we can. If you’re concerned that he may be going back into another addictive state and falling out from recovery, one of the things that you can do is gather together all of your son’s family members and friends, and create an intervention, that way you can all decide together as a team. This can include the counselor he’s working with. Have a course of action and a plan that you can all stick to so that together, you can help him have his best chance of getting on track.

At some point, perhaps with a therapist or somebody who’s already working with him, have everybody confront him on the issue if he is actually using again. Then you’re all saying no to the things that could hurt him and yes to the ways that can help him. And that is going to make a huge difference. I congratulate you on standing your ground, and I hope this helps.

As always, I wish you,

“Life, Love, Laughter & Light!”

—Sheila Mac

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