Dear "Scared for his life"
Any parent in your place would be absolutely terrified to know their child is using drugs. When I see parents in my office, they are helpless, hopeless and exhausted. They feel guilty, powerless and betrayed. I have designed a program that guides parents by giving them powerful tools on how to help their kids to recovery. When I say kids, it could mean a 10 year-old who smokes, or a 17 year-old who drinks on weekends and takes a few zanex out of the medicine cabinet in order "to relax", "to have fun", or "to be able to go to sleep".

Here are some ideas for you to think about:

1.) Let your son own the decision he has made. He chose to use. No matter what the circumstances in his home or his life, both bad and good, he is the one responsible for using drugs.

2.) Empower you son in recovery. This is difficult for parents to do. Stop blaming yourself and stop wallowing in your guilt. Realize that he can't do it alone. He needs professional help and your support.

3.) Allow your child to take responsibility for his actions. Get help yourself by talking to a professional who specifically works with parents in how to help their children get into recovery. There are several strategies you can learn, and new effective ways to behave toward your son.

4.) Stop enabling. Enabling means making it possible for someone to continue to use alcohol or drugs. You may have been doing this unbeknownst to you by providing him with money he uses to buy drugs or by protecting him from the consequences of his actions.

5.) Get to know all his friends and their parents. Communicate with them openly about the whereabouts of your son and their children as well.

6.) Check for signs of depression. Ask your son how he feels about himself, and listen very carefully. Depression among children and teenagers is more common than parents imagine.

7.) Stop talking to him about messy rooms and undone chores. You want your son to be accountable and begin to take responsibility. However, you must choose the issues you want to address carefully and keep them simple. Avoid getting embroiled in battles with him.

8.) Choose two to five principles that must be followed by anyone living in the house. One family I have worked with, focused on the following issues: "Stay sober", "Attend school", "No verbal or physical abuse". Once you have established the key principles for him living in your home, consider the rest secondary in importance. Remember: Work, school, chores, are essential only if your child is alive! You are fighting a deadly disease. You and your husband need counseling and guidance in setting consistent boundaries for your son as well as support, to remain strong emotionally, physically, spiritually. Your son will benefit immensely from receiving addiction counseling to learn to make better choices in his life and stay away from drugs. Recovery is a long journey and a precious gift.
I pray you will find it.

Dr. Andrews