How to let go of a drug addict son

When and how to let go of a drug addict son 

Living with a child with a substance use disorder is not easy, to say the least. As a parent, you do everything you can to protect your child from harm. But what do you do when your child continues to harm themselves with their drug use? When is it about knowing how to let go of a drug addict son, rather than if to let go? 

Have you tried everything you can to help your son get clean? Are you mentally, emotionally and financially exhausted?  Do you feel helpless and out of options? Drug addiction hurts not only the addict, but also the families.

First come the concerns and questions about your son’s substance use and changing behavior.  You may have tried to warn your son or deter him from abusing substances to little avail. Instead, you see your son’s drug and alcohol use escalate. He may show little interest in friends and family, preferring to hang around a different crowd. 

Free consultation on treatment options 

If you are considering addiction treatment for yourself or someone in your life, now is the time to take action. Addiction is a deadly disease that has taken too many lives, broken up families and destroyed futures. Liberty Ranch offers free consultations. Call 888-387-1531 to talk to a specialist that can let you know about the treatment options available and help you select the right program.


Next, you find yourself grappling with the realization that your son has an alcohol or drug addiction. It can be heartbreaking for a parent to admit that their child is an addict. Many struggle to come to terms with this fact, wavering between feelings of failure, anger, sadness, fear and denial. 

In effort to help your son get better, you have likely begged and pleaded with him many times to seek help. You may have even had moments where your son seems ready to get help, only to see him using again, consumed by addiction. You are probably used to sleepless nights, doing everything you can to keep your son safe and out of trouble.

This emotional roller coaster can take a great deal out of a parent. The process is exhausting, demoralizing and can feel endless. Parents of addicts try their hardest to help their child free themselves from addiction, but many end up hopeless and disappointed. This is especially true when you are invested in your son’s recovery, but he is not. At what point do you stop asking how to help an addict son and instead ask how to let go of a drug addict son? 


Is it time to let go of my addicted son?

You have probably tried everything you can to help your child, but he continues to use substances and engage in negative behaviors. Letting go can feel like abandoning your son in his time of need, but sometimes it is the best thing you can do for your children, your family and yourself. Leaving your son without a safety net is hard for any parent, especially when he is engaged in destructive and dangerous behaviors. 

At the same time, always being there to save your adult child or tell him what to do reinforces the message that he is helpless and can’t take on the consequences of his actions. Your son is ultimately the one who must want to get clean and sober. Despite your many pleas, arguments, and ultimatums, you can not force him to recover. So when and why might a parent choose to let go of their drug addict son? Well, it depends on each person and their specific situation, but some reasons include the following:

  • Your son’s behavior poses a threat to you or your loved ones
  • Attempts to help your son have put your life or the lives of others in danger
  • Your financial stability is being threatened because of your repeated attempts to help your son
  • You or your loved ones are experiencing physical or mental health challenges as a result of your son’s addiction. These include depression, anxiety, rage, or other issues


Questions to ask yourself 

In some instances, letting go or taking a step back, in whatever form that takes, is the best thing you can do for yourself and your son. The rock bottom that you are seeking to prevent your son from hitting may be necessary or inevitable. Moreover, whether or not he hits rock bottom is likely beyond your control. 

Sometimes, providing space allows an addict to think and realize that he must deal with the consequences of his behaviors. At the same time, letting go can be scary, as you cannot predict what will happen. The decision is a difficult one, indeed. When considering whether or not to do so, you may what to ask yourself:

  • Has my “help” had any real, positive impact on my son’s addiction?
  • What level of commitment has my son shown to his own recovery?
  • By “saving” my child, am I preventing him from being independent?
  • Does my loved one want my help to get better, or am I forcing it on him?
  • Am I putting myself or others in physical or emotional danger?
  • How has my financial situation been impacted? Am I struggling to pay bills? Has my retirement been compromised?

As a parent, deciding when and how to let go of a drug addict son is not easy. There are no hard set rules for when or how to do so. Consider the mental, financial, physical and emotional toll his addiction has taken you and the rest of your family and if your current approach is truly helping or just hindering. If you are inhibiting your son’s independence, solving his problems, he has shown no interest in recovery or you are exposing yourself and others to risk, it may be time to reconsider your current relationship. 


Knowing how to let go of a drug addict son

Letting go can mean many things. It can mean creating new boundaries, no longer providing financial support, taking a break or fully cutting off contact with your child. Here are some forms of how to let go of a drug addicted son:

  • Setting up boundaries and consequences
  • Letting go of the idea that you can help your son get better
  • No longer paying for your son’s rent, groceries, or other expenses
  • Halting financial, mental or emotional support for issues related to his addiction
  • Not allowing your son to live at home
  • Taking a short break from your relationship or temporarily cutting off contact
  • Fully cutting off communication until he decides to get clean
  • Ending the relationship entirely

While some parents just need a short separation from their child to focus on their own wellbeing, others decide that cutting off contact completely is the best choice for themselves and their families. The decision to do so may require time and introspection. Speaking to a therapist, addiction treatment center, or peer support group can be helpful as you navigate the process. 


Talking to a loved one about getting help

Friends and family can be instrumental in encouraging a person to get help. Although you cannot force someone to attend treatment, there are a number of healthier ways you can encourage them to seek help without inadvertently enabling their addiction. Check out our guides on how to talk to your adult child, teenager, parent or significant other about their addiction and getting treatment. Contact Liberty Ranch for a free consultation for more help.

Healthy ways to support a son struggling with addiction

If you do decide to continue your relationship with your son, there are healthier ways you can choose to do so while still protecting yourself and your loved ones.

  1. Set boundaries and stick to them: Creating boundaries around what you will and will not tolerate is a key step in developing a healthier relationship that doesn’t enable your son’s addiction. For instance, you may tell your son that he is not allowed in your home when using drugs and alcohol. Rules and boundaries can be created around finances, behaviors, emotional support, housing and more. For boundaries to be effective, they must be clearly communicated and you should avoid making exceptions. 
  2. Create consequences and follow through: Boundaries must also be paired with specific consequences. If these boundaries are violated, you must follow through and apply the consequences, otherwise your addicted son will quickly see these new boundaries are meaningless. 
  3. Talk to your son about getting treatment: You can not force your child to get treatment, but what you can do is sit down with them when they are sober, explain how their addiction has impacted you, ask them to get help and present them with specific treatment options. At the least, you have expressed your concerns and let them know what you want, even if they are not ready for help. Speak to a specialist at Liberty Ranch free of charge today to learn more about available treatment options. It is best to plan out what you would like to say to your son and have a specific objective in mind. For more detail on how to talk to your child about treatment, check out our guide on dealing with an addicted adult child. You may also consider speaking with an intervention specialist who can help you navigate this process. In some instances, court mandated treatment may be an available and appropriate option.
  4. Practice self-care: This is key. Loving an addict is draining and difficult. It is absolutely necessary to take care of your own well being. Taking a break or letting go may be the right decision for you and your family. Either way, it is important to deal with the ways in which your son’s addiction has impacted you mentally, physically and emotionally. Consider speaking with a mental health professional or joining a peer-support group for families of addicts. Al-Anon and Families Anonymous provide safe and supportive environments in which you can share and learn from the experiences of parents in similar situations.