20 year old alcoholic son

20 year old alcoholic son

clashgirl1's picture
6 answers

I dont' know where to turn to anymore. I don't know if this is the right thing or the wrong thing but I have given my 20 year old son an ultimatum. He has until Feb 1st to find a job or I am having him leave my house. This is so hard for me. He goes out every night, drinks every night, comes back in the morning, sleeps all day, wakes at night only to repeat the cycle over and over again...every single day. His friends supply him the alcohol. He has never had a job. He has no money. He dropped out of school in 10th grade. He's been in and out of counseling. He has panic attacks, but won't take meds for them. Instead he wants to self medicate with alcohol. He wont' get help. He doesnt' want help. He doesn't think he needs help. He says he can't get a job because he's way too anxious. I don't know what to do anymore. My husband won't discuss it with me because i've 'threatened' the kick out thing in the past but never followed through. My husband is not his dad. We just married last year and I already feel like we're headed towards divorce because of this and other things. Please help me. Am i doing the right thing??? I am ready to take my dog and myself and be the one to run away from both my husband and my son. It's breaking my heart.


momwithhope's picture

I don't have answers but just joined and logged in today. I have a 21 year old daughter who has struggled with addiction for many years. She turned from alcohol to drugs, stole from use for several thousands of dollars. People started coming looking for money and my husband and I had threatened the kick out of the house thing. Finally, one day we rented a storage unit, boxed her things up, changed the locks and gave her a key to the storage unit. On the way home from the storage unit we both cried but said we have finally followed thru. The thing I learned is that we couldn't enable her anymore. If she was going to hit bottom, I prayed it would happen soon. Finally, she called for help but not before we kept her from driving a stolen vehicle and many other things. She did go to rehab and voluntarily stayed there for 90 days. Sadly we are back in the cycle again. I believe we needed to take care of us, my husband and I. I am so thankful we did. We are strong and very happy together. If your husband is really important to you, fight for it. This is really hard to go thru as a single parent. Take care of you. Your heart will heal and you will learn to just love your son, which doesn't mean you have to love what he is doing.

clashgirl1's picture

Thanks for your response. :) Do you still have the storage shed??? Did she actually stay in the storage shed or did you just give her the key for her stuff??? Do you feel like that worked? Or is she back at home now???

Marco's picture

Hi Clashgirl, I can't tell you whether or not you should follow through with an ultimatum, every parent has to decide that for themselves. But I do know that my son wouldn't get help as long as we continued to support him.

After all, why should your son change his behavior if he has a warm bed to sleep in every night and food to eat.

Your son could have underlying mental health issues with his anxiety, but the use of alcohol also makes anxiety and depression worse. So it's not really possible to know the extent of his other mental health issues as long as he's drinking.

I think it's important to have a conversation with him and for you and your husband to be on the same page as far as how to handle this situation. Both you and your husband could get some strength as well as learn how to take care of yourselves by going to a group like Al Anon, which is a support group for families of alcoholics/addicts. Attending these meetings might help you establish appropriate boundaries and determine with your husband what you will and won't allow your son to do while he's living in your house.

And if possible, the most important thing may be to have some type of intervention that will motivate your son to seek or accept the help that he appears to so desperately need. It's clear that things can't continue as they are. You don't have to let him hold you hostage.


Dr. Jeff's picture

Dear Clashgirl1, I totally understand the frustration you must be feeling with your son, but threatening him with eviction may not be the best course of action right now. Though your son may be lazy and has some bad habits that are just driving you crazy, it sounds like your son might have real anxiety disorder that is accompanied by panic attacks. Because many teenagers want to be as normal as possible in order to fit in better with their peer group it becomes much harder for them to admit that they have a psychiatric disorder. This may be one of many reasons why he is self-medicating with alcohol and perhaps other illicit substances.
The least emotionally threatening way to deal with your son is to take him to the family doctor who may prescribe anti-anxiety medication that will help him suppress the panic attacks. If he needs to be detoxed from alcohol, the doctor can refer him to an inpatient or outpatient drug abuse center. Most importantly, the doctor should then make a referral to a psychologist or social worker who can treat the underlying causes of his panic attacks through talking therapy, behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques. In addition, your son’s antisocial behaviors will also be addressed and positively redirected through his psychotherapy. You will see within a short period of time that your son will be much more socially appropriate and productive once he manages his anxiety. By the way it wouldn't hurt for both you and your husband to attend some family therapy sessions with your son, in order to also help him manage his life and repair the family relationships.

clashgirl1's picture

Dr. Jeff,
This would be a great course of action IF my son was willing to take anti anxiety meds and stop drinking. :( But, he's not. So now what? By the way, since that last post my son is now 21 and nothing has changed.
Thank you.

katiem's picture

Hi Lisa.
I have two sons -one 20 and one 25. I'm new to this site & worried that the 25 yo maybe an alcoholic. I also recently had younger son's 21 yo friend staying with us because his mom kicked hom out with no job etc.
A friend of mine has her son back home expelled from college & not looking for a job - justoutwith friends. She has given him deadlines that don't work. Now she is insisting that he volunteer until he fines a job. Hoping that he will gain some self esteem and work ethic in the process. Shes looking at habitat. If you have some idea of what your son is interested in or good at - maybe you can encourage or insist he invest effort voluntarily. I'm a single mom as well and ive found that the male role models who my sons look up to who treat them with respect make a difference. Sometimes a small step can lead to a change of direction. Best wishes.