Heartbreaking to see son fight addiction; is tough love worse?

Dear Annie: My wife and I have a 23-year-old son who is a heroin addict. “Rob” has been to rehab twice and has relapsed again.

Dear Annie: My wife and I have a 23-year-old son who is a heroin addict. “Rob” has been to rehab twice and has relapsed again. We have been attending Nar-Anon meetings for the past eight weeks and find them helpful. Rob seemingly has not hit rock bottom yet. By that, I mean he still has some income due to odd jobs and unemployment benefits. The latter are from a well-paying job that he lost for obvious reasons, and they won’t last much longer. He has a prescription for Suboxone that he gets from a doctor who periodically tests him for drugs. He also sees a psychologist once a month as a part of his treatment. Yet he is still using occasionally.

From our Nar-Anon meetings, we are learning that others have it much worse. We also are learning that we are textbook enablers. My wife manages his finances and dispenses his Suboxone, and we allow Rob to live with us, making sure he is fed and clothed.

Nar-Anon says to cut all ties until he gets clean. But we are afraid that he will go off the deep end, and we would lose him forever. This kind of tough love scares me. As bad as things are, we are afraid to put the hammer down and throw him out. We also have two younger children, and this isn’t doing them any good. What do you think? — Dad in Wisconsin

Dear Dad: It is heartbreaking and terrifying to watch your child descend into drug addiction. There is a real risk to your son’s life, whether or not you enable him. Many parents have to reach the end of their rope before they are able to toss their child out and live with the consequences. You aren’t there yet. Please continue with Nar-Anon and encourage Rob to remain in therapy and to keep seeing his doctor, and if possible, get him into a halfway house so he is not under your roof.

Dear Annie: I have a question regarding bridal shower etiquette. My brother recently became engaged to his girlfriend. Would it be appropriate to host a bridal shower for my future sister-in-law? — California

Dear California: While it used to be improper for relatives to host a shower (too self-serving), it is now OK to do so, especially if the bride lives far away. And if you can include some of the bride’s friends as hostesses to spread the responsibility around, that would help.

Dear Annie: Your response to “Alone in Minnesota” was right on track: Her husband is a coward and an abuser. Marriage is about respecting each other, and by letting his mother keep her away all these years, he clearly does not respect his wife.

When we married, my husband was 27 and I was 20. I knew my mother-in-law interfered in her daughters’ marriages and wondered what she would do to us. It took four months. She insisted that we purchase Christmas gifts for my husband’s nieces and nephews when we were struggling to pay bills.

When I told my husband about this conversation, he immediately got into his car and drove to see Mom. I have no idea what he said to her, but she did not make any attempt to interfere in our marriage for 20 years. Then my in-laws wanted me to talk to my husband’s sister and convince her to divorce her husband. I refused and again told my husband. He had another “visit” with his parents, and they didn’t speak to him for six months.

We now have spent 42 years together, and every day is more wonderful than the last. — Loved and Respected in Michigan

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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