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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Putting an alcohol abusing adult child out

05/24/2004

Question:

Hi, Our 21 year old son has used substances on and off for about 5 years. He had a DUI and was court-ordered to attend IDRC and AA meetings. He only has several left to go, but last night drove home very drunk. Today my husband gave him the choice to either go into in-patient rehab or leave our home. He chose to leave. I am worried that he will do something foolish, or drink worse. Did we do the right thing?

Answer:

Your actions showed concern and courage. It helps a child, even a grown child, to know where his parents stand on his behavior. You and your husband took a strong stand, and your stand supports the court`s decision that he get help for his drinking through IDRC and AA. By reinforcing the courts, you are telling your son that his behavior is endangering himself and others, and that he must do something about his drinking. You cannot control his drinking, but you can give him a clear message that you love him and he must get help.

It is also important to know that people who are trying to get their drinking under control often do have lapses, but the fact that he was driving and drinking heavily put him and others at risk. You have given him the message that you do not approve - that might help him change his behavior.

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Response by:

Marilyn Sommers, PhD, RN
Associate Dean, Research
Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati