Harm Reduction and Acceptance


Well-Known Member
I havent been on much....but I think of all of you often and the difficulties we all face. I have been thinking about these two things lately. When I first came to this site years ago my son was homeless and about 19 and I had hopes that tough love (hence my name) would help him get his act together. I know there are many people (on this site and elsewhere) where they have stopped giving any help to their kids and their kids turned things around and got sober and went on with their lives. So there are definitely cases where tough love works...... but it didnt in our case. My would be homeless (and we let him) and things would get really bad and he would then want help and agree to treatment. Granted we always helped him get treatment....but then he would relapse and we would start the process over. He has reached bottom so many times I have lost count. And honestly any more bottom would be death. I came to the conclusion that I could not create the external forces that would help him decided to get sober.

Several years and relapses later he got invovled in a treatment program that is truly dual diagnosis for substance abuse and mental health. I have not seen any other program like it. Luckily it is actually only an hour from us. Their model is very different. After the residential program they do not suggest sober living (which my son has done several times, relapsed, and been kicked out) but have them find a living situation where they get a room or apartment on their own. Their whole model is harm reduction, they work with participants where they are. So when my son relapses they still work with him, although they do have boundaries so he cant go to groups under the influence, they wont drive him places if he is under the influence etc. But they will talk to him. He can call them and be honest about what is really going on. So his relapses have been shorter in general.

They also work with the families so it has been a great relief to us not to have all the angst and worry about him only on us..... so when we have been concerned they have gone out to check on him etc. And it has helped me get to a place of supporting harm reduction and accepting the fact that my son has an addiction illness.Ultimately he is the only one who can decide if he is going to really embrace sobriety.

A few days ago he and I were texting.... it was kind of clear to me that he would text me when he was drinking.....but they had more depth like he was really thinking about things... and somehow the alcohol helped him let his guard down with me, It was near his birthday and he was thinking about his mortality and how much he has abused his body. I commented that I was fully aware I might outlive him. That apparently really struck a chord with him. My attitude in these text conversations was not one of judgement or one of trying to convince him of anything. I have given up trying to do that because it never works anyways. So now I am just trying to let him know he is loved.

So yesterday he called me in the morning crying and told me he needs to get sober. We ended up picking hi mup and taking him to detox. This was not because he didnt have a place to live, or because he was hungry, this came because he knew he was spirallng out of control with his drinking and knew he wanted to live not die.

Now I still dont think he is where I want him to be, to embrace total sobriety. I think he is still thinking he will smoke weed. I dont agree with that but I have come to see he just isnt where I want him to be yet. He still may get there. But at least he is choosing to live and thinking about how to do that. And I am more at peace with my role in his life.... which is just to love him.


overcome mom

Active Member
I guess that is all we can hope for ,that there is some movement forward even though there are steps back. I still pray that my son will start to deal with his drug issues. He has never wanted anyone's help (except asking us for money). When he was is school he wouldn't let his teachers tell him anything, always had to figure it out on his own. I pray that he will finally decide that he can't stop using without help. Love the program our son is in, it has never made any sense to me that you refuse to deal with addicts when they are at their worse. I wish I could find someplace like that for my son. It is soo hard to watch them struggle.


Well-Known Member
After reading your post TL I looked for a harm reduction program near us. There are only needle-exchange sites.

What you write sounds fantastic. That your son is not entering detox to get something, or to avoid something, but to be sober in itself. I am so, so happy for him. And for you. And that's great about the open lines of communication and his greater willingness to go deep.

I'm glad you posted.


Sending good vibes...
Reading your post sheds hope. For me, I've realized the "journey" is not just for our adult children but for us too. You sound incredibly healthy minded and I'm inspired. After all, this is what we say even in Al anon "Our happiness should not be based on whether or not the alcoholic/drug addict is still drinking or sober. We need to get better for ourselves."

I really hope and pray your son is ready to make some changes.

Thanks for sharing.


Well-Known Member
You are correct in that tough love isn't for everyone. All of our kids are different. I wish I had found a program like that as well.

I think your son is still on his way to recovery, perhaps bumps in the road.

I can tell he has a bond with you as he is still texting. That's a great sign that he is still connected to family. You are being very supportive and I am proud of you for going the distance with your son.