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Casual Contributor

Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

My son is in his late 20's. He and his younger sister live at home with me and my husband. My son has a diagnosed serious mental heath issue and barely leaves his room unless it's to buy alcohol or junk food. We have tried everything for over 10 years to get help for his anxiety disorder and he has seen a cavalcade of professionals. but everything became worse when he discovered alcohol. We believe he is now an alcoholic and our despair is an everyday lived experience. He refuses to talk to us or connect with any of the family in any way that involves more than just a few grunted sentences. He will not even go for a walk or go out to get a coffee with any of us. I am completely overwhelmed at the moment and don't know what to do any more as nothing we try seems to help.

8 REPLIES 8
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Re: Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

@Fi32  Hi Fi32 and welcome to the forums. It is hard when the child is an adult because the adult either has to be a danger to himself or others if he is to be admitted into a hospital setting. When you say he is in his 20's early or late? If late is it worthwhile having a family discussion with him stating that unless he takes measures to improve he will have to move out? What do you think his reaction would be? The bottom line is that his behaviour cannot continue as it is negative for everyone in the household and particularly damaging to himself. Let me know what you think. Take care. greenpeax

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Re: Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

I can't really agree with this advice. Like anyone would, I'm sure he knows that his problems are causing stress to the people around him, and it's likely one of the reasons he doesn't want to engage, because he wants to push away the guilt and run away from the judgement that he likely assumes is there. Giving him an ultimatum sends the message that he needs to fix his problems for other people because as he is, he's just a nuisance. This response suggests he feels fully in control of his decisions and is just choosing to cause harm intentionally, rather than acknowledging that his behaviour is caused by his own pain and suffering.

 

His behaviour is clearly distructive, but I think, if you can, try to meet the chaotic way he is feeling with calm and a lack of judgement. I'm not underestimating how difficult that would be because this is obviously an emotional situation for you as well, but he's clearly not coping with even his own feelings, if he feels that he has to take on yours as well he will probably keep retreating.

 

It might be good to start small with less touchy subjects. Something like eating dinner or watching TV with the family so that he's not isolated all the time. You wouldn't even need to draw him into conversation at first, just slowly ease him into feeling more comfortable spending time with everyone else so that he doesn't feel like all the focus and judgement is on him. Hopefully this will lead to opportunities for calm conversation about some of the deeper problems he's facing after a while.

 

Hopefully this was of some help. Take care.

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Re: Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

Hey there @Fi32, I'm sorry to hear about your son's struggle with anxiety, and how devastating it has been since he started using alcohol and is so withdrawn. There's a lot of support on the forums and it's great you have been discussing different approaches and types of boundaries.

 

How are things travelling at the moment? I'm wondering if you have extra support going through this? Carer Gateway can tell you what services are available to support you with this, as you are definitely not alone in going through something like this. Services may be limited due to COVID, but it's worth giving them a call. 

 

Carer Gateway 

Ph: 1800 422 737

https://www.carergateway.gov.au/help-advice/getting-help

 

Take care 🌻

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Re: Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

Thank you so much, I really appreciate appreciate you comments and that Carer Gateway might be helpful. I will definitely call and see what they can suggest. 

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Re: Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

Thank you for your very kind words and practical suggestions, there are some things I will definitely try, including suspending judgement, really not helpful I know, but difficult not to do.

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Re: Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

Thank you for your support, it is much appreciated. My son would like to live independently but at the same time is afraid to move out, part of his mental illness. I know he feels like a failure and this makes him angry and even more unsociable. It is a strain on the family but we continue to battle on and do our best. 

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Re: Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

@Fi32. I hear you. Sounds familiar to my experience. I have just kept chipping away with my son to get him to seek help and he has done. But not a lot has been achieved. It’s so hard to get support. Very important to look after yourself.
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Re: Struggling to help adult son with mental health and alcohol issues

Hi, I get where you are coming from, although my son only turns 16 Monday, I hardly see him, and I suppose, I am scared he has Schizo Affective Disorder as his 22yo brother does, but no professionals want to listen, it is tough, hearing you, sympathy to you also, just try hang in there. As a single parent of like 20 years, my 3 children, and their issues, have now brought me issues, please dont let that happen to you.  Love and luck x

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