This weekend my son and I had an insightful conversations with the same person, but they were two separate conversations.
The person we both spoke to is my son's last remaining friend. He is around 18 years old, finished 6 Form, plans to go to University, has a girlfriend and a 2 year old son, comes from a nice family and is liberal and open minded. He has taken an interest in my son's problems and tried to help him along in his early stages of recovery.
I spoke to him Sunday afternoon to explain why we did not make it to his son's birthday party, which had to do with issues and miscommunication with my son. This invariably led the conversation of how he is actually doing. This mature young man started to ask me what my feelings about rehab were. I said that I am 100% agreeable with the idea, think it is the best option, but my son does not. We continued to discuss this and he said that if my son could have done it alone, things would have improved by now but they haven't and that he would benefit from a structured environment with professional staff. We went on further to discuss that my tolerance, patience and support is uncommon. He said that he knows no other parent who would still have their child living in the family home after so much time and trouble especially now that he is 18. He knows that it is because I love my son. He also suggested a plan in which I give my son a time limit to enter rehab or structured accommodation and if he does not comply then he knows that on that given date, he is out. I have obviously thought of this and have intimated it to my son, but have not had the courage or strength to see it through. I have to find that now and actually mean my words and go through with it. He said he would speak to my son later and start the conversation of rehab with him.
Later Sunday evening my son and his friend spoke. A conversation that lasted roughly about three hours. Much was said in that conversation that I could hear and much more I assume that I could not hear. Sometimes the conversation got heated and voices were raised, but never did things turn nasty. They spoke about my son's drug usage, his progress if any, his plans, rehab, his triggers, me, the pressures he feels, some of his feelings, his feelings of rejection from the rest of the friendship group, his moral ideas of right and wrong, his need for normal friendships and the fear that he is being ostracised because he is an addict.
Some of the things that were raised in the conversation that my son did not like and obviously disagreed with, but in the end I hope they will sink in and do some good. I do not know too much about the conversation because I went to bed before it finished. However, the phone cut out a few times and during the brief time in between phone calls my son did spew out to me some of the topics being discussed, and he was not happy. Things about how my son was quite drunk/high on one or two occasions and became very angry and threatening to one of their friends. Another occasion when my son stole bottles of wine from this friend he was having the conversation with. How some of the friends thought a few of my son's actions on several occasions were strange. How some friends do not know what to say or do not want to make matters worse for my son by inviting him out to social gathers at the pub etc. where drinking is involved. How perhaps he has been labelled an addict and therefore been shunned. How my son has borrowed money and not paid it back....
My son's quick and defensive reaction was of course, "Great, no one likes me and no one wants to hang out with the addict!". While I heard him then trying to justify his stealing and his aggressive behaviour, I couldn't help thinking that maybe this open conversation will get him to serious examine his behaviour and realise that yes, he does have a problem that other people are also recognising. Of course, my son can also continue to be defensive and blame others and only sink deeper into his self loathing which will make him want to turn to drugs even more.
As this mature and kind friend said to me, my son started taking drugs so very early in his adolescence that he has not learned any other coping skills and this is going to be so hard, but he can learn new skills and coping techniques. He must have said something similar to my son at some point in their conversation because I heard my son's raised voice as he said on the phone, "You don't understand what it is to be an addict". No, I guess his friend doesn't. Nor do I. This is why we think places like rehab would be a good thing and meeting other addicts might not be such a terrible thing like my son thinks. Yet, my son does not want to meet any "of those people". Again, as my son's friend can now see as as I can, my son is in limbo. He can not function in "normal" society (he does not want to give up all the drugs, he doesn't want to go to school or get a job, he wants to lay about in nothingness) yet he does not want to enter the world of fellow addicts who are starting a road to recovery (he doesn't want to attend group sessions at the clinic, doesn't want structured accommodation, doesn't want to go to rehab with "those" people).
I hope things start to sink in, but I will also start pushing the rehab more and look into visiting one soon. I need to be doing all I can do, but I also need to be firmer. I will also push for the mental health side of things and try to get my son properly assessed and maybe the dual diagnosis might benefit him. I will meet up with his friend and maybe if enough people are on his case we will get some positive results.