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I Need Help Desperately - Jim

Question:

I have a 33 year old son that has mental problems and abuses drugs daily. He has been in and out of hospitals and rehabs since her was 18. He currently lives in Oklahoma with his Mother and sisters. He is on the brink of suicide but he can’t stop himself. We don’t know where to turn for help. He has checked into emergency rooms with suicidal thoughts. He says he wants to quit drugs so bad because he is a burden on us and society but he can’t stop. He needs desperate long term help.

His drug of choice is cough syrup. It’s easy to steal from stores and he drinks 2 or 3 bottles and gets very high. His Mother even went around town with his picture and showed it to store managers and warned them about him possibly stealing cough syrup but no one has caught him yet. Believe me, we don’t want to see him get arrested but it’s better than him being found dead.

We are not wealthy people and cannot afford expensive treatment facilities. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do next?

I truly believe that he will not last out the year if we don’t get him some help.

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Answer:

Jim, your plea and your worry come through loud and clear. However, you face a number of daunting hurdles as you already know. The biggest hurdle is the fact that you son is an adult. As an adult he is entitled to make his own choices in life and no one can stop him. You are correct that if he is caught stealing he can be arrested. That has not yet happened.

You do mention that he has “mental problems.” I am not sure what you are labelling as a “mental problem but it is curious that after going to hospital emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and wishes nothing seems to happen. It is curious because hospital emergency rooms take suicide very seriously. Yet, it seems he is not admitted to the hospital or transferred to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation and recommendation. I find that to be very baffling.

Of course, it is possible that he is held in the emergency room until the effects of the cough syrup wear off and he is then discharged. Evidently, the medical staff do not uncover any underlying psychiatric problem or they do not bother to go any further than holding him for a few hours.

One option is this: You report that you son is now living with your wife and his sister. One thing they can do is call 911 if he is drugged and out of control while in the house. Because his physical and mental condition are unstable while under the influence, it would make sense to call 911 because of the alarm everyone experiences at home.

Another option might be: To do some research on the Internet in order to find drug rehab programs run by the state in which he lives. Usually, a person is arrested first and then remanded by the court to one of the state run facilities but there are other possibilities:

On the Internet, go to this URL: http://www.samhsa.gov/Grants/

Under this government program there are state drug programs funded by the U.S. Government under SAMSHA. SAMSHA deals with substance abuse and the mentally. Your son may qualify for grant money under SAMSHA that will allow him to get the help he needs.

An additional option is for him to contact the Salvation Army. They run a six month residential drug rehab program. This is more than affordable as, if I am correct, the residents, as part of their recovery, work for the residence when they are ready and able.

Please understand that all of this can be presented to your son as very real options for his recovery. Also understand that this is something he can do, if he truly wants to recover. That is the problem: he must want to recover.

Good luck in your efforts on behalf of your son and please join our Online support community.

Dr. Schwartz

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