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I Need Help Desperately - Jim


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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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:

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

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

  • Anonymous-1

    I am an alcoholic, but when I try to quit I have shakes, cold and hot sweats, numbing in my hands, feel like Im having a heart attack. what to do?

  • Dr.T

    Editor's Note: Dr. T's comment here was very thorough and offered some wonderful suggestions and resources. Rather than leaving the comment only in this thread, we have posted it as a blog on the front page of the site.

    No health insurance is the talk of the day today. It is something that many American's unfortunately experience and it has become one of the greatest problems in the United States for everyone, even the working class. Whatever socio-economic group you associate yourself with, there will always be someone with poor health insurance, no health insurance, or health insurance with very little benefits. There will also be those who pay too much for health insurance.

    Please allow me to share some resources that can help the uninsured or the "under-insured."

    To view the full comment, please click here.

    Thanks again to Dr. T for this wonderful information.

  • Dr.T

    I'm glad I could be of help!

    Best wishes

  • John R. Torres

    My friend needs help now. He drinks, goes through some extreme mood swings, threathens suicide one minute and five minutes later he's dancing. He doesn't have insurance. How can I get him help? Needless to say he doesn't think anything is wrong, but his behavior is so eratic that he is effecting his children and everyone around him. He needs to talk to someone outside of his family on a regular basis.

  • ona k

    I have been in the same situation, and I suggest you go to an emergency room and tell them all this: they will rapidly detox you using benzodiazapenes (averting the withdrawal that is so intolerable and potentially even lethal with alcohol) and then down-taper these drugs over the following day or two. if you can afford all the alcohol it takes to maintain that level of drinking (I'm only 23, but was drinking three fifths a day when I was taken to the ER with DTs, so I speak from experience) then, likely, you can afford to go the ER (try to go in person, ambulance rides are exorbitant). Of course its hard to rationally manage money like that while one is still drinking, but if you have any way to use credit, do so. definitely the ER has helped me in this respect. then, since you may lack funds for rehab, go to AA: two meetings daily if you must you'll find most people there at one time had to do so themselves. DON'T GO THROUGH ALCOHOL WITHDRAWAL AT HOME, especially if you know you'll be having those symptoms.

    -ona k.

  • Anonymous-2

    I have a 33 year old daughter with a 7 year old son...she's Bi-polar, ADD, Borderline Personality Disorder. She has suffered for years with this. All the things Dr. Schwartz is true and doesn't help a bit...I'm sorry...We've called the police when she was out of control and they said they could not do anything, cause she's an adult and can make her own decisions, but Tracie is not capable of making decisions at all even when she's having a good day, her mind doesn't work to make decisions that would be good for herself or anyone else. The only way she can get help is to put herself in a hospital that can help her and of course she says nothing is wrong with her...she's in denial and will not get help...we threathen her with getting custody of Tyler and she can then leave and life her life as she wishes...We have took all we can...AND STILL OUR HANDS ARE TIED...NEED HELP FROM SOMEONE!!!


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