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Worried About My Son

Question:

I have noticed a change in my son’s personality since the death of his brother from a heroin overdose 5 years ago. I cannot have a conversation with him at all. if I try to talk to him he cuts me off and refuses to listen. He has a beautiful girlfriend but shows more interest in his mates. He is obsessed with the games on the play station and binge drinks. He won’t talk about the loss of his brother and I’ve never heard him even mention his name again. I find it very hard to communicate with him and so do others.

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Answer:

I will attempt to address the troubling situation you have described but there is some information that is missing. Therefore, I am going to assume that your son is an adolescent, that his father lives with you at home and that he goes to school or works.

The assumption that he is a teenager is important because it would explain some of his behavior even if he did not lose his older brother. For example, it is somewhat common for teenagers to go through a period where they will not communicate with their parents. Parents often complain about how their otherwise bright and talkative kids suddenly seem grunt when they are home rather than speak.

His binge drinking is a serious issue but I assume you do not allow that to happen at home. I suppose that you can resort to some of the familiar parental behavior if he comes home drunk. This parental behavior includes grounding him, taking the car keys away and not allowing him the play station until he stops the binge drinking or goes for help with this problem.

The fact that he shows more interest in his mates at this time than his girlfriend is not, by itself, so unusual for his stage of life.

However, I believe I hear you asking a question about whether or not your son could be depressed. Of course, that is very possible, especially if his current behavior is a radical departure from the past.

I would suggest you not try to get him to talk about the death of his brother.

You could refer him to psychotherapy with a psychologist or social worker. Teenagers are often unwilling to go to a therapist but he might be willing to. You could also talk to his guidance counselor at school and advise the counselor about the types of problems he is exhibiting. Again, I am assuming he is a teenager and going to school.

If he is not willing to go for individual psychotherapy he might be willing to attend family therapy sessions and you could ask your medical doctor or do a search in your community for a psychologist or social worker who conducts family therapy sessions. Certainly, you would benefit from such sessions.

By the way, have you tried telling him that you are worried about him and that he seems depressed?

Best of Luck

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