That Dang Elephant Won’t Leave the Room

You’re familiar with the concept of the elephant in the room – the thing we all know is there but that we ignore or pretend it isn’t there.  Sometimes we do this to retain harmony.  Sometimes we do it to avoid conflict.  Sometimes we mention the elephant but then change the topic.  Sometimes, we know it’s an exhausted topic with nothing new to add.  And sometimes, we say to heck with the elephant and just talk about it anyway — it ends up being a one-sided conversation or a two-way disaster.  The elephant for our family is anything related to our son’s addiction, treatment and recovery.

We get along pretty well with our son these days unless we bring up his situation. Goodness knows, if we don’t bring it up, he won’t.  That’s when it gets really uncomfortable because the challenges continue and his choices continue to have undesired consequences.

Our son’s counselor at the recovery program (a halfway house) recommended a 90-day treatment plan.  He’s completed 6o days but wants to be done.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have housing and moving back home is not a good option – in anyone’s opinion.  He made the decision two weeks ago and today is his last day there.  He hasn’t shared this with us directly so it’s really dicey to bring it up.

Without housing, it will be difficult for him to keep his employment.  Without employment, it will be difficult for him to pay for housing.  This cycle has happened several times before.  In the past, it has escalated his drug use.  I know one thing that is driving his desire to be out of the program is he believes he can drink and use recreationally without it leading to abuse.  As much as he dislikes structure and accountability, he withers without it and he’s not all that motivated to go to meetings or counseling – doesn’t find value in it he says.  All this points to an unfortunate truth – he’s still struggling and he’s not ready or open to help from his program, AA, NA, his counselor or from us.

I want to talk to him about it – his feelings, his concerns, his needs, his worries, his hopes, his plans.  I’ve reached out to him with no response until this morning.  The reply was pleasant enough, but it entirely avoided the conversation on any level.

Yes, the elephant is still here.

Midwestern Mama






2 thoughts on “That Dang Elephant Won’t Leave the Room

  1. This sounds so much like my son. He has a hard time keeping track of and minding all the “rules” that come with being in a program or living in a SL home. While he’s there, he just wants out, to be on his own, and yes, that usually includes drinking alcohol and smoking pot, which he does not see as part of his addiction (heroin) problem.

    Holding onto a job is another problem, and he hasn’t held one longer than 3 or 4 months for years.

    I’ve just become acquainted with the Harm Reduction therapy and am wondering if that might not be the best thing for so many addicts like our sons. To find a way to “manage” their addiction. To be a functioning addict. I know, I’m grasping at straws. I wish there was an answer. I’m not sure there is.

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