Dear Annie: I have a real problem with my 52-year-old son, “Robert,” who is cross-addicted. He’s struggled with substance abuse since he was 14 years old. Years ago, he got sober for a stretch of five years, so I know he is capable of getting clean. But he’s using now.
He is very verbally abusive, especially to me. I tried to help him for two years by having him live with me. I kicked him out when I found needles and other paraphernalia in the house. Of course, he lies like a rug and recently claimed he was robbed of his medication. He had me running to the police to file a report of the robbery and then had me go to the pharmacy to pick up a refill.
I have had it up to my eyeballs and cannot help him. He always sends texts saying, “You never loved me,” “You hate me,” “You talk to me like I’m Dad.” (He is just like his father.) His brother died of an overdose, and he throws that in my face — even to the point that he says I enjoyed watching him die! He is so sick, and when I say we need a long break, he turns that around to: “You have no feelings and are a hard, cold woman.” He lives in the same town I do and constantly calls for favors. He needs long-term rehabilitation, and I am fed up with his abuse. What should I do?
— Tired and Exhausted
Dear Tired: Addiction is a cunning and opportunistic disease, one that leads its victims to go to great lengths to further afflict themselves. I’m so sorry it claimed the life of your other son.
Please know that when Robert says monstrous things to you, it’s his illness talking, not your son. Tell him that you love and support him but you will not love, support or enable his addiction. That’s that. Don’t let him guilt you into lending him money; don’t let him hoodwink you into refilling prescriptions.
And consider attending an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon Family Groups meeting so you can hear from others who know painfully well what you’re going through. I cannot recommend these groups enough.
Dear Annie: I was so pleased with your response to “Speech Problems in Pennsylvania,” saying that the writer offered “an invaluable perspective.” The writer is in a unique place, as the serving job he or she has gives him or her repeated opportunities not only to educate others but also to face his or her own feelings regarding having a speech disorder.
It sounds to me as if the writer is projecting his/her own emotions about the problem onto others. I would suggest that the writer say straight out and very kindly that he/she has a speech problem and do a little sharing. Also, most people who comment on a person’s accent mean it as a compliment, not an insult. At any rate, this is my perspective, one based upon my being a certified speech language pathologist for over 45 years. The writer may consider receiving some counseling to clarify and study his/her own feelings, as well as to get support and encouragement. This person sounds very capable and just could use a little boost!
— Speech/Language Pathologist, Retired
Dear Speech: Thank you for sharing your expertise. I’m printing your letter with the hope that it provides encouragement to “Speech Problems in Pennsylvania” and anyone else coping with speech issues.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.