My adult son (22 years old) was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 7 years ago. He is also an alcoholic or heavily self-medicating with alcohol. He has refused to take medication for bipolar. He is finishing an alcohol rehab program and wants to move back home after being on thestreets for about a year. The rehab counselors say not to let him back home as that is enabling. I don't want him to go back on the streets. How can we help him to understand that he needs to be treated for the bipolar and then maybe he deal with the alcohol issue and can come back home? What can I do that will help him instead of further enabling him? Is it a different answer since he also has the bipolar? (multiple questions - is that allowed:)


2967 days ago
I had a similar issue once with my adult sister and her family. I was enabling by continuing to let them live with me and me pay for everything. Eventually what I did was set some boundaries and also give them some choices. Maybe that would work for you.

For example: you could tell your son that he can move back home but only if he goes to couseling and sees a psychiatrist (for the bipolar--meds usually help) and goes to AA meetings every day. But if he says he will go and then does not follow through, tell him he will have two weeks or whatever agreed upon time to find other housing. And then stick to it. Either way he will either get the help he needs or not but it will be his choice and his consequences.

Or another direction that is a possibility, is that if there is a halfway house he could go to? Maybe the rehab people would know about that.

At some point, your son is going to make the choices he makes and live with the consequences...good or bad. Just keep in mind that sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they accept help. And sometimes, tough love does work. When I gave my sister the options, they chose to leave. Now two years later, both my sister and her hubby are gainfully employed and them and their children all live together and are making it work. It was the hardest thing I had to do to my sister but it did work out for the best I think.

All my best. Junie

2967 days ago
Thanks for your response. I agree that I have been enabling and I just have to let him hit the bottom, so that he can be ready to get help and to recover. Although I might try your other suggestion. He must take the medicine, must let one of us see him take it, or he can't stay. Sorry to say he will probably stay 2 or 3 days, but at least we can know that we have tried everything. Either way it is helpful to know I am not the only one that as dealt with this. thanks

2964 days ago
I would encourage him kindly, not throw him out of the house, by that may just be me.

Of course, if he's at home, he should do something you agree to, such as: paying something in rent or expenses or 2) do chores and 3) get treatment and stick to it and 4) no alcohol.

2596 days ago
I now have a son going through the same thing and it is hard to figure out as a mom but I to am bipolar and I know what worked for me. I hit rock bottom with crack and sought help. I didnt get diagnosed till after I hit rock bottom so I dont know what I would have done before that. It is hard to watch your kid throw their life away when we know there is a better way. We worry about and for them. I wish he would just listen and get help but I cannot make him do anything. It would have been easier had we known about him being bipolar before 18 because I could have gotten him on meds and he could see. My son denies that his lifestyle choices are because he is bipolar so do many others but it is. I remember mine. All I can do is pray. My son came to me looking for housing but I knew that that wouldnt help him to get better it would have torn me up to watch up close as he destroyed himself. I do know that with drugs and alchol it takes them hitting rock bottom and treatment in any decent center will help them evaluate why they use and reccomend seeing psychiatrist to get well. They would also likely talk to family members with him. So find better treatment center, pray, dont ever give up on him or hope, dont enable him but let him know that you are there when he is ready to get well. Beings he just got out of treatment maybe he is ready, Tell him you wont enable him and you love him but if he wants to stay there it is to get better and to stand on his own feet he needs to take the meds. Dont just turn him away but if he isnt willing to help himself, you cant help him.