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Donít wait for rock bottom

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader


If you or someone you know is out of control, donít wait for something to change. Take action. Do something. If that doesnít work, try something else. Hospitals and jails can be a catalyst for change, but the goal should be to avoid those places.

Over the years, Iíve met with hundreds of families struggling with a substance abuser or addict. In most cases, by the time the family meets with the lawyer, the addict has already gotten himself into legal trouble. Unfortunately, too many people struggling with addiction refuse to get sober until it is forced upon them in jail. Sobriety is tough. Figuring out how to help someone who doesnít want help is even tougher.

Meet Don. Don is 22 years old and is a mess. Don is not a real person. Don drinks a lot and he is into other drugs as well. Don lives with his mother, but itís not unusual for him to be gone for days at a time. Donís mom, Janet, rarely sees Don and she has no idea when heís coming or leaving. When she does see him, they usually argue. She is afraid that if she kicks her son out of the house that she will never see him again. She also fears that things could get even worse for Don if she gives him the boot.

Prior to Donís senior year in high school, Don was involved in the marching band and basketball. His grades were pretty good and he was a happy kind-hearted kid. After a difficult break- up with a girlfriend over the summer before his senior year in high school, Don dropped out of band and basketball and his attitude started to change. During his senior year, Don was ticketed for minor consuming alcohol and had to do some counseling and community service work. Janet made sure he attended all of his counseling appointments. Don was young enough then that he seemed to listen to Janet. Janet could discipline him by taking away his cell phone or grounding him. As he got older, things changed.

Janet and her son used to have a close relationship. When Don turned 20, Donís father bought him a used car. Don struggled to find employment. When he did work, it never seemed to last for more than a few weeks.

Don would come home late and sleep even later. He locked his bedroom door and would usually not answer when his mother knocked. Occasionally, Don would appear at the house with a female friend and actually interact with Janet. But, over the last few months, Janet noticed that Don had very few visitors.

Janet told Don numerous times that he needed to quit drinking and partying. She couldnít prove it, but she even suspected Don stole money and jewelry from her. Janet made an appointment for Don to go back and see his counselor. Don refused to go. Janet even asked a good friend if he would take Don to an A.A. meeting. Don refused to go stating he was fine. Janet hoped Don was just going through a phase. Once, Janet threatened to take away Donís car after finding a smoking pipe and a used needle. Don told her it was his car and he would call the police if she touched it.

Janet doesnít know what to do. She feels helpless and alone. She sometimes wonders if sheís over-reacting. Recently, she contacted her insurance company only to find out that her coverage did not include in-patient rehabilitation. She also knows that Don will refuse to get help.

Donís life is on a deadly trajectory. She doesnít realize that hundreds of thousands of parents have gone through something like this with their children. There are support groups, counselors, addiction specialists, doctors, psychologists, books, volunteers, help-lines, and Internet sites all intended to help. She needs to get on-line and pick up the phone. One simple Google search, ďmy child is an addict and Iím worried,Ē will provide Janet with an arsenal of information.
Janet and Don are running short on time. Even if her son wonít get help, she needs to.

Janet is waiting for Don to hit rock bottom.

Heís been there a while.


Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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