Can Something Good Come from an Adult Child’s Drug Addiction?

The Blessings of Boundaries

My husband and I were in a 12-week SANITY Support group, and it made quite a difference in our lives. At the first meeting I started to have a glimmer of hope, first time in years of watching and enabling my son as he continued to struggle with addiction and bad behavior. Not always easy or steady, though. At about the 5th meeting, things in our home got quite a bit worse…

But we leaned on others in the group as they shared stories that were so similar to ours. Evidently there are a lot of us sharing this agony, and it breaks it down as we share each others’ burdens and lift each other up in prayer.

A huge blessing in this, also, was that my husband has now been in a real church, something I had never thought would happen… Such evidence of God’s love and grace… to take something as awful as a child’s addiction and use it for some good!

Thank you for hosting this at the church, giving us a place to learn about the program and to support each other. – D.

Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children and finding SANITY Support


A Note from Allison

The 12-week SANITY Support Group program is being revised to an 8-week program. Please contact me if you would like to host an 8-week program in your home or church.

My son turned 40 this past year and is drug-free and living in his own apartment. Is everything always hunky-dory and peachy-keen? Hardly. Has the journey to setting boundaries suddenly become this smooth ride to joy, hope, and peace?

I wish.

But I will tell you this…without applying the Six Steps to SANITY each and every day I would not have made it this far.

The cry of my heart is to help every parent or grandparent who feels the anguish of watching someone they love self-destruct with drugs or alcohol….

About Allison Bottke

The author of the Setting Boundaries book series from Harvest House Publishers.


  1. Hi, I am on my second time around reading “Setting Boundaries with your adult children”. I read about the SANITY support groups and wanted to check out possibly starting a group in my home. Your website under “how to start a SANITY group” it states you can download in PDF form the material for the support leader. I have been unable to find this material. At this point, I am just wanting to check it out and see if this is something I should do. Can you direct me as to where on your website the leader material can be found?

    Thank you!

  2. Allison Bottke says:

    We’ll have materials available soon….sorry for the delay. Im revising the 12 week program to make it an 8-week program, will have PDF’s on how to get started available later this month, promise! Please stop back.

  3. Peggy Johnson says:

    I am currently reading Setting boundaries with your adult children and have found my actions and enabling behaviors in the pages of this book. I am struggling with how to set boundaries in love. I am still angry with my son (drug addict in recovery) for all of the things he has done and how he continues to manipulate me and his dad. The most recent crisis is when he stole $250 from us by cashing a check that was supposed to be given to us. When I confronted him he offered no apology and spoke of no plan to pay back what he took. He says he didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t know how to handle this situation in love. I know that I will not get the money back, I just can’t get over the fact that he took it and won’t take responsibility for it. Do I forgive and forget? I know that I do have to forgive. That is what God calls us to do. But how do I hold him accountable for it? I feel like if I resume normal activities with him that I am saying, it’s ok what you did. I just struggle with what my response should be. I want to be obedient to God and what I am supposed to do as a Christian

    • Allison Bottke says:

      Dear Peggy, I understand totally what you are saying. It is a dilemma to respond in love when someone betrays and hurts us in such a manner. Yet forgive we must. However, that does not mean we continue to allow someone to overstep boundaries and hurt us time after time. Holding our adult kids accountable is all about consequences. It’s also about dealing with the here and now, and not the past. Starting fresh is liberating. Develop your Action Plan, consider the consequences, and most importantly, decide that from this day forward you are going to live with SANITY.

      I know that may sound like a cop out, that your kid gets to walk off “Scott Free,” but we aren’t judges in the lives of our adult kids. We must decide to set healthy boundaries and do what it takes to make our own right choices…whether or not our adult kids ever change.

      Please share an update on what’s been happening with your son…I’m praying for you.


  4. Peggy,
    I’m with you in spirit and have the same question…how do i react to the things my son has done to us without condoning his behavior? When do I cross the line from helping to enabling? How do we exercise tough love without embittering him? He has a way of twisting our words and intents so in his mind “my parents don’t care about me.”. Forget all we have already done…forget all the debts we’ve already forgiven. He takes us for granted and he treats us like crap. I am emotionally dead and feel like walking away sometimes and just let him fall and flounder on his own. Yet, i love my son and i dont want to see him ruin his life. I feel if we dont intervene, help a little, stay on his case, he will go down the road to a point of no return. He’s only 21… Maybe we can still direct him. Am i misguided? How much do i let go? If only i could see the future effects of my actions or inactions. if only I knew for sure what the Lord wants me to do. I just don’t fee equipped to handle him anymore. It’s been one thing after another for the past 6 years. I am drained. Help!

    • Allison Bottke says:

      Sandy, are you still out there? I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to you, I somehow missed this entire thread of comments.

      You have so many questions, and I can relate to every one of them…many of us can. Participating in a SANITY Support group would be the best thing right now. Let’s talk about this, okay? Let me know if you are still here….

      Im praying for you and your son.

    • Sandy – I don’t know that I have any answers – I am still struggling with my response to my son’s behavior – and he is 25. The only thing I can say is that I felt the way you did when he was 21, but yet I continued to ‘help’ him, to try to get him treatment, etc. – all of which he didn’t want for himself. He came to me in May, wanting to go to rehab for his drug addiction – and I had always told him I would help him (ONE time) with that, so I cashed out the last little 401K and sent him. He lasted two months and it seemed it was going well – until he (it seems now) manipulated the situation so that it became impossible to leave him there – and we made the mistake of picking him up and bringing him into our home. He has quickly reverted to all his old behavior patterns – lying, drinking, prob drugs and manipulation – and when I confront him, he calls me foul names. I think the time has finally come when I can take back my ‘sanity’…I’m at the end of the line with him. I will always love him, but nothing we have done has ‘helped’ him because he didn’t want it badly enough. I am going to make him an offer of a few months in a halfway house – in a town about 90 miles away – and hopefully he will take me up on that. However, if he reacts and refuses, he will have to leave our home anyway. My husband is very upset and thinks this will ‘destroy’ me, wondering where he is – if he’s homeless, etc. – but somehow God will provide me the strength to do the ‘right’ thing – I’m sure of it. He has been in jail, prison, and near death – nothing can be unexpected at this point. This may not be ‘optimistic’ for you, and you may not be ready to ‘hear’ it, but read and re-read Allison’s book, and hold onto the biblical promises that God has given us… will do the right thing, and I will pray that your son will respond in a positive way. Hugs and prayers,

  5. Bette Clark says:

    I am a mom of 3, my youngest son was murdered at the age of 15, he was in the wrong place wrong time. It has devestated my family. My oldest son has always struggeled with drug addiction. He has been to many places for help and also has served jail time. My middle son is now exhibiting the same type of behaviors. Now my oldest son was on probation and then I called his PO because we had my youngest son’s murder trial during Dec. 10 and Jan. 2011. My oldest son went down hill he was clean for 3 years. He stole everythig that was of any value, all my gold and jewelry my aunt or mom (who both have passed away) he took and sold for drugs. He started with pills then went to the bad stuff. Now I tried to get him help went to at least 3 places, then finally after I called his PO he was locked up for 30 days he was released for them to find a bed for him. Then not 2 days later he got into trouble and was locked up again, well he stayed there for about 5 months but the charges were dropped as the other person did not ever show up for the court cases. So they sent my son to a program and he will be released next week, he was there for 60 days. So he has been clean for at least 7 months now. But I’m so worried he will do the same thing to me like he used to do, beg for money, steal, etc. as my middle son is doing these things to me too and how can he stay clean if his brother is headed down the wrong path.? I have not read the book I’d like to is it in the library?? I don’t have the money to buy any books at the moment as you can see with all this that happened I lost my job then had a bad car accident. It’s not been an easy life for me, especially losing my youngest son to murder, (the men who have been found guilty will be serving double life in prison as my son was with the young man they were after and he also died). So my questions are, how do I stop enabling and be strong??? It’s so easy to give in and I know this is wrong for me to do, I’ve been trying so hard with my middle son before my oldest comes home to be more independent, take care of your own wash, cook, do the dishes, mow the lawn, etc. I told my oldest that they will have to take turns doing this kind of stuff. Am I on the right path? But my weakness is giving money out because I feel so bad and I know I shouldnt because I’m in such debt can barely pay my bills as it is. I don’t know where to get help, I know ppl told me about Al Anon and I think there is a church that has a program for “Families in Crisis” I might try and go to. I am to weak to keep fighting this battle. I really can’t take much more of the same thing and I pray and pray that things will change and he does sound so good and looks so healthy but coming home to the neighborhood I’m afraid it will start all over again and that is somethign I know I cannot go thru again, I would not be able to handle it and am afraid for my own health. I started a new job and don’t want to jeopardize that either. I just need help!!

    • Wow Bette you have your hands full. I will pray for you. I think you are on the right path but you have to be so strong! I just read the book and can’t believe what an enabler I am. You have to ask yourself not what will happen if you DON’T continue to do for your son, but what will happen to your family if you DO? I have been doing the same things with my daughter for years and expecting a different outcome each time. It is not working and now having read the book I realize that I must change. You know it is not even about them, it is about us. We can’t keep doing the same things and being miserable. We have to do what we know is right and pray that they will “get it.” In the process there may be some peace for us. “The book says Let go, and let God.” He has a plan for us all.

      I hope someone can offer some advice for me. I just read the book and in the last week have become enlightened to my role as enabler to my 20 year old daughter, who is now unmarried, unemployed, and PREGNANT! I feel lucky to have found this book when I did. While she has never been in jail, is not addicted to “hard” drugs (but has smoked plenty of pot) and has never stolen from me, I know it could only be a matter of time that SHE WILL . If she weren’t pregnant I would have no problems fully implementing all of the necessary steps outlined in the book. I am not sure if there is a “modified” SANITY for enablers of pregnant girls…..How about that? Am I trying to find a way to continue enabling? Anyone have any ideas or comments? I am SO grateful to have found this website and this book. I really now have hope for me and my daughter (and my grandchild…..)

      • Allison Bottke says:


        Wow, seems like we all have our hands (and hearts) full, don’t we? I missed responding to this post and I apologize. Can you share an update on your daughter?

        I returned home to live with my mother when I was 16 and pregnant and without my mothers “help” I’m not sure I would have made it. But the key is “help.” She did not enable me, her goal was to help me become INDEPENDENT and get my own place. There were things I had to accomplish. A critical issue in your desire to help your daughter is to have a written Action Plan outlining your expectations and consequences. You can encourage her to develop her own goals, but it’s a fine line you are walking when it comes to setting healthy boundaries and not enabling….

        Hope we can talk soon.

        Praying for you and your daughter and grandbaby.


    • Allison Bottke says:

      Bette, are you still there?

  6. Cecilly says:

    A girl who just graduated from college and is like a daughter to my husband and I, just returned home to a bad situation where her 19 YO brother, living with her father, has slipped further into drug use and is disrespecting his home and parents. It’s not up to her to fix the situation, and the father is not willing to enforce boundaries. What can this girl do? She is only staying at home until late June, but the situation in the home is not always safe with the brother there right now and the father deep into his own enabling. The mother lives with the grandmother as the parents are separated. Your books are directed at parents or other parental figures…but what about a sibling in pain? What can she do?

    • Allison Bottke says:

      Cecilly: The third book in the Setting Boundaries series is titled: Setting Boundaries with Difficult People and it’s specifically for people like your friend. I’m so sorry this post slipped through the cracks, can you share an update on how she is doing?

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