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Difficult son

Community Member

I don't know whether to seek a family or legal forum.

My son is 21. He's addicted to drugs. He has no work ethic and spends most of his time in his makeshift room which was a storage room adjacent to our garage that he's just taken over. Either eating, checking his phone, sleeping, lazying or consuming whatever drug he's on. He's on his 5th job this year, and his 4th car after trashing the last 3. Today he just couldn't be bothered going to work. Orders food deliveries and his room is a mess.

In his teens he was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, in his world he's the only one that matters, and his counsellor could not help us any more. We've put him on a mentoring youth program with trips and activities, and his mentor gave up on him after he lured another kid to alcohol on a trip away. He's wasted his schooling by skipping classes and acting the truant. After a series of warnings and dismissed from one school, he couldn't see out yr-11. He's had a number of low-end jobs since then which he hasn't been able to stick to. Been booked for speeding, lost his licence twice and is heading for a 3rd, and his car is nearly a write-off. He's had anger management issues, broken doors and windows in the house when things don't go his way, and even driven over the front garden hedge. Two court appearances with AVOs which he hasn't stuck to and no intention of doing so. Police turn up, take him in for questioning and then release him. They can't do anything as he hasn't committed a crime, yet.

We can't afford to keep supporting him. It's damaged our family mentally, especially his mother who cries in her sleep. I know he needs help but he won't voluntarily seek it. He won't reason to anything meaningful, and turns everything to a joke. We're in the process of moving house, and his mother is adamant he won't be following us. But I don't know what to do with him. I'm mentally exhausted.

10 Replies 10

Community Member

Hi Augustus

My understanding of Narcissistic Personalist Disorder (NPD) is that it is a stable condition which will not change with time. If he was diagnosed with the disorder in his teens, the diagnoses is still relevant today.

There is help available, but he has to first accept he has a problem and then seek help; good luck with that.

Have you and your wife been getting any help coping with this problem. You may not be able to help your son, but a good phycologist might help you and your wife come to terms with your grief. Worth a try!

Wishing you all the best!


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Augustus01,

I'm sorry to hear of your predicament.
The fatigue and exasperation is clearly evident in your despairing words. What more can you do for your son when he is unwilling to accept your assistance?

I guess you are under no obligation to provide anything as he is over 18 and responsible for his choices (and consequences) in life.
At the same time, it is hard not to think what will become of your son without the oversight and financial support you've provided at such emotional cost - feeling guilty for where he is now after many frustrating years.
I see your wife has reached her limit, but I feel you are torn between her needs and the notion of severing support. Is there a possibility of a drug rehabilitation program to least restore some sense of reality for your son? It would be helpful to start with a level playing field.

Propping up his deficiencies may be enabling the behaviour so a change of routine (moving house for yourselves) could shake things up a little in a positive way (forced to become independent, fend for himself, etc.). My parents went overseas for 12 months leaving me (just out of high school) a freezer full of food and access to finances - trusting or foolhardy? It did me a lot of good (and scared the carp out of me managing the household bills!).

Despite every good reason for cutting ties, I admire your determination to continue to offer support to your son. However, your own mental health and happiness must also factor into whatever you decide to do.



Hi Mr Paul,

My wife is seeing a counsellor but that is little consolation to a problem that seemingly is on-going with an unpredictable future. I have tried to make him understand that unless he changes his life by acquiring purpose/s through the help of a drug-rehab program, his future is bleak. But he has it too easy atm to want any change, let alone need it. I can't give him a purpose in life, he needs to find that himself, but laziness is a curse when you can't be bothered, and the snowball effect makes it harder as you get older.

Hi tranzcrybe,

Big kudos to you for having a go, but if we had left him to cope for any considerable time to cope on his own, I'm sure we'd return to something resembling a war zone. At times when he has cooked meals, he'd turn the (electric) stove on, then check his phone or go to his room looking for something and be side-tracked before remembering that the stove is on. Other times we've had to turn off the oven when he'd finish with it and taken his meal to his room (because apparently young people don't eat at the table these days, although his attention-seeking unsociable mannerisms of picking on his mother or sister, noisy chewing with mouth open and loud burping would not be conducive to a family meal experience anyway). So you can imagine the potential damage that can happen before any sort of learning kicks in, if at all. The thing is, we didn't bring him up like this. He didn't come from any low socio-economic background nor was he raised without values, and yet if I tried this back in my day, I'm sure my old man wouldn't hesitate to kick me out, without society even batting an eyelid. How times have changed, and sadly not for the better.

Hi Augustus

If your son's original diagnosis of NPD was correct, there is little you can do for him. He needs professional help.

You cannot reason with him, or make him understand; he sees the world very differently to you and most other people. It's not that he is lazy, or needs to find himself; it is much much more that. He will not change unless the underlying problem (NPD) is addressed; and that is a can of worms best left to a professional. To my knowledge there is no cure for NPD, just a form of treatment to help moderate the condition. That being said, I'm not a professional, so I could be wrong on the long term prognoses.

In the meantime, you and your wife need to look after yourselves first and foremost. There is no simple fix, the drama will continue until you have had enough.

Hi Augustus01,

Have you considered 'assisted living' options such as hostel accommodation with a full time carer/supervisor? In conjunction with a mental health practitioner, this might keep him safe and give you some release.

It really is a difficult situation and professional care may be beneficial in the longer term. I'm sorry to be not much help here but I feel for your family dealing with this overwhelming condition and hope treatment could yield success in time.

Take care and hold hope for the future.



Community Member
I'm aware that he needs to be institutionalised under a carefully monitored program that involves a combination of mental care, mentoring, drugs and (illegal) drug withdrawal care. I don't know if this is all facilitated under the one roof, but it needs to be accessed voluntarily, which is difficult for a narcissist to admit awareness of the current problems and need for changes. That's why I started my OP with the legal side, because as we move to a new home, we do not want a continuation of this status quo. So failing to voluntarily accept the abovementioned cures, we will need to consider our legal options that go beyond simple AVOs, which are meaningless to a narcissist.

My apologies, I did not connect the AVO's to the family.

If you have a valid AVO, and your son has breached the terms of the AVO, the breach becomes a criminal matter. An AVO may be meaningless to a narcissist, but the police will enforce the terms of the orders if you report the breach and provide proof of the orders in place. I suppose this is where the problem is, you reporting all the breaches.

If the current AVO is not doing the job, you can apply to have the terms of the order changed. You would want to do this prior to relocating.

I am not aware of any other legal avenues that you could pursue. He is an adult, and you are under on obligation to support his lifestyle.

There are no easy answers!

Hi Mr Paul,

I guess I was more looking at something like a court order that continuing to live with us is conditional upon his commitment to and completion of a drug rehab program. Especially upon relocation.