A bit of a long story. About 8 weeks ago my sons partner rang to say that my son has a substance abuse issue that has been going on for two years. He was extremely upset and wanted to let us know what was going on. As they live in another city, my husband and I flew down immediately to see the situation for ourselves. As there relationship has not been good for awhile, which our son has kept us informed of, and his partner is not the most reliable source of info, we thought it best to see for ourselves. After numerous phone calls from our sons partner, worried our son would find out he had told us about our sons supposed drug issues, we arrived at our destination. Our sons partner was going to pick us up at the airport but last minute change to plans meant he couldn’t. Still received texts from him worried the info would get back to our son. I assured him I would tell our son it was a surprise visit and we would not let on. After spending four days with our son, who holds a full time demanding job, and has just had a promotion, he also teaches gym classes four times a week, and has a personal trainer, he looks well, sounds great, keeps eye contact, has no mood swings, etc. we find it difficult to see that he has a problem without asking him outright. On our last night we had dinner with our son and his partner. His partner at no stage tried to take us aside and speak to us and we have not heard a word from him since the original calls. We decided not to tell our son as we didn’t want him to feel any pressure from us, and we didn’t want to cause any more problems with his relationship.
I suffer from depression and anxiety, and am feeling the pressure of a twofold problem. I feel terrible lying to our son. Should we tell him the truth about what his partner has said? And should we ask him if he has any issues? I have tried not to bury my head in the sand and look for all the usual signs of trouble with susbtance abuse. My sister has also seen our son twice since and says he seems fine. She has at times worked in an industry that deals with people who have substance abuse problems. Not sure what to do.
I understand where you are coming from but having dealt with substance abuse in the past myself and my partner also, it can be a very easy thing to hide on the outside. Making it look like you have your shit together and being successful in your career is one thing but depending on the substance it could be something that happens when he gets home and night or on the weekend and wears off in time for work. I found it very easy to hide it from my loved ones and as this happened when I was 18/19 it just looked like I was going out drinking and partying, which is usual of a kid of that age but I still have friends now that lead totally normal live but still deal with abuse. Don't dismiss what his partner is telling you but maybe ask for more details, it can be scary if your partner had a problem and you feel helpless when it comes to getting them help. He has obviously reached out to you for help because he doesn't want to endanger his relationship further but recognises that your son needs help and it might be better received coming from you.
I hope things resolves themselves and your son gets the help if needed.
Dear Chillimax (with a wave to Scot.Girl.In.Aus)~
Scot.Girl.In.Aus has given you a very sensible appraisal of the situation and there are only a couple of things I'd like to add.
The first is a minor practical one, gyms are a good place to get drugs of various sorts.
The second is really a question about putting more pressure on your son, or his relationship - is it worth it? If you do nothing then everything is fine on the surface, but if there is a problem then nothing has been done to address it.
Your son might be clean, he might not. If not and you have visited and departed he may feel it's been an opportunity lost he can't back-track on. Also his partner may no longer see you as a potential ally.
I guess the worse thing you risk by speaking out, offering help, and being wrong is your son will feel unhappy with you. He might not, he might see your dilemma and feel grateful you did speak up. He might also feel he has to have a heart to heart with his partner to see if this is a misunderstanding or something else. In short I doubt any sensible person will be too put out.
On the other hand if you are right and your son does have a problem this could be the first stage in fixing it. Problems of this nature do have a tendency to get a lot worse overtime. I do know that many addictions cannot easily be stopped without expert or professional support, something that is not going to happen if the whole thing is hidden.
I too hope the situation is sorted and your son gets help if needed