I recently met with two parents who were trying to figure out whether their son needed residential treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. The parents were Taos, New Mexico, residents and had come to meet with me at our Taos campus. Shortly after our conversation began I started making a mental list of “signs and symptoms,” listening carefully as they described their son’s behaviors over the past several years. Thirty minutes later the clinical picture was clear. Their 24 year old son’s life was being destroyed by the disease of addiction, specifically alcohol and drug addiction. He definitely needed addiction treatment.
The behavioral signs could have been taken directly from just about any addiction textbook. At age 17 he was arrested for marijuana possession and attempted sale and completed an outpatient addiction counseling program as part of his probation. He’d had two DWI arrests during the past five years; he lied to his parents about the second arrest and told many other lies related to school and work and money; he’d stopped going to classes again at college; he’d dropped out a year earlier, then reenrolled, in his third attempt to graduate; he’d lost multiple part time jobs, and blamed the employers; he wasn’t following through on his agreement to earn his own rent and spending money; he was now frequently asking his parents for money; he’d given up his apartment and was now staying with friends; his girlfriend of the past several years broke off the relationship; occasionally when he called home asking for money his speech sounded slurred. He never returned their calls, nor did he respond to calls made by his brother and sister.