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Q. My 17-year-old son's friend is just back from rehab, clean and sober, and the two have been hanging out together. I get that my son, John, is a good influence and I know that he would never use drugs. But is this okay?
A. It's wonderful that your son wants to reach out to someone who's turning his life around. But John does need to establish clear emotional boundaries. Be sure he understands that he's not supposed to be his buddy's savior or his only source of personal support. If your son starts to feel overwhelmed, he may need to spend less time with his friend and encourage him to rely on others, too. And John must have the name and number of a person or organization to contact if he suspects his pal is using again.
My only other suggestion is for you to think a little bigger. This is an opportunity to show empathy as a family, so I'd invite the friend over for dinner or another event in your home. It's this kind of welcome that helps recovering addicts feel reconnected to a sober life.
Originally published in the April 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.