My son had Valium – Dog Abby

Dog Abby,

While I was putting away my teenage son’s laundry, I spotted a prescription bottle in his shirt drawer. It turned out to be Valium! It had a stranger’s name and address on it.

I had no choice but to confront him about this. He yelled at me for invading his privacy. I tried to stay calm while he did this, but after a few minutes, I was yelling back that HE was the one who couldn’t be trusted. He now refuses to talk to me about it. Meanwhile , I have no idea of what to do, and I am plagued with questions. Is he using? Is he selling? How did he acquire the drugs in the first place?

What is most devastating of all is that his father and I broke up because of HIS addictions, and now I am reliving this all over again. Do I turn my own son in? Do I stage an intervention? Please help!

Devastated in Denver

Dog Abby paw print


Dear Devastated,

When Mom needs me to pay attention to something important, she first lets me know that I am not in trouble. She makes eye contact, and she tells me nicely. Typically, it is something that is good for me. The only time she yells is when I am in immediate danger, like if I forgot to look both ways before crossing the street.

Dogs react to anger in one of two ways. Either we shrink away and try to hide, or we bite back. I know that your son is not a dog, but sounds like he is doing both. Before you can go on, you must find a way to let him know that he is not in trouble and that you want to understand, more than anything.

Mom also teaches other doggy mommies how to get their dogs to pay attention and be good. The first thing she tells them is that the parents are the alphas, and to never, ever, let the dog assume that he is the one in charge. This is not good for the dog or the rest of the family.

If your son is living in your home, and relies on you to pay the bills and do his laundry, then you are most certainly the alpha, and you must never allow him to think otherwise. This does not translate into you being mean to him. Mom is never mean to me. She is gentle and kind and firm all at the same time. I would feel awful if I disappointed her. Hopefully this is what your son is feeling now. If not, then you may have to reestablish your relationship hierarchy with him. You are his mom, first and foremost.

One last thought. Mom had other dogs before she had me. She never compared me to those other dogs in anything other than minor ways (like that I do not like peanut butter and they did), because those dogs were not me. I am glad that I never had to live in the shadow of those that came before, be it good or bad things. Your son is not your husband.

Mom says that the drug you found is something that depressed people take. Divorces are hard, and being the kid of a single mother is not easy, either. Take him to a counsellor and a doctor. They will be able to tell if he needs help without their emotions clouding the diagnosis.

I hope this was a one-time thing.

With respect,


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