Should I visit my son in jail?



My son is in jail, due to substance abuse related criminal activity. He is hopeful he’ll be out for Christmas, and would love to come home I’m sure - however, that scares me! I don’t trust him yet. He has ruined every occasion, every holiday. I don’t know if I’m up to having him come home for Christmas. Coming home has been a trigger for him in the past. I feel horrible for hoping he stays in jail until space becomes available at the treatment centre, where he says he will go, and is apparently high on the list for admittance. While he’s in jail I know where he is, that he has a roof, food, and is safe, and primarily… he is now over 40 days clean and sober! I don’t know how to handle this, if he is released.

Any thoughts? Should I visit him in the chance that he’s not out for Christmas?


My son is in jail also but he wants nothing to do with me in your case like everyone has told me you need to do tough love and omg this is the hardest thing ever I fail everytime I hear my sons voice…you need to be honest with him tell him there are consequences to his behavior and his actions…explain to him that his drug abuse has caused issues in the past maybe ask him if hes willing to go to recovery is he willing to go on his own not forced…you got to be upfront with him this is the best time cause hes sober put a big in his ear tell him your disappointed do say angry itll just make him rebel in what he is doing…I no it’s hard but you have to sit down with him while hes sober


If you feel physically and mentally able, I would go. But under no means stress yourself over it. Your well being comes 1st! I do say this from experience. My husband was in jail for 2 yrs. due to alcoholism that resulted in multiple DUI’s & Driving on revoked. We managed to hold our marriage together for 12 years prior to this so I did go see him almost weekly and wrote him almost daily. I was basically the only person in his life that showed him that no matter what, he was still loved, and I still had hope for him. There were days that there were other things going on. Grandkids Bdays,etc. and days I just felt drained and didn’t want to go. Very rare, but I told him on the few calls we could afford and he had no choice but to accept and try to understand. Not all cases turn out positive, but he got saved alone in a jail cell reading the Bible out of boredom, came out with no desire for alcohol, joined our loving church, enrolled in community college and graduated with honors in Forestry Sciences. I now have an adult alcoholic son and adult meth addicted daughter. If/when they reach the place of long term confinement, forced soberness (although there are drugs in jail too), I will see and write them to express words they can’t hear now, to show them love they don’t believe is out there anymore, and know that even though we don’t always see immediate results, every seed planted will be remembered, stored, and eventually grow if we just can keep those weeds from choking them out.


I can’t speak as a mom or with the experience of what you’ve been through @gayneygirl so this is just my two cents.

I would say 1. let’s look after you first.
We cannot look after others if we aren’t on solid ground ourselves. I’m hearing your concern about him coming home. And I’ve been in the situation where my loved one has let me down around the holidays and it really sucks.

I think it sounds completely reasonable to hope he can go from jail to a treatment center.
It also sounds like this would be best for his recovery, that in the past he hasn’t been able to show up in a healthy way and you simply want him to get there.

I agree with @Lynette_Swartwood that speaking with him when sober is best.
Perhaps you could speak with him about how you’d like to come and visit and are most excited to support his long term recovery, for which you and he agree that a treatment center will be the best path.

One tip for successful conversations is to ask for permission first. And wait until he is ready for the conversation you want to have. You might not get to have the conversation today, but trust me it will go better if he agrees to it!

Another tip is to focus on the negative affects of substance use that you can both agree to dislike, this taps into his motivation to change and get help instead of it being something we are forcing on him.

As long as you feel supported and strong enough, I don’t see the harm in visiting. In fact, I think visiting under the right set up would be nice for you both.

I have no idea how the jail system works, but could you ask them to release him to the treatment center instead of home?

The more people supporting his recovery the better <3
Stay connected, I’ve read that jail can be very hard on those vulnerable and in need of professional help in recovery.


All about planting those seeds of change @Lynette_Swartwood & @Shine <3


Sounds like you’ve got a lot going on @gayneygirl but I’m so happy to hear that he has over 40 days under his belt! This gives him something to build on once he’s released. I also agree with @Lynette_Swartwood regarding speaking to him when he is sober is the best way to have any successful outcome of a conversation, and with @polly in that you have to make sure you’re taking care of yourself!

it’s totally okay that you feel scared, but I hope you can also feel empowered to help change the old patterns. One thought is to speak with him either on the phone or in person and discuss boundaries if he does come home for Christmas, and using the tips @polly mentioned, specifically asking permission to have a conversation about him coming home and what that will look like. Think about what you envision would be a good visit home, and brainstorm ways to make that happen. I wonder what exactly about coming home is a trigger for him? If you can figure this out you can find out ways to help him avoid the triggers of home!

If he is released and there is a gap between jail and treatment it’s important that he stay engaged in recovery in some way while he awaits admission. The best chance of that happening is by being surrounded by people who are supportive of his recovery, if you don’t know where he is, it’s really hard to help. Once you are having a conversation with him you can brainstorm ways to keep him motivated during the gap. Provide options to achieve the goal (for support until he gets into treatment SMART RECOVERY/AA (you can offer to go with him), go to a therapist, talk to his doctor, go to group therapy, etc).

I wonder if there’s a reason why you are uncertain about visiting him in jail if he isn’t out for Christmas? Visiting could be a really nice way to connect and speak to him when he’s sober! If you visit it could also be helpful to make a plan for what you’ll do when you leave such as meet a friend for dinner so you can decompress, or have another family member join you and wait in the car so you’re not alone.

These are just some ideas, let me know what you think! :slight_smile:


I have literally been in the exact place you are right now. don’t feel guilty for a minute about hoping your son remains in jail throughout Christmas it will make your holidays much less stressful. I don’t know how far it is for you to go visit him but if it’s not too far I would go. my son was only a half hour away and he’s been in jail and prison off and on for the last 11 years I would visit him often and never regretted it. Even on the times he was in a bad mood and didn’t want to see me I knew I did the right thing by showing him my love and support. Having 40 days clean is wonderful and maybe the fresh start he needs but it certainly no guarantee. Sometimes my son would use before I even got there to pick him up from jail. Best of luck to you and no matter what you do remember that you are doing your best and that’s all that matters.


Thank you so much @erica @Lynette_Swartwood @polly, very kind to take the time to offer advice and support. I will definitely go and see him if he is still in jail at Christmas. I’m more worried and concerned about if he is released…where will he go? I want to offer for him to come home. I miss him so much, and it is the perfect opportunity to support him to maintain his recovery. At least while he waits to get into treatment. I live in a 2 bedroom condo, and right now my other son lives with me. It will be cozy. Plus I will have to ask his brother to not have any booze in the house while Henry is here. Many things to consider, but I very much want to help him.


@gayneygirl if he comes home , you need to be ready. Especially if his disease is not being treated in jail, his disease will lie dormant , and when he’s released he will go right back out, with in a week and that is the so dangerous as they pick up where they left off, and he will be at high risk for a overdose. My suggestion is to have a plan for when he’s released, to go directly to a program . The problem you will face is the level of care he will qualify for , he won’t be able to get the higher level of care because of his clean time . It’s a joke, as to why and how the insurance governs what level of care these kids can get. Have him reach out to his case manager asap, have them start the process of finding a program that is geared to people getting out of jail, here in Mass we have one that’s called Project Turnabout , Id be happy to assist you in anyway I can , also this is all if he wants help after jail. There is a chance he will think he’s all set , but unfortunately the nature of the beast will rear its ugly head , shortly upon his release.
Kris Perry Long
Recovery Coach and Advocate
Ambrosia Treatment center


I’m praying for you! Good luck! Happy memories are made on these holidays keep them close to your heart!