National Eating Disorders Association

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Procedure For Getting Help

Hi all, boy am I glad I found you guys & ladies. My wife and I are at wits end. Our Son has an ED and has all that goes with it. Sneaking food, stealing our money for food, not going to college that we paid for when we thought he was, etc. He was diagnosed with depression and at a point was very close to being suicidal. He told me as much. He is now on meds and seems a little better but the other things listed above and more continue.
We had him in an outpatients program 3 times a week but eventually blue cross/blue shield would not pay anymore since they said it is "Not a medical necessity". I do not have the funds to pay for it since he is not working and I am making car payments, insurance, car repairs, gas, clothing, etc. Don't get me wrong, I would not mind paying IF he was going to school like he should. But the fact remains anyway, I cannot afford to pay ALL for treatment.
He is seeing a therapist once a week (if he is actually going I do not know) but since he is 24 I cannot discuss his treatment. We would love to get him in an inpatient program but due to what BC/BS told me we don't know how to do that. Can someone direct me to where I can get the ball rolling? Would it be his doctor? Or can the therapist recommend he go inpatient?
Another question, We took his car away from him since he is not working and only allow him to use it to look for work or do family chores (which are minimal to say the least) and his laptop which he uses to mix his bands recordings with. The music is all he seems to care about at this point. We are not sure if this is the right thing to do but wanted to show some consequence for his actions. I understand about the addiction part somewhat so we ask, are we being too harsh on him? I saw the hotline number but didn't want to tie up the phone if this is the kind of things they can't address. I'll stop and await input and give you more feedback on what's going on here should you need it. Thanks so much for anything you can offer.

Hi! You did come to the right

Hi! You did come to the right place, I'm sorry your son is struggling, and yes with his age it can be difficult to get him in to any treatment since he will have to choose to do so himself. Don't be afraid to call the Helpline (I used to volunteer there as well) they are trained and have some great resources that will be able to help you, or at the very least give you as much information and guidance as they can. It is also not unusual for parents/family/friends of those who are suffering to seek therapy for themselves especially when the loved one is refusing treatment or refusing there is a problem. In trying to secure treatment for him, here is a helpful link that can outline some steps for you: The helpline will also be able to help you find treatment options in your area (or further), wether it's a counselor, therapist, inpatient/outpatients (they can also find therapists for friends/family if you choose to do that too). Here is some great information relating to males and eating disorders, which is no less important than women who suffer:
The Helpline number is 1-800-931-2237, their hours are M-F 9-9, Fri 9-5 EST. I hope some of this information is helpful, let us know how it goes!
Briana, NEDA Volunteer

Challenges Associated With Adult Children With EDs

Thanks for sharing your and your son's struggles. I'm a member of NEDA's PFN Steering Committee. More importantly, I am the dad of a now 26 year old daughter who battled an eating disorder for several years - a number of which were when she was an adult. I know intimately the "place" that you are writing from - your obvious love and concern for your son, your frustration at his seeming reluctance to seek help (and related behaviors) and your corresponding desire for "answers." I fully support Briana's suggestions re: contacting the NEDA Helpline and accessing the considerable resources that NEDA has to offer relating to the treatment options in your geographic area and the myriad family support options that are available. I would also offer these few thoughts, prefaced by my belief that, for all of their similarities, eating disorders affect individuals and families in unique and individual ways. In other words, what may work for one individual or family may not work for another. Having said that, I believe it is important to find an eating disorder professional who can evaluate your son and determine not only the appropriate level of care (e.g., out-patient, inpatient or some hybrid of the two), but the programs that are best-suited to address his individual needs. Once that is done, you can work with the therapist, your son and your insurer to better understand what each of those treatment options involves and whether there are adequate resources to offer to make them available to your son. If (and when) you complete those steps, my personal opinion is that it must be up to your son to take the next step. He is the one who ultimately has to choose life. He has to be open to battling his illness. Regrettably, as hard as it is for us as loving parents to accept (and it is hard), we can not "force" them to make those choices. One other thought, if I may. Issues relating to consequences for behaviors should rightfully be left up to mom and dad, regardless of a child's age. You are the ones who know your son best. I get the car piece, but I pause over the laptop. particularly If, as you suggest, it is his lifeline to creating music, which is all he cares about at the moment. My personal belief is that all of us need something that we're passionate about to make us want to get out of bed in the morning, to give us a reason for living. I would be most reluctant to deprive him of that passion right now, as it may well be what ends up motivating him to want to get better. At their core, eating disorders are inherently isolating. They "feed" on guilt, shame and unworthiness. One of the keys (my opinion) to overcoming them is defeating those "lies" with unconditional love and support. I hope that's helpful.

Input Recieved.

Briana, thanks for your input and info. I did see links on this site but I became overwhelmed on not knowing specifically where to go. You have zoomed me in on the specifics to help get me started.
DB - Thank you as well for your response and experiences. Yes, I agree with your analysis about the laptop and I was leaning that way. When things came to a head yesterday my wife and I reacted mainly on emotion and frustration. It's now a day later, the smoke has cleared a little, and I do agree with you on that. I will give him his laptop back.
I believe he would be willing to go inpatient, he does want help, I feel that he knows HIS program is not working. We remain positive towards him and encourage and support him with minimum raising of the voices. Even when he admitted to stealing from us I calmly told him that I understand addiction but that he has to realize now that something HAS to be done. We'll see what happens next. Yesterday was by far the worst day we all had in dealing with this. I feel a lot better since you both responded and my stomach has less knots in it now. Thanks for that as well.

Don't forget to help yourselves too


I know it's really hard on you as parents, and I commend you for helping your son. Remember that it's ok to feel anger and frustration - these are normal emotional responses. And this is an important reason for you to get help for yourselves as well. Since the best way to talk with your son is with compassion and empathy for his struggles, a support group would be a good place for you to be able to express your frustration and anger. It also provides relief that you are not alone in this situation. Your son is lucky to have parents that are trying to learn how to best deal with this. Not all parents do that. Good luck!

To find a support group in your area, go to this link and click on Find Treatment Referral, Support Group, and Research Studies:

My son has the same life

When I read your post, I felt an instant connection. My son will turn 21 in a few months and has been battling depression and an eating disorder for the past 5 years. He cannot keep a job, he cannot finish a class in college ad can't even come out of his room to socialize with the family on most days. I went through the same experiences with using his car for family errands, doing small chores around the house and on many occasions, this seemed too much for him to handle. We tried therapy, group therapy, working with a clinical psychologist 2-3 times a week and still he can't get past this. So on to the residential program route. We found a place in a nearby state which offers the type of 24 hour residential treatment he needs. The insurance approved it and we are now getting ready to embark on this journey and I receive a call today from my insurance company saying "oh, we made a mistake and the residential program is not covered." It took mg3 long months to convince my son to do this and now I don't know what to do. I am appealing this decision but I honestly believe it won't make a difference. I need to find an IOP program within driving distance, I suppose. The challenge with that is getting my son out of the house. It is comforting to know others are going through a similar situation. If anyone has suggestions, please pass along. I can't help you regarding what to do next but I wanted you to know I am out there with the same circumstances. My heart goes out to you and your wife. My sons only comfort is writing music, playing his instruments and oil painting. He aspires to be an artist....


Bobbysmom, that is like a mirror image of my situation. Still having problem with getting a facility though. I called NEDA support and they gave me a few places to call. One had a disconnected number, one was too far away, one was for woman only, and the other was for a different type of eating disorder. So back to square one. On the bright side, since posting initially, my Son has found a job, has been setting up appointments with his counselors & Psychiatrist, and has committed to 5 OA meetings a week. I'm hoping when he goes they will tell him about a 90 meeting in 90 day program like I had in AA/NA. Since we started the tough love he seems to be improving a little bit, however we are cautiously optimistic since we have seen this before. He does however seem more excited about doing the right things than we have seen in recent time. We pray that this time it takes.


I have filed an Appeal with my insurance company to reconsider allow my son to attend a full 24/7 program. This included letters of recommendation from his clinical psychologist and the program admissions individual at the facility. I don't know what your insurance will cover but I discovered a few things (I hope I am not offending you; you may already know this). Many insurance companies will not cover a 24/7 residential program but will cover an IOP with separate housing accommodations as long as the program bills them separately. This is what I was told anyway and I am following up with this today for confirmation from my insurance company. I found two facilities which bill this way and have men. One is in Arizona and the other is in Ohio. I do not know if these are great programs but they meet the insurance requirements. Rosewood in Arizona looks wonderful. I will pursue that avenue once I get approval from my insurance company (if I do...) I feel our sons are a stand alone when it comes to insurance. I do not understand how they will pay for him to be in a full blown in-patient program, pay for rehab if he needed it but wont pay for this. Unbelievable!!!! Please feel free to share any headway you make and contacts which may be a pathway for my son. I am so happy he found a job and I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Faith is key for me during these times...


Hi there!!!

My heart truly hurts hearing you and your son's struggles. I just turned 21 and it was not too long ago that my parents helped me recover from my eating disorder. I understand how difficult this is for all parties. It requires a lot of strength and support.

I'm sad to hear that your insurance company is causing issues. It makes very little sense to me, but I do know that NEDA has some great resources related to insurance issues. Have you been able to read through it? Here's a link in case you haven't seen it yet!

I truly hope things will work out for you and your son! During times like these I think it is really important for us to utilize every resource possible for us to receive support and encouragement! I am here for you and there are others who truly do care!! Have you heard of the NEDA Navigators program? It consists of trained volunteers, some parents of those who have recovered, who are here to provide private one-on-one support!! It really is a great way to receive support and advice! Here is a link if you are interested in learning about it more!

I hope things will improve!!! Please let me know if you have any questions!!!

Stay Strong!!!!


Thank you for your comment and the information. I had not heard of either resources you mentioned but Inbill pursue it today. After making multiple calls I was referred to the Denver ERC and my insurance will pay for the majority of the fees. We are going through the process of admissions today and pray this will be a new beginning. What I am learning is that resources are out there and support groups; but the are not as easily to find until one starts making connections and digging beyond the surface. I plan to attend a support group in the area sponsored by NEDA and will continue my research. My goal as a parent is to be as supportive and loving without enabling my son. This is an amazing forum.

More Resources!

Hi again!!

You are very welcome! I agree that it is hard sometimes to find the resources that are out there. I know you mentioned about a support group, but I am not sure if you have looked through the list of support groups on NEDA's site? Here's a link to it!

Also, sometimes certain treatment centers have research studies, and sometimes these studies will agree to pay for some of the cost of being at the facility. NEDA has a list of reputable research studies that are out there. Here's the link for it!

You are a very strong mother!! Please know that you are never alone!