Finally threw down the gauntlet....

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Mikey, May 14, 2007.

  1. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    It seems that Mother's Day wasn't so great for many of us, and our family is no exception. It started Thursday when I tried to get my son to at least acknowledge that he'd really gone off the deep end with pot since he "got healthy".

    I guess that conversation didn't take, because the following evening (Friday) we had another episode. wife and I came home from a banquet and difficult child was gone. wife called on the phone, he was out with his pothead friend. wife begged him to not get stoned, said that was all she wanted for Mother's Day. He basically said "I don't care".

    Saturday came, and he left for work and came back without saying more than 10 words to us. While he was at work, I wrote him a pretty stern letter that said it was time for him to face facts. Regardless of all the other "good things" he'd done in his life, the overall issue was now the drugs. Since he was making the rules, he'd only left me two choices to offer him. Either: <ul>[*]Deal with your drug problem and continue to get the benefits of our family , or [*]Continue to choose drugs and pseudo-friends over us, treat us like jerks for acting like responsible parents, and treat our home like a motel - and lose the benefits of the family.[/list] No punches pulled, no room for negotiation, nothing. His rules don't allow for options when it comes to us, so he gets the same black-or-white choice he forces us to make.

    It's really pretty simple: we have to take care of him until he's 18 and out of school. Between now and then, he can either get help, rejoin the family, and gain the benefits, or he can choose to continue acting like a tennant in a hotel, and get treated accordingly (not to mention the lease will be up in May 2008, and it's non-renewable).

    So far, silence.

    The next day was Mother's Day, and he spent most of the day in bed reading. When he finally did stir, it was to ask if he could spend the afternoon with his girlfriend's family. I said to be sure and tell her mother Happy Mother's Day from all of us.
    :grrr:

    He didn't get home until time for bed, and said nary a word on his way up the stairs.

    I said things to him that letter that I've never said before. But they needed to be said, and he has to choose. If I have to live with a stranger for the next 18 months, then I certainly won't go overboard trying to make that person's life easy at my expense (or at the expense of the rest of my family).

    I also finally took away his "nuclear option". For so long, we've been hesitant to make any waves because we didn't want him to lose ground on the positive changes he's made in his life. Friday, when he was so mean to his mother, I finally realized that any good things that have happened in his life happened because he wanted them to happen. There's nothing I can do to make him continue to do those good things, and there's nothing I can do to stop him from throwing them away.

    It's liberating, in a way, to finally realize this. He either will or he won't continue to make improvements in his life, regardless of what we do. So that leaves me free to work from the premise of protecting the rest of my family while trying to give him the opportunity to improve. He will or he won't, but he won't hold me hostage anymore with things I can't control.

    Not sure where this is going to end up, since I've no doubt that part of this is also the normal teenage angst thing of a kid who's about to become an adult. But the problem is what it is, and he's made the rules. Now I'm playing by them, and we'll see what kind of life he chooses for the remainder of his time under my roof.

    I sincerely hope that he chooses to get help. But if he doesn't, I'll grieve for the child that I raised and lost, because he's a complete stranger when he's living the stoner lifestyle. If that happens, I'll have to find some way to coexist with the stranger who replaced him until it's time for that stranger to leave.

    :crying:

    I guess I really have come full circle, hunh?


    Mikey
     
  2. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Mikey</div><div class="ubbcode-body">It's really pretty simple: we have to take care of him until he's 18 and out of school. Between now and then, he can either get help, rejoin the family, and gain the benefits, or he can choose to continue acting like a tennant in a hotel, and get treated accordingly (not to mention the lease will be up in May 2008, and it's non-renewable).</div></div>


    I am confused. I do not see any real ultimatum in what you have written. You said he will loose the benefit of the family. What does that entail? Are you going to have him committed to a rehab if he continues to use? Are you going to evict hime or charge rent? What is going to be different? -RM
     
  3. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Mikey, you said, "I finally realized that any good things that have happened in his life happened because he wanted them to happen. There's nothing I can do to make him continue to do those good things, and there's nothing I can do to stop him from throwing them away."

    I think coming to that realization was the MOST difficult thing for my husband and me. But, with it, came a bizarre kind of peace.

    In fact, our son basically said those words to us many times, yet I, in particular, could simply not accept that how his dad and I felt about his choices could matter so little to him and impact those choices not at all.

    Even back when we still believed it might help to try to "bribe" him by promising him a ridiculous allowance for simply attending school, a car for graduation, etc., although he very much wanted those things, he simply wanted his high more. He's admitted as much...

     
  4. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Mikey~

    Pretend you are 17. Which would YOU choose?


    As long as the 2nd option includes using your home as a hotel, he's been given carte blanche to come and go as he pleases. And get as stoned as he wants.

    IF he is staying there as a hotel tenent, I would say he needs to follow tenent rules: rent, chores, etc. And then there would absolutely HAVE to be a disconnect. And possibly the consiquence of eviction if the rules are not followed.
     
  5. judi

    judi Active Member

    How responsible are you for him? Do you HAVE to keeep him home until he is 18? In IL, the legal age of living on your own is 17 and no agency will bring this aged teen home. What happens if he is smoking in your home and/or has paraphanalia, seeds, etc and you get raided? Don't think it can't happen. How will that affect you and your wife?

    My bottom line to my son was no drugs, period. Otherwise he had to live elsewhere. My husband is a high school teach and I'm an advanced practice nurse - we would both lose our jobs and ability to work if this were to happen.

    However, like I have stated before, those of us who have been there, done that have a pretty tough hide - lol. You have to do what is okay for you and what you can live with. Good luck.
     
  6. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">am confused. I do not see any real ultimatum in what you have written. You said he will loose the benefit of the family. What does that entail? Are you going to have him committed to a rehab if he continues to use? Are you going to evict hime or charge rent? What is going to be different? -RM </div></div>

    Well, more than anything else, he's used to 'acting the fool', then turning on the charm and expecting us to forget what he's done ten minutes later. That, for one, will stop.

    But there are other more tangible things. He can find his own car insurance instead of riding on my policy (extra hundred bucks a month, if he can find it). He can try to get a mobile phone on his own instead of being on my family plan (good luck at 8.50/hr, less than a week on the job). Oh and he can either find a way to finance the remaining 2500 bucks he owes me for the car, or I sell it and he starts riding the bus and mooching off his friends again.

    Out of gas? So sorry, call one of your pothead friends for a few bucks. Won't answer your cell phone when we call? Guess it's been stolen and I need to cut off service. Nope, you are NOT going to dinner with the rest of us unless you pay your own way. Won't clean your room? We won't wash your clothes.

    What? you don't like Sears ToughSkins jeans? Sorry. I'm only obligated to buy you some clothes - I don't think I'm obligated to purchase anything that actually LOOKS good. And by the way, I wore them when I was young - what's the big deal? Don't like it? Buy your own.

    Oh, and while you're living under my roof, from now on I won't just flush your pot: I WILL call the police if you bring pot (or any other drugs or illegal substance) in my house. Curfew will be reasonable, but if you consistently break curfew or stay out all night I'll report you as a runaway to the police. And if I think you're in danger, or engaging in any illegal activities, then I may call the police then as well.

    There are many, many ways to do this. It's very possible to provide what I'm obligated to under the law without giving a stranger more than is required. I hope I don't have to do any of them, though, or if needed I hope to get by with only throwing one or two at him at a time until he knows that I'm not laying down any more.

    But ultimately, he's a pretty insecure person, and has always known that we'll keep taking him back no matter how much dung he slings at us. I think that treating him as someone in the house but outside the family will do more to get his attention than anything else. Or, maybe not. If it doesn't, then he truly isn't the child I raised, and is truly a stranger living in my house. As someone earlier said, realizing all this is a disturbingly liberating feeling.

    As to your other questions: No on the rehab - already checked for three states around. No Residential Treatment Center (RTC) will take him against his will unless he's judged to be an immediate danger to himself or others. Being a disrpectful, lazy pothead doesn't count.

    No on the eviction and rent as well. State law says I'm obligated to provide shelter, food, and other reasonable care until he's 18 and out of school. As long as he's in school, I don't have a choice unless I can find someone else qualified to take him.

    Like I said, I hope I don't have to do any of this. But I'm prepared to do all of it. His next 18 months under my roof will be as good or as bad as he chooses to make them. And if/when he chooses to leave when the time comes, he can leave as a well-loved member of the family, or he can be shooed out the door like an evicted apartment dweller (which is already going to happen to two of his friends - I'm certain because their parents have already told me so).

    I'm hoping that he'll start to get the hint when we don't back down any more and enable his acting out. Or Maybe he'll just freak and go into ODD overdrive. But I can't control him. All I can control is me. I can treat him with respect and dignity without demeaning him, and still require that he act like a member of the family to be treated like a member of the family.

    And there's a glimmer of hope. He pushed hard on staying out with his pothead friends the night I gave him the letter. Answer back was a firm NO, and he understood that he could either directly disobey my authority or comply with my reasonable request. He complied. That doesn't sound like much, but it's the first time in a long time that he got a stark, black-and-white response from me; no wiggle room, no way to con me.

    Either disobey or comply. From now on, that will ALWAYS be his choice. I will not be unreeasonable or tyrranical. But neither will I intentionally (or unintentionally) "build in" some wiggle room to every answer I give him. Before, I left myself some leeway hoping to see him act like the adult he wants to be treated as. Didn't work, so now it's back to sixth grade. The queestion isn't "do you want veggies on your lunchplate?" The question is now "do you want peas or carrots?"

    Whew. How's that? And yes, this is major change for me from just a week ago. But when he went out of his way this weekend to shun and hurt his mother on Mother's Day - when she did nothing to deserve it...

    Well, my kids will have the chance to make their own life. But MY life is with my wife until I die. I won't have anyone treatinig her like that, for any reason. Not even my own children.

    Okay, time to let the fingers rest.


    :whew:
    Mikey
     
  7. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    WOW

    Well I take back what I said, you really thought it out. Good for you!

    Toughskin jeans...ROTFLMAO
     
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sending caring thoughts your way. All of us "know" how desperately you wanted him to follow his upbringing. Sadly, most
    of us also knew that it probably was a losing battle.

    You outlined a complete black and white plan. Is it in writing
    in detail for your signature, wife's signature and difficult child's signature
    too?? It really has to be to make sure that there is proof that
    all three understand all the rules.

    Might I suggest that you have perhaps looked at facilities other
    than S.A. residential programs? S.A. programs do not require
    severe mental health issues. They do require the kid to sign
    in and agree to the rules. It would be good to search for the
    best program available now so that IF your difficult child has any day of
    awakening you can offer a program as an alternative to what he
    is choosing. Most of our difficult children will at least consider a S.A.
    program when everything is crashing around them or they no longer
    have a comfortable option at home.

    Meanwhile........I'm joining the others sending support to you
    and your wife. DDD
     
  9. KFld

    KFld New Member

    Good for you Mikey!! I said you would know when you are ready, and it sounds like you are ready. Let me just suggest that you stick to everything to a T and don't back down on anything. If you give him an inch, he will take a mile, or a few hundred miles :smile: He will be testing this new lifestyle under your roof for awhile, so make sure he knows you are making the rules now, not him.

    It's not easy, but know we are here for you always.
     
  10. PonyGirl

    PonyGirl Warrior Parent

    Well Mikey, I want to send you my utmost support along with the others. I am so sorry for your hurting heart right now, and my thoughts are with you and your Dear Wife.

    The situation you describe as the turning point, where difficult child treated wife so badly, was also the turning point in my home. husband could not abide how much difficult child hurt me, time and again, with his behavior. easy child also turned against his brother, after watching Mom cry too many times.

    I want to let you know, tho these next 18 months will be difficult for your family, there is Hope for the future, and you are taking the right steps.

    It took a 15-month jail sentence to finally turn my difficult child around. And in the year since his release, our family has begun to heal. I did grieve the loss of my child to drug addiction, and missed out on so many Rites of Passage with him, but those losses also make the healing that much more meaningful.

    You will get thru this, Mikey. You and wife, and difficult child too. You will come out on the other side. It's going to be a journey, and a hard one at that. But it will be worth every step.

    Peace
     
  11. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Mikey,

    WOW! I'm impressed. Do I have your permission to copy your rules? My son has another two months in his group home until he graduates, and then he'll be returning home, not quite 18 years old.

    I have no illusions that the nine months he will have spent in his program will have changed the core person he is. He certainly has had the benefit of intense behavior modification and has had some emotional growth over time.

    However, he's never been what I call a "cope-er" in life and has always tried to avoid uncomfortable feelings. I have no doubt that this is why he turned to marijuana as an anxiety reducer and why he will most likely do the same at some point when he returns home.

    My husband and I are preparing for the very good possibility that we may need to issue an ultimatum at some point, and yours is certainly a great example!
     
  12. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Your outline sounds good. Like DDD, we put the rules AND consequences in writing and had all parties sign and date it. It took out the guess work as to what the consequence was when a rule was broken (and trust me, rules will be broken).

    The challenge now is for both you and wife to be strong enough to DO it. Good luck.

    Suz
     
  13. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    DDD, re: <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Might I suggest that you have perhaps looked at facilities other than S.A. residential programs? S.A. programs do not require severe mental health issues. They do require the kid to sign in and agree to the rules. </div></div>

    Unfortunately, that's the crux of the issue. difficult child doesn't think he has a problem - he thinks we have the problem, since he doesn't think pot is bad and he doesn't accept that he becomes different (and unpleasant) when he's in stoner mode.

    Bottom line - he won't willingly go to treatment of any kind. He even terminated his relationship with his therapist last night. Given those circumstances, no Residential Treatment Center (RTC) of any kind - S.A., general psychiatric, whatever - will take him against his will.

    There is a bit of hope, though, if we can get him to attend this clinical research program for dual-mode treatment of ADD/ADHD and S.A. He said he's interested in that because he gets 100 bucks/month for going, for 4 months. The head researcher for the local branch of the study interviewed him and said he was an excellent candidate, and also said he sounded "interested".

    Of course, that was Friday night, before he decided to ruin the weekend for us. We'll see if he's still interested in going this week. He may still do it for the money....

    Oh for those who were asking, here's the link to the national study website: http://www.nida.nih.gov/CTN/protocol/0028.html

    Mikey
     
  14. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    Mikey:
    My perspective is that your son is training YOU&gt; you are learning your own boundaries and limits. I swear you grew two inches since I last saw your words. those pants are starting to look like flood pants. :wink:

    a bit at a time you will grow into the parent you must be, because you love your son.

    I like this side of you!

    ant trained me well too.
     
  15. CCRidr2

    CCRidr2 Sheena-Warrior Momma

    ToughSkins Jeans!!! :rofl: Maybe Goodwill is better though, you might find some with some holes and/or stains :wink: Cheaper too $3 a pair! My difficult child purposely puts holes in his clothes, not to make them look cool, so I told him until it stops he can trash hand-me-down $3 jeans instead of $20 jeans.

    Sounds like you have a plan! Go on wit yo BAD DADDY self! hehehe Good luck!

    Cyndi
     
  16. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: ant'smom</div><div class="ubbcode-body">My perspective is that your son is training YOU&gt; you are learning your own boundaries and limits.</div></div>

    Well said. In fact, I said as much in that letter to him. I told him that for most of my life, I was your typical Italian male - full of the three B's: Bluster, Bravado, and Bull____. I was also a hardcore type A personality, addicted to anger and adrenaline. Last year, he showed me just how impotent that personality type truly is. When I absolutely had to bring my "A" game up to deal with this, being that kind of person got me NOWHERE!

    So in a way, he really IS training me. Even if he doesn't get "better", I'm a better person now than I was then because I've started to learn the strength of acting in love instead of acting out of anger.

    So yes, this is a change for me, but don't break out the hats and horns just yet. I gave him the letter on Saturday, and he hasn't spoken 10 words to either of us since then. We still have to actually sit down and work out the details.

    The difference, though, is that we are now at our limits, and he can choose either the carrot or the stick. The choice was never so stark and plain for him up 'till now. My hope is that when faced with unambiguous choices, he'll choose the carrot, i.e. get help for his pot abuse, keep up the good work in other areas, and start getting back into the swing of the family (which are all things I truly believe he wants to do, but can't because of his addiction).

    Or, he can OD on testosterone and have an ODD meltdown, in which case he gets the stick. The most likely scenario, though, is he'll nibble at the carrot, and then need some "guidance" with the stick. I have hope, though, that he really does want out of the life he's in, but can't pull the hooks out. Maybe now he'll have enough reason to make the effort.

    And by way of example, I'll use my grandmother. Daughter of a southern socialite, and a drunk since her early teens. Everybody gave up on her, including my parents (when they were dating). But just after my mother married, my grandmother founded the first chapter of AA in my hometown (quite a feat for a divorced southern woman in the '50s). She got her life back in order, got her family back, became president of a local S&L, and was sober from then until the day she died.

    So I have hope. It can be done, but you have to want it. My hope that he does want it, and when faced with very few choices will finally make the one he knows is right.

    But, if he doesn't, then the stick is still there, and I'll use it to both keep his attention and protect the rest of my family from his acting out. His choice.

    Sorry for the analogies: I can't help it since it's the only way I can describe what's going on. :crazy2:

    Mikey
     
  17. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: CCRidr2</div><div class="ubbcode-body">ToughSkins Jeans!!! :rofl: Maybe Goodwill is better though, you might find some with some holes and/or stains :wink: Cheaper too $3 a pair! My difficult child purposely puts holes in his clothes, not to make them look cool, so I told him until it stops he can trash hand-me-down $3 jeans instead of $20 jeans.</div></div>

    Would you believe I was one of the few kids who was capable of destroying Toughskins within the first week of having them? Drove my mother NUTS! But when she replaced them with a pair that was bright orange, I got the hint.

    Even knuckleheads like me can learn, when you use a hard enough bat.

    :hammer:

    Mikey
     
  18. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I understand about him refusing any program now...but the emphasis is on "now". Should he "see the light" before he is an adult, it would be beneficial for you and wife to be able to say
    "we have researched the places that seem to be most effective in
    helping young men like you and XYZ is worth a visit". As a parent who had to make choices "under the gun", I assure you that
    researching at your leisure is far better. It will even help
    you get through these difficult times.

    My Dad joined AA when he reached his bottom around the age of 40
    or so (when I was unexpectedly added to the family) and over the
    next thirty years I learned alot about addiction. Very often it
    is not possible to change into recovery mode in the home environ-ment...even when the family loves the addict. Statistically I
    believe that is more true with juveniles. It is not a negative
    reflection on the family. It is just necessary to focus solely
    on recovery.

    by the way, I'm still not able to integrate my knowledge from my adult
    Dads participation with my parenting of easy child/difficult child. It has now been
    years and I still see my childs addiction differently. Not too
    bright...but true.

    Meanwhile, good thoughts are still floating North to you and yours. DDD
     
  19. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    ahhh...yes I know it well.. bright PRISON orange. looked good on ant in jail. lol

    I was married to a full blooded first generation Italian man.
    I said I would NEVER date a man whose name ended in a vowel.

    boyfriend's last name ends in O
    go figure.
     
  20. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Should he "see the light" before he is an adult, it would be beneficial for you and wife to be able to say "we have researched the places that seem to be most effective in helping young men like you and XYZ is worth a visit".</div></div>

    Thanks for the sage advice - we're on the same page. Have three of them already - one of them is the same place running the ADHD/SA clinical trial I'm trying to get him into. The second is a traditional Residential Treatment Center (RTC) about 30min north of here, and the third is an actual psychiatric hospital that has a wing/branch dedicated to adolescent substance abuse.
     
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