So confused

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by vligrl, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. vligrl

    vligrl New Member

    I really need some advice. I have an almost 19 year old still living at home with us. He is on his second attempt to stay in Community College in the last year. He has gone through two part time jobs in the last year too. He never took school seriously and because of that did not graduate with his class due to poor grades and attendance. We had him take the necessary credits in summer school to get his high school diploma. Started smoking pot in 9th grade. We have had many ups and downs regarding drug use and at one point, selling pot. Consequences would be taking away the car and zero funds, a curfew and having to call if he would be home past twelve. He saw a few counselors but didn't take it seriously either. I exhausted myself trying to enforce a no smoking pot rule especially in the car and if I found anything drug related it was tossed and the car privilege revoked. Eventually, I realized I couldn't control what he did outside of the house and was sick and tired of fighting with him about smelling pot in the car and him denying it.

    Please tell me what I can do? He is presently going to Community College but doesn't have a job. He was doing some work with my husband for a week or two but after finding out my son had been cutting some classes and lying about it, he fired him, took away the car again and told him to get a real job. Friday we drove him to school. 99% of his friends are in four year college but all do drugs and some drinking and live in other states. I know he does more than pot on occasion which scares me to death. I worry for his mental health and where his life is going. He has never been in trouble with the law for drugs but doesn't seem the harm, as most kids. We told him if he withdraws from school again, he will have three months to find a full time job and another place to live. In the meantime, how do I deal with the fact that he has done acid, mushrooms, and X especially at concerts or raves or whatever they are called? We do not give him money and when he was allowed to use the car, he had to give us receipts for gas. Do we drive him back and forth to college everyday now? What about when he has another part time job? Otherwise, his friends pick him up and drop him off when they go out and I have to worry about what condition they might be in. I have no other children and therefore, have put all my focus on my son which has driven the both of us nuts. P.S. He is on Financial Aid for school and has to keep up his credits and grades. I am already hearing the familiar signs of dissatisfaction with school and his new major.
  2. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest


    First you have come to the right place. Many of us are dealing with similar situations with kids of a similar age. It is definitely a very hard place to be and i am sorry you had to join us in this very tough situation.

    Sounds to me like you are doing a lot of the right things. I would not let him use the car.... you know he is using and don't want him driving under the influence.... plus from my experience the car gives them more access to getting (and selling) drugs.

    I think giving him a certain amout of time to find a job and move out if he is not going to school is a good idea. I think I would give him less than 3 months though. If he is using pot and other stuff regularly he probably won't do this and you will be faced with kicking him out. Very hard to do emotionally.... and you might want to check the laws in your state. Some states require you to do eviction proceedings and if that is the case you might want to start those when he drops out of that after the time period is up he has to be out. Might also make him realize you are serious.

    There really is nothing else you can do to prevent him from using. That is one of the really tough things, how powerless we are to protect our beloved kids from themselves!

    I really recommend you find a good parents alanon group. I know the group I have found has been an amazing source of support and strength for me.

  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome. You're not alone. In my opinion, pot is the route to this lazy, unmotivated dissipation we see in our kids around your son's age and younger. Pot for these kids is not "benign" --it's a disaster. Assuming your son is able-bodied, with no mental or physical disabilities, he should WANT to work, support himself, get an education and grow up. Pot emotionally stunts them and they get stuck in the dissipation and quicksand of dependence. You're parents, not prison guards, not psychologists, not drug counselors. Your home is yours, and you have every right to set boundaries and parameters for the safety and sanctity of your family. Home should be a sanctuary, not a battleground. If your son disagrees, too bad...he can support himself and live in his own place according to his rules. Your job is to love your kid and do what you can to get him to adulthood relatively unscathed. The rest is up to him.
    My advice would be to set a timeline and stick to it. If community college is a bore, he has to get a full-time job. If that is not appealing, then trade school may be best. If that isn't his style, there's always military service. He has to know you're serious, and if he senses you are, he will probably act out more, just to spite you. But remember, nothing changes if nothing changes. You're doing this for his benefit. He has to learn to solve his own problems and this is where it begins. He's almost 19 and a legal adult. You don't have to put up with this in your own house, and you don't have to feel guilty about it, either. Keep checking back'll get good advice and support. In the meantime, breathe!
  4. vligrl

    vligrl New Member

    Thank you for the opinions. Like all of you, I never thought I would be in this place of constant worry. I have just the one child, but my worry is enough for a houseful of kids. I look at old photos of my angelic looking child with the blond curls and happy smile and mourn the loss. My mother is suffering from advancing Dementia yet I cry just thinking about my son all the time. Even as I write this, my heart is breaking. I can't just turn off the worry and concern and go about my life in a normal manner. I have tried. I went to the place of not checking the car, social networks and convincing myself that what will be, will be and he will have to hit bottom sooner or later and deal. But every time I took the dog's out in the morning, I would walk over to his car and take a look around for anything unusual. I didn't want to open the car and get a whiff. He has a few room deodorizers in the car, of course not to mask anything.......
    What advice can you all give me as to what to do about his transportation to and from school that is a half hour away? The guy will be 19 in May and I thought my days of getting up early and driving him to school were over at 16. Is this selfish of me? I trust him as far as I can throw him, yet I don't want to have to police him going to school everyday, do I? I feel like such a fool knowing he gets high and then comes home, takes a shower to wash off the scent and eats. I have warned him about the dangers as has his schools but kids refuse to believe there are dangers. I told my son how much I worry about the possible effects that may take place as he ages due to his drug use, especially with my Mom having Dementia and my uncle having issues too. In his righteous teenage fashion, he said he would rather experience life on his terms and if he goes crazy, at least he lived. I told him what is the point if you won't remember anything you did?
  5. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    It is your house. He can abide by your standards or he can go to a homeless shelter. Do find support in your area. You will need it. This transition from the giving parent to the cutting the umbilicle cord is a difficult one under the best of circumstances.
  6. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi vligrl and welcome to the CD board!!

    Yes, many of us have gone through what you are going through. My difficult child has started and stopped college more times than I can count. The last time, since she was over 24, she was eligible for pell grants and a ridiculous amount of FASFA money. She ended up with a $20,000 debt for a year of school and she didn't finish a single class. She used the money to live on and told us later that she had been drinking too much to be able to go to her classes or complete the work.

    This is a girl that went to dual enrollment her senior year of high school and graduated from high school with an entire year of college finished. Her addictions to pot, pills, and alcohol, sapped any motivation out of her after that. She did have one other semester when she lived at home and managed to take four classes and finish with a 3.5 GPA. The next semester she went down the tubes again.

    I don't think your difficult child will be able to be successful in school until he gets help for his drug problem. Yes, I know some kids can go to college and smoke pot occasionally and still do well but I equate them to social drinkers who don't have addictive personalities. Our kids can't use drugs on an occasional basis. It becomes their whole point of existence.

    It sounds like your son is far down that road. The problem is that he won't admit it until he is forced to. I would continue doing what you are doing about the car. I would not give him three months if he drops out of school (or flunks out). I would tell him now that if he ends up dropping out or flunking out, he will have one month to find a job and move out. He will know that he is flunking out before it happens so he will have plenty of time to be looking for a job.

    The longer you give him the harder he will make it on you. in my humble opinion, you need to draw a line in the sand. No drugs in your house and going to school and doing well or moving out. In the meantime, lock up all of your valuables. People using drugs often lie and steal to get them. I'm surprised it hasn't happened already. If he is not working, where is he getting the money to smoke pot and go to raves?

    I'm sorry that you had to find us but glad you did. We have all either been where you are right now or are dealing with similar issues.

    It would help if you created a signature like you see at the bottom of my post. Here is a link to help:

    Here is a list of acronyms that we use frequently:

  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member


    My daughter was going downt he same road. She started smoking pot in high school and drinking and she barely graduated. She enrolled in one of our universities and we moved her into her dorm two months later. Two months after that she was arrested for smoking pot and drinking on campus. She was suspended from college and required to go to counseling and do community service. A year later she enrolled in community college and repeated the pattern. She did just what you son is doing. We took her car away the year before so we were driving her to school. Soon she got rides from other drug users and stopped going to classes. She was smoking/drinking all the time.

    To make a long story short we took her to a substance abuse tratment center where she stayed 60 days and then spent another tow months in outpatient care. She relapsed and was smoking/drinking more than ever and we finally kicked her out of the house. That was a year ago this past Friday. She lived with a neighbor friend who smoked/drank/did owhatever other drugs they did 24/7 for 6 weeks when she finally called and asked to come home. We refused and told her where to go for help.

    She lived in a sober house for the next nine months and began working the AA program and is now living in a an apartment with another sober girl and has all sober firneds and a job and is doing well. I won't say it' been easy and there have been small slips but if we had not kicked her out of the house she would probably be dead because the things she was doing when she was out of the house were unimaginable.

    Your son needs treatment. If he is smoking pot and acting that way he is most surely doing other things and you will never find out the full extent. We had to decide what the line in the sand was for us. Were we going to let her continuelivingin our house and doing drugs and making all our lives miserable or were we going to try to get her help. It was a terrible tome in all our lives but I believe it was the only alternative.

    You can tell him that he can go and get help or he needs to move out of your We tried tellignour difficult child she needed to move out but she had no job, no money and was in no condition to do that. So what we did was bring her bottom up and force her to accept treatment or die. It sounds harsh but just last week another young 20 year old girl that difficult child knew died from a drug overdose. I hope you can get him help. This disease ruins too many people.

  8. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Is the car in your name? Is he still on your insurance?

    Others may disagree with me but I would not put myself through getting up and driving him back and forth to college. I actually tried that my difficult child's senior year in high school and it drove me crazy. Are you going to sit in the car and wait while he is in class?

    If it is his car, I would put the car in his name and get him his own insurance policy. We did this with our difficult child to protect us from any liability.

    Then, I would tell him what I advised in my last post. I assume that he will need the car to get a job anyway. Now if this is the family car, that changes things.

    The hardest thing for us here on the Substance Abuse forum is to learn to detach. It goes against every fiber of our mommy hearts. Your son is a legal adult, though, and you cannot control his behavior. At this point, he has to learn from natural consequeces which sadly can include loss of an education, rehab, estrangement from family, and even jail.

    There is a saying in AA and NA that we use here: you didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it.

    by the way, are you a single mom? You didn't mention a husband. I just ask because I imagine it would be a lot harder if you don't have a support system.

    ETA: I would only let him use the car to go back and forth to school.

  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Kathy what scares me about that is that he is not going to stop using because the car is in his name. And if he is living at home and uses the car with his parents knwoing he is using and causes an accident they can still be in trouble for knowingly putting that car in his name and allowing him to drive. I know if we had given our difficult child the car and put it in her name when she was going to communtiy college and smoking/drinking it woud have been disaster. She told us that if we had allowed her to drive during tht time she would surely have been killed or killed someone else. Once he is out of the house if the car is in his name and he pays the insurnace it's a different ballgame.

    I know driving him back and forth to school every day is a hassle but at this point you can't let him drive himself.

  10. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Nancy, at what point would the liability end? If we let our difficult child move home again (this is just theoretical) and knew she had a prior substance abuse problem but the car was in her name and she had her own insurance policy (that we were paying for), would we still be legally liable if she had an accident while high or drunk?

  11. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm not sure about the legality of being an adult moving back in with parents. But in this case the car is in their name and if they transfer it into his naming knowing he is doing drugs and living a lifestyle that is not condusive to driving and they are still supporting him they are opening themselves up to a lot of problems. It is why we would not put the car in our difficult child's name and drove her to her classes. Even if we would not be legally responsible, morally I just couldn't allow it to happen.

    He is not going to stop doing drugs because the car is in his name. If he wants a car he can get a job and go buy one. That's what we always told difficult child.

    Just an aside, my difficult child tells everyone int he program that the only reason she has her license today is because we took her car away for two years.

  12. vligrl

    vligrl New Member

    Hi Kathy,
    In answer to some of your questions, this car was bought for him but in my name and insurance in my name as well. At one point when he was working, I was going to transfer ownership to him and he would have to insure it, just to get rid of my liability, but he quit his job. I would say he is emotionally more like a 15 year old than an adult and that could partially be my fault for catering to him so much. He doesn't do drugs before school or during because normally he would come straight home after school and was normal. It's once he is out with his friends...He was talking about maybe moving out with a friend in the fall into the city and transfer to a different Community College but he doesn't have a clue about finances and the cost of living. He thought he could find a two bedroom apartment in Boston for a total of $800!!!!! This is the kid that will go through life always having to find out the hard way and discounting adult advice.
    How does he pay for concerts, etc.? Good question. I think his friends have been more than generous with him including girlfriends that he doesn't seem to have a problem with letting them pay for him. In fact, I think he is so use to it that it seems normal and....they do it!!! He hasn't gotten any spending money from us except for Valentine's Day my husband gave him forty dollars to take his present girlfriend out to eat and a movie. If he had asked me it would have been a big NO. I
    Let me be clear..I have never seen him drunk or out of control, slurring his speech or stumbling around. He has been pretty honest with me about the drugs he has taken and the frequency, pot being the easiest to get as just about everyone has it and shares so he doesn't need to buy it. I was so hoping when just about everyone he knew was off to college out of state that he would wake up and shape up, but instead he latched on to kids that aren't in college yet like seniors or his new boyfriend that couldn't afford to go yet but works full time and lives at home. Being 18 is the magic number where you can't legally force him to do anything except leave.
  13. vligrl

    vligrl New Member

    By the way, we have two Shih Tzu's, one 13 and one seven along with two other Bijon mixes. Life savers, these pups.
  14. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Dear Vligrl,
    As far as driving him to school is concerned, I'm getting the impression that he's not all that interested in enhancing his education at this point. It's probably more for socializing than for future self-sufficiency. I think that ship has sailed for now. He needs to stop using. Have you drug tested him? See what the other folks on the board think, but I'd do a hair sample test just to see what he's been using. Also, if he doesn't do his own laundry, make his own meals, I'd start expecting at least that from him. Every one in a family has to contribute, and he should definitely have responsibilities. We would disconnect the wireless internet at 10PM every night when we went to bed (it was set up in our room) so he couldn't stay on Facebook, etc. all night. They can sometimes tap in to neighbors' routers, but it didn't matter - we held our bottom line. We got an alarm system and set it at night so we'd know if he snuck out. If he said he needed the internet for school, we'd say, too bad, you should've done your homework already. It didn't really change anything, but it doesn't make their life easy, either. You're not at war with your child - though it feels that way. You need to just set healthy boundaries and you're already doing that. But remember, he's an adult, not a minor, and you do not have to have him there - it is at your discretion. You can put the brakes on school for now, give him the option for treatment, and if he declines, then you can have him leave. The amazing thing to me is, they are incredibly clever when it comes to scoring drugs, and getting over on people, and they have the survival instinct of a rat, and they can construct elaborate oratories to defend their activities but we worry so much about them not being able to "handle" the necessary things in life, like work and school and self-sufficiency. They're not that dumb - they will catch on eventually.
  15. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hey, Nancy, we have another shih tzu lover in the SA family! Yay!

    vligrl, the fact that you haven't seen him high or drunk doesn't mean it isn't happening. Our difficult child was very good at hiding the extent of her drug use. She would tell us goodnight and then go drink alone in her room. We didn't know until we found 40 empty beer cans hidden around her room. She was also abusing her prescription pills long before we were aware of it. We kept attributing a lot of her problems to her mood disorder but now I wonder if if wasn't drugs all along more than a mental health issue.

    I don't know . . . I am on the fence on how heavily your son is involved with drugs. The signs are all there, though, particularly the disinterest in school and a future.

    I still think I would let the rest of the semester play out and if he doesn't do well in school then give him the option of treatment or moving out.

    I'm glad that you have your husband to help you through this. You need to stay united, though, or your son will play you against each other. been there done that.

    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  16. vligrl

    vligrl New Member

    Kathy, I tried to add my signature but nothing is showing up. How do I add information at the bottom of my page like the rest of you?
  17. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hmm, your quote is showing up so I don't know why the rest of it isn't. Did you go to settings at the top of the page and then edit signature at the left side of the page? After you enter the information and save it, you need to click a box that says show my signature (at the bottom of the reply box) when you go to post. Try again and if it is still not working we can ask runawaybunny (the site owner and guru) to take a look at it.

  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am going to suggest that your difficult child is doing a lot more than smoking pot and is certainly getting drunk. My daughter fooled me too. She was doing everything under the sun, but mostly did it away from home or at night after we went to sleep. Most kids will cop to pot, and swear it is all they use, but if the child is truly in bad shape it is normally a lot more than pot.

    On the car situation, I have a different take on it. I wouldn't contribute to his driving under any circumstance. We bought our daughter a car, when we thought it was "just pot", and she totaled the car and could have been killed and the accident was her fault. Her brother felt sorry for her after that and he bought her a car, although we warned him not to. She totaled the car and she could have been killed. After she was tossed out, at 18, she went down to Illinois to live with this brother and before she quit using drugs she totaled another car, could have been killed, and was sued for $15,000. Years after she was sober, she was still paying back the $15,000. Drugs, drinking and driving are very dangerous. If it were me, I would make him find his own way to school, if he still wants to go (that's if he is really even going). At least then it would not be on my head if he got into a serious car accident. Maybe he can walk or ride a bike (good exercise) or let somebody else take him. I think I would rather drive my kid back and forth than drive him if I knew he was on drugs, but this is in hindsight.

    Until my daughter quit using drugs, we had no clue how much drugs and drinking she was doing. And I suspect you don't either. Big hugs...and please take care of yourself.
  19. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Hi Vligirl,

    I sent you a PM message....mentioning it here in case you have figured out PM messages yet.

    A couple of other thoughts....

    As far as the car and driving... I think the question is way beyond liability... you don't want the emotional awfulness if he was to get into an accident and kill someone. We went through this worry with our son... allowed him to drive when we were drug testing him and made sure whenever he came home he seemed sober. However when things were bad we would not let him drive. Problem is we began to realize we couuldn't always tell when he was using or not, we discovered he found ways to get around drug tests. At one point he was stopped for driving 60+ in a 30 mile hour zone... they found alcohol in the car. They did test him to see if he was DUI and he was not so he did not get charged with that... however given the unsafety of what he was doing we stopped letting him use the car. Then for awhile we had a tracking thing on the car so we could see where he was going... this was to let him drive to and from work and only that. Thing was we saw him driving to work, idling the car, etc. etc. and we figured out he wasn't working but instead meeting up with friends there!!! The kid would get around us every way he could. So given what I know now I think you should not let him drive the car as long as you know he is using....and yes I probably would drive him to and from school for a bit until I got his grades.... if he was failing his classes that would be the end of that.

    The other hard truth about kids and drug use is that as parents we rarely know the extent of their drug use. They tell us enough so that we will believe them but it is usually worse than we think. And there are ways to cover up the smell etc.... and so often we did not know how much or how often our difficult child was using. And like someone said later on we found all kinds of evidence when we cleaned out his room... for our difficult child it was a lot of robitussen bottles, and some alcohol as well.

    I think the main thing to really look at is behavior. There are kids who can occasionally smoke pot or drink and have very successful lives. Of course there are many who can't do it at all. So I would look at your sons behavior and motivation and use that as your guide.

    You may have seen my story or parts of it in other threads on this site... but my son is now 20... been in and out of rehab and has been in another state. He is finally back in rehab after he was kicked out of his 3rd sober house and we cut off all financial support and he was on the streets for several days. It is a tough tough road but my sense is sometimes the only thing and the best thing we can do is to get tougher and not put up with thier drug use.

    I wish i had gotten tougher sooner than I did.... but of course that is in hindsight.

  20. vligrl

    vligrl New Member

    I suspect he and two friends may be dealing pot and maybe acid. I know for a fact one of them did or does deal. Talked about him with the local police a few months ago. They have been trying to catch him in the act for awhile now but my son says he is a good guy and doesn't do that anymore. He even wants me to meet him. I don't believe it. How can I accuse him without any hard proof? It's just that gut thing when I know things are out of wack and he manages to go out without a cent from us. I found $24 under his mattress the other day and didn't say anything until he asked if he could have $10 because he was seeing a friend perform in Ct. that night. I said what about the money under the mattress? He had no recollection of the money and was so happy I found it. He even asked if he could have it. What difference would it make if I did express my suspicions that he was dealing? He would just deny it. I just saw him texting something to someone asking if they had any friends that....and that is all I got.