17 yr old son, defiant and using

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by rc606, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. rc606

    rc606 Member

    Hey all, I've been reading this forum for days now, thanks to all who have shared your experiences. My son is 17 and only came to live with me (Dad) 3 years ago after his Mother suddenly passed away. Things were tough at first, helping him deal with the loss of his Mom was and is difficult for him.

    This last year and a half have been especially hard, as he has become increasingly distant, and his grades are plummeting. I've discovered that he's using pot and I suspect that he's also using pills. Can't confirm the pills though. He's unwilling to abide by house rules (which of course prohibit underage drug and alcohol use) and tonight he walked out the door. Earlier in the day we had a dust up that included him being incredibly disrespectful to me my wife and his younger siblings, and I quickly explained that people that choose to live in our home must abide by the rules. Those that didn't want to live by the rules should find other accommodations. Guess he didn't want to live by the rules, and left.

    I love him so much, and only want him to be happy and healthy, but at what expense? I'm at a complete loss here and feel out of my depth and have no idea how to handle this. I want to wring his neck, but that won't help anything.
  2. dayatatime

    dayatatime Member

    #1-- Protect yourself. If you don't know where he is, report it to the police.
    #2-- Do you have family therapy yet? Does he have therapy? Do you?
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I'm very sorry you are going through this with your son. My daughter took drugs at his age, however she quit. He is young and you don't know where his life path will take him. Since there is nothing you can do right now, and he is currently safe, why not tell yourself that at least he is secure right now and that you can rest. It's very difficult when they are still minors. Heck, it's hard when they aren't, but I think it's harder when they are minors and still at home.

    I do think it's true that, aside from doing what you are doing (rehab), there is little you can do to force him to change. I tried with my daughter, but she didn't change until she wanted to.

    Just wanted to offer you a bit of hope, that your son's future is still not clear cut.He will probably come back. If he doesn't, agree that you need to call the police. He is still a minor and you are still responsible for him legally.

    Take care.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
  4. rc606

    rc606 Member

    I was hoping that he just went for a walk to clear his head. He will sometimes do that after a blow up, but it's been hours and this isn't his first time leaving. Last year he left and I went and GOT his butt. I don't think that I should chase him this time.

    If he doesn't come home tonight, I'll contact the police. At least that way I'm protected, still heart broken, but protected. As for therapy, he refuses to go and outside of physically making him do it, not sure how to get him in there. I'm certainly willing to go and do anything that will help heal our relationship or help him deal with the loss of his Mom.

    He looked at me a few months ago and said that I had no right telling him what he could or couldn't do, because he lived with his Mom all these years and only visited me during the Summers. He doesn't respect me or my wife, heck....no one really. I spoke to his schools Principal today, so they're aware that there is a problem. If he doesn't come home, I'll also alert them. Thanks for the replies, this site has given me hope
  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi RC and welcome. I hope he comes back home on his own. Believe me, he will turn up. And then you will have to decide what is next for you and for him and for your home.

    Start thinking about that right now. As he is a minor still, there is some time for you to try hard to take some action to get professional help for him. I would try everything I could find out about, because once he turns 18 it is almost impossible to intervene.

    And even if you can get professional help right now, there is no guarantee that he will participate. We took (drug) my son to therapy, family therapy and individual therapy, and he would just slump down in the chair and not say one word. We did it over and over and over, to no avail.

    You are right to decide what you will and will not allow in your home. I am so sorry that his Mom died, and I know that is very hard for you all.

    But it is reality, and he will have to learn to function in the world without her, or not. You are there for him, and as you said, you love him very much.

    I would seek professional therapy for yourself, for the family and for him. I would get advice from drug and alcohol counselors about what things you can try. I would go to support groups like AlAnon for you and your wife.

    I hope his drug use is a short-term thing but you never know. My son is 25 and has been in jail 8 or 9 times, something which was unthinkable to me. He has been homeless 5 different times. There is a lot of help for homeless people. Educate yourself on that so you can be more balanced about it, if it comes to that.

    This is hard stuff, but there is a pathway forward for you and your family, in dealing with a troubled teenager.

    Warm hugs. We are here for you. We get it.
  6. newsolutions

    newsolutions New Member

    With all the help that is available today I strongly suggest finding an intense militant style program for him. Today's youth not only struggles with traditional addiction issues, but it has evolved into severe entitlement issues as well. Wilderness programs are great as well as entitlementtherapy.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    in my opinion Wilderness Therapy is a waste of money and I haven't heard of it working long term and militant style parenting of any type at any age has been a major fail. Why would a drug user even listen to his father he is at odds with at age seventeen?

    There is hope for this young man, but Wilderness therapy and militant parenting are ridiculous at his age. I don't like it at any age. But this is an age when the son can say "No." And he will say no.
  8. lovemyson1

    lovemyson1 Active Member

    rc606 welcome, this is a good place with so much support and you are not alone. My son also started his defiant behavior and smoking weed around the same time as yours. He's 20 now, and has been clean and sober for 60 days, I'm so happy! But it's been a very long, difficult road and there are no guarantees. I just want to tell you that you did the right thing. It's our duty to teach our children (with love) what society will teach them (with no love) (no mercy). So, please remain strong, gently guide him to follow the rules and do not waiver. We have absolutley no control over their decisions and that is important to grasp. But I truly believe if you are loving, genuine and firm, he will get it. Some kids have to go off and screw up before they realize what they had. I prayed a lot when my son was not at home, and God took care of him. Best of luck to you and your family.
  9. newsolutions

    newsolutions New Member

    MiswestMom I would have to agree that Wilderness Therapy is not a one size fits all type of program, however with proper aftercare long term results are very common. There are new programs out there that are referred to as "Urban Wilderness Therapy" that enforce young people to grow up and stand on their own feet, not just yell at them and make them do push ups. The fact is, behavior disorders can lead to very destructive and unhappy lives. Saying that he is 17 is no excuse for poor behavior. This type of attitude has become a generational issue. I believe placing a young man in a program is a much safer alternative than allowing him to receive natural consequences such as Death or Imprisonment.
  10. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    How do you talk a 17 year old into going? He is old enough to refuse. Do you kidnap the kids, like some places do?
  11. amelia d

    amelia d Hope outweighs experience

    Welcome..sorry that you need to be here. I wasn't going to weigh in..but nobody has brought up some of the things that I see being overlooked. I am raising a 19 y/o stepson who lost his mother when he was 6 y/o. I came into his life when he was around 11. Now to be fair, he has Aspergers. The diagnosis was made after I pushed his father because of things that didn't seem normal compared to my daughter of the same age. He has never accepted me as his mother. He is resentful, defiant, rude and creates many problems between his father and me. We have had him in therapy and the loss of his mother continues to come up. I don't think that people realize the magnitude the loss of your son's mother has created. It's not just what he no longer has; it's everything that he is missing (daily) because she is not here. To have that happen at 14, and so suddenly, it's devastating. Add to that a new family (with a mother who is "theirs..not his"), teen hormones and drug use, and you have a child who feels lost, unloved and unhappy. And he's willing to make everyone around him just as unhappy. I don't know what the family dynamics look like (how many kids are yours, hers, together, ages) or how well your wife interacts with your son. It is hard to raise someone else's child..and I speak from experience. He may not like her, and she may not like him. You may need to step back and look at their relationship from a safe distance. I think it's good for you to keep a defined, hard line on house rules; just be sure they are being applied to everyone the same.
    I'd like to see your son in some kind of therapy. He is still a minor, so you can force him to participate. The other posters are correct that plenty of programs exist and presenting him with some options before forcing him into one, may help. Get some input from his physician and school counselors and do some online research. I feel for him. I lost my mother 18 years ago and still miss her..and I'm in my fifties.
    Luck to you.
  12. newsolutions

    newsolutions New Member

    MidwestMom 16 and 17 year olds are the easiest to get to comply to these programs. If there legal guardian grants temporary custody then legally you can "kidnap" them. However, I am a professional interventionist and I have never failed at an intervention and had to use force with a minor. There are many options for help available and many professionals that through education and experience, are able to come in as an outside, non-bias individual and execute a severe problem in a matter of minutes. The family and friends are unable to do this because they are the prime victims of a behaviorally dysfunctional individual.
  13. rc606

    rc606 Member

    Thanks all for the replies and support, much appreciated. I honestly feel drained and unable to focus on the most menial tasks, which sucks because my job requires my FULL attention, lol.

    so, here's an update; he came home very late last night. The doors were locked and he had to knock in order to get in. I met him at the door and wouldn't let him in until I was sure that he wasn't high. Had he been high I'd have turned him away for certain, but he wasn't...so we talked, again. I found myself saying the same things over and over and watched his eyes glaze over like they so often do, just waiting for me to stop speaking. He did open up a bit more last night and said, "Dad, I don't hate you...why would you say that?" To which I replied, "because of the way you treat me and the rest of the family, son" He cried a lot, as did I....and I asked him point blank, "Do you want to continue to live under my roof?" He said, "I guess" and I said to him...it's either yes, or no and that "I guess" isn't an answer. He said, "yes" and then I re-iterated the unconditional rules of my home, to which he agreed and I sent him to bed.

    Today he came home from school and went straight to his room and crashed, and won't roll his butt out of bed. I've tried waking him several times, he says he's getting up but then passes back out. I suspect he's high on pills, but don't have enough experience with them to be able to tell. I'd like to find a over the counter drug test that will detect pills and any other illegal drugs. Any suggestions?

    Again, thanks for the replies and support. I feel at my breaking point, but for the sake of the rest of the family, must continue.
  14. newsolutions

    newsolutions New Member

    Walgreen, CVS or any drug store will have a home test for about $20-$50. You can get tests specific to a drug or up to a 12 panel test that will test for everything. Any Blood lab for doctor requests will also provide this service and it will be a more accurate result.

    Hope this helps! Best of luck to you!
  15. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry you are going through this. I really think your son needs some sort of therapy to deal with all the changes that have gone on in his life. Has he ever gone for grief therapy?

    Also, there are some drugs that can not be detected by a drug screen. Drug users know which drugs they are. You can drug test him, but there is no guarantee you'll find out if he is using anything. Depends on how drug savvy your kid is.

    I think your son does love you. He has just really gone through a lot in a short period of time. Obviously if he doesn't change his ways, he will end up in trouble. He seems to need help, but is unwilling to accept it. I hope he changes his mind. I also warn you to check into any options and not trust people online trying to use your pain to fatten their pocketbooks.

    Hoping for a positive update.
  16. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    A therapist that I once spoke to, that I tried to get my difficult child to see, told me he wouldn't see her if I had to force her to go. He said people, including teens, shouldn't be forced to go to counseling unless they wanted to and want the help. I happen to agree with him. That's just my opinion.
  17. rc606

    rc606 Member

    I tend to agree with not forcing them to go to therapy. Partly because if a person isn't ready to change then they won't be open to the therapy, AND I don't like the idea of paying thousands to a therapist when a kid isn't ready to receive the help. I have 4 other children that could benefit from these financial resources. Does that sound terrible?
  18. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Not to me. It makes sense. However, there is therapy that is very inexpensive. Every county has a mental health clinic. If you go to church, there is church counseling, often at no cost. But, frankly, nobody who didn't want to go to therapy ever got anything out of it...at least unless he eventually did get pulled in and engaged. And that can always happen.

    Right now, I personally feel that your son has had more changes than most kids his age. Losing his mother is huge. And now he has four younger siblings and a new "mother" and his new sibs and new mother go together, but he's the odd man out. Maybe he would have been this way at this age even if none of that had happened, but it is likely that all the losses and changes contributed to it. It was out of your control, of course, but I do think he deserves a little more investment than the other kids who haven't lost anything. If there is any way to pull it off, I'd be in favor of trying to help your son professionally before he turns eighteen and you no longer have ANY say in his life.And I mean grief therapy or a grief group...not the interventionist's idea...that in my opinion is pointless.

    Most of us at least tried the best we could and we had other kids too. If you have done all you can and things keep going south, then...well...you did all you could and he has to make a hard choice about how he wants to live his life and which rules he will follow when he turns eighteen. At least then you have done all you could and it's up to him to decide to either follow your house rules or leave.

    That's kinda how I see it from an outside point of view.

    Good luck :)
  19. rc606

    rc606 Member

    Thanks, MWM. I don't want it to sound like I'm not going to try and get him in to see someone, because I am. I just don't relish the thought of wasting the family's money. That said, if it works then it won't have been a waste. I'm sure I'm not that different than most of you, I just want my kid back.

    I'm meeting with his teachers tomorrow to bring them up to speed and see what we can do to right the ship at school.

    I'll add this, he came out of his room tonight to eat and we watched some of the World Series game and just talked baseball. It was nice, and I'm thankful for the little victories
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  20. rc606

    rc606 Member

    Also, what is a difficult child? I'm trying to pick up on some of the acronyms ;-)