Allow cigarettes for teen?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Zardo, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    Hi all - I haven't posted any issues for myself in a while. My difficult child is 16. For those who are familiar with my story, he was a no problems kid up until about 2 years ago. That's when he got caught in the spiral of not doing school work, anger and defiance at home and drug use shortly thereafter. He/we have been through a lot. In these 2 years, he was first arrested at school for pot, expelled, went to a boarding school there, got caught with substances multiple times there, went to Wilderness for 3 months, then back to boarding school. Since being back in Sept, his anger and defiance are much better. He has maintained sobriety for 4-6 weeks at a time, but replased twice. He had been in outpatient during that time, but after the second "slip" we took a "leave" from school to homeschool for 6 week and attend intensive outpatient. He did graduate that program successfully and got a TON out of the program and people he met there. Now he is back at the boarding school. Last night was his first night back and I have had several phone calls from him already. He has asked me to sign a permission slip to let him smoke cigarettes there and says he won't make it unless I sign it. I have offerred him the alternative of an e-cigarette, but told him I cannot condone him smoking cigarettes. I ALMOST would agree to it as I just want to him to make it through that program for the next 5 months, but my husband is absolutely UNAPPROACHABLE on the subject. Even though he is a smoker and I am not, he refuses to even discuss it and just says, he is 16, I am not enabling him to smoke. difficult child says, he will not smoke in the house and never around us, but he is hooked and cannot handle quitting right now. If we don't give him permission, he will have to sneak around at school and will end up being kicked out. I have learned many things over the past two years, but this time, I must admit, he has me stumped. To support, or not to to husband who will be unbending, or not....if I let the chips fall where they may and he gets in trouble and expelled, he would most likely come home to school at alternative which will be a nightmare for my husband and I. I would pursue TBS, but my husband is out of work and we all know how expensive it is. The question is this battle worth the hard line in the sand? I do know he will most likely find another line to challenge, but is this one worth the likely end result??? Thanks for all advisors!
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It is my thought that smoking is the least of your prpblems. Our difficult child began smoking at around age 14 and we were very much against it. We couldn't stop her other than throw them away when she brought them home and not give her money to buy them. When she turned 18 we had no standing other than to tell her she can't smoke int he house or in our cars.

    When she went to rehab everyone there smoked. When she goes to the AA meetings almost everyone is standing outside before and after the meeting smoking. We have finally decided if that is what will keep her calm and relaxed fine.

    I think you have to pick your battles on this one. Do you want him getting kicked out of school? He is not going to quit so this is one of those lesser of the two evils. I hope you and your husband can come to an agreement on this. Signing the paper for him to smoke is not saying you approve of his smoking, it's a decision you make after considering asll the alternatives.

    In our opinion smoking is a minor problem compared to what we have been through. It hurts no one but her and hopefully at some point in her life she will want to quit.

  3. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Only you know what your husband's response to the question may be. I agree with Nancy although I was very uncomfortable with giving approval. Even at fourteen the difficult child's were allowed to smoke at the first s.a. residential program. At the few AA meetings that he attended literally everyone smoked before and after they had a smoke break midway. Obviously it's unhealthy and expensive but I did not want to make it an A basket topic. Just want you to know that I understand the conflicting emotions you are facing. Hugs DDD
  4. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I think the time to draw the line int he sand around cigarettes if when they are very young and start smoking. I have come to believe that cigarettes are the gateway drug.... smoking is really not all that socially acceptable these days and so the kids who smoke are already on the fringe a bit... and I think the next step after cigarettes is pot. At least that is what I heard a speaker say years ago about drug use in teens and it turned out to be so true with my difficult child. FWIW I did makek a big issue otu of cigarette smoking when he started and it made no difference.

    All that said I agree with Nancy at this point your son is already smoking cigarettes and is trying to stay clean from other drugs. I don't think now it is the battle to fight. Of course we all want our kids to quit smoking as we all know the health risks BUT they are not as risky as other drug or alcohol use and sometimes its better to let that one go. Hopefully he will get to a point when he will want to quit smoking.

    I have even bought my son cigarettes when he was in treatment... didn't like doing it but knew that everyone else in rehab was smoking and it was not the issue I was most concerned about.

    So given he is staying clean I think I would sign the permission slip... you can let him know you don't want to but its not a battle you are going to fight.

    I have no ideas about how to convince your husband though.

  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I think you need to call the boarding school and double check what he's telling you. I don't know where you/he are located but it is illegal in many states for a minor to smoke and I can't imagine a boarding school allowing this for a 16yo boarder whether parents signed agreement or not. I'm thinking of this because I know how my son is- I don't know your son or hx so you might be able to trust your son a lot more than I can trust mine.

    That being said, I probably would allow it if I thought he was stable enough and sincere about all this. I'm treading cautiously because my son is coming out of Department of Juvenile Justice on parole and if he lives with me on parole, I'd get in major trouble for allowing him to smoke, because it is illegal. On top of that, I have heard tons of "MOM, if you don't let me do this, I don't think I'll make it" ultimatums. Those are obviously the cons to this question. on the other hand, if all it took was to allow my son to smoke cigs for him to turn his life around, I would allow it. Although I'd cry every time I heard him wheeze.

    Another thing- I don't see how he can be so hooked on them now if he's not been smoking for many mos already. Still, if it's legal where he is, I'd probably allow it if you can get husband to agree.

    I read this because this has been and proabably will again be an issue in my house. I smoke so I'm sure that might make it harder.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I hate cigarette smoking and threw out J's cigarettes whenever I found them in her purse. She was forbidden from smoking in the house because we had two younger kids. Having said that, she did smoke, and we didn't focus on that while she was doing other drugs. Eventually, when she quit using drugs she also quit smoking cigarettes. So that could happen. At any rate, I'm with the others...not worth a big fight with bigger fish to fry. It IS illegal here for minors to smoke cigarettes, but it's pretty hard to stop them from doing it.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    When difficult child was in high school and the school resource officer found cigarettes on kids he just took them and threw them in the trash. I think even he realized it was very difficult to enforce except not to allow it on property. difficult child told me just yesterday that one day after school she was at a red light with a cigarette in her mouth and a police car pulled up next to her, rolled down his window and said "you know you have to be 18 to smoke those right?" He jst rolled up his window and drove away. I'm not in favor of young people smoking, in fact I wish cigarettes didn't exist, but there is no real penalty for underage smoking, they are not going to arrest a teen for smoking, and there are so many bigger issues they need to deal with. The best we can do is continue educating kids on the dangers of smoking and be a good example to our kids.

  8. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    I agree with Nancy. My 18 yo is smoking which kills me. However, he has bigger issues to deal with right now. I have let him know I do not approve and I expect him to stop as soon as other goals are reached. I also offered him any and all assistance to do so.
  9. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    I so appreciate all of your responses. This particular school does allow it if parents sign a release. I guess for them it's an issue where they do take the "higher risk" kid and often times these kids come with baggage. There are fights they fight about doing work and being respectful, but they also choose not to fight this one in the interest of the greater good. I do have an update. I told my husband. He asked how GG was doing and I told him "he is very stressed out" he asked why and I told him that I will only tell him if his listens to the whole story before reacting and has an open mind. I told him that he is very nervous bc he feels he will not be able or willing not to smoke cigarettes and he knows where that will lead...said he is tired of sneaking around and knows where sneaking leads, etc. I told him that he felt panicky bc he knows he cannot talk to his dad about it and doesn't know what to do. I also told him how the school said similar things to all of you - how the "struggling" kids there all smoke cigarettes, none of the parents want them to, but all sign the paper in the end bc they don't want their kid to get expelled. With all of this information, he said he doesn't want to shut him out completely and if this is the case, he is all for getting an "e-cig" kit for him. We are still going to try to draw a line about the cigarettes, but if all else fails, we may have to reconsider. We have a family meeting this weekend and hopefully we will all be able to hammer out an agreement.
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That sounds very reasonable to me!
  11. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Excellent Zardo!

    I think both you and your husband handled that well.

  12. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Sounds like a great idea... I applaud you both for finding a way to meet your son halfway...

    I know we hate the fact that we are all constantly faced with decisions that have only undesirable options. I think it's one of the hardest part about being a difficult child I want my kid to smoke with my permission or without it? And "not smoke at all" is the option we want but it's not available...I feel your frustration.

    In this case, i think it's the devil you know vs the devil you don't. The good option isn't available so you must take the "least bad" option. And I think signing the permission slip is the way to go. As a bonus, I think it will make him less likely to blame you ... he won't look at the other kids with parent permission and find his own parents come up short.

    Oh, the places we go...
  13. pinevalley

    pinevalley Member

    Zardo: You did a great job in the conversation with you husband! I'm sure that you feel better now that you and your husband have come to an agreement that you can both live with. Great job! My difficult child smokes cigarettes and my husband and I really hate that he is hooked on cigarettes. Just as the others have written, we felt like we had to pick our battles with our difficult child, and smoking cigarettes was not as critical as using drugs. The cigarettes might help your son to relieve stress, and he will appreciate the fact that you are trying to help him to smoke.
  14. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    "I have heard tons of "MOM, if you don't let me do this, I don't think I'll make it" ultimatums."

    I think that's a central consideration here--would you be willing to bend on this issue if it weren't presented to you as a dire ultimatum? The answer is probably "No"--i.e., the only reason you're even considering it is that you're being held at a kind of emotional gunpoint: bend on this or I'll go over the falls in more important ways. So it really comes down to the extent to which you want to send the message "I will bend on things I care deeply about if you frighten me enough with the threat that you'll harm yourself via relapse." I'm not sure that's a message I'd want to send.

    I grant the oft-stated "pick your battles" argument. You hear it a LOT in literature/advice about dealing with difficult children. But my experience, directly and observationally, is that it's a very slippery slope and not always good advice: we all know that, with almost all difficult children, small concessions are usually regarded as signs of weak resolve and then exploited for larger concessions, and then chaos takes over. If you don't want him to smoke and it's illegal for him to smoke, you have every right to forbid him smoking. If he says that he'll go haywire and relapse if he can't smoke, he is really saying "I'll go haywire and relapse if I don't get my way." *He* needs to be accountable for that potential decision and outcome, not *you*.

    Just my .02...
  15. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    Everyone's feedback is so relevant. MrSlammer - I so agree with your perspective. I have heard this before from treatment professionals. They often suggest to hold a hard line on everything and if there are problems, send him to TBS. At Wilderness programs, they are big proponents of TBS and they did suggest we look to that solution if his current school does not work out. on the other hand, I sometimes think how easy that is for them to reccommend as they are not sending their kid there nor faced with the prospect of paying for it (upwards of $80K by the way that we, or probably anyone, cannot afford). I have read so many accounts of situations where really the only "cure" was time and maturity. If he were in the same place he was 2 years ago, contstant use, anger, defiance and holes in the wall, that would be on the table and we would find a way to pay as he was not at a point where he could function in our home. But, it does seem more that he is finding his way to a better life, it's just not as fast or "all in" as we would like it to be. The reality is I have to decide if this issue is important enough for me to let it be the one that potentially ends the ability for him to finish up this year at the school that he is at that has been working with him. He is not threatening relapse. It's more that he cannot stay at this school if I don't consent but he smokes anyway, which, yes that's defiance, but he is coming to us saying "I'm not going to be able to do this". So, it would bring him back to our home and alternative school. He would continue support, but he would be in a VERY unstructurred setting. In our town, alternative is only until 12 and the work they give is not the same. It would make it hard for him to every return to regular school. Once this year is complete, he can go back to the mainstream high school (assuming that he continues to make progress). So, for now, we're going to try to meet him 1/2 way with the e-cig. As parents, we have to at least try to have success with this first. If it doesn't work, we will be at that crossroads again where we will have to decide how hard to hold the line. You are all so right, we are faced with these undesireable choices......
  16. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Zardo - I am impressed by how you and your husband talked this out and came to a compromise. Good luck with the e-cig... those things are cool. We got my son one of those for Xmas one year. It was cool but he pretty quickly lost it and I don't think for whatever reason was serious about using it. Is your son on board with the e-cig idea. The good thing about those besides not getting smoke into your lungs, but over time you can cut down on the amount of nicotine so can start weaning yourself off the nicotine. However if your son isn't on board with it it may not work.

    Mrsammler - I agree with you in principal.... however when you have a difficult child who is willingly working on treatment it is a balance between holding the hard line and supporting them to get better in whatever way they can. And what most rehab and hospitals told us, was don't push him to quit smoking while he is working on the more serious issues of drug addiction or depression.

  17. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    No disrespect to Mr Sammler- but if it were as easy as just taking a hard line, our difficult children would be pcs.

    AA and cigarettes go hand in hand afaik. Coffee too. A way of keeping the hands busy and weaning ... ime as an observer... smoking is part of the culture in many successful recovery programs.

    And while I realize it's always day by day, if cigarettes mean more days sober, more clean headed opportunities to let sobriety sink in; I say ok.

    Just in my humble opinion
  18. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Sig, adult AA mtgs are that way but not all teen programs or meetings are. I think mrammler had a point- at least it would apply to my son and yes, he's required to go thru substance abuse, too. They will allow nicotine patches or whatever if a kid is really going thru nicotine withdrawal but there's no way in hades they would allow smoking because in this state, it is strictly enforced. Not to mention, it's enforced that it's illegal to sell cigs to minors or for an adult to purchase them for a minor. All situations, programs, states, etc are not the same- especially when you are dealing with some common differences in age groups. I don't expect my son to have the same mindset as a young adult who took himself into treatment at his age and situation. Just like with all difficult child issues, there is no 'one size fits all'.

    I think zardo and her husband came to a great solution for her son but I don't know her son's mindset. I sometimes get a grip on mine and I can tell you for sure, at his age right now and he's the same age as hers, if I allowed something after he made a statement like that, he would raise the stakes higher and higher. And with son's legal status, I most definitely would be charged. I heard in directly from policemen in our last jurisdiction.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  19. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    So - difficult child is in agreement. I told him to let us know what he needs and I will buy it. He gave me his order for one month worth of supplies. His list was for 7 "packs" - each pack contains 5 "cartridges" - seems like an aweful lot. My gut tells me that he has signed on for this healthier is not the time to enforce limits. Please chime in with your opinions.....

    What I do think is that he will have to earn the money for this though. I think I willl "gift" the first month, but going forward, his school allowance will be reduced by $15 per week to pay for this or he can work at home to "earn" it. Once he is home and gets a job, the rest is on him.
  20. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Perfect! I might even consider gifting part of it the 2nd mo- IOW, if he's decreasing usage the 2nd mo thereby showing an effort to quit, I'd foot the bill. So for instance, I'd tell my son I'll pay for 60% the second mo so if he has decreased that much he gets his full allowance. If he wants more than that, he foots the bill for the difference. The following mo, it decreases more.

    But those are details and not that imporatant. I think you and husband did a great job!