Any Input Welcomed


New Member
Hi - This is our difficult child #1’s story:

Our son is 16 – me & my husband have been married for 24 years. We also have a 23 y/o daugher (difficult child #2 - story to follow at a later date).

He has struggled with-school always – well not always just since 3rd grade. He attended a private Montessori school (he LOVED it there) from age 2 till we moved back home when he was 7.

At that time we moved the whole family into my Mother’s home to care for her – my Dad had passed 2 years earlier and my Mom become an invalid (double amputee due to PVD). During that time, which now seems like eons ago, I struggled with loosing her; worked FT from her home; felt guilty about having my husband quit his job to move back home, not only to a depressing situation but also to a depressed economy - it took him nearly a year to find suitable employment. I know in my heart it was the right thing to do at the time and I will cherish the quality time I had with my Mother but unfortunately our children suffered for it because we probably weren’t “mentally” present enough for over a year's time. Enough about that.

Upon our return he went to a good public school (we couldn’t afford 2 private school tuitions at the time (our daughter was entering HS and there wasn’t a Montessori school that went above the Kindergarten level anyway). After a week in the 2nd grade the school system requested testing & long story short he was identified as gifted & was placed in 3rd - last night I went through some old notes from teachers, report cards, etc. I’m sure you know the kind: “disruptive in class” “tapping on desk” “drumming pencil” “talks too loud & too much” “sings during test” “watching me watching him” and the list goes on and on. Soon after came the ADD tests & that formal diagnosis. ADD / IQ of 145.

I've made many mistakes along the way (not wanting to give MY child prescription drugs to help with-the ADD not to mention our overall lack of consistency with-enforcing punishments – however, I must say “grounding” him and/or taking away privileges such as computer, Xbox, etc., had absolutely no affect on him – when we did manage to enforce it. It was almost like he welcomed it. He was never the kind of kid that would get angry or throw a fit – he would just spend more time with us talking or reading – no biggie. We did eventually try different medications with-him per the pediatrician but I think he had already turned "sour" on the whole school thing. It helped him with concentration/staying on task/not being disruptive while at school but he would still manage to loose the HW on the way or forget to write it down, turn it in, etc. His basic MO was not to fret about the grades until the finals – then he would study (only if need be) and ace that BIG test at the end to bring up his grades. That usually worked for him. He would always say “I’ll do better next semester.”

He played every sport available, (except football) was in a select boys choir (performed at Carnegie Hall) from age 5 to 12 and in retrospect, I think, enjoyed it but towards reaching 12-13 if he wasn’t the “star” of the team he lost interest. He was a GREAT kid at home; just didn’t “perform” at school or meet the “expectations”. Of course there was a lot of frustration, coaxing, prodding, behavior charts, teacher/parent conferences, study skills classes, many long heart-to-heart talks, etc., along the way, but it just didn’t sink in.

Fast forward to middle school/high school - he’s was kicked out of a Catholic school with-7 weeks left of his 8th grade year - we were told he was the brightest boy there but they could no longer allow him to break the rules (even if they were minor violations) – he was accepted into a Catholic HS (I know, what were we thinking!) for 9th (because of his achievement test) but was asked not to return the following year (also for a litany of minor infractions). He did begin seeing a psychologist for a while (beginning about 13) but that didn’t seem to help. He didn’t mind going but had no effect on his outlook or motivation.

He moved on to a public HS for 10th grade but things got much worse rather quickly as he discovered drugs, started skipping classes, lying (which he had NEVER done before) and running away from home. He was grounded a good part of his 10th grade year; at home drug tests began; and we completely lost that kid who didn’t mind being grounded & was such a pleasure just to be with and would always hope and I believe really meant to do better next time. He has been in a total of 8 different schools.

During the summer of ’06 our whole world started to unravel. He was out with-his friends one evening & called home to be picked up early (quite unusual). When husband & difficult child walked in I knew something was wrong – after a few minutes he told us he had eaten a couple of flowers called Angel Trumpet. I called the poison center and we immediately took him to the ER. After a few hours there he was transferred to another hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for 3 days. He nearly died. After the on-call psychiatrist met with-him he was not considered suicidal or homicidal and was discharged. At our insistence he had a couple of weeks of “intensive out-patient” therapy and we thought he had really experienced a wake-up call – we spent so many hours talking and had a real sense that things were going to turn around. That wasn’t the case.

After about 2 weeks into 11th grade he ran away yet again (4th time) – I don’t think I mentioned, every time he has done that, he leaves little notes that apologize and ask us not to be angry with him - he just needs some space - it’s not our fault, etc. After finding him with 6 or 7 other kids at a sleazy “motel” a couple days later we escorted him to an adolescent rehab facility where he spent 63 days inpatient – we visited on Saturdays for 2 hours (where we found out that he had been smoking cigs & pot since he was 14, did X & Coke several times & acid a few) – when he came home in Nov ’06 he did very well – he was allowed to transfer to another public HS to be away from his “triggers/temptations”; we enrolled in a family group session with about 8 other troubled teens & their parents led by a MSW to talk about drugs, etc. After about 2 ½ months into that program he was smoking pot again, skipping classes & hanging with his crowd.

He is on probation now because we have asked the court to charge him with an "ungovernable minor" charge due to his disregard for our rules of "no drugs period", running away & truancy. He knows the potential consequences but doesn't seem to care about anything at all. It’s like the façade is off and he has been “exposed.” He failed the last drug test (pot & coke) & was placed on house arrest for 3 weeks. No biggie. He just got off a few days ago. Three hours later he left home with a “friend” reported to work and was fired. Apparently, he showed up stoned. He also just recently had a psychological & psychiatric profile requested by the court but the psychiatric profile came back as invalid - the psychologist said “he did not take it seriously” “too many exaggerations not consistent with his upbringing”. The psychiatrist believes he is depressed and we should try Wellbutrin (no Adderall) but can't say if the drug use caused the depression or the depression caused the self-medicating behavior.

This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do - I am obsessed with researching options to help him find himself, but feel like I'm stuck in quicksand at the same time. How do you come to terms with the fact that you just can't reach out and help your own child overcome whatever it is that's holding him back?

We can’t COMMUNICATE with him at all any longer. He doesn't open up with-us - just wants to leave high school because he is absolutely "miserable" while there (even though he has friends) and promises to stay drug-free BUT will not give up his drug using “friends”. I think I also forgot to mention all Fs this year. I must have 20+ parenting/ADD/Gifted books around the house - some deal with drug experimentation, etc., but the more I research the more confused I am with- "sending him away" to a wilderness camp/therapeutic boarding school to be "fixed". I realize we may be in a denial of the true depths of his problem but I'm sure you know what I mean when you THINK that your child is different - you hope & pray he'll see the light and just WAKE UP and realize where he's headed – but it never happens.

He is such a frustration in that one-on-one, most of the time, he's an affable, mature, all around really good kid, but when he's out of our sight he morphs into, well, you know what! He's totally mixed up (like I was at his age) but couple that with-today and the world we live in and the outcome may be another story. We will also start “family therapy” soon but not sure if that will be enough.

Bottom line currently is our struggle a) do we let him face the consequences of his actions by allowing him to go the GED route, continue to drug screen, follow the court’s recommendations, let him work full-time, give him enough rope to hang himself, etc., or b) send him to a WC or another drug rehab & hope and pray that he benefits from the intensive therapy and overall experience of being "forced" to see where he is ultimately headed.

Thanks for listening to me ramble and if you have any advice it will be very much appreciated.


New Member
I have no real words of wisdom for you, NOLA, but wanted to "welcome" you here.

My son, too, is gifted/ADD. We had him at a school for gifted kids for 2 years, and your son sounds like most of the kids there. People just don't realize how hard it is for gifted kids to get through school - they don't realize that "gifted" doesn't mean advanced classes, but being taught differently. Add to it an Learning Disability (LD) like ADD, and you've really got a handful.

So far, my son hasn't tried to self medicate. But it is one thing I'm constantly on the lookout for.

Again, I'm sorry I don't have any suggestions, but hopefully someone will come along who does.


New Member
Hello and welcome aboard. My difficult child was diagnosed with ADHD in the 6th grade and he also has an i.q. of 145, and he is a recovering heroin addict, 8 months clean on the 29th of this month, not that I keep track or anything :smile:

Your sons story sounds like many of ours here. You have found a wonderful place to come for support and hope. I was at the desperate point you are now the summer before last. Our difficult child was 18 years old when we had to kick him out of our house due to his drug use and stealing everything in site from us to support his habit. I want to suggest to you to find a parent alanon meeting in your area. There you will find a room full of people who are experiencing everything you are right now. Those meetings along with this board are the reason I have come as far as I have over the last 2 years, and I believe has also allowed my difficult child to come as far as he has also. I learned how to detatch with love, allow him to make his own choices that I learned were not my fault, as you haven't caused any of your difficult child's choices, and most important, I learned how to live my own life without his consuming my every second and sucking the life out of me.

As I mentioned, my difficult child now 20 is 8 months clean, currently living in a soberhouse, going to meetings, has a sponsor, works full time, pays his own rent!! Things that 2 years ago I never would have dreamed possible for him. I believe one of the biggest things that keeps my son on track is knowing he can never ever live home again. If he uses, he will be kicked out of his soberhouse and have nowhere to live. His house is strict and in the 6 months he has lived there, he has seen many roomies come and go due to relapse. He knows what relapse would mean for him, but it wasn't easy watching him get to that point.

These are things you cannot do for your son, he has to want them. You can help him by detatching and not enabling him in anyway, because that often speeds the process.

Sorry you had to find us, but we are glad you did. It is a heartwrenching process you are watching your son go through, but there are many here who can show you that you can survive, and so can your son.

Learn the serenity prayer and live it. I know it gets myself and many others here through many sleepless nights.


Active Member
wow do you remind me of ME and ant. I did a lot of what you did, ant did all you said and more it seems. when he was 16 I sent him to live with my brother. he continued this pattern of bad life. when he got in trouble with the courts, out of desperation I let the courts send him to a reform type school for two yrs. when he was 18 he got out and started drugs the very day!

I would let natural consequences take over. as much as you want to help him, he is not ready. he is determined to be himself. how he chooses. the wellbutrin will not help if he is also self medicating with other illegal substances. perhaps though counseling and medications will help YOU cope. this is a hard place to be.

he runs away. he will not stay in a program, he will run and waste your money. he would have to be in a locked program and that may only contain him and not help. however if the courts get to that point, it will at least contain him so he doesnt self destruct.

I think it is time to have you research how you can handle this for you.
read these two books-free to borrow at the library, both helped me tremendously:

boundaries by townsend and cloud

codependent no more by melody beattie

go to a local NA or AA mtg so you can see how other parents are doing this. try also this website:

he is too young to kick out the house. as I said I definitely have been where you are, tried it all, nothing helped. my son ended up in jail most of the past 5 yrs. from 18 to 23. it contained him. a hard place to be, but his DUIs got him there. he is almost 24 now and is in an apartment, working daily, drug free but an alcoholic. a functioning one. he is on probation for 5 yrs and is to be out of bars or back to jail. he is in the bar every night after work.

for my part once he turned 18 I threw him out. I took him back now and then but no more now. he is too old. he still will not listen to my advice at all. but...we have a good relationship mostly because I backed way off and let him live his own life while I choose how mine will be.

start to ignore your son as much as you can, read the books I said and educate yourself in how to cope. you cannot change him but you can change you.


Active Member
by the way ant has a borderline genius IQ,had a good home, we tried four schools, three homes, several RTCs were court ordered, we had him in a psychiatric ward at 13, he went thru many in and out patient rehabs. he did every drug anyone names and nearly died from a heroin overdose. the overdose stopped the drug use...he is afraid of that now. he can drink anyone under the table with his vodka/beer.

I had all the tools I could for him. private school public havent failed. you have made a stellar effort and have gone above and beyond what the normal human would think I said you remind me of me.

your son's drug use is severe. he is very hard core and resists all efforts to change him. been there done that. let go. let God


New Member
Your son sounds very much like mine.

Once the cover had been taken from our eyes and we knew that he was using drugs ~ We lost every ounce of control we had.

I couldn't keep my son in school. He was placed in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) to complete a GED program, he ran away. He was found and put in youth detention where he could not run ~ he did complete his GED there.

It was a rush against time, everything had to be done before he turned 18 and was considered an adult.

He turned 18, he is living with another difficult child and his mom. He is still using.

I think what helps me now is knowing that he did complete a rehab program. He was given the tools to help him become drug free. He knows what steps to take to help himself if he decides to quit using.

Sending {{{hugs}}} your way. I know what a difficult time this is for you all


New Member
Just a note ~

The places he was sent to that were not locked down, he abused all the rules and would disappear.

The locked down places were the ones that helped him. He knew in order to get out he had to abide by the rules and complete the program.

He spent several mths in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) "playing" instead of working on his GED. The rules were he had to complete it before leaving. I think he knew he was going to run away the whole time, he never even tried to study.

Once he was in youth detention and locked up, he finished his GED in 1 mth. They only tested once a mth and he missed the first test date. I think he could have passed it in the beginning.

The rehab was also locked down. So he was an angel the entire time. Doing everything right from the beginning.

Take care of yourself, you have a long road ahead. None of us thought we would be here talking about our kids one day.

We all provided all the love and support a parent could and yet our children made the choice to stray into drugs.


Well-Known Member
I completely understand. Geez, I wish I didn't!

When I first joined this CD family over six years ago my grandson
was obviously more easy child than difficult child. In deference to my age, I assume, I was allowed to identify him as easy child/difficult child. Just like your
son he was in the gifted program, was 2nd in countywide golf competition, starting five in basketball and played in the World
Series for baseball. He laughed and joked and hugged and obeyed
and was the most delightful, polite boy in town.

He has been in three juvie s.a. programs, he has been in "big boy
jail" twice. He is an alcoholic. He has had (and may still have) a pot problem. He has done pills. He hangs out with people who he knows not to bring to our home. He still is loving
and funny.

The answer has to come from inside the difficult child. If they are not ready and eager for a program, chances are you are flushing your
dollars. In a zillion years we never ever ever thought he would
have a criminal record (for drug possession) of any kind. Duke
University had him take the SAT at 13 for early admission, geez!

I understand. I send you hugs. I'm sorry for your pain and your
frustration. DDD


Well-Known Member
I, too, am the mother of a genius with no common sense. Ditto to ever post above. We have been battling one diagnosis or another since he was in 2nd grade. (Actually before that, that was just the first diagnosis). I would like to say that the interventions we tried worked---but they didn't. With that it mind, I would still go back and do it all over again. I would still try everything possible to save him from himself. You have about 2 years left. After that, its a mute point.


Psycho Gorilla Dad
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">genius with no common sense...</div></div>

That DOES seem to be a common thread, doesn't it? NOLA, welcome. I wish you weren't here, but I'm glad you found us. You aren't alone any more. Your story (names changed) could be anyone's story here.

As to what to do, I wouldn't presume to suggest anything. I'm having a difficult enough time with my own son, so who am I to recommend something to you? I will say, however, that I've found this is a journey for the parents as well as the difficult child's.

And at various points along the way, you'll make the decisions you think are right at the time. We all do.

It wasn't too long ago that I was in the "preserve the good things in my son's life, while helping him battle the bad things" mode. Only recently have I become okay with letting him feel the pain of his decisions. In fact, last night he and some friends got stopped by the police with booze and pot in the car (not his car, though). Unlike six months ago, I was fully prepared to let him go to juvie and face the judge, if the cops decided to take him there. It didn't happen (he hadn't been drinking), but I was ready to let him go none-the-less.

It's a journey for us all, and everyone's path is different, with different milestones. All I would humbly offer is make the best decisions you can for both you and your son. Use the best information you can find (the folks on CD that have been there done that are great resources) to make those decisions. And, as someone here told me a while back, don't throw any option out. Something you may think is "unthinkable" right now may, in fact, be exactly what you have to do down the road. Keep an open mind.

And, more than anything else, no matter how mad, depressed, or agitated you may get, don't let those things overshadow the love you have for your son. It's the love that will show you what to do, and keep you fighting long after parents with "normal" kids would have given up.

Again, with a sad heart for you (but hope as well), I say "Welcome".



New Member
Nola, there is no good purpose for beating oneself up over past decisions. Life with a difficult child is a learning process with a learning curve. There is a possibility that had you not moved, had you given him all the attention in the world, he would still have problems. We do not have crystal balls and we do not have perfect hindsight either. What we do have is the here and now and the ability to learn. I for one would not advocate giving up on a 16 year old. I think you should look into locked treatment programs. Boot camps are usually not good alternatives for kids with mental health issues. Look for a dual diagnosis treatment facility that will deal with both the underlying deepression and the durg abuse. Since he is only 16 you have many more options than I had when searching for my then 18 year old son. I couldn't find a locked facility and settled for one that was not. My difficult child ran after 2 months even though he was doing very well by all accounts. He ended up back in jail because it was a probaton violation and we could not find another facility that we could afford. -RM


New Member
Each State has a recognized family organization that helps families find the help they need. Put in the, "Federation for Families for Children's Mental Health" in your search engine. You can click on the map and it will list the organizations in your State. I do find that CD and related issues are not treated like a mental health illness in Michigan. Therapists seem to think that it isn't a mental illness. I have had several conversations with them over the years. Many times the attitude was that it was all my fault or my ex-husbands. Even if that was so, how does that help us now? I often would say to them, "How is that helpful to my family now?" It felt like that let them off the hook to expect good outcomes for my children. When we stop loving them there is no one else there to do that. That doesn't mean we can't step back and re-group for awhile. We have to or we would lose our sanity. Today is visitation day for my daughter. I do not plan on visiting her, but I am going to drive her best friend there. I need to send a message to her that I will not be sucked in, but I will make sure she is well taken care of in there. She has medical problems and actually passed out in the jail. Her friend is taking Doreen, her medications. Not just a social call or I wouldn't be taking her there.


Well-Known Member
difficult child is our only little acronym for Gift from God. Those are the children who brought us to this place. It looks like you have a lot of knowledge and wisdom to share with the rest of us. Thanks for joining in.


New Member
Just checking in--thank you all so much for your input--nothing much new here except I did write a 6 page letter expressing my inner-most feelings for not being a better "advocate" for him during his early years in school, appreciating him for who he is, really letting him know I understand the turmoil and the struggles of being a teenager, etc. I also did manage to squeeze in while I realize the angst he is experiencing, drugs are not the answer and he will be carted off to professionals if he chooses to continue to test positive, etc. You know, “not on my watch” type of thing. I didn’t just give him the letter, I read it to him, all the while holding back the tears, ala INTERVENTION currently on A&E. That didn’t elicit as much emotion or feedback from him as I had hoped. As usual, our communication was a one-way street. He listened intently but didn’t have much to add.

He’s out right now with his group of lost boys (supposedly playing a new video game) – right, of course, right! So I decided to tidy up a bit around his room – not really cleaning just snooping! Low and behold, pieces of aluminum foil and a piece of burnt up rolling paper in his trash can still reeking of weed. Guess my letter didn’t quite get through.

So, it’s wake-up and decision time (something I absolutely dread) for me and my husband – we have a court ordered therapy session on Saturday and go before the judge on the 21st – so we have between now & then to decide which professionals we entrust to actually reach him – not an easy task.

Skeeter – Thanks for relating and I hope your son doesn’t follow in my difficult children footsteps.

KFld – I am very happy for your son’s progress and hope he finds the desire and love of life to reach his true potential. How do I “learn how to live my own life without his consuming my every second and sucking the life out of me?” Between work, constantly searching the net for the best possible and affordable rehab center, etc., I am too emotionally and physically drained to seek out a parent alanon group, which probably doesn’t even exist, in this hell-hole, Katrina-ravished town. I did look for a Tough Love group, emailed them too, but to no avail.

ant’smom – I will definitely read those books but probably like you were, I am still in the “we must try everything to help him” mode – even though intellectually I know he is the one that has to want to change. I just want to at least provide him with the tools to grab out of his baggy jeans if and when he makes that decision. I now you are right in saying “you cannot change him but you can change you.” I’m trying but it aint easy!

Hearthope – Sorry you can relate so well. Same here, once that façade fell off all hell broke loose. He now doesn’t really mind showing us his true colors anymore. For a while, it was like he still had a need to “fool” us into believing he was a good boy!

DDD – God Bless you & your husband.

katmom – I’m right there with you &#61514;

Mikey – You are the reason I initially posted – after reading your threads I felt like I had a strong chance of really relating to all of you guys. Hang in there – we are also hanging on by a thread.


New Member
sorry - i forgot to include this:

rejectedmom – Thanks for the support. I know what you mean about the “affording” part. It’s not a good position to be in when your teen needs help and the reality sinks in that we can’t afford to provide the best. Why do they keep making the same mistakes over and over again?

RobinLaurain – Thanks for sharing – I hope your daughter finds her way. I also have “addictive” tendencies. I’ve been chewing nicotine gum for 2 ½ years!


Well-Known Member
Hi. Sometimes I think the brilliant, clueless kids may have undiagnosed Aspergers (brilliant academically/no life skills). My daughter was not gifted in any way--she had some Learning Disability (LD)'s with an average IQ, but she took every drug that exists. By age 16 she was taking her window out of her room and climbing out of the house to run on the streets with her druggie friends. I'm convinced that, at that age, there is no "right" or "wrong" thing to do. It's different for each kid, and these almost adults will do what they want to do, unless they are locked up. My daughter was on parole twice, and that didn't stop her from doing drugs. She was a great liar, but really dumb about her drug use. We found ashes and bits of pot in her room all the time. It was neverending. I wish I had good advice. If I hadn't been so clueless myself, and not realized she was doing a lot more than pot, I would have probably put her in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) just to get her away from her "friends" (I use the word loosely here). And I mean a lock-up Residential Treatment Center (RTC) because, if there were drugs around, she'd find them and use them. She finally had a lightbulb moment and decided to straighten out. She was living with her straight brother at the time (we'd had to throw her out), but she didn't have to stay with him or follow his rules. She could have run away and she chose to clean up her act. Almost four years later, she is still straight. She was at least as messed up with drugs as your son. She even shot up heroin once. She used cocaine. You name it. If she could have a lightbulb go off in her brain, and settle into a normal life, any kid can, including yours. Do what your gut tells you to do, but don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work. At his age, it's 90% *his* choice. He's almost a man. Scary, I know. Hugs to you! (PS--In our house we didn't smoke or drink, so that isn't always a deterrent either)


New Member
In answer to your question of how you learn to live your own life, without them sucking the life out of you every minute, that is a tough one. Your son is only 16, so the option of kicking him out and allowing him to make his own choices like we had to do with ours, is not an option for you right now. I was consumed for many years between the adhd and then moving into the drug use, and it wasn't until he was old enough and I could have him leave and got myself very involved in alanon, did I learn to live my own life. You may not be able to step back yet, but it's important that you find time to do some positive things for yourself as you are going through all of this. He is at the age where some of the things you try could work, so don't give up hope. No matter how bad it ever gets, don't ever give up hope. And most important, serenity prayer, serenity prayer, serenity prayer!!


New Member
I wish you the best and hope you find a place that will help him. I believe the rehab my son was at helped him, he was my son again when I visited. It was the being back home and the using buddies in the area that he eventually sought out that got him back into using.

In reading your post about the letter you wrote him and not getting the response you wanted back ~

My son was up at 1 a.m. and I couldn't sleep. I decided to try "one" more time at convincing him to change his ways.

We were up till 2:30 talking. I thought it was the best talk we had in a long time. He never blew up at me and he seemed to listen to what I was saying. He even agreed with most of it.

I went to bed with a smile. I thought I had finally made him see the light.

A couple of days after that he flipped our car upside down in a ditch. He left it.

The sheriff deputy came to let me know they caught one of the boys that was with him but my son escaped. It was that deputy that let me know my son was using cocaine.

The next morning at the po's office I learned that the reason my son was so in control during our talk that night was because he was high on coke.


Active Member
Just wanted to send you some cyber support and some polish for your warrior armour. :warrior: You've tried many avenues for your difficult child.

It's hard when our personal goal is to prevent anything bad from happening to our kids and yet we cannot prevent them from themselves.