Desperate for Advice

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Zardo, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    After a very long year with my 15 year old, we are in crisis. Our story started last year when he began 8th grade and hit the ADD academic wall. His inability to follow along in the classromm lead to behavior issues at school. As I followed up with teachers and tried to create structure at home to support doing school work, he became angry and defiant, screaming at me, throwing things, etc. We started family and individual counseling for him at this time, but he continued to struggle. In the summer between 8th and 9th grade, the pot smoking started. By the time school started, it was regular. 9th grade was a disaster from the start. His pot smoking continued, be began experimenting with other drugs as well. In March, he was expelled when he was caught with pot at school. We had the good fortune of getting him into a boarding school with a very supportive academic program and a substance abuse program that uses testing and education to help kids that are struggling. He did great for the first 5 weeks, before he found the substances there, got caught and was given "medical leave". The deal was if he attend Wilderness Therapy over the summer, he can come back in Sept. During Wilderness, we seemed to embrace the substance abuse program, but struggled to achieve behavioral growth due to his impulsivity and challenging their requirements at times. Somewhere along the way, he decided since it is taking him so long to advance through their levels, he is no longer willing to go to a boarding school. As we present our plan for him to return to the previous school, he say no way, he is coming home and will not go there. When we tell him that's not an option and we will have to go for Therapeutic Boarding School (which would put our family in financial duress) he says if we try that he may have to kill himself because he would rather die. He also says that if we send him anywhere he is going Occupational Therapist (OT) be so bored that he will have to do drugs. I had a long talk with an educational consultant today who suggested that maybe trying to bring him home, with a private school setting, individual and family counseling and a firm behavior contract would be best due to how much he is opposed to anything else. He also said that there are no guarentees with those schools and they are very expensive. I am distraught and totally at a loss. I would love to hear all advice, especially from anyone who has been through the therapeutic boarding school option.
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    It sounds like his frustration with school lead to the behavior issues. It probably also lead to the "self-medicating". It sounds like an inpatient treatment is needed. School should be put on the back burner. That is a stressor for him right now and he needs to be taught coping strategies and it sounds like he should probably by on "legal" medications to help with these symptoms. Have you taken him to a psychiatrist? Has he been officially diagnosis'd with ADD? Has he been evaluated recently for other possible diagnosis's? It sounds like he needs a thorough evaluation.

    {{{{(((HUGS)))}}}} to you all. Welcome to the family. Others will come along with other input. You have come to a great place.
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    What TeDo said.

    Also, Did he have an IEP or at least a 504 plan for the ADD? Was that being addressed before he hit the wall? Did the school TRY to address it after he hit the wall? I'm only asking hindsight questions because those answers may help in moving FORWARD to get your son the assistance he needs.

    Welcome to the board. You've found a great place for support guidance and insights.
  4. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    Thanks for your response. Ys, at the end of 8th grade, he had formal testing. He was classified as Special Education with ADD, Executive Functioning Issues and very slow processing speed. At the beginning of 9th grade, we had an IEP in place and he got support at school - he just didn't go along with it. He was very caught up in substances at that time. The wilderness Program he is in this summer is addressing substance abuse and behavior issues, teaching coping skills, etc. He is finishing up that program and they are recommending Therapeutic Boarding School as they don't feel he made enough progress with his impulsive behaviors and chanllenging rules at times. We have concerns about placing him in that type of progrm, from cost to efficacy. We don't have $100K to throw at this problem and I am not sure he would respond to that either.
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    ((((HUGS))))) I'm so sorry he started self-medicating before he got the help he needed to succeed. The substance abuse is priority #1. if you can get him clean, then you might be able to get through to him that there is real, practical help that can make education easier and a 'doable' challenge.

    As far as these programs go, I'm sorry but I have no advice. Paying for any such program is so far off my radar right now. Where are you located? Have you researched any publicly funded programs?
  6. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Welcome and so sorry, I know this duress. We are in the throes of one yet again. I have no experience with therapeutic boarding schools but with both a private and then a public residential treatment facility. They are no magic bullet and 1ooK is about right. Unless there is willingness it is tough. I have seen kids who really turn around and those that get worse(our daughter). I've read things that say they do better in home with lots of support and yet sometimes our kids back us in a corner and we can't keep them safe at home. I do know that there are some good private schools geared to kids with learning challenges (I used to teach sp. ed.). Maybe there is one in your area. I also know that some private schools do not even employ a special educator and use a public school sp. ed. to serve their children with IEP's. I did this for a neighboring private school as the public school is responsible for that service. It was not a good thing as I had little access to the teachers at the private school and little time to do what really needed to be done. Make sure you ask those questions. As for self medicating, with pot, you are in good company here. Many of us have been through this with our kids. I strongly urge you to spend your money on a good evaluation and find something that will help with his impulses. Impulse problems are so self destructive and there are medications that can help. Hugs to you this is a hard time. Only you can make the decision that is right for your family, and even then it may not work as your boy has to be the one to make the choice to get better. Our jobs as moms are to make sure we give them the opportunities we can within our means.
  7. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    Thanks for all of your comments. Here's how things look right now, the boarding school he was at is not a Special Education school, but their Special Education supports are unbelievable. I feel it's the best progrma available for a serious executive functioning problem. In the time he was there, he went from getting Fs at the public school and doing no work to getting As and Bs. I remember one day when he called excited to tell me that he got a 94, the highest grade in his class on a science test. In addition, they work with kids who have experienced substance abuse and behavior difficulties. He will be tested every 2 weeks for subs and required to have weekly one-on-one counselring with a Drug and Alch counselor. I also found out that there is a clinic in the neighboring town that offers "multidisciplinary model" of therapy for teens. They have subsance abuse counselors, psychiatrists and adolescent group therapy. Some kids from this school go there for support. The doctors and therapists all share information about the kids to develop a total treatment plan and monitor the kids' progress. The doctors can also communicate with a point person at the school if I sign a consent. If he can "get on the team" for going to this school, I think adding those supports would be huge. He has spent the summer in Wilderness, voices and desire to continue his new found sobriety, so at least it's a chance. I will say that with his refusal to return to this or any other boarding school, he has said that if forced to, he will return to drugs because it would just be too boring. Right now, his therapist and I are not listening as we both view that as just trying to control the situation. He is VERY dertimined to just come home. The therapist and we also agree that that is not in the equation right now. He must first demonstrate the ability to accept structure, limits and sobriety. If he goes to this school, he would be home on the weekends which will give us a chance to work on things to see how things go. Again, he has to be in full acceptance and work with his therapist to devise a plan for success at this school and home or we will have to go the harsh route of sending him somewhere against his will and refinancing the house to pay for it. :(
  8. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    It sounds perfect for to meet his needs. You are correct, he has to agree to it. Unfortunately, that requires logic and difficult child's just aren't known for having much of that. Good luck with the proposal. Just thought of a question, what is going to be the "bad" alternative you present to him if he refuses to even consider it? I know I can present the best case as to why difficult child should do something, but if he's already decided on something else, I need to "prove" to him that what he's planning isn't even an option. Anyhow, just a thought.
  9. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    So - the "bad" options are 2. The first is a therapeutic boarding school. The reason we present that as bad is because of the length of stay, removal from "real life" and limitations on home interaction/visits, etc. The other "bad option" that our attorney would like to present to him is that if he refuses or doesn't go along, he can spend time in juvenile detention. He sadi that with a current pending case agianst him for "posession on school grounds", falling back into substances at his boarding school, being sent to Wilderness and still balking at every opportunity his family is making to get his life back on track, the court if notified will put him in detention. My husband and I are very uneasy with that for a couple of reasons. First, we feel that the focus needs to be on treatment and identifying helpful medications and locking him up will not help him make progress. Second, we are afraid that if he were to do that even for a short period of time, he would meet some very bad kids and things could get worse. the attorney wants to tell him this though as a harsh dose of reality. He feels he doesn't understand the importance of working with us to help him.
  10. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    In a way I agree with the attorney. If your son is set on coming home and you present ONLY 2 options (home not being one of them), hopefully he would make the "correct" decision. There is always the chance that he wouldn't because he doesn't think you'd really do that. Or he wouldn't because he wants to "prove" something to YOU. In either case, follow-thru would be necessary.

    I do wish you luck. It can be very tough to get our hard-headed difficult child's to see things in a logical and healthy way. They all think the know what's best for them and no one is going to tell them different.
  11. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    Two responses:

    1) Aside from all of the ADD treatment issues, the gravity of which I entirely respect, you need to handle his apparent outright refusal to agree with any course of action, school-wise, that you present to him. It's your house, not his, and this needs to be underscored. I'll leave it to the Moms on this forum to advise you about this, except to say that with a difficult child, this sort of outright refusal to comply with (entirely reasonable) parental authority is not to be tolerated. An inch becomes a mile very quickly in circumstances like this. Yes, there are very serious ADD treatment issues here, but there's also a very simple parental authority issue here as well. Blank refusal to do as told is, in my opinion, not to be tolerated and needy of emphatic response, especially with a difficult child in the early going.

    2) Not all therapeutic boarding school experiences generate positive outcomes. My difficult child nephew went this route and came home 8 months later just as bad as before, but more wily and skillful about feigning "recovery." Many of them are simply corrals for teen difficult children, where they learn as much or more from each other as they do from the therapeutic staff and teachers.

    A question for other parents of difficult children, indirectly touching upon this thread: what do you do about the druggy peers who are instrumental in influencing your difficult child toward the darkness? I've often thought about cornering them, one by one as they come by to visit the difficult child, with this declaration: "Look, my kid is obviously smoking pot and getting into trouble, and he seems to be doing this in league with you. Let me be very clear: if I have even the slightest hint that you are involved in his drug use, either as supply or as cohort, I will do all I can to bring you to the attention of the authorities--period. I'm not playing--if you can't deal with this, best to stay away." The difficult child will hate you for this, of course, but he's going to claim to (or sincerely) hate you anyway for anything you do to combat his descent, and in my opinion it's a pitched battle with the forces within him and without him that can lead him to ruin or even death, and I'm not inclined to leave any weapon on the shelf for the life of my child.

    I anticipate a lot of dissent on this, and that's OK. I do know that if my sister had done this, her property would've stopped being a gathering place for the worst kids in town and at least a few of them would've pulled away, in whole or part, from their unhelpful relationships with her son. YMMV.
  12. keista

    keista New Member

    Not from me. Of course, I wasn't dealing with my own child but a friend I was helping get back on her feet (the mom of the boy I fostered). The second I discovered she was using, I kicked her out of the house. Her "friend" who was instrumental in me finding out, called me to plead her case for her. I pretty much said what you said, mrsammler.

    Unfortunately with a minor child the dynamics of "not allowing" or "not tolerating" are very different. Legally a parent cannot kick a minor out of the house with no where to go. Gotta get more creative.
  13. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I'm cool with creative: It's summertime. Go to Walmart and buy a good, solid tent and pitch it in the backyard, and tell the defiant child that that's where he lives until he falls into compliance. If that seems too stern, remove every blandishment from the difficult child's bedroom but the bare basics: make it look like a monk's cell. Tell him that he'll get back the [name the various toys here] one by one as he falls back into compliance and sustains that compliance.
  14. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    It is really a hard call... I can relate to your dilemma. My son also went to a wilderness program when he was 15 and they also recommended a therapeutic boarding school. The one we found was quite a distance from home and he was very upset by our choice although we felt from what we knew it was the best place for him. And in many ways I think it was. However he was very angry at us for sending him and I am not sure he has forgiven us for that decision. However his drug use was at a point when he went to wilderness that he would try anything so I am not sure he would have lived through coming back home and I am sure now that he would have immediately gone back to his old ways after wilderness.

    He did learn a lot at wilderness and at at the TBS although our relationship was not great. After 16 months at the TBS he graduated the program. Some feel at that point that the kids should go to yet another boarding school. We really felt at the time that he needed to be able to come home, to know he had a place here, he had worked hard, graduated the program and was now almost 17 so we felt he had to be a big part of that decision. He wanted to come home and come back tot he same HS. In hindsight that may have been a mistake but it may not have been. I really can't tell you. He did great the first 6 months and started to slide but was still doing ok for about another 3 months... then things really started to go downhill. When he was a senior he got expelled, and by June we did end up having to kick him out of the house. Things got worse and you can see my story in other posts.

    So did we do the right thing? I have no idea at this point. I kind of think no matter what we did we would have ended up in a similar place. Because like others have said an addict, and a troubled kid, really doesn't get better until they decide they want to!! On the other hand I think our taking action may have prevented him from really serious drug use earlier... it forced him to be clean during some of those formative years and in the long run that may make a difference... and I don't think he would have survived the path he was on when we first sent him to wilderness. At this point he is 19, out of our house, on probation, and doing ok I think.

    So all I can say is listen to your gut, you know your son and there is no one answer.
  15. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    What medications have you tried? I'm sorry you're having such stress. DDD
  16. Ephchap

    Ephchap Active Member

    Dealing with an ADD impulsive difficult child who is now drugging and obstinate is like a flashback for me. Yes, that was my son in a nutshell. It's easy for people (not those of us here, as we totally understand, trust me) to say that you just don't put up with the behavior, or you cut ties with his friends, but if your son is like my son, there isn't much he will listen to and will just run away and do what he wants.

    We had our son signed in, against his will, at age 14 because he was running away and smoking pot and wouldn't go to school. That's a whole other problem - "making them" go to school. I used to ask how I was supposed to "make him". We took away everything and threatened and yes, followed through on the threats, but he still wouldn't go. Anyway, we signed him into a residential facility where he spent 4 or 5 months. It was definitely not an ideal situation, but it was the best we could find at the time.

    When he came home, he did do better for almost two years, but then the pot smoking started up again and we could see his behavior slipping fast. By now he was almost 17 and then wham, we no longer recognized our son. Unbeknownst to us, he had started smoking crack, and began having trouble with the law, not to mention we started missing many items from our home. It all happened so fast, that things were long gone before we even realized it.

    He did end up agreeing to go to a dual-diagnostic long-term secure residential facility. He went to school right on the grounds there, he lived in a separate wing with 11 other boys. They had to earn privileges and doing everything together (living, going to school, cooking, cleaning, meetings, etc.) made them hold each other accountable. It was an excellent program. Our son was there for 10 months until his 18th birthday. Too little too late for the law, unfortunately, as he was charged with a felony conviction right after his 17th birthday. In Michigan, 17 is considered an adult, so he still carries this on his record and is now 27.

    Our son has stayed away from drugs, but at about age 20-21, began drinking alcohol. Many 20 somethings go to the bars, clubs, sports bars, etc. and can have a few beers and be done. Pretty soon our son realized that he couldn't be done. He'd keep drinking. This took place in the span of about 5 years, but a few years ago, became really bad.

    He's now been totally sober for 1-1/2 years and is a member of an Alano Club (sober club) and attends AA meetings at least three times a week.

    We've had some real heart to heart talks these last few years. He hated us for forcing him into treatment and "sending him away" but admits that we saved his life. They always say people have to hit bottom, but he didn't seem to have a bottom. His bottom, I'm afraid, would have been death. He also says that this time is different for him in that he made the decision to ask for help. He agrees that us forcing him saved his life, but until he was ready to really get clean and sober, no treatment would have helped.

    That's my long way of saying that you have to go with your instincts. Each of our kids and circumstances are different. What has or has not worked for one of us has been a totally different outcome for someone else on here. I know in my heart that if we hadn't forced treatment when he was younger, my son wouldn't be alive today. Yes, there were some rough years, but now at age 27 he is a functioning sober adult ... knock on wood. He's still living one day at a time, but now knows what will happen if he reaches for a joint or a drink.

    As for the education, that's a hard one for us as parents to let go. My difficult child was very smart on paper (IQ testing), but obviously wasn't too smart in his day to day living. He had trouble coping with school - all of it. He ended up going for his GED and went to a community college for one semester. He did well, but never went back. He's working in a factory and seems happy. His brother and sister both have college degrees and often try to nudge him to go back because he really is so smart, but school is not for everyone. At this point, I'm thrilled at all he's overcome and the young man he's become.

    If you fear your son coming home will result in his getting in deeper with drugs, then you've answered that question for yourself. Is there any kind of United Way program by you to get him into? They sometimes offer intensive outpatient or could recommend inpatient programs. Sometimes you can get assistance for residential substance abuse programs through your state or county Mental Health Board.

    I wish I knew what the answers are, but unfortunately, I don't. All I can say is trust your mommy gut and see what resouces are out there that might be able to help you.

    Sending hugs. I know what a tough rough this is.