Desperately need help...

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by FV_13, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. FV_13

    FV_13 Guest

    Hi - this is my first post - I found this group while trying to figure out what to do about my 17 difficult child. First a little background - I am divorced and my difficult child lives with me - about 9 months ago his behavior started to become a problem - he was smoking pot and lying about it. As time went on, the behavior has escalated. Over the summer he entered the house of very close friends of ours while they were away and got high in their basement (with 2 other friends) and ate a lot of their food. Last month he left his father's house (he was grounded) and went to a college several hours away overnight and last weekend he didn't come home on Saturday night. During all of this he refuses to listed to anything I say - he is supposed to be grounded and continues to leave the house or not come home after school - staying out until 11 PM during the weekend and 2 AM on the weekends. In addition to his definance he is beligerent and just down right mean and nasty. We (difficult child, ex and I) went to a new therapist 2 weeks ago and he was supposed to go this past week and totally blew off the appointment. He has stolen money from me on at least 2 seperate occations and now refuses to go to the therapist. I am at a complete loss as to what to do. The therapist suggested calling DCF which I did and they were not helpful. No one seems to have any valid ideas or a plan. I have spoken to several people at his school including the police officer that works with the students. He is finding out about taking my son to court for the theft of the money and seeing a clerk instead of a judge. I'm not sure that will help because I don't think there are any true consequesnes if he disobeys the clerk. He is failing all put one class (has a D in that class) and is totally out of control. I am so stressed and don't know what to do. Any ideas, information, suggestions, etc. would be greatly appreciated. He clearly needs help, but he refuses to go. I'm sorry if this rambling on I am just at my wits end.

  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi FV13 and welcome. Glad you found us.

    I don't have firsthand experience with- a defiant 17 year-old living under my roof (yet??) - my difficult child was in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) by that time. Just a disclaimer. ;)

    I probably have more questions that suggestions. How did your son get to the college? Do you know his friends' parents? How is he paying for his pot? Did your friends press charges for breaking/entering? Does your community have a curfew and/or a juvenile officer in the police department? Are you and your ex on the same page, and does he have any ideas? What are your son's goals? Is he planning on graduating from HS; if so, how? Is he planning on going to college? Have you had him screened for other drugs?

    My first suggestion would be if he has access to a car, take the keys. The last thing you need is a stoned kid behind the wheel. Cell phone? Turn it off. You are required to provide food, shelter, clothes, and medical care - period. Let him know that if he commits a crime (theft, breaking curfew if your town has one, drugs, etc.), police reports will be filed. Any more AWOLs will result in a missing persons report because you are his parents and you are responsible for him.

    This can be a really difficult age. They think they know everything and have it all under control. We cannot force treatment on them if they don't want it - even if you could get him to the therapist's office, if he's resistant it would probably be a waste of time. on the other hand - a therapist might help you to come up with a plan? I'm not saying you need therapy, LOL, just that sometimes it really does help to have an objective observer involved, you know?

    I'd say stop grounding him. It's obviously ineffective and meaningless to him, and I think actually undermines you as his parent since he knows you can't enforce it. Time to get a bit more creative. Perhaps going on strike (no making meals, no laundry services, no chauffeur services)? No spending money (with all of your valuables/cash locked up)? No internet service? I would expect his behavior to get worse before it gets better if you're able to come up with- consequences that have meaning to him. He's going to fight it. And whatever consequences you (and hopefully ex) come up with, it is absolutely essential that you be consistent and follow through.

    With all my kids, including difficult child, I've adopted a do-to-get policy. Their "job" at 17 was/is to be in school, get good grades, obey our very simple house rules. They do that, they get the good stuff we can provide. They don't, they can do without the good stuff. It's *their* choice, not mine. It's definitely not one of the joys of parenthood when we have to apply intense pressure to get our kids to think about the choices they're making, but in my humble opinion it's in our job description.

    One other thing, based on life with- my difficult child - as much as possible, I'd ignore the attitude and snarky comments from him. It's a matter of priorities. In a perfect world, our kids would be polite and respectful, but you've got more serious issues at hand. If you can get him to stay home at night, bring the grades up, go to therapy, (insert your priority for him), then that is more important *today* than whether or not he's being nasty and vile (as long as there's no physical violence). I've been called every name in the book (and I few that I don't think are in there) - but if my difficult child was doing what he was supposed to be doing, what's a little background noise? ;) Once you get the behaviors that are a priority to you under better control, then you can start addressing his attitude, etc. Baby steps. You cannot realistically work on everything at one time - you'll completely burn out. Pick 1 or 2 things, work on that, reward him whenever you can, and when those things are better, move on to the next 1 or 2 things.

    Anyway, just my inexperienced thoughts. I'm sure that more seasoned parents will be along with- suggestions.

    Again - welcome and I'm glad you found us!
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  3. FV_13

    FV_13 Guest

    Ok - I have now lost my post 3 times! My son is gone again! He just had his wisdon teeth out this morning and he is gone! The ibupropen was working for the pain so I gave him a vicodin that was prescribed and it must have made it feel well enough to leave. I guess my question at this moment is what can be done to get him the wake up call he needs to get back on track. How can he be "made" to listen. Is a therapeutic boarding school the answer? I don't know what to do and am so on the edge and so stressed out. I think we are past the taking things away mode - he doesn't seem to care. I have the keys to the car already and will be taking the cell phone tonight when he sleeps. My ex and I are on the same page, my friends did not press charged for the breaking/entering, I drug tested him this moring and it was positive for just THC and I am working with the school resource officer (liason between PD and HS), but everyone keeps telling me there isn't much that can be done which is why I keep coming back to a boarding school for toubled kids. He needs help and I can't watch him ruin his life and once he turns 18 we lose the little bit of control that we have. There is no doubt that having someone (therapist) to talk to for me would be beneficial, but my focus is on trying to get him help and with working full time it doesn't leave much time. The problem I have with not grounding him is that he basically gets what he wants and there would then be no consequences for his actions and I believe that will create more problems. He says he wants to go to college, but it is October of his senior year and he has done nothing. In the middle of his sophomore year he was diagnosed with executive functions issues and doesn't seem able to plan more than 5 minutes in to the future. He is very angry and I can certainly deal with the name calling, etc., but it's the defiance I can't deal with. The kids he's hanging around with are a problem and although he is not driving he is in cars with other kids - all of whom think it's no big deal to drive while stoned. The bad behavior is escalating and I am terrified and don't know what to do.

    Thanks for your post and welcome - I'm glad I found you guys!
  4. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I"m so sorry 17 year old's that are ****** off can be a nitemare like nothing else. How long ago did you divorce if you dont' mind me asking? is he still dealing with-that issue? It sounds like he might be still processing angry over it maybe and acting out and going after you!

    I have with-my own 17 year old who less than a year ago gave me a serious run for my money i called the cops 3x in one day because the little witch kept running away. She also stole from me. I got a lock and put it on my bedroom door.

    Each time he does not come home on curfew utilize your police and call them. that's it, dont' think about it, or get upset just make yourself a cup of tea take a deep breath and make the call. Each and everytime you have to be consistent with-it. He'll get the message that your drawing your boundary lines with-o having to actually yell or threaten to take anything away from him.

    As far as the pot goes, it's so hard to control kids when they've found a way to self medicate. Is he just using it during day or do you notice the usage later in the day before heading home? i'd take him to a pyschiatrist and for now get some medications into him. He also is exhibiting signs of depression. I know doesnt' seem like it right? yet kids present in such a different way i've come to learn just from dealing with-my two kids. You can think their just being defiant when their actually depressed.

    As far as school goes, if he doesnt' show up or he cuts let them take whatever necessary steps they can on their end detention, afternoon pm's, in school suspensions. you can't handle everything right now. you gotta take care of your home base.

    he was diagnosis'd with executive functioning skills i just saw? they come up with-anything else?? and you shouldn't have to deal with-the name calling at all.
  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest


    I can totally relate to all that you are saying. I have definitely been there... still am in a different stage of the journey. Sounds like there are two issues that are related, defiance and drug use. When my son was just 15 things were getting so bad and so scary around the drug use that we did send him to a therapeutic boarding school. I think it did help him in many ways, it certainly taught him good ways to deal with his anger and it kept him off drugs for a year and a half. For that it was worth it. When he came back he was doing great and did great for about 6 months. After that things went down hill. So my thought on TBS's is they can help but won't necessarily solve the problem but they do buy you time. But they are really really expensive.

    In the last 18 months things have gone down hill with my son. We started getting tougher on him. His drug use was getting worse, atlhough we didn' know how bad. However I knew that he was on a path that would lead to serious addiction. Anyway he ended up getting in a heap of trouble, landed in jail which really woke him up. I hate to say this but getting sent to jail might have been a saving grace for him. Only time will tell. So now he is in a drug rehab program. We shall see what that brings but I am hopeful again.

    So my sense is the TBS did help him with his anger issues a lot when he isn't using drugs. The anger gets out of control again when he is using drugs though. I think the TBS helped with his drug issues to a point... he was sober for the first 6 months he was home...but that was not the focus. It is clear to me that now at age 19 he needs focused, serious drug rehab.

    You are doing the right things. Talking to the school resource officer is good. Talking to the school is good. Getting as much support as you can from people who interact with him. Letting them know you are concerned. Being willing to call the police if he is out of control. I suggest you look into programs that might help him that you can afford. Then I would set up some kind of contract/agreement with him about your expectations. Be clear about consequences. If he gets in trouble with the school or police he needs to go to given program.... and then wait. If he is that out of control it will happen.

    Just be aware that if he says he is smoking pot he may be doing more than that. My personal experience, as well as that of many parents I have talked to, is that it is almost always more than they tell you. Early on I always thought I would know if my kid was doing drugs.... and I have come to find out that it is very hard for me to tell what he is doing unless he is so out of it that I need to call 911 (that happened twice).

    Good luck.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm almost sure that your son is doing a lot more than pot. They usually are, when they are that out of control. I cringed thinking of him on Vicadon. That's a really abused drug.
    I am not sure what you can do to a seventeen year old. Nothing that we tried worked for my daughter. She simply didn't listen. When we took the car keys, she got out at night and ran around the town or got others to pick her up. She would not go for help nor did we know how deeply she was involved with drugs (we thought just pot and drinking and it was meth). They don't tell us and often we just don't know...until they quit, if they do (we were lucky...she has been clean now for seven years).
    I wish I had more positives to tell you, but I do want to give you hope. My daughter got so tired of herself that she changed. We did have to make her leave after she turned eighteen and she left the state to stay with her brother. That really helped her...getting away from her "friends." That's what worked for her...a knew start in a new place. You may want to check your son's room when he isn't home or even his cell phone to see what he may be using that you don't know about. Although, to be honest, if I had known what my daughter had used, I have no idea how I would have stopped her.
    When a kid changes a lot very quickly, think drugs. And more than pot.
    Good luck and I hope whatever you try works or that he decides to change.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with MWM. My difficult child was acting in much the same way and I was looking for the reason in all the wroing places. When they are using drugs/alcohol they will do anything they have to to get their next high. There is no reasoning with them and no amount of consequences matter. It wasn't until we got our difficult child into alcohol treatment that she started to change. They do not hear you when they are on drugs/alcohol.

  8. OTE

    OTE Active Member

    I have to agree with you that something significant and different needs to be done. First I agree with the others that you have to set priorities and pick your battles. If he's high he's not getting anything out of school whether or not he goes. So personally I'd put that out of the priorities right now. Curfew isn't the issue, it's what he's doing while he's not home. Bottom line is that using is the issue.

    Seventeen is a tough age, worst year with mine. DSS wouldn't let me kick him out and he'd done every program in the state so no where to go but home. That's not to say that I think it's your last chance now while he's 17. But the longer he uses the harder it will be to change. So do it now.

    First is to get him off the street and away from the sellers and users. That means moving him somewhere safe. I'd do a rehab treatment program before boarding school, therapeutic or not. He needs regular drug testing, limited and very supervised time away from the safe setting. No visitors who could bring him drugs, etc, etc. Rehab will keep tabs on him specific to a user. FYI rehab has a licensed educational program, it's not like he won't get an education there.

    I'd also get him evaluated by a psychiatrist and an educational testing expert. Personally, I don't know that I've ever heard of a kid with only executive function issues. Other learning disabilites are possible. But I'd definitely do the full testing, not just the minimal that the school does. Of course, he has to be clean first.

    Also, lock up everything you own while he's there and especially the narcotic. Never give a user a narcotic and never have anything in the house that they could use. It's a ridiculously long list of things you can't have in the house but better safe than sorry in my humble opinion.

    So my recommendation would be to find a rehab for him (not easy for sure) and you and ex take him for a dinner/ weekend trip to his favorite place somewhere past the rehab. While you're away from home tell him how much you love him and create a happy memory. Gives him some hours sober. Don't discuss rehab until you get him there. On the way home drop him at the rehab and talk to him with the counselors about why you're leaving him there. All of this assumes that you can keep the idea of rehab secret. If not, you'll have to get him there in another way. They don't agree to go voluntarily!

    Now if the rehab talks to him for a few days and decides that he's not addicted and a recreational user with control of his use they'll discharge him and send him home. My guess is that you don't think that's the case or you wouldn't be here. They will do a full evaluation, if they're a good program, including the psychiatrist and the educational testing. If not, have the specialists visit him there. How long he'll need to be there they won't know now. But they will treat him in a safe setting with others his age for whatever issues he has. It's 24/7 very structured therapy with lots and lots of rules. Few of these programs are locked so he could run away. If he does then you go to the next step.

    As for having him charged with theft, what is the likely result? My policy is to not involve the police unless I am sure that I know what the result will be and it will be something good for my kid. Unless he's got lots of charges the result will be nothing to forced therapy which he won't do. The time it will take to deal with lawyers, court hearings, evaluations, etc is significant. So I can't say that this would be my plan unless you need the state to pay for rehab.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  9. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Great post OTE, but I have desperately been trying to find a rehab that would take my difficult child with out her willingly going. I couldn't find any. They ALL say she has to want to be there. I am SOL until we get in front of a judge. But you bet when we get a court hearing, I am flying up there to ensure I can plead with the judge to sentence her to rehab. Even after they are sentenced, though, there are still only a handful of rehabs I found that take them. It is increasingly frustrating.

    I agree with every one else - this is more than pot. And when they are using, there is no reasoning with them. :(
  10. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    PatriotsGirl, I found that what they term "has to be willing to be there" is very loosely defined. We were told that also and then found out that most people in rehab are not there willingly. They have been ordered by the court or their family has drawn the line in the sand and said unless they went for help they couldn't live there anymore. Interventions are done everyday, even most rehab centers will arrange one for you. At the end of the intervention the person agrees to go to rehab but it doesn't make them automatically willing to be there.

    You have more power than you think. I too thought I could never get my difficult child into rehab. She's 19 and could just refuse. Most people in that position will not refuse help because the street is not a good alternative.

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  11. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    She did call me wanting to come home because she was hungry and I told her I would come get her and bring her home if she agreed to go into treatment the next morning. She said fine. I picked her up, we went the next morning (which was a Friday - I took the day off to bring her) and by Sunday they had discharged her because she was beligerent to staff, would not cooperate and kept saying she did not have a problem and did not need to be there. I can't even begin to tell you how frustarting it was. I did the next best thing I could do and put her on a plane to my mother's where I knew she didn't know anyone and would be away from meth. I still want her to go to rehab. I ask her all the time. I tell her she can come back home if she was to complete a program. She still says no. She still is under the naive impression that she can make it on her own. Despite the fact that she has proven she cannot. So, I will try again when I get up there next month. I may even try to put together an intervention with my friend that runs a program. But she has to want it or they will just dicharge her again. :(
  12. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am sorry. The program that difficult child was in did not discharge you because of attitude, although I'm sure at some point they would not stand for beligerence. They told us they do not expect them to come in as angels and they try to keep them unless they use, which is an automatic go home. I hope you can find a rehab that is equipped to handle her.

  13. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Patriotsgirl... I so feel for you and of course totally relate. Does you daughter have criminal charges pending? You mentioned court which is why I am wondering. The court system can help in this regard if you know how to work it. Our son has been in rehab a week. He never would have gone willingly on his own because he didn't really acknowledge a problem. Then he did stupid thing number 5 and had his bail revoked on stupid things 3 and 4 and ended up in jail. Two weeks in jail convinced him he would do anything not to spend any more time in jail. So now he is in rehab with a suspended sentence and some stiff conditions for probation. If he does not stay with the program he could end up in jail again which is a very strong motivator for him. I love the fact that now the heavy hammer is coming from the court rather than us.

    I did find a good website called and called them. They are a referral service for addiction treatment. I talked to a wonderful person there, explained our situation and she gave me some names of places to call. I think we found exactly the right place for our son. So I suggest you look at the website and call them for referrals.

    Nancy is right a good treatment program will be able to deal with people who come in with resistance. You cant physically force your daughter to go but you can continue to say she can't live with you. I wouldn't even let her come home for a night. You can say she cant come home until she completes treatment and has a good plan for staying clean. If she has a court ace I would talk to her attorney and suggest a plea bargain including treatment. If none of those work then you may have to just wait until the time is right. It is so so hard... and given she is using meth that makes it even harder because it is so scary.
  14. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Me, too, Nancy! I talked to her a little while ago. She is still in serious denial. She claims she is living just fine without it up there so she doesn't have a problem. But she keeps trying to find some one to pick her up and bring her back down here where she is going to be with all of her drug friends again. Ugh. I wish she would stop trying to come back or at least go through a program first and then try to come back.
    I keep begging her to go to a program. She still refuses. I am going to talk to my friend that runs a substance abuse program up there and see if he will help me put together an intervention when I get up there for Thanksgiving. I am hoping she will go into a program at the end of that week. Prayers she will go.
  15. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I hope she goes too. She is going to resist very strongly because she is addicted and terrified. I believe our difficult child wouldn't have gone if she thought there was any other alternative. She told us yesterday that even after the first 30 days when she thought she would be coming home she was going to go right out and drink one more time and then quit, one last drunk. We knew she wasn't ready to come home at that point and told her if she insisted on leaving she had to go to a shelter. The rehab center would help her find someplace to live but it couldn't be with us. Fortunately she decided to stay and it was in the next 30 days that she finally understood she was an addict and began working the program seriously.

    I hope your friend can hlep you put together an intervention. We thought our life was over and that there was no help for difficult child or our family. Rehab was the only alternative. I had decided I was not going to take no for an answer, I would do whatever I had to to get her in treatment. I was prepared to call the police and have her arrested to hopefully get the court to order treatment.

    Let us know what happens. I pray she does not get any of her drug friends to pick her up. She needs to get away from those people. She can't stop on her own. I would definitely check into the website toughlovin gave you. We were lucky in that we have an excellent facility about 90 minutes from us, there are many that are not equipped to handle our difficult child's.

  16. OTE

    OTE Active Member

    Nancy's right, none of them want to be there. Getting into rehab at any age is difficult. Only way to make him want to go is consequences or reward. In my experience most of them want to interview the kid before they'll agree to take him. Getting the kid there is horrible if the kid is into the addiction deeply. If you're paying for it they're more likely to be flexible. My suggestion was that you ask them to help you get him in when you bring him there. That will be both the interview and admission.

    Suggest that you focus first on finding the right program. Then talk to the director and ask for their help. You need to convince them that you are very serious and will do whatever it takes. If they put you off ask what it will take for them to accept him. Offer to have prior therapist talk to them. Call again a few days later, more calls more serious you look. But focus on wht they want you to do. They say jump you say....