difficult child's smoking...any advice?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by weatheringthestorm, Dec 29, 2007.

  1. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    My difficult child is 15 (bipolar, ODD, mild ASTHMA) and has been smoking cigarettes (he's been neg on several drug tests) for quite some time apparently (we've known for sure since Sept). When we first found out I took him to his pediatrician and we came up with a plan for him to stop smoking. I just wanted him to be successful. I bought the nicotine patches, etc. Despite being furious with him we treated it as a stupid teenage mistake and were very supportive of his quitting. He went through the whole plan and we had thought he quit. Upon going to the follow up appointment with the doctor we learned that he was still smoking. I had been warned there would likely be a relapse and was once again ready to be supportive of his quitting.

    Then he dropped the bomb, he didn't want to quit. From there I was just mad and had the audacity to act mad for a few days. This, along with a big growth spurt which rendered his medications useless, set off the first of his two major & recent blow ups. (This led me to this website and my first posting here) Anyway, we ended up sending him to his grandma's for a few days, increasing medications, etc.

    At my husband's insistance and the psychiatrist advice we agreed to table the smoking issue until after the holidays when his medications would hopefully be back on track.

    He had more problems, we sent him back to my mom's and wouldn't let him come home for 2 weeks, etc. At my mom's he was able to smoke much more often as he could smoke in my brother's room without anyone seeing him (we all knew he was doing it).

    Now, he's back home (since x-mas eve)and so far things are going pretty well. And, the holidays are almost over.

    I dread having to deal with this issue. While my husband doesn't think he should be smoking he also thinks I make too big of an issue of it. (I have never smoked and my husband quit at the same time as difficult child's 1st attempt). I feel it's a big deal because it's likely to lead to drug use, he has asthma, it's potentially a lifelong addiction, the longer you smoke the harder it's supposed to be to quit, the health problems later in life, etc. Not to mention No Smoking is a big family rule. I'm also concerned because he has a little brother that knows he's smoking. easy child has more severe asthma that isn't always as well controlled as we'd like.

    husband is against the smoking and wants him to quit but doesn't seem sure he wants to deal with the problems that addressing the issue will cause. He's also not sure if difficult child's fragile emotional state can handle the withdrawl.

    Then there's the issue of if he doesn't want to quit he's not going to. We can't be with him all the time and he'll just continue to smoke on the sly. And yes, all of his friends smoke. Most of their parents know and allow them. difficult child wishes I were like this or would at least ignore it.

    Any advice out there? How big of an issue should we make this? Any advice on getting a teen who doesn't want to quit to quit?
  2. houseofcards

    houseofcards New Member

    I can understand the attraction of cigarettes, I use to smoke long ago and it helped my anxiety, I also understand the dangers of smoking, but aside from that, it seems to me that you can only control this issue from inside your home. If you outright banned smoking in your home and threw away any cigs you were to find you would most likely be reducing how much he smoked but I probably wouldn't fight about it off your property. How do you think that would work?
  3. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    As you said, if he doesn't want to quit, he's not going to. Given that it is against the law for a minor to smoke, you might be to go that route but, let's face it, the police and courts aren't going to do a dang thing about 15 YO smoking -- they just have bigger priorities.

    I would simply leave it that he cannot smoke on your property or at school. You, nor any member of your immediate family, will not assist in any way to get him cigarettes or any tobacco property.

    I smoke. I'd give anything to quit and I've tried everything to stop. My daughter started smoking when she was about 18. I cried but I knew there was nothing I could do about it. Until she is ready to quit, she's going to smoke. She's also old enough to legally smoke.

    One thing you might try is not forbidding the smoking but taking him to the American Lung Association and having him view the pictures of what his lungs are going to look like. They pretty graphic and gross. I hope something opens his eyes.
  4. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    from experience, you cannot "make" anyone, teen or adult, quit smoking if they don't want to.

    Since he is a teen, however, you can make it as uncomfortable as possible.

    Does he work? He must pay for his own cigarettes (and I'd also make him pay for his asthma medications and anything else related since he's probably making the problem worse).
    He absolutely cannot smoke in the house. Or the garage. Or any other "covered, convenient" area. Make him stand outside, in the cold. Also, no smoking in the car.
    If his clothing smells, make him change every time he comes in the house (and make sure he does all his laundry himself). If you can still smell it, make him take a shower. Several a day if necessary.
    If you are out in a restaurant (I forget if Illinois still allows smoking in restuarants), don't let him smoke in your presence. Always ask for a non-smoking table.

    In other words, you really can't make him quit, but you can make it as inconvenient as possible for him to smoke.
  5. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Isn't your son taking Wellbutrin? That medication, marketed under the name Zyban, is used as an aid in smoking cessation programs. I'm wondering if you should talk to the psychiatrist about the dosage that should be used to help someone stop smoking.
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We just faced this issue with difficult child. I caught her smoking in her room leaning out the window almost falling on her head. I forbid her to smoke in our home. In Ohio there is a no smoking ordinance in all restaurants/public buildings/school properties, so that pretty much limits the available smoking areas to outside. I figured if she had to pay for her own cigarettes and had to find places to smoke, she may think twice. I also told her I would not take her to the dr anymore for sore throats, that if she continued to smoke she should get use to it. And I also threw out any cigs that I found in her room or purse.

    I'm happy to report that she is no longer smoking. I don't know how long it will last because she has an addictive personality, but for now I'm happy. I know how you feel, the smoking thing really bothered me because we don't smoke, but we have also had much bigger issues with her so I guess smoking isn't the worst.

  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I smoke as well- started as a teenager and now carry the "cross around my neck" of finding it too difficult to quit. I have cut down tremendously though and would hope your difficult child can quit before it turns into a habit that he's had over half his life. As everyone has said, you will not be able to make him quit and sometimes, the more people talk about it, the more you make him think about having one. Wellbutrin didn't help me, but my MD said it had helped others.

    What helped me cut down: No smoking in house or car. (It's the least I can do for difficult child) Yes, I stand in snow and ice and rain and think about how stupid it is to have something control me to that point. Not only does the bad weather, inconvenience of stopping everything else and going outside, and realization of stupidity help miminize the "smoke breaks", but it forced me to break the habit of having a cigarrete in my hand while doing certain things. So now it's more comfortable to not have one than to have one in my hand. Also, now I can smell it in other people's home who smoke indoors and on my and others clothes. I couldn't smell it before (yes, it's disgusting.)

    Second: Nicotine gum helped me (and still does) but the patch never did. I know it helps some people, but I've known others (and myself) who couldn't tell a difference when the patch was on (it's very controlled time-release apparently) so when the urge hit to have a cigarrette, we'd smoke anyway then feel like we were going to have a heart attack. And, I have heard it can be dangerous to one's health to smoke while using the patch. On the other hand, the gum can be used when or before the urge hits and the harder and faster one chews, the more nicotine comes out so the urge is satisfied. This works well for high anxiety people like myself.

    So, my suggestion is 1) the rule- no smoking in the house, car, or in front of any family member. 2) I bought you some nicotine gum to use if you feel the urge to smoke and you are not in a place where you can (actually, get him the starter kit that includes the book that looks like a pack of cigarrettes and a cd or tape and just hand that to him without saying anything else) and 3) If you need more gum or decide you want to quit, let me know, I'll see what other resources we can find
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My daughter smoked. We knew we couldn't stop it outside the house, but we forbade cigarettes in our house. That meant she was subject to a cigarette check, including her purse and room. Any time we found cigarettes (we did a lot, and they were always her friends--she was just holding them :wink: ) we destroyed them. We also promised to prosecute anyone over 18 who was buying them for her if we found out who it was. We never did, but it did make her nervous. In no way were we going to act as if we approved of it. I never "get" parents who say "if she's doing it, I'd rather have her do it around me." Heck no. If she did it, she had to find a place to smoke and in our small, crime-free town, the cops bust underage smokers and it's $75. She got caught once and we made her earn her $75. She is now 23, off all the drugs she was using (THAT was tons of fun) and has quit smoking cigarettes. In fact, now she's the biggest, "You're smoke is gross" person alive. I'm not sure that our refusal to approve of it helped her decide to quit, but it didn't hurt. It's a terrible habit that is very hard to kick, yet she did it. But it's not pleasant; if you don't want to quit you won't. However, parents don't have to allow it around them. As an aside, my husband used to smoke. He did try Zyban/Wellbutrin to quit, but it didn't help him. But maybe it will help your son. My hub had to quit the old-fashion way--cold turkeky. We're really proud of him.
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think that the breaking point between my parents and me as a teen was that I smoked. Of course it only made me more determined to continue knowing that they hated it. My parents and I never got beyond that to this day. I have to admit, from as long as I can remember I loved the smell of cigarettes. The last time I spoke with my father he brought it up as proof that I deserved to be called a vile name, and not only had I been a non-smoker for 7 years at that point, but I was 38 years old!

    I tried to quit a number of times before I was finally successful. What helped was getting a blood clot on my lung and nearly dying. The blood clot was a genetic matter rather than a smoking matter, but it made it impossible to inhale hard enough to smoke. And I won't say that smoking isn't bad for you. I started in earnest when I was 12, and I haven't smoked in years and I still worry about what it did to me, and on some days I still want a smoke.

    In hindsight, I have to wonder what would have happened if my parents hadn't slapped me around and called me a name. What if instead they had said "It's a bad habit and we don't agree. Go ahead, but not in the house and figure out a way to pay for it yourself." I never got an allowance in my life, so they couldn't cut me off financially. But as I got older and was totally addicted to smoking, it was a great motivator to get a job. When I didn't work, I had to roll my own (yuck!) or smoke yucky cheap cigarettes.

    I guess my point is, your difficult child is probably already addicted, and has drawn the line in the sand saying he's not going to quit. He won't quit if you don't want to. Are you ready to have that be the issue that is the deal breaker?
  10. Peaceful

    Peaceful New Member

    Hi. This is a tough one. Where I'm at you simply call the police and report seeing the minor smoking. If they find tabacco on them they're ticketed with a fine of about $75. Then they have to go to court and for a weekend program for education on why it's bad for them etc. It makes them have to spend time doing something they don't want and enforces the law. Not sure if this is how it works where you are though.

    If it's against what you want then it's your home and you have the right to say what goes on in your home. I work in the medical field. It will interfere with the absorption of the medications he's taking and it will interfere with his asthma. You have decide what's best for you and how to deal with it in your home but I wouldn't allow it anywhere near where I was for his own good.

  11. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    Thank you for the opinions and the past experience. You all pretty much said what I figured was the right way to deal with it. He's our oldest, and toughest, it can be really hard knowing what to do when you've never had to deal with this stuff before.

    We have made it as difficult as possible for him to smoke. We discontinued his allowance so we don't contibute to his habit. He's not allowed to smoke in the house, garage, etc (my husband recently quit smoking and for all those years he couldn't smoke in the house, etc either). No one is allowed to see him do it. He has to hide his stuff well enough that his little brother can't find it or ever see him smoking. They share a room. He has to "air himself out" before coming in and leave his coat, which reeks, in the foyer outside the back door. If he's caught smoking by anyone he knows there will be consequences. That said he still manages to find plenty of opportunities to smoke. On a good note he can't wait to take out the trash so he can have a quick smoke!

    We had his medications changed to Wellbutrin the when we found out and tried to help him quit. He's supposed to be on a dose that helps people quit smoking.

    He is frequently without any money at all and still manages to get cigs. Apparently he and his friends are very generous with each other and they all help out the one who's out.

    I guess we'll just continue this line of action until he smartens up. Maybe it will be different when he gets a job and has really worked for all that money he's blowing.

    Thanks for your support!
  12. DavidWH

    DavidWH New Member

    Something I have experience in..

    My Dad is a Minister... I was a teen at 16 it was "cool" to smoke.. I got beat, belted yelled at and kicked out, begged to stop (live in a glass house as they say)

    My teen mind.. said (hmm G rated site so use your imagination)

    You will NOT make him stop... and the more you try.. the more he will do it

    As others have said... make it hard.. zero tolerance...

    no smoking on your property... you own it (must go in street) no matter how cold it is

    no smoking in front of you and siblings, change clothes in garage after a cig, that smell not allowed in the house... ect ect

    bottom line.. the more you push... the harder he will try

    I am 43 and still smoke.. and could kick myself in the rear for "showing them"
  13. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree, make it difficult for him to smoke...as everyone said, no smoking on the property, do not give him money, make a pact that he can't smoke in public, etc.

    I would check with your Dr, however about smoking while taking wellbutrin. difficult child's Dr took her off wellbutrin when difficult child refused to quit. It didn't lessen her desire and apparently, smoking while taking wellbutrin can be dangerous! Check with your Dr.

    My difficult child smokes. She's not allowed to smoke in the house or garage. If we find snubs outside we send her out to get them and throw them out properly.
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    There is a website from the federal government and if you write or email them they have TONS and TONS of information they will send to you free about talking to your kids about smoking -

    I gave all my stuff away - figuring I had better bone up on it because I was sure DUDE would smoke or drink. When it seemed like he had no interest I gave the literature to others but will see if I can get you the web site - It's a clearing house.

    Also google the American Lung association and see if you can get some help from them, and http://www.truth.org I think it is. They are geared towards teens who smoke.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I know that our police officers have a LOT of info they will share with parents on this subject. I think, with the asthma, that making him change clothes and NEVER have smoky clothes in the room he shares with his bro is a good rule.

    Just recently I saw an article on secondhand smoke and even if you smoke outside the people inside get more of it than ever anticipated. Smoke on clothing was part of it, I think.

    Be very very careful to make sure he is not smoking around the airconditioner or heat pump. Vengeful people can make an entire home stink like whatever they want by doing this.

    This is hard. Smoking is supposed to be one of the hardest addictions to break. And with-o the will, there is no way.


  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Weathering, I'm a day late and dollar short, but I totally agree that you should make it as uncomfortable for him as possible. It's your house. He can't smoke there. Period. What he does outside is pretty much out of your control, as is whether he quits altogether.
    So I'm just here to lend support.