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Almost two months ago my 16 year old son almost took his life. He was severely depressed, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, preventing him from following through with his plan. We almost hospitalized him, but decided to go with an intensive outpatient program instead. We were having a terrible time getting our insurance to cooperate with payment and our son said he was no longer feeling suicidal, so we decided to get him help through weekly counseling. However, this week I found out he has been doing drugs, something that I have been concerned about for a couple of months. He started using to self medicate. He said it was either that, or take his own life. Over the course of the last two weeks his behavior seems to be growing more and more concerning. He is starting to skip class, he is lying, he'll say he's going somewhere but then the story changes when we ask him questions, his group of friends has changed, he no longer is enjoying the same things he used to, and I'm very concerned. What was once a very athletically talented, musically gifted, kind hearted, young man is turning into someone I don't know. He claims that he's only drank alcohol and smoked Marijuna, but he's lied so much over the course of the past six months, I don't know what's truth and what's not anymore. We have an appointment set up for him to start in an outpatient day treatment program but he's very insistent on not needing anything more than weekly counseling. He's said he's not going to smoke weed anymore, but at the same time says that he doesn't think there's anything wrong with it.
We will be having to pay thousands of dollars for this program because our insurance won't cover it, and honestly I don't know how we're going to pay for it, but we'll figure out a way if it means saving our son.
So I'm wondering if anyone has helpful advice on how to get him to commit to going to treatment I would greatly appreciate it. Is it best to set some very strict guidelines including taking away driving privileges, if he refuses to go?
Also, if he's home during the evening and weekends, how do I prevent him from staying away from his friends that use drugs? I can't see how the treatment will be beneficial if he's coming home and hanging with the same crowd.
I'm heartbroken.


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I am so sorry for you. I remember those days. I pulled my daughter out of school to homeschool her and keep her away from her drug friends but she managed to sneak out of the house anyway. Wevturned her in to the police and she was put on parole (at fifteen and seventeen) but it didnt stop her.

Personally, from what Ive seen and read for fifteen years on this forum the only treatment I would trust or put that much money into would be a lock in mental health treatment facility (residential treatment). If he comes home at night and thinks he is fine, he wont work hard on getting better. No treatment, expensive or the best, works for anyone eho isnt interested in changing. It cant be forced. No matter the reputation. No matter if you go broke trying to fix him.

At least residential treatment keeps them off the streets and they are forced to get treatment. Does it always cure them? No. They have to want to get better. But he cant use drugs freely and it is less likely he can commit suicide in a residential mental health facility for as long as he is there. They have 24/7 cameras.

Throwing money at the problem rarely helps. My daughter did not go anywhere..other than a therapist and one three week hospital stay in which her psychiatrist said she did not abuse drugs (she did) and that she had bipolar (she does not). The therapist she also conned.

We didnt know how bad the drugs were either. She conned us too.

But she quit!! Even cigarettes. Its been ten years or more. She quit because she was tired of using drugs and told us the horrific details of her drug use after she had quit for two years.

We were shocked. Horrifief. Dhe has told me to share her story to help.she is back to her sweet, wonderful self.

I would not think you can do much with outpatient treatment and drug use. Drugs change them to a different person and their lives start revolving around the drug of choice, whatever that is. He probably will lie and steal too. Unfortinately, he probably is minimalizing his substance abuse. Most of them do.

I am very sorry you have to take this unfortunate trip. Please dont take it personally. Its about thrm, not you. You are a good patent. Never forget that.

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I am very sorry for what you are going through with your son. We have lived a similar story with my stepson. My stepson hasn't attempted suicide as far as we know; however he has become violent with both of his biological parents, skipped school, defied his teachers, did alcohol and drugs, and lied to us about all of it.

If both you and his father are on the same page then you have a chance to make a difference in his life IF you are willing to see the situation with brutal honesty. This is not the case for my stepson and he has succeeded in manipulating the situation to his favor.

Though he probably needs an IEP and thereapeutic if not residential schooling, he is now almost old enough to drop out of his own accord with no parental consent. As a result he demanded and was "allowed" to continue and presumably complete his high school education online. While my wife (his mom) gave her blessing, it was because we've given up trying to parent him. Neither he nor his biological father will allow it. We knew it was either this option, or he would continue spiraling down, down, down until he eventually dropped out. We didn't want that. We figured this was the better choice and gives him a chance to turn his life around.

If he was my biological son he WOULD be in residential treatment. This is what my stepson desperately needs. He cannot function in society due to anxiety. depression and anger. Unfortunately I have had to learn to let it go. I do not see a bright future for him. I hope he proves me wrong in the end.

Best of luck to you.


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I searched for residential treatment facilities...but could find nothing that insurance would cover. The one place I did find was more than our monthly income! Plus, it was an 18 month contract!

It's so hard to get teens to receive help...you can "give" them help, nut unless they want to improve it could turn into a waste of time and money.

Does your insurance company have a customer service number that you can call... And keep calling! Talk to everyone you can think of.

The other thing...ask your mental health facility about applying for a Medicaid SED waiver based on your sons mental health needs...not on your income. With regular insurance and a medical card, he might qualify for more services.



Well-Known Member
State residential centers are i believe much cheaper. Private ones are out the yang. Some people give parental custody to cps in order to be able to afford residential. I know some who have.

pigless in VA

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Welcome, Mpack.
So I'm wondering if anyone has helpful advice on how to get him to commit to going to treatment I would greatly appreciate it.

I think at age 16, he needs to want to go for treatment. I am dealing with similar things with my 18 year old son, but at least he is cooperative about wanting treatment. I urge you to have some conversations with your son about previous suicide attempts. My son finally admitted to me within the last month about 2 prior attempts which occurred years ago. I knew my son was not particularly happy, but I had no idea how deep his depression had gotten. He is now on medication and improving in spite of using marijuana and alcohol. I sometimes remind him that those two things will make him more depressed.

It might be worth asking your son if something happened in the past year that caused him to drop his former group of friends and his lose interest in the things he used to love. How are his grades?


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

Sorry that you have to be here. My son was around the same age when he went off the rails too and it was horrible for us. Hell on earth is the only way I can describe it.

He is so young. They don't get it. They can't get out of their own way to see what they are doing to themselves and their families! They have no clue why we are so devastated when we learn the things they have done/are doing. Watching my son trying to destroy himself was the hardest thing I've ever endured and I've been through a lot.

If I had to do it over again I would have sent my son to a faith based facility located throughout the US. They do take them on a sliding scale as far as I've heard. I even talked to a family that had gone to one in California and it was completely free. That was something I was considering for our son after many years and many bouts with rehab, outpatient, etc. etc. You name it, we did it. They start out high but then negotiate with you as to the cost. You can PM me and I'll give you the name and at least you can call them.

My son is doing much better now and he is out of our home a year in March. I finally let go (he was a bit older than your son when we got to this point) but I just had to turn him over to a higher power. He is now working and taking a college class and likes both a lot. There is no perfect answer for any of us and different things work in different situations. We are helping him financially as long as he is living the way we feel he should be.

My advice is to see a therapist that has experience with addiction. Like, SWOT said, he is probably doing way more than weed and alcohol. My son downplayed it all and most of them do but in my opinion, weed and alcohol would not make someone as crazy as my son was and I was right. Have someone guide you down this uncertain road that you are on. It's not normal parenting and most parents do not know how to maneuver this.

Mainly do not be afraid to take action or get him mad!!! Looking back those are two things I wish I had been stronger on!!

Keep posting and reading here too. This was a wonderful source of information for me and probably helped me more than anything else.


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Staff member
My husband and I spent a huge part of our retirement savings sending our daughter to a three month residential treatment program. This was before the Affordable Care Act and no insurer would cover her with her pre-existing conditions so she didn't have any insurance.

She relapsed shortly after she was released. I still don't think it was a waste of money, though. I think it was the start of her road to recovery. She subsequently got insurance through the ACA and went on a journey of residential rehabs and halfway houses. It took 5 rehabs and countless halfway houses but she finally decided that she didn't want to live like that anymore and will be celebrating her one year sober anniversary on Wednesday.

My daughter was older, though, when we she went to her first rehab. We also had to learn to let go and stop enabling her and it took two years of therapy to learn how.

So, I have mixed feelings about rehab. I don't understand how your insurance company won't pay for some period of residential care. I thought that the ACA made that mandatory for insurance companies.

You might have to contact the rehab centers and tell them what insurance you have and see if they will accept it. We found that they often waived the amount not covered by insurance. In some cases, if they didn't take that particular insurance they were able to refer us to a rehab that would.

Considering that your son is only 16, I would do anything I could to get him away from his drug using friends. I think a long term residential treatment program would be the way to go.