Help!! Need advice about my 18 year old son!

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by stressedmom72, May 24, 2015.

  1. stressedmom72

    stressedmom72 New Member

    I'm 42 year old Mom of four. I am very blessed as well with my family. However, my 18 year old son is going to be the death of me.... what do I do? He is a Senior in high school this year, and quit just a couple weeks before the end of school because he couldn't get all the work done. He doesn't work, He smokes pot day in and day out and hangs out with people that I am pretty sure do more than that. He is a smart kid, good looking and great personality. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety and Depression... I cry day in and day out about this... He says he let me take him to take the HISET test for his GED. He has fines he hasn't paid and now his license is suspended. I can lead a horse to water, but can't make it drink. What do I do?? Someone help!
  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, stressedmom72. I think you are dealing with the genesis of addiction.

    It is nothing you did. It is not that he was traumatized at 12. It was not that you were or were not divorced, or that you stayed married. It is not that you were or were not religious.

    I am just a typical mom on the site, but I think you need to concentrate your efforts on confronting his drug use. That is the problem.


    There is no other problem.

    This happened to my son, too.

    There is controversy regarding issues of mental or emotional illness and drug use. Which came first, and are they using drugs to combat symptoms of some diagnosed or undiagnosed illness.

    Others will come along who will see these things from a different viewpoint. I believe clearing his system of all drugs will resolve the other issues. I see it like this: a drug high doesn't come from the drug, it comes from the chemicals the drugs wring out of our brains to create the high. Over time, that messed up chemical imbalance the drug use created creates the imbalances we call anxiety or depression or panic disorder. If your child has always had such issues, then you could suspect it was the illness first, and the drug use is only making things worse. If your child was doing reasonably well until he began using drugs, then you can make an educated guess that it is drug use causing more and more serious chemical imbalance that is being diagnosed as illness of increasing severity.

    But I don't know everything. I only pretend I do, here on the site.

    That was a joke.


    You are here with us, now. Others of us will be along very soon. You are in a safe and an ethical place.

    Welcome, stressedmom72.

    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    And as Cedar said... we all have different perspectives.
    In my little family, we did not see the signs of mental illness... until drugs came into the picture. The drugs multiplied the symptoms of what was already there. How do we know it was already there if we didn't see it in the first place? We didn't know what to look for. There were subtle signs all the way through. If we could have caught the mental illness earlier, maybe there would not have been street drugs. But if WE had caught it earlier, there is little chance the medical system would have backed us. Somehow with kids and teenagers, they "don't want to give labels".

    But... once drugs are in the picture, you have to get rid of them before anything else can be dealt with. They complicate the picture far too much.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  4. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome Stressedmom72, I'm glad you found us but sorry you had to.

    I wish I had a magic answer for you but the sad reality, there is no magic answer. Sometimes there is no answer at all.

    Also, I think there are times when a diagnosis of ADHD / depression / anxiety can be given to quickly. My son was also diagnosed with ADD and depression very quickly by the school nurse. It wasn't until years later after going through counseling that we received a correct diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder. My son started smoking pot at 12, I didn't know this until many years later as he hid it well and when the school nurse diagnosed him with ADD she was also not aware of his pot smoking. Once we got into counseling we learned that him being high on pot in school mimicked the same behavior or ADD; not being able to focus and stay on task.

    Your son is still very young and this could turn around for him. My first suggestion is that you need to get into some family counseling. If your son chooses not to participate then you need to go for yourself. Your son is 18 now so he is legally an adult. You are no longer responsible for him. Now comes the trick part, you need to start some tough love parenting. Your son had a job and quit, so we know he's capable of working. Under no circumstances should you give him any money. I don't care how much he begs or what excuse he gives. He is an adult now and should be paying his own way. The only time I feel it's ok for a parent to continue financially supporting an adult child is if that child is going to college and pulling the grades.
    If your son is not contributing to the household then he really has no business living under your roof. These are things you need to really consider.

    It is better for everyone if you have very clear boundaries and expectations in place. It's ok to tell him that if he wants to continue living in your house he has to follow your rules, period end of story, there is no room for negotiation. As a term of living in your home I would require him to work and pay rent even if it's just $100.00 a month, you can also require he attend counseling. I would also tell him no drugs at all. Feel free to search his room and drug test him.

    Be prepared for him to balk at all of this (hopefully he won't but chances are he will). Be prepared to tell him that if he does not want to live by your rules and boundaries then he will have to find somewhere else to live.

    I know some of this may sound overwhelming and harsh, I know it's a lot to take in. Sit with it, discuss it with your husband. You can only do what you are comfortable doing.

    The longer you wait and do nothing the harder it will be down the road. Your son is an adult now and needs to be held accountable.

    You have found a great group of people here. There are years of experience upon these pages.

    Please keep posting and let us know how things are going.

    ((HUGS)) to you................................
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • List
  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi stressed mom we are glad you are here and I am so sorry for what you are living through.

    My youngest son became addicted to prescription drugs and the story began, to my knowledge, when he started sneaking alcohol in middle school (I think, not 100 percent sure when it all began). They hide what they do and they are good at it for a long long time. We believe them because we have no experience with any of this and also, we want to believe them.

    You can read my signature to see how bad things got. My family and my exhusbands family both have genetic histories of both mental illness and addiction.

    My son was shy as a little boy and I believe had anxiety, perhaps some related depression as he got older. Perhaps he took drugs first to fit in or feel better. I don't know. Addicts are triggered at some point.

    If your son is on this road, the worst thing you can do is enable him. I know it is very hard to even think about this kind of thing.

    I had to let go of all of my dreams hopes and expectations for his life over time and believe me I had his course charted in my mind.

    It is not the end of the world that your son didn't graduate. I would encourage him to quickly get his GED if he is interested in this right now. I would also start to get help for myself so you can start to deal with him from a healthier point of view which means learning about addiction and mental illness. Dealing with our loved ones with either of these diagnoses requires much the same response from us. We have to get informed, become stronger and work to separate our feelings from our actions and believe me this is very very hard to do especially with a child/young adult whom we love so very much. One thing to know right away---there is no one thing you can do right or wrong number at any point in this journey that is going to change what happens one way or the other. You don't have that power.

    You can influence what he does but you can't make it happen. He has to be in charge of his own life for better or worse as hard as that is to watch.

    It is especially hard for we mothers who raise sons and have had of course a very involved role in their lives while they are growing up.

    Now we have to make a huge shift and learn to let them go but not to a great life as we thought it would be but sometimes to a very slow or very steep decline. That is incredibly difficult and you will need a lot of support.

    This forum, alanon, NAMI, books can help you start to learn and think differently. For your hurting heart you need to start taking really good care of yourself and that is something new for most of us as moms too. This is a lot of change for you and it is going to take some time.

    Please read this website and you will get a lot of good thinking right away. Read it over and over and start writing some things down that resonate with you. Keep it all close by.

    Also know that we are close by and we get it. We care. We are here for you now and in the future. Hang in there. Warm hugs today.
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  6. stressedmom72

    stressedmom72 New Member

    I have to say thank you to everyone that has responded to me... I have been looking for support for so long with this. I still am not exactly how it will work with him. He has been out with friends for three days now. I asked him to watch a video, which I have attached on here as well. this is the link. I am hoping he does... He said he is coming home to take a shower and change. I told him we are not a "Pit stop". He wants money from doing the lawn the other day, and I said 'no" he is very angry right now, and I am in tears because it rips me apart he has become this person, that has so much more potential. I am going to look into some support in the area as well. The sad thing, is I am Case Worker for Social Services locally and deal with it day in and day out, but don't know how to deal with my own son. I will keep reading these threads and talking to everyone on here. Nice to have people that can relate to how I feel.
    Hugs, and thank you all!! Melissa
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    No matter what training or experience you have, dealing with someone else's kids will always be different than dealing with your own. On the job, you are the "independent third party". At home... you're right in the thick of it.

    Lots of us here have had to split our kids into "two"... the "real" person, and the "addict". Much of this destructive behavior is not "our" kid, the real person, but the addict who has taken over. Until the addiction is dealt with... we can't reach the "real" person.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You don't really have to deal with the kids on your caseload. I'm sure plenty of parents can't deal with their kids and it's not their faults just like this isn't your fault. Good for you for not paying him to mow the lawn. To me that is insane. He is old enough to work and get his own money.

    He is angry because you did not do what he wanted. Trust me, if you give them what they want, as if you were the kid and he the parent, they just get worse and worse as they get older...and angrier and angrier if you don't let them do nothing at all and throw money at them. The earlier you start setting adult boundaries (and I would for any 18 year old who is no longer in school), the sooner he'll get the message that he either pulls his weight and gets a job or he will not have a very exciting life. I think the earlier you start, the easier it is to get the point across. That doesn't mean that your kid won't hate you for it, but they have a better chance of recovering and becoming productive if you start young, in my opinion. Most of them eventually find some way to survive. You can't take care of him forever.

    in my opinion it should not e on his terms but on your terms. If it isn't, again in my opinion it's not good for you OR for him. He is too young to be YOUR boss and you'll be sorry later if you let him do it now. You really have no idea what kind of things he is doing when he isn't around you, but you do know he isn't working and he is acting like you should let him do what he wants (treat him like an adult) yet he won't do what adults do (work).

    Hugs and I'm sorry for your hurting heart.
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Stressedmom72. Glad you are here with us, but sorry you had to come to our oh not so fun party.

    As far as professional competency counting for anything, I am now guffawing (at myself.) My SO has the best saying: Nobody is prophet in their own land. Nadie es profeta en su propia tierra.

    What do degrees or professional training or license or title or knowledge, have to do with anything we are dealing with? How could they?

    This is your heart. Your hope. Your dreams. Your everything.

    The expectation that as professionals we should do better, know better, be better, sets us up for greater pain, frustration. And for greater risks of taking responsibility for that which is not any longer ours, stalling the necessity of your child to change things for himself.
    My son has this constellation of diagnoses and also abuses marijuana. He believes the marijuana calms and centers him, levels his mood and decreases his anxiety. I believe him.

    Seeking and using marijuana has become the main event of his day to day life; he has not worked, or sought to work since he began heavy use, which coincided with his qualifying for SSI payments.
    This is a great solace and do not lose touch with this reality.

    There is no reason for your son to not be working full time or going to school full time.

    How much you want to help your son, and what that help will be, as opposed to holding the absolute expectation that he can do for himself, is the hard, hard question you need to ask yourself, now.

    The perspective held by many parents on this site is this: Our children can change. If and when they decide to do so. Making their own decisions, living with consequences, resolving day to day problems, is what changes them. They can come to live independently and responsibly, and achieve if they choose to.

    Our doing or thinking or feeling anything for them, seems to have the opposite effect. It supports their remaining the same, or regressing further.

    Nobody can decide for you, how much or when you need to withdraw support, or if you should. All of us are in the same pot of soup with you, and none of us knows the right answer, for ourselves.
    Your son holds all power to make decisions, to act to create his life, the kind of life he wants, just as we do in ours. Now that he is a legal adult (forget emotionally) your power and responsibility are much diminished. He will change when he wants to, not one second sooner, independent of what you want for him.
    Keep posting. We are here with you.

    PS I loved, loved, loved the video. Love was just a word until my son came along and gave it meaning (after Mike Mero). Those are the stakes for me and I think for all of us.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • List
    Last edited: May 25, 2015
  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Oh, that video!

    I hope viewing it together will give your boy something real to think about. It's beautiful. Even for me, it had me thinking about what matters and how to see it and how to know when we have those things that matter right in our hands. Not to waste it, and not to just live through it without cherishing what we have and who we are.

    We are ~ I mean that ability we all have to recognize ourselves and appreciate ourselves and the wonder of just being here, of just being alive ~ we are part of what matters, part of what we have in our lifetimes, too. Watching ourselves grow and change and learn and just be right here in the moment.


    That video made me feel mushy.

    Thank you, stressedmom.

  11. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    What a video. Thanks for sharing that with us. That is my hope for all or our Difficult Child that they will come to understand how their choices have destroyed relationships, especially with us, the parents.

    Good for you for telling him your home is not a "Pit Stop" because that is exactly how he's treating it.
    Very typical of a Difficult Child, they have such a sense of entitlement. I'm glad you told him no. You could also tell him that doing the lawn is the least he can do for living in YOUR home rent free.

    Don't be hard on yourself. Just because you are a Case Worker does not make you immune to having a Difficult Child.

    I'm glad you are here, you are not alone and will find wonderful support on these pages.

    I'm glad you are seeking out a local group too.

    Hang in there!!!

    ((HUGS)) to you................
  12. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Stressed Mom, thanks for posting that video. I really enjoyed it. I hope your son will sit down with you and watch it. Don't expect a miracle, but I do believe that we are what we read, view, eat, focus on. We are what we consume. You never know how each little bit may influence him---maybe not now, but over time.

    My son went to rehab multiple times. I wrote him letters. I sent him quotes and sayings. I had my dad sit him down and talk to him. I gave him books about people who were on drugs, people who had spiritual conversions, books on making a great life for yourself. I am a communicator by profession and I consume information. I thought if I could shovel enough good stuff inside him that would change him.

    It doesn't work.

    That said, show him the video. Watch him watch it if he will agree to. See what he does and says. You never know.

    I never recommend giving up. I do recommend stepping away and letting go. It's hard to know the difference in those two things sometimes. It really is.

    Also, don't beat yourself up about any of it, even (especially) from a professional standpoint. You are his mother. Of course you never expected any of this. I think it would be very hard to be clinical about your own son.

    Work to start lowering your expectations---it is the way to have a much happier life in all of our relationships.

    And keep sharing here---we're here for you.
  13. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I too had the same thoughts and tried spoon feeding all kinds of positive stuff in hopes that something would stick with him. It didn't work for my son either.

    Very good advice here!!
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi StressedoutMom. I forget to mention in my original post, my son, too, first had an ADHD diagnosis.

    I think a major part of my son's dynamic is about me, about how to separate from me, be autonomous and different from from me.

    To carve out an identity and space in the world that is his, and not mine he needs to reject me, my ideas.

    He needs to minimize my accomplishments, my competency. He needs unfortunately to make me smaller not bigger.

    He has said, "I am NOT you. I cannot do what you do, like you do it."

    In making this statement I wish he would choose to be more than I. Not marginal. Homeless. But I do not get to vote. I see this. Now. Perhaps this is purposeful. How better to expose who I am, to show my underbelly, than failing to thrive.

    The problem for us as parents is multi-faceted, way more than our love and fear.

    First, many of us attained, succeeded, gained competencies running from our own demons.

    We as parents are loath to give up our sense of efficacy because for some of us this is all that stands between our now safe and secure lives and the dogs at the door.

    Part of me has fought my own son to maintain my fragile sense of me.

    This my son knows about me. And he uses it against me. And he is right, in part.

    He knows at some level that this is a fierce, fierce fight between two selves struggling to maintain and in his case, gain ground.

    On one side of the ring the young upstart: You know the sort. He bites, he postures and poses. He goes for the jugular. He breaks the rules. He goes where he should not.

    On the other side, my own now fragile, brittle self, trying to hang on, survive and maintain, despite the onslaughts that I have faced. The old champion. Resting on past laurels. Tired. Still holding on to past triumphs.

    The thing is, I composed that self on the run, in defense, in spite of everything that was written and destined for me.

    On so many levels I am a lie. Given everything that has happened to me, I should never have been. And this my son knows, whether he knows it or not. He is right.

    He is really calling me on my hypocrisy.

    Why is it that I have to wear the scarlet letter of brute, he seems to say, of vulnerability, dependency, outcast, barely functioning, exclusion...when you are right there with me...damaged and weak he seems to accuse.

    I call you out.

    Imposter, *my son accuses, you present yourself to me as somehow better, more knowing and powerful.

    Our sons are in the trenches...and their enemies sometimes...are us.

    If your son is anything like my own, he will not allow a video such as this to crack his shell...where you can see him.
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Stellar post, Copa.