Help with out of home placement for teen?


Active Member
After years of slowly worsening behavior, my (then) 15 year old son spent 12 weeks in wilderness therapy earlier this year. He was there for extreme defiance and physical blow ups at home, school refusal, and at the time possible substance abuse. He also refused any counseling so we turned to Wilderness Therapy out of desperation. Through the process there, we found out that he was smoking marijuana daily and dabbling in other drugs as well. He worked really hard while in the program and returned home in a much much better place. He has been home for 4 months and although its been up and down for the most part he was attending school and getting decent grades, not doing drugs and had way less outbursts at home. He is also willingly going to therapy and taking zoloft for anxiety. He turned 16 last week and it seems that everything is quickly falling apart. He is a very talented athlete who has a coveted spot on his high school team. Suddenly he is skipping practice and games. When he does go, he is rarely on the field. I caught him arranging to buy weed and since has been caught smoking in his room 4 separate times. Despite stripping his room and turning the house inside out, I can not find his stash. I did find his money and took that away. His cell phone was filled with "friends" trying to sell him more weed. I made it clear I was reading every text message and knew what was going on. With that information he willingly gave me his phone and said he didn't want it if I was going to invade his privacy. We confronted him and let him know that if it does not stop we will follow through on our word that we will not tolerate drug use and he needs to leave the house. However, the truth is we can not afford another private pay in patient and we can't kick a minor out. There is nothing to ground him with. He has no phone(his choice), no access to internet, doesn't watch tv, doesn't ask to practice driving, doesn't want to see his friends (part of his social anxiety and also best friend is not allowed to hang with him due to past behaviors) I have no idea what to do. He sees both a therapist (weekly) and a psychiatrist (monthly). I am very worried and wondered if there was anyone who has had to face finding their dependent teen a place to live. I see lots of posts from parents of adult children in that situation but not minors. I love my son so much it breaks me to see this happen. Yet I have younger daughters that i need to think of as well. . Any advice would be really really helpful. Thank you.


Active Member
I don't have specific advice about finding a place to live for a teenager, but I wanted to lend my support. Others who may have faced this situation will have good advice. My son is now 18, but starting at age 14 we had so many problems that mirror some of the ones with your son. Mine dropped out of 9th grade twice (two different years, two different schools), refused to get a job, was in constant "little" scrapes with security guards, police, etc. and was arrested twice for graffiti and disorderly conduct. Both charges were dropped, but you get the picture. He, also, was unfazed by any restrictions we tried, since he was content to stay in his room all day doing essentially nothing and sneaking out at night to go skateboarding and stir up trouble. There were many times I would have loved to have him out of the house, but didn't have a good option at the time. He actually left once just overnight when we had to call the police to break up a fistfight between him and his brother. He also spent a week at in-patient therapy that he refused to participate in (was actually kicked out for bad behavior).

Today, at age 18, he has his GED, completed a semester of college, and is now working full time as a security guard (irony there). He's buying his first car, also. He still has issues and sees a psychologist weekly, but he's so much better than he was.

It's positive that your son is seeing a therapist and psychiatrist. Maybe some of their insight and help will click with him at some point. Looking back, I wish I had found some resources for myself so I could cope with my son better and not stay so upset all the time. I wish I had access to this forum at the time, but better late than never and I've been helped so much by the wisdom of the members here.

Hugs to you and I hope you can gain some clarity and peace of mind. This can come with time and taking care of yourself.


Well-Known Member
Welcome UpandDown. We experienced many of the things you described starting at around age 14 so I understand the minor thing. Our daughter went through the juvenile justice system quite a few times until age 18. When she turned 18 we did make her leave our house. She ended up in a residential rehab for two months and then six months in a sober house and then on her own. I use to say that my goal was to get her to age 18 without being pregnant, in jail or dead.

Don't be surprised if your son has a phone though. When we took our daughter's phone away she just bought one of those no contract phones to reach her drug friends.

For some of our kids the age 14-18 is very difficult. Many of the mature and grow out of their destructive behavior. Te one thing that is complicating things now is pot becoming legal in many states. That makes many kids think it's ok.


Active Member
Maybe look for a Teen Challenge program to send him to? The program's usually 15-18 months for minors.

Another thought, send him to Job Corps? 16+ Most offer a residential option. He can finish his schooling there and then job train.

My son was a minor when we sent him to treatment the first time, but he turned 18 just days after getting out. Since he was 18, we were able to draw that line in the sand and make him leave when he started using again. I've wondered what we'd do in your situation. It's tough! I wish i had answers for you.


Active Member
Thank you for your support. It feels good to have someone offer support and kindness rather than judgement :) I have not heard of either of those programs and am going to look into them. Thank you !


Well-Known Member
Hi Up and Down

I second the idea of Job Corps. My son went at age 18. There is a lot of structure, support and they know how to handle mental illness. I have only good things to say about Job Corps. And to complete a vocation by age 18 is icing on the cake.

Your son has already demonstrated that he can handle the stress and challenges of a residential program.The thing you will have to think about is whether your son is equipped and motivated to handle the demographic and geographical adjustments that Job Corps presents.

Perhaps he is bored.

What are your son's goals? Has he talked to somebody about career goals, college? Might the Department of Rehabilitation work with him now?

Depending upon his interests you can talk to him about the possibility of early admission to college or going to the military, when he is 18.

The fact that he is on a a goal...might give him heart.

I wish you and he the best.
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