Need Help with Defiant Teen, please....

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Kaz24, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Kaz24

    Kaz24 New Member

    My son just turned 16 and is out of control. Behavior over the last 2 years include stealing money from my wallet, sneaking out of the house and driving my car (with no liscense), staying out all night, hanging out with bad kids (like himself), likely selling pot and smoking it, pretty much failing school, been arrested once for cutting school and geting high. Consquences like grounding and taking away eectronics is no longer effective. At this point my wife and I have cut him off from money. We are at our wits end. It's effecting our marrage and our two yourger children ages 14 and 7 are effected as well.

    My son has been on various ADHD medications since 3rd grade. Currently on Vyvanse. He feels it helps him concentrate but grades are still poor and he barely made it through 9th grade. We've been through 5 therapists, 2 rehabs and getting worse. Most of the therapists diagnosed him as ODD as well.

    I don't know what else we can do. We are committed to helping him but every day is so hard. We feel powerless and cannot get him to change. Any advise is appreciated.

    We live in South Jersey. Can anyone recommend a strategy that works or therapist, nuero doctor or anyone that specializes in this behavior. At this point I am open to anything. Thanks
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, and welcome.
    Can you give us some more details?
    It sounds like the behavior issues are not new - as in, existed well before "a couple of years ago".
    If the problems go a long ways back, then it sounds like you have multiple problems to deal with... if they were "new" (i.e. a kid with few problems until 12/13/14 and then major downhill...) then drugs could be the cause.

    Obviously, drugs are a current issue, and drugs always complicate every other issue.
    But... approaching this solely as a drug problem, probably doesn't work either.

    ODD is a touchy diagnosis (diagnosis). It describes problem behaviour very well, but offers no guidance as to cause, interventions, accommodations, medications, or any other approach to resolving the issue. Many of the kids that bring us to this Board would qualify for an ODD or CD diagnosis. But... usually, there is one or more other dxes that have been missed along the way. These can either have behavior challenges built in (developmental issues like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), mental illnesses such as Bipolar), or the build-up of frustrations in not having the right accommodations, interventions and/or medications from a variety of possible dxes can boil over into a "behavior problem".

    What kinds of testing has been done over the years? and by what kind of professional(s)?
    What kinds of things did he struggle with as a pre-schooler? elementary?
  3. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Welcome Kaz24, but sorry you have to be here. Your son sounds like my daughter. We have been through 3 and 1/2 years of this. Over two years she spent in 2 different Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s. The running away is how my daughter gets out of consequences. She has gotten worse with every treatment. We now know that it is much more than ADHD and ODD-she has 2 serious mental illnesses-PTSD and Borderline (BPD). We have tried everything including turning her over to the courts so we could get the second Residential Treatment Center (RTC) (we were broke at this point after 18 months of private Residential Treatment Center (RTC).) This did not go so well.

    My advise is that you begin to attend a Families Annon. meeting. I came here looking for answers as well. I have found that all I can do is change myself. I cannot change anyone else and these kids have decided they are not going to respect rules. There is no way short of jail or an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) that you can keep your son from what he is doing. We lock keys and cash/purses, as well as medications (you never know when they might try something besides pot.) We have learned to begin to detatch. We refuse to pick her up when she goes somewhere without permission, and give her no bus pass. We dangled the chance to get her licence over her head if she would not run away, stay sober and go to school-no go. We do not provide anything but a roof and food-hoping she will get and keep a job (she has lost 2 of those in the last year). She has no house key. Doors are locked at 10:00 and we don't answer them. The only exception is when we know where and who she is with and her arrival time. If she is late-she has to find a place to sleep. We could not get the school district to enforce attendence-so we aloud her to take the GED last Dec. which was a year and a half early-so at least she has that. We have become more serene and interestingly enough, she has made a few improvements-though not enough and still very defiant. The only extra I pay for is counseling and if she desides she wants treatment beyond that-we'll get it somehow.

    We have ridden this out for almost 1 year since her release from last Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and she will be 18 end of Sep. She will probably go on her own because we have laid out the criteria since she 16 for living in our home. If she can't meet it-then I cannot allow her to upset this family any further. I know the terror and hell you are in-the reality is they have chosen these lives and if they are going down that path-you will kill yourself trying to stop him-what good is that for your family?

    If you have not tried an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) which is dual diagnostic-mental/behavioral health and substance abuse this might be an option-but I would plan on at least 6 months based on his behaviors. This did not work for us but I know other's it has worked for. Maybe your state has a CHINS you could file. I don't know what services they will provide in your state but others here have done this. You may want to post on the substance abuse board as well. Many there have been through this and they may have wisdom.

    The one thing I can't stress enough is that you and your wife and even 14 year old attend a 12 step like FA-it has saved our lives literally. Had I known 3 years ago-I could have handled this so much better. Keep us posted, you are not alone.
  4. Kaz24

    Kaz24 New Member

    Thanks of the response. He was tested at the age of 7 by a liscensed psychologist as diagnosed with ADHD (iniattentive type). He started on Adderall and it helped in school but it caused facial ticks and we had to move on to several other ADHD medications over the years. He has always struggles with paying attention in school. There was a time when the medications helped but not anymore. He does not care about school and his decision making ability is horrible
  5. Kaz24

    Kaz24 New Member

    was tested by a psycologist at age 7 and diagnosed with ADHD inattentive. Always had problems paying attention in school since pre-school
  6. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    there is often a correlation as to why adhd medications suddenly stop working and drug usage as a teen...its a form of self medicating.

    adhd is a funny diagnosis--its also not unusual to be the first in a chain of inaccurate diagnosis' 7 it may have looked squarely like it, but as someone faces new challenges and hormones and the rest, sometimes that needs to be revisited.

    and even if it IS accurate and treatment is warranted....if there is a history of drug addition normally stims are shelved in favor of the non-stimulant treatments like tenex/intuniv.


    can someone help kaz enable PM? (i'd do it if it knew how)...i am happy to PM something i cant post publicly ;-)
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Medicated for ADHD? was that effective, or not?

    IF NOT... please consider that he may have Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) - especially the less-well-known forms, such as auditory figure ground (brain sound filters don't work, so background noise is a HUGE problem).

    Plus... the number of people out there with ADHD who "only" have ADHD... is not the majority of people with ADHD. So, the chances of something else going on is very high.
    - How are his motor skills? fine (writing, tieing shoes, eating properly, etc.) and gross (riding a bike, playing sports)? 50% of kids with ADHD also have Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) (developmental coordination disorder)
    - I don't know the percentages off the top of my head, but it is common for kids with ADHD to also have a Learning Disability (LD) (learning disability)
    - 70% of kids with ADHD plus a Learning Disability (LD), also have some form of Auditory Processing Disorders (APD).

    And that is before we get to the other things that "look like" ADHD. My difficult child is an ADHD-plus alphabet soup of dxes. But other difficult children on this board have started with an ADHD diagnosis and ended up with something very different - like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), or some form of MI.

    Are you in the States? or some other country? (makes a difference on the approach used to get answers)
  8. Kaz24

    Kaz24 New Member

    The medications for ADHD have been effective in that it keeps him focused, but freshman year of high school was a disaster in terms of grades. Focusing was not the issue. It was more an isssue of not turning in assignments and excessive lateness and absences. His motor skills are very good and he usually had all A's & B's when on medications prior to this past school year. Never had a learning disbility. He got an A in advanced Algebra this past year but failed Science because he did not do the work. Inconsistancy is a big issue as well.

    What type of doctor do you recommend we see to get him re-diagnoased. We live in Southern New Jersey
  9. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    Exhausted words resonate with me. We don't have the power to control teenagers or change them , all we can do set boundaries for ourselves and offer help as information , and try and maintain a good relationship. It is pretty tough for a teenager to step out of his circle of bad friends who are his major source of influence.

    I recommend finding a life coach and not a therapist for your son. A coach focuses on what the kid is thinking , his goals , his views of his possible self and worksd with his thinking to help him meet his goals. What is getting in his way ? you have described what we call ' executive function deficits ' which medication does not teach but may help him be more responsive to teaching. If he can connect with an ' older brother ' or buddy-tutor ' -great. If you can help him engage in some activity that is multi-generational so he can connect with young adults or other adults. You as a family can join a ' rock climbing , hiking club , rafting etc - something that is challenging - Teens usually connect well in these situations because they focus on the issue , what the person is saying and not whether he is an adult or not.

    The problem with teens is that they get ' unconditional acceptance and support ' from their friends and not from their parents. The challenge is to foster a good relationship and at the same time keeping your boundaries.

    It is more about us coping than changing the teen , it is a slow process
  10. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    While Allan is correct that building a strong relationship with your son is important, you also need some ideas to protect your family and your son from his poor choices. Is it possible he's selling his medications? That could explain why they suddenly became "ineffective". I agree with a Families Anon meeting, and some counseling or other activities for the other kids. At 15, you are probably going to have to let your son fail, not be cause you want to, but because he doesn't want to succeed. He has to want to do well in life at least as much as you want for him. Also, if he's willing, you may want a new evaluation just to ensure that the ADHD diagnosis is still accurate. Also, any rehab he does in the future should be for dual diagnosis: substance abuse and his ADHD.
  11. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    kaz--see your private message ;-)
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I was thinking the same as TiredMom. My daughter used to steal and abuse both money and ADHD medication. All of her friends did (nice crowd, huh?). They would crush them in pillcrushers and snort them either alone or with other drugs, such as cocaine and meth. And nothing changes a teenager overnight like drug use. My sweet little girl was suddenly stealing from me to buy drugs and lying to me with tears in her eyes. I really didn't know what to think. Now that she is no longer using though, she has told me the whole ugly story and it shocked me as I never dreamed she was THAT involved in drugs...or taking such dangerous ones. Yeah, they steal from us when they are using. My daughter actually worked, but she still stole because her part-time job wasn't enough.

    There was absolutely nothing we could do to stop her destructive cycle downward. We tried everything including turning her into the police. She was on parole twice. Didn't phase her. We hammered her window shut when we found out she was climbing out of her window to run around town late at night. We took the car from her. We grounded her...she didn't listen and snuck out. I think the older teen years are pretty hard on parents of difficult children. It does become almost impossible to get them to obey if they don't want to. She had to decide to quit on her own and then do it.

    My suggestions are to do the max that you can...cut off money, electronics that you pay for and access to the car. Yes, he'll get rides anyway from friends, but at least you won't get charged with his drunken or drug induced accident. My daughter had three accidents, all her fault. All because she was wasted. Lock up your money and credit cards. Maybe try to get her into treatment ASAP. My daughter did not respond to any counseling. Perhaps you will have better luck with your son.

    in my opinion learning problems do not make it ok to have criminal behavior. If he is using drugs (and my guess is he is and it's not just pot or his ADHD pills as prescribed), that needs to be treated before anything else can. It jumps to #1 in importance with our kids. JMO
  13. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Kaz24- I would like to add that 9th grade is notoriously a bad year for many kids and especially those with issues when they transition to high school. I would proceed with a new evaluation and I would monitor his medications.By the way Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s do these evaluations if you go that route. We simply put a lock on a hall closet and kept everything protected (even Tylenol there as well as cleaners).

    The drug problem to me is big. We did not want to square off with my daughters MJ use at first (a bit of denial that it was a big problem to start with)- we knew it was underlying mental problems but using and then taking medication can be dangerous. Her psychiatric took her off all medications and told her (this was before 1st Residential Treatment Center (RTC)), that until she had 2 months of clean UAs, he would not give her medications because what she was doing was illegal, not healthy in anyway. Eventually he pushed us to Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

    We have used collaborative problem solving (There are 2 books about this method, one for teachers and one for families-the school one is more explicit in the method and I think easier to read)with her-it has only been effective when she was sober and motivated. We could never predict when or what would help it work. I personally think you will need more than coaching-but you could try. Our daughter's 1st Residential Treatment Center (RTC) used couching-she still returns to get coaching once in awhile. That is not to say counseling is better-it really has not helped my kid and was limited in what it did for our family as well. Again the FA-12 steps has been the most helpful for everyone. I think the drug problem has to be dealt with or you have a teenage, hormone washed, under developed frontal cortex, drug altered brain-there is no way to teach or change that mind. I hope I am not being too rough-I wish someone would have gotten real for me.