Need to do somthing fast--don't know what

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sunr, May 22, 2009.

  1. sunr

    sunr New Member

    My 16 year old high school junior son (turning 17 soon) is getting very violent, not going to school, doing drugs and pretty much doesn't care about anything. He was a very sweet boy, very athletic and highly liked. But he has been changing since he entered high school. Never did homeworks, lot of school absenteeism etc. He was caught by the cops last year for hanging around with friends smoking pot, but no charges. He was tested positive. He always had the habit of not respecting curfews or not doing any work. At school, at the beginning of this junior year he started dropping out of classes. We got alarmed and got together with the councilors and they recommended IEP after doing several tests. We were told, that he doesn't have learning disabilities but ODD. Couple of months back he was admitted in a behavioral correction center for acting out violently at home. He was there for a week and was also taking prozac as prescribed by the doctor in the facility. But he stopped taking after couple of weeks. He has been running out with friends late nights and some times doesn't come home for 2 days. Won't pick up the phone and won't tell us where he is. For the last 3 weeks has has hadly gone to school. He is particulary very violent on me (dad). My wife doen't want to call the cops again and again. At this stage he is completely failing the school. Too much of peer pressure and wrong company. We have another very sweet boy aged 11 and he is going through trauma looking at the showtings and violent behaviour, which breaks my heart.
    We are thinking of 2 options. 1) Put the misbehaving one into a therapetic school, ofcourse forcefully. Seems expensive for me to afford and I need to push myself. 2) Move to India where we are originally from and be closer to families. If we need to give some drug rehab provide there. Keep him there for couple of years and come bak to US for colleage studies. If this doesn't work out for whatever reason, put him in a boarding school in US. Ofcousre we need to figure out how to take him there without his consent. Big challenge.
    Confused. Challenged. Any comments?
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    First off, welcome. I'm so sorry that this is happening to your family. My daughter is much younger than your son so I'll not be giving advice at this point. Others will be along but it is sometimes quiet on a holiday weekend.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.

    Sounds like you have your hands full.

    My daughter took drugs, and we DID have to move her for her to get clean. I think sometimes a new enviroment gives the kids a chance to think and to get away from bad influences. At least it worked for my daughter. It is very hard at your son's age. If they don't want to listen, they won't.They have to WANT to change, then they can. Which is why I think a change in enviroment is often good. They are like pack animals--they go with their friends. I don't know what it is like in India, but if there are less drugs and family--I would consider it. IN the end, changing is up to your boy. Good luck!
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You've really got your hands full.

    Some thoughts - your son is almost 17. He's been "doing his own thing" for some years now. You haven't been able to make him do what he should be doing (going to school, staying off drugs, coming home every evening) so why do you think you could begin forcing him now? Besides, legally - I don't think you could. Check the laws where you are at the moment, but in most countries, someone who is almost 17 is able to take charge of his own medical treatment if he chooses. It's a huge problem with a kid like this when they are uncooperative in so many ways, but the flip side is, a kid who needs medical confidentiality and who needs the opportunity to develop their individuality, has the right to make their own choices. We can't have it both ways and kids like yours now, are the frustrating side of this.
    The result - I strongly suspect that if you try to impose your parental will on your son to either get him into a therapeutic boarding school where you are now, or the US, you will find he will be able to refuse and you won't be able to do anything. And the suggested move back to India - it would break his current connection to drug users but someone who is a habitual drug user (which he sounds to be, from your description) will be able to quickly find where the drugs are. Drug users and pushers seem to have an international language.

    The other possible outcome - if he doesn't like it wherever he is taken, he is sufficiently independent (certainly in his recent actions) to just take himself off to wherever he wants to be, with whomever he wants to be. So you might move the family to India and find that he either gets back into the drug culture, or he just leaves and makes his own way back to whatever he was doing.

    Whoever told you that it's not a learning disability, but ODD on its own sounds like they didn't check things out very thoroughly. ODD rarely is the only problem, you often get it when an underlying problem is not being managed. That doesn't mean it's your fault - sometimes the underlying disorder is just too difficult to understand or to be able to help. It needs a different way of handling and it's often difficult to know exactly what to do.

    You say your wife doesn't want to keep calling the police - but there can be a number of reasons why you should. First, if you just let him carry on without consequences (because you really can't stop him, can you?) then it's sending a message to him, to his (currently well-behaved) younger brother and to the public at large, that what your problem son is doing, is perfectly OK with you. And clearly it's not.

    And also by not calling the police, you could be leaving yourself wide open to being made legally responsible for any crimes he commits or damage he causes. Again, it depends on the law where you are.

    I hate to say this, but currently by allowing him to come back home "to base" even though he is physically abusive, disrespectful, indulging in criminal behaviour and not meeeting his obligations (coming home each night, going to school, staying off drugs) then you are enabling this behaviour and making it MORE possible for him to continue. It means he will continue doing the wrong thing because you make it possible.

    While you hope that he will eventually stop the bad things and turn it around, he has no reason to do so. In fact, he has every reason to continue doing what he is doing.

    Your fear is that if you say to him, "You do not live here any more unless you start going back to school, stop doing drugs and go back on your medication," that he will walk away and live on the streets as a drug addict and criminal. Then you will feel guilty and responsible.
    The trouble is, even if you don't say this to him, it is still a strong possibility that this will happen anyway. And it is HIS choice to do this. You didn't put the drugs in his hands. You didn't tell him to be violent. But the longer you continue to feed him, to clothe him, to make excuses for him - the more traumatised you all will be and the more your younger son will see this and think, "My parents have strict rules but they are powerless to actually make us follow them."

    You need to focus on your younger son and support him now. He is being damaged by all this and how you handle your older son will be telling the younger one a great deal.

    I strongly suggest you and your wife get to a meeting of NarcAnon and talk to other parents there about what options you can realistically use, to help you cope with your sons. You want to do the right thing by your older son (and do what you CAN, rather than what you ideally want but can't really do) and also keep your younger son on the right path.

    One more thought - your son was prescribed medication. It has been said (on this site as well as in many other places) that drug users are often self-medicating (or trying to) for an underlying, often undiagnosed, disorder. Someone with bipolar, for example, can use illicit drugs to try to cope with their moods. Someone with depression can use drugs to dull the emotional pain they feel. And often these drugs can make the problems worse in the long run when the underlying problem is made worse because these drugs are NOT what was carefully manufactured to strict specifications and administered in a carefully controlled dose. All the variation in what they take, the strength of the dose, the quality of the drug - it just makes things worse.

    But the tendency to self-medicate shows up in the illegal drug use. Sometimes getting appropriate diagnosis and treatment can turn things around, but you've already tried this and it didn't work for long. It's reached the point where HE has to accept there is a problem and to want to fix it. I don't tink he's there yet, he's having too much fun.

    Example - how does he get the money to buy the drugs? Is he stealing it from you? Is he earning his own money in some way? Do you give him money (to pay for school classes, for example) but he then uses the money for drugs? Or does he ask you for money to go out with friends, and then buys drugs with it?
    You can make it more diffficult for him, if you find out what you are legally required to do for him until he is 18 and then only do the minimum. The busier he has to be to meet his needs, the less time he has to go out and get drugs. If you MUST keep him housed, fed and clothed until he is 18, then you can set rules - "until you go back to school and make an effort, we will make sure you have a bed, plain food only and simple clothes. Nothing special, nothing fancy. No television, no computers, no mobile phone, no toys."
    Some people here call it "do to get". Provide the bare legal minimum. While the child is uncooperative, the parents have to be uncooperative. The more the child complies, the more trouble the parents can go to, to make the child's life more pleasant.

    However, I am very much afraid that with your older son, you have reached the point where you can no longer control what he does. You are likely to have to stand by and watch as he spirals further down, until he reaches a point where he HAS to take control of his own life and accept personal responsibility.

    In the meantime all you can do is help your other son and keep your problem son in your prayers, but not under your roof. You have to be safe.

    Talk to NarcAnon in your area and find out what you are legally required to do, and what you are legally able to do. For example, you may be legally required to notify police every time your son fails to come home or refuses to go to school. Or you may be legally required to keep your younger son in an environment where no illegal drugs are used or kept, by anyone.

    One big piece of advice here - no matter how much you want to, you should never try to control what you are unable to enforce. It is better to not try at all, than to try and fail. Because to try and fial sends the mesage to your child that you, the parent, are powerless. That is a very bad message to someone you are trying to control.

    It means you have to try another way. And one of those ways, unfortunately, may turn out to be making him leave in order to force him to take control of himself and for you to put your energy into your younger son.

    I'm sorry you're going through this. Do let us know how you get on. I'm sorry you need us but glad we're here.

  5. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    A lot of good advice here and I'm sure a lot for you to think about.

    The idea of sending him to India.....for me I think that would depend on a few things. Your family there, could they handle him and do it in a manner that is acceptable to you and your wife? Also, unfortunately drugs are everywhere. Are you sure that you wouldn't be sending him to a place with just as easy access to his high of choice or even bigger and "better" ones?

    As for the violence and your wife's reluctance to call the police, I can understand her feelings. BUT....would she hesitate to call the police if it wasn't your son? NO ONE has the right to physically assault anyone no matter if it is your son (who, at 17, I would imagine is adult size), your neighbor or a stranger off the street. Yes, getting him involved in the court system may not the the ideal thing but it can also open up various doors for treatment and diagnosis. Additionally as someone else mentioned, this is not a good example for other kids in the household. You're basically telling them that they can do what they want, knock Dad around and no one is going to do anything of any real consequence.

    For you and your wife to accomplish anything, you must show a united front. Behind closed doors you can second guess yourself as much as you want but when you make a decision, you MUST stick to it. Otherwise, your son will just continue to think it is ok for him to do whatever he wants because nothing is going to happen to him.

    Marg is right. ODD is rarely if ever a stand alone diagnosis. Normally when you get a diagnosis of just that, its becasue the people who decided that either didn't take the time or have the knowledge to dig deeper.

    If you haven't already, take a look around this site. There are many others here with similar issues and many posts about it. Look around, see what others have done, what others have said and discuss it with your wife. I hope we can be of some help or at the very least, a good place for you to vent. Good luck.
  6. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Dear Sunr,

    So sorry to read what you have been going through. My ex husband and I have been having similar problems with our son, who is 16, a sophomore in an urban high school with many other kids who dabble in recreational drug use and are disrespectful.

    I can't think of much to add to what Marguerite and the others have said, but I would like to make a couple of suggestions, based on what we have learned over the years:

    I think you need to protect yourselves and your younger son from the actions of your older son. There is a lot of truth in what Marguerite says, that you cannot control everything your 17 year old son does. If a child wants to misbehave they are very good at finding ways to do it beyond your control. And you and your wife could be found liable for whatever damages your son incurs while he is still a minor.

    It's good that you are in a position to consider changing environments, if it comes to that, but I would hate to see you uproot your younger son, if he is content where you are now and has friends, and completely disrupt your and your spouse's lives, attempting to keep your older child out of trouble. Kids seem to find other kids to drug with no matter where they go.

    Depending upon where you live, you could apply to the juvenile court for what they call "supervision." I believe it's called a PINS form, person in need of service, something like that. That's what we did for our son when he began to stay out with his friends, smoke pot, not answer his cell phone, leave the home without permission. He was 15 at the time. Supervision is one step below "probation." He was assigned a juvenile probation officer and together we came up with a "contract" of behaviors that we insisted he must observe (no drugs, must observe a curfew, go to school, etc.). He had to meet monthly with his PO and if he failed to comply, he would be bumped up to "probation" and run the risk of legal consequences, such as home monitoring (the ankle bracelet that tells the PO when he leaves the home), and as a last resort, detention in a juvenile facility, which is not a great place but a heck of a lot better than real prison. The court can also order him to attend a therapeutic school or residential treatment facility. This was essential for us because my son absolutely refused to cooperate and attend any residential program voluntarily. If we had chosen a treatment school or program within our state, the juvenile court would also have provided an "escort" service to get the child to the place, that is, several large, burly men to place him in an SUV and take him. Very hard on the parents, but sometimes you have to do these things to save your child.

    What is good about the juvenile supervision program is that you do not need to call the police. Believe me, I can relate to your wife's reluctance to call. It is very hard to do, even when your child is out of control. It is embarrassing to have the police cars show up at your home, and often the police are arrogant and dismissive (I had one policeman tell me that I should have had my exhusband hit my kid, and he laughed about it) and irritated that they have to do what they consider a parent's job. It adds insult to injury, sometimes. And sometimes you get a really good cop who knows about teenagers. But with a PO, you call them and they are the "bad guy."

    Sometimes, just having a child stand before a judge can be intimidating enough to get them to rethink their behavior. It didn't with our son, because he figured that his mother and father would back down and not have him placed in a treatment facility for his pot smoking. He was wrong and we shocked him out of his shoes. He does not want to go back to the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in Pennsylvania (three hours from our home).

    My ex and I struggled with the idea of therapeutic boarding schools for our two older kids, and it is a complicated business. You are right to be concerned about whether your child will comply and go, because most schools will not take a child who doesn't go willingly. Sometimes you can get the court to say, either/or, either you go to this therapeutic school or you go to juvenile detention. Some kids will opt for the boarding school, but some, like my son, insisted they would rather go to "juvie". He ended up changing his mind but right up until the time we got him admitted to the place in Penn., we were a wreck worried that he would change his mind and we'd have to bring him home. If you send him to a therapeutic boarding school, you have to research them carefully. Different schools have different behavioral modification philosophies. Some use a lot of one on one therapy and group therapy, plus medication if needed, and some are just glorified 12-step programs that use former addicts in place of clinical psychotherapy. My cousin attended a highly-touted school in the Northeast that made her even more manipulative and a better liar.

    And these schools are incredibly expensive. Many parents choose to hire an educational consultant to help them find an appropriate placement, since there is such a disparity in the quality of residential schools, but I have found, after hiring two and comparing notes with other parents, that they seem to gravitate toward a combination of wilderness program, then placement in a long-term boarding school (six to 18 months). Be prepared to take out a second mortgage.

    I would seriously consider approaching the juvenile court first and asking for help. I don't recall if you mentioned it in your post, but have you spoken to your child's guidance counselor and the school social worker or school psychologist, if there is one? They can help advise you as well.

    Good luck. If I can be of any help in giving you my opinion on certain specific schools and programs that I have researched myself, please feel free to private message me.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My idea to send him to India was based on my own child's experiences. She really did want to quit, but peer pressure is intense. Every time she tried, she was dogged by her "friends" and gave in, although she really didn't want to. She was not strong enough to buck the peer pressure. A new setting, where other kids have no preconceived ideas of your child, can be a Godsend if your son is REALLY wanting to change, but unwilling to look "weak" in the face of his friends. Also, "bad" kids often have trouble making friends with good kids after they quit--due to reputation--it's a mess. It's hard for adults who are in recovery to change their friends; it is harder for kids. If your son is not interested in changing his life, he won't, no matter where he is. He can find a bad element everywhere. But if he really does, in his heart, want to live a good life, a new environment can be a real helper. I don't think my daughter would have quit using drugs if she had stayed here. She needed to get away in the worst sort of way.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi, reading your post something comes to mind. I have a few Hindu friends here in my town. They immigrated here from India so that their kids could have better lives and have access to better educations. There is an intense pride in these families on work ethic and school performance. I can see how there would be much shame involved if one of their kids went off the deep end like this. In fact, I cant even imagine one of these kids doing this to their parents!

    So if this is your situation Sunr, I really do feel for you. I can only imagine how this is tearing your hearts out. I dont know if going back to India is the answer or not. It could be. If he is just following the wrong crowd then maybe getting him back to his roots then maybe that would work. If he really is something more serious then it probably wont work.

    I wish I had the answers.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome! It is great to have a dad involved here. You bring a different perspective to issues, so your input is awesome.

    I am so sorry about your son. It is a very hard situation. Marg and the others had great advice. I wuold STRONGLY suggest that you and your wife go to NarcAnon AND to a Domestic Violence place. Your son is abusing members of the famiy and the DV place will have excellent advice and support for you and your wife (dear wife). They are especially helpful in empowering victims, so maybe they can help your wife see why calling the police is important. My son, now 17, was very violent as a preteen and young teen. I found a LOT of help at the DV place, even though I had no need of the actual place to sleep. The therapy was totally confidential and free. The counsellor even waited in public to say "Hi" until I made the first move. If I said "Hi" then she would, and if I treated her like a stranger that is how she treated me.

    Anyway, I hope you stick around. There are a lot of very supportive people here. You might especially find help on the Teens and Substance Abuse section of the board (you can get to the other sections through this link: )

  10. sunr

    sunr New Member

    Thanks for all your reply, information, compassion and help. It is clear that our son has developed enormous hatred towards us, just for telling him to be discilpined and get good grades. We are thinking that he and us are better off if we do not stay in the same place. I am starting to look at few therapeutic boarding schools. Affordability is going to be a problem but need to figure out a way, if we do pursue that option. I saw one in XXX in Maine and XXX in NY. If there are any suggestions from any expereinced person on this topic, please do let me know.

    Great to know that help is available at the time of distress.
    Lasted edited by : May 23, 2009
  11. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Sunr- I edited out the names of the schools in your post... we don't list dr names or facilities to keep the forum's risk of liability low. I ask that anyone that has suggestions for specific tbs' please contact you via the site's private messaging system.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    You may want to check into grants to help fund the TBS or Residential Treatment Center (RTC) (therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment center). Or maybe to help fund rehab. It truly sounds to me like you need the substance abuse treatment AND mental health treatment. So you may need to ask about dual diagnosis treatments. This means the facility will have both sub abuse treatment and mental health treatment.

    If he is still in school then usually the school has to pay half of the tuition, or at least the costs for the time he is in school. You may have a fight to get that, but it does happen.

    You might ask if anyone can PM you info on treatment centers. Some parents use educational consultants to help find the right program for the child. It isn't a cheap service but it may mean going to one center that offers the right things your son needs rather than going to a place close by that doesn't have the right treatments available.

    I would also suggest testing by a neuropsychologist. They usually do extensive testing, 6 to 10 hours worth (broken up into several appts) and then can pinpoint what the child needs.

    I hope this info is helpful. You might go to the insurance forum to ask about finding funding for treatment.
  13. sunr

    sunr New Member


    This is great info. I have couple of questions as I do not understand fully. Sorry if I am asking some fundamental questions but mind is numb.

    • When you say, you may have to check the grants, how do I do that?
    • My son is still in school. I met with the principal and IEP councilor and told them about the options I am thinking. They basically said that their recommendation is to continue in the IEP program as long as we wants. If we prefer they may place out of district placements into therapeutic schools which are affliated to the school district with no additional cost to us. But problem I see is that it is a day school and we still have to make sure my son catches the bus. Also same circle of friends will around and same environment. If we decide to go for boarding school ourselves they mentioned that is our familie's chocie and the school districyt has nothing to do with that. Under this circumstances, would it still be possible to get any kind of assistance from the school district? Should I engage a lawer to pursue further?
    I will also try funding forum as per your suggestion and dig further.

    Many many thanks for the guidance...
  14. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    My son is still in school. I met with the principal and IEP councilor and told them about the options I am thinking. They basically said that their recommendation is to continue in the IEP program as long as we wants. If we prefer they may place out of district placements into therapeutic schools which are affliated to the school district with no additional cost to us. But problem I see is that it is a day school and we still have to make sure my son catches the bus. Also same circle of friends will around and same environment. If we decide to go for boarding school ourselves they mentioned that is our familie's chocie and the school districyt has nothing to do with that. Under this circumstances, would it still be possible to get any kind of assistance from the school district? Should I engage a lawer to pursue further?

    My family is in the same situation with our son. The school district is bound by law to provide an appropriate education for our children but you basically have to accept what they offer if you want them to pay for it. In the case of my older child, a daughter, she was in such emotional distress during her junior year of high school that we could not wait for the school bureaucracy to find her an appropriate school, and elected to put her in a therapeutic day school nearby. We then hired an attorney specializing in educational law for $6,000.00 (flat fee as opposed to an hourly rate) to pursue getting some money from the district. We ended up getting about 50% of what we paid out of pocket. We would have gotten more had we consulted with the attorney before pulling her out of her public high school (there is a complicated strategy of getting the public schools to pay for therapeutic education and it's nearly impossbile to do without an attorney who knows the game), but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

    The school district is under pressure to place your child at the least cost to themselves, so they will look for day schools first and in the case of our state (Connecticut), the high school must be recognized by the state as a special education high school. That narrows the list somewhat. The four schools our out of district coordinator put to us for consideration were not what we were looking for: they would have put our son in with many of the troubled kids he used to smoke pot and skip school with.

    If you are interested in getting financial support from the district, I would ask around for the name of a good educational attorney and ask for a consultation. They are usually free. Our district is notoriously difficult to work with so we absolutely needed the help of an attorney. It is in the district's interest in letting the clock run out onyour child, so that by the time they get you the help you need, your child is too old and ineligible, or they have deteriorated so badly, you have moved on to some other solution. Make sure you put every request in writing and save your emails (I used to cc: myself so I could prove that I sent out the email on a particular date) to anyone in the district.

    Good luck. I will private message you to ask about the facilities you mentioned in your earlier post, that got deleted. I think I know the ones you are asking about.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Please try to not let this hurt you. Remember that hatred is the other side of love. What you really don't want in your son is total indifference to you, as if you were strangers on the street.

    Right now, he is in the grip of drugs and people who want him to go the bad way. You and your wife are trying to pull him in the other direction. This causes conflict which he expresses towards you as anger. Tell yourselves this - when he is angry with you, it means he still loves you but doesn't want to do what you are trying to make him do. If he didn't care, he wouldn't waste his energy getting angry with you.

    MWM, you are right about a move being good for him if he wants to change. The trouble is, from what sunr says here, it doesn't sound to me like his son wants to change. Not yet, anyway.

    Susie, suggesting a domestic violence support group as well as NarcAnon - good move! I didn't think of a domestic violence group but they would be a VERY good idea. Sunr, please try and go. If culturally you are from India, you do need family support and ccultural support as well, because that can also bring in important factors which need to be considered. However there is also the fear of shame factor which could be why your wife doesn't want to involve the police. As well as the sense of self-sufficiency - 'we can resolve our own problems, we shouldn't be a burden on others'. You need to allow yourselves to use any help that is available because just as this problem has developed due to overwhelming outside influences being imposed on you (the drugs, the drug pushers, the bad friends) then you also need outside help at the same intense level, to help you find ways to fight it.

    He is your son and you love him, even if sometimes you hate him and are afraid of him. You need to preserve yourselves and your younger son, and make sure you are putting your energy where it will work positively, and not simply pouring it out on barren ground.

    You need to ask around where you live and see what you can access close to home, in terms of practical support for you and your wife. At the same time, I applaud your information-gathering on possible places to take him. Have you asked about wilderness camps?

    I wish you every success in this. I can't help with places because I live in Australia, but I can offer moral support.

  16. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    So sorry you are having to deal with this. As far as moving back to India, I would suggest that you decide what is best for the rest of the family. If you and 11-year-old will benefit from having the support of your relatives, then it could be a good move. I hate to say this, but at this point, the 17-year-old is making his own decisions, good or bad, and you need to look after everyone else's needs. Not that you don't care about 17-year-old or that you shouldn't help him, but the other family members' needs have to be considered too. So often we worry about the troubled ones and the others are neglected in the process.

    Wishing you strength. I know it's not easy.