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Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by RPS, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. RPS

    RPS Guest

    Hello, everyone. I'm glad I found this forum. I did some reading last night and appreciate how supportive everyone is.

    I'm here because my 15 year old son is the child who is the difficult child right now. I will be working on my signature so everyone knows what I'm dealing with, but it'll take a while. =)

    I have 6 kids. My 21 year old son has been a difficult child pretty much his entire life. He was diagnosed with ADHD on 3 occasions, the first time around 3 years old. He got into some serious trouble right before he turned 13 and spent 3 years in our juvenile correctional system followed by 1 year in a group home. The psychiatrist that evaluated him for court said that if he were an adult, she would label him as being a sociopath. After he came home, he had little interest in school but he missed only enough to not impact his graduating. He had no desire to go to college, so he started working, but has not been able to hold a job for very long. He currently lives in another state, which is good, because at this point, I am extremely impatient with his attitude and I have limited contact with him (my choice).

    My 16 (almost 17) year old daughter is a challenge because she lacks ambition. She recently got fired from her first job for not working all of the hours assigned to her. She squeaks by in school. She says she's going to go to college to be an art teacher, but her grades are going to seriously limit what colleges she can attend. She has ONE extracurricular activity once a week and would spend all of her time lying on the couch if we allowed it.

    My 10 year old daughter is a easy child -- driven, type A, excellent grades, works hard at her extracurricular activity. The only problem we have with her is that she can be a drama queen and she's very emotional these days. The 16yo and 15yo seem to live to torment her.

    My 3 (almost 4) year old son is a easy child because he's not old enough to get into a lot of trouble, and my almost 8 month old son is also a easy child because, well, he's a baby.

    I also have an SO that I've been with for 5 years, an ex-husband (father of the 16yo, 15yo and 10yo) that I get along with reasonably well and his wife who has no kids of her own but is really involved with ours. We are very lucky because the 4 parents are excellent at pulling together when there's trouble, and the stepparents' opinions are just as valuable and valid as those of us parents.

    So, my 15yo is the reason I'm here. About 6 months ago, I found out he was smoking pot; I found out from 21yoGfg. I confronted 15yoGfg and he said he didn't do it that often, but would quit. He also told some of his friends via FaceBook emails that he quit.

    I have suspected that he was using again for about a month, month and a half. Yesterday morning, I had access to his FaceBook page (the one he set up for his friends to use, but not his family) and I read his emails.

    He has been using pot again, drinking and on at least one occasion, he took "some pills" that messed him up. He is also dealing; he's the middle man between his dealer and his friends, which he thinks isn't a big deal, but in my humble opinion, dealing is dealing. It appears that he is also having some sort of sexual relationship with various girls, although it seems limited to activities that do not include actual intercourse.

    The 4 parents met yesterday and decided on a plan of action. Both 15yoGfg and 16yo daughter lost their cell phones. Our daughter lost hers because we knew that when they've lost their phones in the past, they got around that by using the other's phone. I should note here that daughter is also currently in some trouble because she was with some friends who shoplifted from Walmart and we are still waiting to see if daughter will be charged. She claims that she had no knowledge of the shoplifting, but I am still not sure what to believe, due to her history of lying to me.

    The kids also have lost access to computers in the two homes, unless there is a specific school assignment and then they will be supervised.

    SM is calling the insurance on Monday to find out what types of counseling are covered. We are going to find outpatient treatment for 15yoGfg, even though I know that the success rate is not terrific. We're not sure if we've caught this in time to make a difference, but he IS in denial, so I'm afraid an inpatient program would be a waste of time and money right now.

    We have also set a zero-tolerance policy for hitting each other, which we should have done in the past. At my house, the 3 kids will actually get into physical confrontations and a lot of the time this involves 15yoGfg hurting 10yo daughter. I have made it clear that if difficult child hurts his sisters, I will call the police and have him charged with domestic violence. Ex-husband supports me in this.

    So, yeah, we have some serious challenges here. I'm still kind of shell-shocked because I have no clue if we handled things well or if we're doing the right thing and it hurts me to think that the kids may be thinking that we don't love them because we're being "mean." I would much rather be mean and get them straight, and I'm ok with tough love, but it's awful.
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member


    Welcome. First, I congratulate all four of you for putting the children first and working together. It is known that children in trouble have a much better outcome if all the parents are on the same page.

    It's good that you caught this early in your son and you are very smart to keep your antenna up and not believe what he is saying about quitting. From my experience, pot use and drinking escalates and throw in some pill use and you have a big problem. My difficult child is 19 and currently in a resdential drug treatment program about an hour and a half away. This program has been a godsend to us but it was a process. We had to exhaust all other avenues of counseling and outpatient programs before her use became so bad that she was ready for inpatient. I'm still not sure if she was at rock bottom enough for the program to stick but she was pretty low and ready to accept change. She has been there 50 days now and will be cominghome Oct. 3. She then starts an intense outpatient program all geared to helping her learn how to live substance free. The surprising thing to me was that almost all of the people in the treatment center are young adults 18-25. I thought most would be older and she wouldn't be able to relate. This disease is getting our kids younger and younger.

    You are doing all the right things by removing cell phone and computer access. Those two devices enable our difficult child's to gain access to addictive substances much easier than in the past. Of course they can still get them, but it puts a barrier up. Also it's good that you are checking into what cousneling services are available. In our experience counseling didn't do much good but it did start the ball rolling on letting her know we acknowledged the problem and that we would seek any means of treatment available.

    If your son is an addict his use will escalate and he will end up in a treatment center, which may be his best chance. If he is not an addict and he is like many other young people who can use and not have it affect their life adversely, he is lucky. But you can't take the chance. I knew my difficult child was an addict before she picked up her first drink or smoked her first joint.

    One thing the treatment center stresses is that the family has to draw the line in the sand for their loved one. If his use gets to the point where it is really serious the line in the sand could be that unless he gets help he can't live there anymore. I know this is scarey and you have a long way to go before that point but just keep in the back of your mind that there may come a time when you have to draw that line in the sand to save his life.

    I'm glad you found us and there are a lot of members who will give you tremendous support.

  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    <- what Nancy said.

    I'm glad you found us... I have a 15-y/o myself who has been there done that. I still don't believe she is totally clean - just that she is very careful as to what she does, due to random tests by her PO and her counselor being a "no garbage" kind of person.

    You're right to be suspicious, and very, very lucky to have all parents on the same page. Your ideas for boundaries are good.

    I know it's frustrating - lots of hugs. Stick around, someone else who can give you more will be along!
  4. RPS

    RPS Guest

    Thank you for the warm welcome.

    Nancy, I've read a lot of your posts and they're very helpful to me. I totally admit that I *want* to believe difficult child when he says he wasn't using that much, he doesn't have a problem, blah, blah, blah, but I've known too many addicts so I know that this is typical denial.

    We are very fortunate to have all parents involved, aware and committed to getting difficult child help. I can see that there are going to be some struggles here, though, because I asked my ex if he felt that we would be better off looking for an inpatient treatment program to get difficult child out of the environment so he can get clean. Ex responded that SM has been reading a book that says that inpatient treatment often makes things worse because the user is surrounded by people who are hard core users. I haven't really heard that -- I've heard that outpatient treatment has a high recidivism rate so it's next to worthless. If he's in counseling, but still in the same social circle, it will be difficult for him to break free of the behavior that his friends probably expect at this point.

    I don't know whether difficult child is an addict, but I assume that he is at this point. He claimed that he didn't have a problem and could stop at any time, but then admitted to smoking a joint while walking to school. in my humble opinion, if you have to get stoned to go to school, you have a serious problem.

    I also ordered drug tests and ex and I will be doing random checks. I was torn about this but decided to go with checking rather than trusting him.

    I think what really gets me about this whole thing is that we live in what's supposed to be an excellent school district. The kids here really want for very little. Maybe that's part of the problem? They have so much handed to them that they have nothing to work for? It's soooo disturbing to me that drugs and drinking have become such a huge part of high school culture.

    I completely understand that we need to be prepared for him not being able to live with us. There are other kids to protect and he needs to meet our expectations.

    Unfortunately, I'm not new to this. My oldest knew that when he graduated from high school, he needed to either: go to college (and if he maintained good grades he could live here free), go into the service or get a job (and live here while paying rent). He chose to work, but didn't like the amount of rent I planned to charge him ($500 something for his room, all the food he wanted, a cell phone, cable tv, internet service). He moved out and I think has figured out that what I offered was way below what he'd pay for these things living on his own.

    I made it clear to difficult child and 16yo daughter that only the first two options are on the table for them. They can go to college, maintain a B average and live here for free, or they can go into the service. If they decide to not go to college and instead work, they will have to move out.

    I hate having to even consider that I will have to ask any kids to leave, but recognize that it's the best thing for them and for the rest of us.

    Today will be interesting because difficult child is back in school. The ex had threatened to contact the parents of all of difficult child's partying buddies, but difficult child told me that he would have to do something to get suspended from school so that he didn't have to deal with the fallout from that. He's not afraid of the social stigma as much as he is the physical risk because one of the girls has a brother that will supposedly beat him up if their parents and grandparents find out what big partiers they are. Ex decided to hold off on contacting the other parents until we can get counseling lined up for difficult child, but I think he still needs to do it. If it were my kid and another parent discovered he's drinking/drugging, I'd want to know.

    I have a feeling we've just started a very long, frustrating journey....
  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RPS there is so much that you said that I would like to comment on. It is very important to choose an inpatient program carefully. The one we chose accepts mostly insurance or self pay customers. That is a double edged sword becaue we have a very high deductible and only 10 days allowed for substance abuse treatment. They ended up paying only $3,000 and we self paid the rest. There are some court ordered patients there and their incentive for getting clean and sober and staying that way is not as serious as trhose who come on their own or through family intervention. Many of them fail and either leave on their own or are kicked out for breaking the ruoles or using. The staff is very quick to jump on them and not allow them to jeopardize everyone else's sobriety. There have been several other patients that I was worried about my difficult child becoming friedly with but all of them have left or been kicked out. The ones that arer left all want to get better and they have good family support behind them.

    There were several treatment centers in our area that we did not consider for various reasons. The outpatient program she was in before inpatient was a joke, even though it is considered highly. They were no match for her and it was appaarent that education alone was not going to work. She needed to be out of her environment and have individual and group therapy every day in a very structured environment.

    We did drug tests too. We told her a condition for living at home was that she submit to monthly tests, at a testing center. Little did we know that she just switched from pot to alcohol. But I think it's important that you stick to the drug testing.

    We too live in an area with an excellent school system, rated excellent with distinction every year. I too was surprised at the number of students who use alcohol and drugs, many with their parents knowledge. I once drove to a kid's house in a very nice development and sat in the drive until the police came to get difficult child out of the house where all the kids were smoking pot and drinking having cut school. Just last summer I drove to a drug house in another very nice development and ordered the boy who lived there to make difficult child leave or I would call the police. These parents were divorced, the mom lives elsewhere and the dad was living with his girlfriend, leaving the son to have the run of the house with his druggie friends. The house was in foreclosure and I reported the activity to both the police and child welfare. I was not afraid to call a parent or appear on their doorstop looking for difficult child and informing them of their activity in their home or with their kids. It did not make difficult child very happy but I didn't care. I like Dr. Phil when he says parents have to do whatever they have to to save their kids lives. And Carroll O'Connor is my hero when he said "get between your kids and drugs any way you can."

    You are starting out on a long and difficult road but you sound like you have your ducks in a row and are prepared to go to battle to help your son. We have a lot of similar situations and I will be anxious to see how it goes for you.

  6. RPS

    RPS Guest

    Oh, Nancy, I so wish I had my ducks in a row. I feel like I have NO idea which way to turn. I also feel soooo naive because I didn't spot the symptoms of difficult child using sooner.

    Thank you for the info on the inpatient v. outpatient programs and your experiences. Right now, it seems like difficult child doesn't have a care in the world and doesn't see that this is a serious issue, which leads me to believe that he doesn't think he needs help.

    His dad and SM carry his insurance, so I'm not sure what the coverage is, but I think it's safe to assume that inpatient wouldn't be totally covered. I hate to say this, but I don't think either family can afford to pay for the inpatient treatment for someone who thinks he doesn't have a problem. It would be like throwing money away.

    It *kills* me that drugs and drinking are so prevalent in this area. I know, another totally naive moment. Of course drugs are prevalent! If you have kids that have some spending money and are bored, drugs could be an easy choice. I know that substance abuse issues target all walks of life, I really do. I had just hoped they wouldn't land in my living room.

    I think we're all prepared to do whatever we have to in order to keep difficult child on the straight and narrow, as much as possible. However, like the inpatient v. outpatient thing, I'm seeing that his dad may not be as fired up as he was when he first found out on Saturday. Yesterday, SO and I had an appointment (for counseling, wouldn't you know it!) and we could not be here when difficult child got off the bus. ExH said he'd pick the kids up at the bus stop at 2. When we arrived home at almost 3, both difficult child and oldest daughter were here. ExH didn't call or email to let me know he would NOT be picking them up or let me know later why he didn't. That's frustrating.

    Also, I sent an email to my oldest to let him know that I didn't appreciate his not telling me that difficult child was using and had escalated to booze and pills, and that it was inappropriate for him to be swapping stories about getting high with difficult child. Oldest is 21 so he can legally drink all he wants, but I think he has some responsibility not to encourage illegal behavior with difficult child. Oldest wrote back, blasting me, saying that it wasn't his job to police difficult child and if I didn't see that difficult child was using that was my fault. Oldest assumed when difficult child was posting stuff on FaceBook about drinking/drugs that I had GIVEN UP. The FB account where difficult child was doing this is one he set up to use with his friends and he has a second one that I'm friends with, so there was no way for me to see what he was posting. Plus, I didn't give up on Oldest during the 3 years when he was in juvie, so why would I give up on a 15 year old that's just starting to have problems? I wanted to write this back to Oldest, but I didn't. He ended his email with "If you can't say anything positive, GTFO" so I have had enough. I deleted him from my friends list and will block him if he contacts me again. I know that sounds harsh, but I have tolerated this kind of stuff from him for way too long.

    difficult child has his first counseling session on Thursday and his dad and I are to attend. I hope that this will do some good.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It may not be the right time for inpatient treatment. He may have to hit a lot lower before he is ready to accept that he has a problem. If his use continues or escalates he will eventually get into legal trouble. That may be what it will take to get him into treatment. You can ask the court to order him into treatment if he doesn't go willingly. I did mention earlier that in my difficult child's program many of the court ordered patients don't do well because they still refuse to accept that they have a problem. But that doesn't mean it won't work for him. It would be better to have him go willingly on his own (with his family's support). But he's not ready for that yet.

    The financial part was difficult for us. We had spent so much on trying to get help for her over the years. But most treatment centers are very willing to work with you. They also know how to squeak every penny out of your insurance company they can. We put some of it on a credit card and scarped together what we could from other funds. There are also loans you can take out and while most people don't want to do that it is a possibility. Most centers charge a lower rate after the first 30 days. But I agree that it is a waste of money unless it is the right time. You will know when that time is.

    I have a nephew who does the same thing as your oldest. When we have family get togethers he takes difficult child aside and jokes about drinking binges and such. I have asked him to stop doing that and I try to have very little contact with him. Coincidently he is also an alcoholic but he is in denial. I don't know how we keep bad influences away from our difficult child's, especially when they are family.

    I am always amazed at how some parents enable their kids. I have a neighbor whose son is both smoking pot and drinking. He is 17 and was recently arrested for having drug paraphernalia in his car. She was angry that the police searched his car without cause. He was ordered into the diversion program and must submit to random drug tests. They called for a drug test one day and he was so worried that he drank huge amounts of water, and his mother believed that it was because he was at another neighbor's house whose son smoked pot and was afraid he got in his system second hand. She even told me that if they ordered a drug test before one of his high school swim meets she wouldn't make him go because he doesn't need that pressure before a meet. She is more concerned about him getting a college scholarship than she is about his drug use. This stuff makes me crazy and it's no wonder our kids think we are the ones who are nuts because everyone does it.

    I hope the counseling is helpful. Like I said before it is all a necessary step and while it may not stop the use it will lead to where he can get the help he needs. Change doesn't happen until the pain of staying the same is too much and right now he doesn't feel that pain.

    I believe you will make it. You have good support and you have your eyes wide open.