New member - Just found out 15 y/o difficult child using alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by CharlestonGal, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. CharlestonGal

    CharlestonGal New Member

    Hello, everyone. I think this is the right place for me to post. Please let me know if it isn't.

    Like everyone else here, I've learned that my 15 y/o formerly easy child has been using alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes. Neither her father nor I are in agreement with the use of illegal drugs, underage drinking, underage smoking and all the attendant lies that accompany such activities. Until now, we haven't had any serious problems with our daughter and are somewhat taken aback that she has chosen to involve herself with substance use. She attended a small private school from K4-8th grade, and this year began attending public high school. I thought we had prepared her well for the transition. She has been well educated about smoking, drinking, drug use and sexual activity and was in no way naive about any of these topics.

    Her father and I are both shocked and surprised that upon entering her new school, she chose to ally herself with the kids who smoked and drank and used drugs rather than engaging in more positive activities with kids similar to her old peers. I did notice changes in her behavior and attitude over the past several months and her grades dropped as well. Even though I was not highly suspicious about substance use, I knew the red flags when I saw them. After some digging around on social media and speaking to some of her old friends, I learned that she was indeed using. I confronted her this past Saturday and she didn't attempt to lie to me.

    Her father and I are in the process of restructuring her time and activities so that she is surrounded by either us or people we trust to guide her to better decisions and environments. We have an appointment with her counselor this afternoon (she's already in treatment for anxiety/panic attacks which she has had for years and takes Zoloft for). I'm hoping her counselor can help her understand why she chose this group of kids and this destructive path rather than the myriad positive peer groups and activities at her new school.

    I am at a loss right now trying to understand where my easy child daughter so suddenly went. I'm feeling a sense of mourning and sadness that my little girl, whom I trusted completely (big mistake I now realize), is just gone. She has turned into someone I do not recognize and it has made me beyond sad. I'm sure that is a feeling to which most of you can completely relate.

    I'd like to join you if I may. I work from home and do not have a huge support network of friends nearby. Thanks for listening.
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome, CG. You found just the right spot for posting and I assure you this group of supportive friends will make your life bearable and provide caring ears anytime you want or need to vent. Glad you found us.

    Others will be along soon and I'll just say a quick hi since I'm at work. Almost all of us have gone through the "mourning" stage you are experiencing. Almost all of us were shocked when our easy child's decided to explore the difficult child world. Interestingly the greatest pain seems to come from the children that brought us so much pride and happiness prior to high school or college changes. As you being this voyage (she wish you didn't have to!) I suggest becoming familiar with the Serenity Prayer. Many of us repeat that famous AA prayer on a daily basis to keep our emotions and expectations in check.

    Glad you found us. Sorry you needed to. Hugs DDD
  3. CharlestonGal

    CharlestonGal New Member

    Thank you for the welcome, DDD. I appreciate it. As for the Serenity Prayer, I know it well. Ironically, I was a substance abuse and mental health counselor for 22 years until I switched careers a few years ago. My daughter has been involved with countless drug prevention fairs and carnivals and red ribbon activities, which I organized through my work. She is no stranger to the message. I am just completely dumbfounded that she turned her back on that solid foundation. I just sit here and ask myself, "Good grief, what more can you do???" I do intellectually understand that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink it, but it's still hard to wrap my head around the decisions she has made. Thankfully, I understand substance abuse issues well enough to know that the only one who can control one's substance abuse is oneself, and after my initial impulse to lock her in her room until she's 30, I've realized all I can do is continue to provide her the tools to make healthy decisions. What she does with those tools is up to her. It's difficult and frightening to watch her go down this path though.

    Hugs to everyone here dealing with this nightmare.
  4. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    Welcome to the board. I am sorry for the sadness you feel right now. About a year and a half ago, I was in your shoes with my, then, 15 year old. I know the shock of not knowing how, what or why this happenned. It sounds like you're very informed and that will help. I would only caution against feeling that it was the change of schools or choice of peers that have caused her troubles. I initially felt that too, but I know now that it was my own son's inner dilemma. His bad choices followed him when I took the step of removing him from these influences. Who, what, where when's a journey to find out. At this stage, working with the counselor will help. If you think she's in bad (meaning to the point where it is deeply affecting her life...bad grades, depressed, anger, etc) you may want to see if there is a local outpatient substance abuse program near you. My son did not make progress in individual counseling. I know for us, during the time that my son worked with an individual counselor and we were just trying to get through to him, there was no reaching him and he didn't care what the adult counselor said. As he started attending programs and meeting other teens that had similar and far worse problems who had experienced very negative consequences, he started to see where his choices may lead him. I know when I have suggested this route to other parents in my area, a common thing I hear is that they cannot convince them to go. All it takes is making a deal with them to go to the intake interview. The folks that do the intakes are gifted when it comes to reaching teens and showing them that it's in their best interest to come.

    Keep posting - we are all happy to share our experiences and guide you. My good news that my son was completely derailing in all areas of his life. A year and a half later, he has been to many programs and even away at Wilderness for a while and he is so much better now. He is able to function within the realm of normal. There is hope. You didn't cause can't control can't cure it. Be strong and we will send you strength.
  5. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi CG and welcome,
    It sounds like you're very aware of what is going on with your daughter, and that's a good thing. When my daughter started HS, we put her in a private, all-girls school. She flourished, but it was expensive. We wanted to make sure she was in a "sheltered" environment, so to speak. Our son, a few years younger, was always the smartest, most level-headed kid we ever could have hoped for. When it was time to go to HS, we could've sent him to a private boys' HS nearby, but it was so expensive, along with my daughter's tuition. Since our public HS has an excellent reputation, and because he really wanted to go there, and it was walking distance from our home, we sent him to public HS. Big mistake! HE was the one involved with the drugs, dopey kids, etc. I wanted to pull him out and transfer him to the private school after freshman year, but husband and son would have none of it. husband thought the public school offered more high-level, selective courses, better teachers, etc. Son just wanted to stay with his new druggie buddies, though he promised he'd turn over a new leaf. I was outvoted, but most of all, in this case, unfortunately I was right. If we had it to live over again, we would've enrolled him in the small, religious private HS. There's no guarantee he wouldn't have found trouble, but it's a regret we will share always. We tried to be penny wise and ended up being pound foolish. I don't know your circumstances, but I thought I'd share that with you, for whatever it's worth.
  6. Elsieshaye

    Elsieshaye Member

    Welcome, CG. Not sure how long my son has been using drugs. He's always had behavioral problems, so it was hard to tell the difference between "unwise and/or illegal behaviors due to [insert diagnosis or circumstance here]" and "unwise and/or illegal behaviors due to drugs." Sending you lots of support. It's hard stuff to deal with.
  7. keista

    keista New Member


    I don't know where you are at, and pray I'm never there, but will address some things that I know about.

    Keeping her busy with activities is a great step. I can tell you that my cousin was on the brink of hanging with the "bad girls". My aunt noticed and started to over-schedule her with wholesome activities. Fortunately one of the activities was ballet which became a passion for my cousin. Years later cousin thanked Aunt for that saying that she truly had a desire to hang with the "bad girls" and would have if given half the chance. However, even as an adult, she was unable to explain WHY she was drawn to that crowd.

    Since she's already in therapy and on medications, consider changing them up. in my opinion most substance abuse is self medication (even cigarettes and coffee). Maybe if she got a better medication mix she'd be less drawn to the substances.

    And yes, everyone is welcome to join! Many of us have found that even if we did have good support networks, they seem to fade and fizzle when dealing with difficult children.
  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hello and welcome! I have a different parenting issue but am a stay at home mom and I do understand the challenge of not having a ton of real life support when you are facing a tricky parenting experience. So, I wanted to say hi and let you know you are not alone. Hope to hear from you often!
  9. CharlestonGal

    CharlestonGal New Member

    Thanks Z and CJ. difficult child was told from the beginning that we would allow her to try public HS and if it didn't go well, she was going back to the smaller private school system. I don't know that I blame the school at this point though. The way I look at it, she had all the options in the world open to her when she started at that school - tons of extracurricular activities, numerous peer groups to choose from, numerous positive activities to get involved in. Nobody kidnapped her into the substance abusing group - she deliberately chose that peer group to identify and associate with. I do not yet understand why she made that decision when she had the tools and the knowledge to make much better ones. Most of these kids live right here in my neighborhood and this is where she was hanging out with them, drinking and smoking and getting high. She wasn't doing it at school. Right now, she is not allowed to just "hang out" in the neighborhood. She is not "grounded" per se, but she is not allowed unstructured, unsupervised time to hang out. She is only allowed activities supervised by me, her father, and adults we trust. I have explained to her that she is not being punished; she will simply be provided chaperones to help her make decisions for awhile.

    I'm not sure how long it will take for her to rebel against the closer supervision, but for now she has expressed understanding of why it's been implemented and she grudgingly admitted she earned it. But, it has also become very clear to be that my difficult child is an amazing and convincing liar and right now I do not trust anything she tells me. I have placed spyware on her computer and have some on order for her cellphone. I plan to monitor her closely for the next few months and make decisions based on how she responds to supervision and counseling. Private school is definitely back on the table if it comes to that.

    Thank you so much for your input. This is a lonely, depressing business.
  10. CharlestonGal

    CharlestonGal New Member

    Thank you so much to everyone who posted while I was drafting my last post. It helps a lot to talk to people who have been there done that. I'm off to pick up difficult child at school and take her to see her counselor. Crossing my fingers that counselor will be helpful in developing a treatment plan.

    Thanks again. :)
  11. Zardo

    Zardo Member

    Just remember - removal doesn't always work. We removed our son from the public high school and sent him to a small, highly structurred boarding school - it got worse. You have to focus on your daughter rather than the setting. I also tried to "load him up" with activities, but he resisted every effort we may as he was determined to go down the path he had chosen. If yours will yeild to your direction, that's great. Hopefully, she will and she will soon move in another direction. What I have learned from my experience is that there was nothing we could have done to stop him, but by letting him fall on his face a few times and then insisting on outside support each time, he eventually got tired of being "that kid" and all the negative consequences. Sounds like you're doing great for where she's at right now.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think I MAY know why you daughter chose the crowd that she did, because my daughter was uprooted from one state to another in seventh grade and that's when she fell in with a bad crowd.

    In her new school, the kids already had their cliques and friends and nobody paid any attention to her and she was rather shy. For months she sat alone in the lunchroom and finally a group of kids engaged her and befriended her. Unfortunately, the most accepting kids who seek out loners or new kids are the less than wonderful groups. The preps and high achievers tend not to be as friendly...don't ask me why. At any rate, it wasn't long before my daughter was smoking pot on the way to school (at 12) and drinking, but she hid it pretty well until about fourteen.

    Do you allow her to drink, smoke, or use pot in the house? We used to throw out her cigarettes until she never brought them home anymore and we did ban her from substance abuse and almost everyone she knew who was a bad influence. She was clever about hanging out with those kids anyways, even if she had to leave the house while we were sleeping at night through her bedroom window. I am not sure what the answer is. My daughter has been clean now for years, but when she was using there was nothing we did that worked. So I hope you find something that does. I wish I could be more helpful. She didn't stop until SHE wanted to stop (and that included never smoking cigarettes again too). Maybe our values sunk in after all in the end??? Never give up your values to your child.

    You may find a great support system at an N/A or al-anon meeting. We did! It's nice not to feel so alone and to be able to vent in real time.

    Welcome to the board (but sorry you have to be here).
  13. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    So sorry you are going through this nightmare with us! I am another that doesn't know if the drugs caused the behavioral problems to worsen or the behavioral problems led to the drugs. I am thinking probably a combination of both.

    My difficult child was a hand full from birth and started using at a very young age. I also think my marriage was a contributing factor, his father has had zero contact for a very long time. That left me with tremendous guilt that I allowed him to use against me.

    Luckily you have knowledge I didn't not have when I started this path, and I was in denial for a long time. I just could not believe that my son would steal and let his friends steal from me as much as they did. My son can also look you in the eyes with both hands on a bible and lie with a straight face. I have had mine in many programs and I am hoping one day they will finally 'click' with him. Prayers that your difficult child is not as stubborn as my difficult child!

    (((blessings for us all)))
  14. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Hi and welcome to the board. I am glad you found us but sad that you need us.

    Though my son at 19 was older, he went from being a "perfect child" to a pot smoking, difficult child in a matter of months and it took us by surprise. Like you, I mourn the loss of my reasonable, responsible, loving child and I resent the stranger who has taken his place.

    My son's problems began when he started university. He was assaulted his first week there by a drunk townie and after that he fell into a bad crowd. He sought out a kid from our home town & his hs whom he had known for years but had never been a close friend. This kid is a partier & pothead and I think my son found instant acceptance with him. They are now best friends & roommates, my kid has failed out of school his 3rd semester and yet chooses to be apart from our family and live with this guy and "pretend" to be a college student. We are no longer financially supporting him as we cannot support a lifestyle that includes drug use. And at age 20 (now) our hands are tied. No amount of pleading can get him to accept that he needs help. As far as I know - he is only using pot and booze - but it is definitely not working for him. I am not naive enough to think he couldn't be using other things - but I don't think he has descended into the depths of narcotics, etc. (yet?) He is still managing to hold onto his friends, apartment and job, and the persona of a normal life which gives me a glimmer of hope, but I am not unrealistic. He blames us for his problems and lies to us all the time.

    Your daughter is still young enough for you to make a difference. I would exhaust all areas of help for her. Counseling, family counseling, drug testing, IOP, -- everything. When they are 17 and 364 days, they are still your dependent, your responsibility and within a bit of your control. Unfortunately, the very next day (18th birthday) you are expected to butt out completely. It's incredibly hard to swallow. My son's school, his landlord, his bank refused to help us help though the parents who loved and raised him could be malevolently trying to control him - and despite the warning signs (failing grades, late rent, delinquent accounts) that validated our concerns!

    Welcome to the board, we are here for you. We get it. {{{hugs}}}
  15. FlowerGarden

    FlowerGarden Active Member

    Hi and welcome to the board. You will find lots of good advice here. It is hard to pin point what exactly will work. Everyone is different. I agree with what someone else already posted, they won't change until they are ready to. Sometimes loading them up with activities backfires because they feel pressured and will self medicate to relieve that pressure. You may trust other parents but if the kids want to do something we feel is unsafe, they find a way to do it no matter how trusted the adult is. I know someone that I thought highly of. Turns out, her daughter helped my son's girlfriend sneak into my house for the night by going through the motions of having the girlfriend sleep over her house. Once her parents went to sleep, my son's girlfriend snuck out of the girl's house and into mine. The parents everyone trusted got tricked. I just happened to find the girlfriend sneaking out of my house in the morning.

    The parents you trust can have an unlocked medicine cabinet or liquor cabinet. Unaware to them, the kids can figure out how to get something they want. I even found out a parent I trusted got a ticket for speeding while my child was in the car with them.

    The fact that she is seeing a counselor already is great. As someone else mentioned, it might just need to be a medicine change. I wish you well and am sending hugs your way.
  16. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome CG. As you can see we have a lot of members who are also dealing with substance abuse so you are in good company. I think maybe youcan help us since you were a SA counselor for so many years. You probably know more of the reasons why she did this than any of us. I have found that it doesn't much matter what kind of foundation you have given your difficult child and that was confirmed by many of the comments I heard in AA meetings I went to with my difficult child. They would start out by saying they had great parents, a wonderful childhood, all the opportunities they wanted, and yet they gravitated to alcohol and drugs. The overwhelming feeling that many of them expressed was they did not feel comfortable in their own skin and drinking/using made them feel accepted.

    My difficult child also became involved in substance abuse in her freshman year in high school. She had been in a private school k-8 and we too hoped that and our parenting had given her foundation that would keep her on the straight path. It didn't. She has been through residential treatment, sober houses, counseling, and she is currently living in relapse and in complete denial that she has a problem.

    I hope the counselor can help your daughter. I hope you find our forum helpful and I know you can help us understand substance abuse better.

  17. CharlestonGal

    CharlestonGal New Member

    Oh, wow. So many responses. Thank you, thank you. You all have said so many of the things I've been thinking and worrying about. The one thing that bothers me the most, and the thing I hate to acknowledge, is the frightening fact that at the end of the day I really no longer have control, or even much influence, over what my difficult child chooses to do. She is now saying all the right things, but of course she may very well just be parroting years of Catholic School and parental teachings. I simply don't trust her anymore like I once did. She readily agreed with her counselor today when the counselor pointed out that 15 y/o's really have no business smoking, drinking and using drugs. She was so agreeable I was immediately suspicious. And when the counselor asked difficult child if she wanted her to help difficult child get off substances, she was all for that, too. was all too easy. She even told the counselor that I was right to structure her time and her activities while she gets herself figured out. Hmmmmmm...again.

    difficult child is saying all the right words and comes across as a very mature, intelligent and forthright young lady who has it all together. The problem is, that was her manner as well when she was sneaking around and lying to me and scheming in order to drink, smoke and get high. I highly suspect she is playing me (and the counselor) and is just going to go further underground with her activities. I understand that is not something I can control, but it makes me so sad.
  18. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    The fact that you were a SA counselor and your daughter managed, at least for a short while, to fly under your radar is just incredible. My son is a smooth phony who had me snowed big time for a while. Now, sadly, no matter what he says, I just never believe him - I always verify. FYI - he was very accepting of the restrictions we put on him, because while we knew what was going on till we went to bed, he snuck out thru the livingroom window right out onto the street at night where he'd meet his friends and stay out drinking and smoking pot. We were clueless till the police brought him home one night (plus we had the most terrifying watchdog who didn't make a peep)! Needless to say, we alarmed the whole house after that, and shut off the wireless internet at 10PM every night, so no facebooking, etc. We took his cellphone away from him, too. It didn't change one dang thing as far as his using, but it made us feel a little better. There's a line from the song, Against the Wind, that goes..."I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." Wish I could go back in time and be naive again.
  19. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello and welcome to our little corner of the CD community. My difficult child went from a total easy child up to 8th grade to substance abuser by the time she was 14 years old. The changes seemed to come with puberty. It seems like puberty is the trigger for many or our difficult child's with amxiety/mood disorders and substance abuse.

    Unlike you, I stayed in denial for a long time. I kept thinking it was normal teenage rebellion and that she would grow out of it. She is now 26-years-old and still struggling with mental illness and substance abuse.

    Keep posting. You will find wonderful support and understanding here.

  20. wantpeace

    wantpeace New Member

    Welcome CG! This forum has helped me a great deal as I'm sure it will you too. Even though you know a lot about substance abuse, it's much more difficult when it's your own child. I can totally relate to the mourning you are going through. My son went from a easy child to a difficult child in what seemed like an instant. We can all look back and wonder about decisions such as private vs. public school affecting our difficult child's drug use, but I don't feel that it's helpful to dwell on the past. I've always been scared to death of the effects of drugs and never had a desire to use them, so going to a public school worked out just fine. You've given your difficult child knowledge, love, and support. She still chose to use drugs. Now she will have to deal with the consequences such as lack of trust and freedom.

    I made myself quite sick from stress, so I want to encourage you to take care of yourself. It sure helps that your ex is supportive and helps with the parenting. Please keep us posted.