New to forum, looking for support

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Karenvm, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    My name is Karen, and I am brand new to this forum. I am really struggling with my 17 year old son, and am just at my witts end.
    Background: I am married, have three sons (17, 14, 9). My 17 year old has struggled since about fourth grade, with depression, ADHD. He is extremely bright, could be a straight A student if he tried at all. Was always the smartest kid in his grade, etc. People meet him and love him, he's respectful everywhere except at home. He's also very oppositional. Does not get along at all with his 14 year old brother (never has). about a year and a half ago, we found out he was sneaking out at night (it was the Summer), smoking pot with his "friends". Also found out he was drinking a LOT, mostly when he was alone here in the house. Shortly after, he spent a week in an inpt. adolescent psychiatric unit for depression, anxiety, and "thinking about" suicide. Completed an IOP after discharge, continued psycotherapy, but within two months was smoking again, and came home very drunk a few times. Lots of counseling, psychiatry, tried different medications (he always stopped them because they "weren't working").

    All this time, he did pretty well in school, for the most part. Taking all advanced placement classes, and doing okay. Had a great part time job at a grocery store. They loved him.
    In the Spring, he "hit bottom" again, lots of anxiety, depression, marijuana use, drinking. He has never gone even three months without smoking pot. He had some crazy melt down one day, held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill himself if my husband didn't give him Klonipin (he had just been prescribed that for anxiety, but was using it WAY more than it was prescribed, and this time, he wanted more). We got out of that situation, and I then called the police, and they came and took him to the ER. Admitted again for one week to adolescent psychiatric.
    So far this school year has been miserable. His grades are not great, but okay. He is failing gym because he cut the class for two straight months, and may not even be able to graduate now (he's a senior). He just stopped going to his job, so he lost that. He never called them, or even wrote a letter (as his psychologist recommended). He talks about going away to college, but does nothing to get an application together. Tells people he is going to go to Medical school after college. He is a severe procrastinator, and just can't get from point A to point C.
    I found out today that he has skipped school for the past two days (my husband travels a lot, so the house was empty, so he hung out there, smoking pot).
    I have had enough. He refuses to live by our rules. There is conflict constantly. I have taken away his phone, computer, XBOX, and have not allowed him to get his drivers license yet because he's not been "clean".
    He is a pathological liar- will deny anything, despite the mountains of evidence we produce. He is disrespectful, and just won't abide by simple rules. His behavior has really taken a toll on my 14 year old, who has seen him drunk, screaming at me, screaming at my husband, etc.

    I just can't live like this anymore, and don't know what to do. I hate to admit this, but I don't want him living in my home, as he is really ruining the family. I love him, and he can be the nicest kid ever, just not at home. My husband wanted to just get him to go away to college, thinking things will "click" for him, but I can't see that happening at this point. I would be throwing money away.

    What are the options at this point? He's not 18 yet (June), so I can't "throw him out". He doesn't need rehab in my opinion, as I don't believe he's an addict (his drug and alcohol use is sporadic, though he has a very addictive personality, and could quickly become one). He needs a long term solution, not a 30 day rehab. I also don't think I can afford the 80K per year "therapeutic boarding schools".

    I am so sad. I'm a pediatric nurse practitioner, and feel like I failed my own child. I have a wonderful, successful career, but at home my life has become a mess. I feel guilty letting this happen in my home, thinking about the effect is must be having on my other children, but we don't know what to do. My husband is 100% on the same side as me, we are a team. What can we do?

    Thank you in advance for any advice, or even just support you can offer! Thank you for "listening"!!!

  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Karen and welcome. You story is very much like many of ours. That's how it starts, drinking a smoking pot as a teen, and usually progresses to more. Add depression on top of that and you are walking a tightrope. I definitely would not pay for him to go to college at this point. Take it from me, my daughter was doing exactly what your son is doing and as soon as she moved into college she drank and smoked pot 24/7, never went to one class and was arrested for drugs/alcohol six weeks later. Long story cut short, she is now 21, living in an apartment, has just been fired from her umteenth job and is on food stamps. She was in a treatment center and sober house and relapsed and has decided she is not an addict.

    The best chance you have at getting him help is now when he is not 18. Is he in any type of therpay right now?

  3. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello Karen and welcome! I'm sorry you had to find us but glad that you did. It would help us remember your story if you added a signature like the one that you see at the bottom of my post.

  4. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Is there anyone he respects? Grandparents, uncle, aunt, coach?
  5. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Thank you!
    There are many people he respects (my sister, for example), but he's not honest with them at all! He doesn't even ever want anyone to know about his "issues" (meanwhile, I talk to my sister ALL THE TIME about him, and she is a huge help to me!).

    There is a place in Long Island (where I grew up) called Hope House. It is run by the most wonderful, dedicated priest. It's not a "religious place", but it's a place that he started for young men who were struggling with either drugs, issues that got them "kicked out" of their houses, etc. It really is an amazing place. I called them a month ago, and they were willing to accept my son, pending an "evaluation" that we could do whenever we were ready. Well, I am ready, and called again this week. We are scheduled for his evaluation (which is an overnight stay) on 1/23. Of course, he is telling me he doesn't want to go. The thing is, he does have to WANT to be there- they won't keep him against his will. I am just hoping that when he goes for the evaluation, he will realize how bad it is, and how he needs this. I need this! I feel like a prisoner in my own house! I took away his phone/ipod the other day when I caught him at home skipping school. Today I realized that he must have taken it it right out of my purse (of course, he first denied it), and now refuses to give it back. He's just totally defiant- says no, I'm not giving it to you. He's a lot bigger than me, so I can't physically take it from him (and my husband is away until tomorrow night on business). That's the stuff that burns me! He just doesn't care about ANYTHING we say! He just does what HE wants. I sleep with my purse, my car keys, etc. in my room because I don't trust that he won't take something! I feel like I have no control at all.
    He told me today that he'd like to see me "kick him out of the house"... said he'd call the police and they would mandate that I take him in (probably true, unfortunately, because he's 17). It's like we are constantly fighting for the "upper hand", and I feel I am always losing.
    As far as therapy, he has both a psychologist who he sees weekly, as well as a psychiatrist who specializes in substance abuse. Has been in therapy for almost two years- nothing has changed.
    I am just so worried that the day we have his evaluation, he is going to refuse to go, and I'm not sure what we can do to physically force him into the car! It's a 3 hour drive (though most of my family lives in the area of the Hope House, so lots of support for him there when he has free time) from our house- not going to be a fun ride!
    I swing back and forth being SO mad at him (like now), to being so sad, and trying to re-live in my head all of the things I might have done wrong raising him!

    Thank you again for your input. It really does help to know I am not the only one.

  6. buddy

    buddy New Member

    you say the police probably would compel you to take him but do you know the laws in your area? I am sure you are right, but in your area can you compel him into treatment (even if he is not ready and it doesn't do much good, you would not have him with you and you never know if he might get something out of it)

    I was told that here my son could refuse treatment at age sixteen (he turned sixteen last week). So, if needed, I'd have to get him on a hold and then go to court to get medical guardianship for just that one area since I still have it for all other medical concerns as long as he is under eighteen. It is so messed up. My child will always need guardianship in all areas but it is so strange to me that parents can't have rights in some areas but are legally bound to provide care in others. (not saying we shouldn't have to care for our kids, just that we should have all rights to made decisions about their mental health care along with all other medical care too).....

    I hope he will agree to go there, it sounds like what you are really looking for.
  7. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome,
    Just want to say how sorry I am that you're going through this. Many of us on this forum have been through this and are currently going through this as well.
    in my opinion, so much of what these kids your son's age are going through have to do with what I call "reality avoidance." They're smart, but they rabidly avoid dealing with anything that makes them feel unpleasant: growing up, anxiety, self reliance, self consciousness, fear, abandonment, failure, etc. - you name it. So escaping into this world and protecting it at all costs is their priority.
    I think the place in LI sounds good. Can your sister convince him? I know he will see it as a betrayal of confidence by you, and it may blow up in your face, but prepare for that. He doesn't want to be thrown out at 18, believe me. But it's coming to that point. Could you have a guidance counselor at school speak with him? Bring him to a family therapy session? He is a minor and you are responsible and you're doing all you can. Getting to the root of this issue is so critical - this is just a symptom. Unfortunately, 17 y/o boys do not like to talk about their "feelings". Sigh. I feel for you and know what you're going through.
  8. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Hello and welcome. I understand. My daughter has spent 2 years plus in RTCs. Marijuana is her drug ofchoice. Medications have not helped her
    And she finds relief from mj on occation. She still insists nothing has worked to calm her mind or help her feel peace. Mental illness is the real issue.
    You didnt cause this. Its something that happens to some kids the way that some kids are born with athletic or musical ability. Its a bear to deal with.
    i suggest finding a support group for you. I have attended NAMI groups as well as FA. Both helped in different ways. There is no answer. My daughter has
    gained some coping skills from treatment that are healthy. I dont regret forcing her into Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Many deal with behavior not just addiction. Her dream of medical school is not going to happen any time soon because of her emotional
    disregulation. I almost supported early college entry as she took her GED in the middle of he junior year to get out of shool. It was too hard for her to
    be there. I decided not to pay for college until she was more stable. She is working...though she has tried 4 jobs this year.
    You have to do what is best for him, but also best for your other boys anf YOU. He may need to be pushed into something. No answers just understanding and
    Support. These decisions are so hard and they are not always the cure. Hugs.
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    So, let him call the police and when you explain his defiance and outright disrespect, I bet the police tell him he has to follow the rules are home or leave. If he did not have a choice but to stay at Hope House.....would that work. Like, either stay here or out on the street cause you aren't coming home....
  10. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Karen,I am so sorry I haven't answered your post. I am struggling with my similar son whois back home right now & your post hits too close to home. I am not in a position to offer advice- I am floundering badly in my own situation right now. Please know you are not alone, I care,keep posting.

    CJ-you nailed it- painfully so. Except my kid is about to embark on year 2 of avoiding his life at any cost. And I can't get thru to him. And it is starting to choke me. I am going to add your remarks to my journal and hope that seeing his issue will help me see a new path toward dealing with it. Thank you.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Just a few words from a been there done that.

    He probably is an addict. You can be addicted to alcohol or pot (yes, you can get addicted to pot psychologically) and not use it every day. on the other hand you don't know if he is using it every day. Drug users are SNEAKY. And that's with a triple capital S. You do not know every time he has been drunk or high or even if he uses drugs more advanced than pot. I didn't either.

    My short term recommendation is for you and your husband (when he is home) to go to a Narc-Anon or Al-Anon meeting to you can get real life face-t0-face help. That's what we did and it was such a relief to be able to talk about this stuff in person to other parents who were going through the same stuff. One thing I don't stop using until they want to stop. All the drug programs on earth won't stop them if they don't want to. It is imperative that he change his mindset in order to get well.

    I personally would NEVER send THIS child away to college where he is free to do whatever he wants with no chance of your catching him. That's too much money to waste in my opinion. Everything points to a poor result in college. He can go to college later. My daughter went back, on her own dime, after she quit using drugs. No law says you have to go at eighteen or you can't go at all. Your son needs to get his act together before he can succeed and he's young...there is time. But he seems to be accelerating and that's not good. I hope he will agree to go to the place on LI, if only for a chance of scenery and away from his peers who are likely encouraging his destructive lifestyle. Gentle hugs.
  12. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Thank you all, for taking the time to respond, and share your thoughts and experiences.
    It's been a tough week, but of course now my son is back to being "polite, cooperative son", at least until the next "episode"!! This week, I found that he skipped school half a day one day, and the next day tried the whole day, but I came home from work (suspecting he had not gone to school) and caught him, so that set him off. Plus, the discussions of him leaving our home really ****** him off apparently. My sister has been communicating with him via facebook, and tells me that what he tells her is that he realizes he does not have a choice but to go to Hope House. My sister (who he respects and really likes) has been telling him about the program, as she knows people who have been very involved. I am hoping that will help. I fear that the day we are scheduled to go for his evaluation (the 22nd), he will refuse. Not sure what I do then...
    I am just so tired of being a prisoner in my own home... and having him to whatever he wants. At the same time, I am so very sad. Deep down, he is a really nice person- he has a very hard "shell" that he won't let anyone crack. And he just uses pot and alcohol to "medicate" himself.
    When he's good, he's great. When he's not good, my life is a disaster! I have decided that until the 22nd, when we take him for the evaluation, I will do nothing for him- will not wake him 4 times in the morning to get him up for school, will not drive him places, etc. He plays in a recreational soccer league (the ONE thing he has done in the past few years), and tonight is his last game. He loves this. And I had planned to go and watch, and was looking forward to it. But I decided not to go, and not to drive him to and from. He will walk the mile or so each way. This kind of thing breaks my heart, because I really DO want to be there, and his youngest brother (who adores him) really wanted to go too (they are both big soccer fans).
    This emotional roller coaster is very hard to ride.

    For those with difficult child's over 18, how do you do it? How do you continue to let them live in your home? I just can't imagine being able to continue like this.

    Again, thank you all very much.
  13. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Karen if he will not go to theeval and program you might look inot having him made "juvenile in need of supervision" with your local juvenile services department. Of course that will only get you till his 18 birthday but maybe they can give you some suggestions for beyan that. Here's hoping he goes for the evaluation and likes the program. It is probably the best solution for all at this point. -RM
  14. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Thank you.
    Had a meeting today with school principal and some of his teachers. The crazy thing is, the teachers love him! He participates, enjoys the classes, does okay (doesn't get homework done though). But then he was suspended for skipping school last week ( left school one day with a friend and came home to smoke. Next day, didn't go at all, and I found out, went home, found him, and drove him to school).
    Wee met tonight with him and his psychologist, and discussed the plan to bring him to a residential treatment facility next week for an evaluation (he will likely be able to enter within a week). psychiatric pointed out that his choices have gotten us into this spot, but he still just thinks we are abandoning him, just "want to get rid of him".
    this decision is the hardest one I have ever made, but as the psychiatric said, I have drawn my line in the sand. I have told him what I will and won't accept, and he still repeatedly crosses that line.
    I am so sad, but also hopeful that he may finally realize that he CAN live a better life. I told him I would love it if he came back home after a few months or a year. Maybe by then he will be ready to go to college, which is all he really wants (but takes no steps toward getting there).
    I pray this works out okay. He is a really good, caring, smart person. I love him, but can't live with him the way he is.

    Have any of you had to send your child away before the age of 18? How do you cope with the guilt? I probably need counseling myself.

  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Haven't walked in your shoes... but I can tell you that many of us parents on this board either have, or have needed, our own therapist. The reality is need. As in... the trauma we go through raising difficult child kids is real, and takes a lot out of us, and sometimes we need help. If you have a way to reach that resource, please do so.
  16. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    There are a few of us on this board with kids the same age as your son who are literally "counting the days"...

    By the time they reach this age, we have so little control. Legally, they can refuse treatment. In my state, they are allowed to move out at 17 (but cannot be "kicked out" so figure that one out)...although truthfully, we have kicked our daughter out several times anyway.

    I am hoping that once she is no longer under our roof, and we don't have to engage in the day-to-day drama, we can have a better, more peaceful relationship. And maybe, that's how you can look at it also, something to look forward to? - you will have the freedom to sleep in a peaceful can enjoy your son's wonderful qualities without the constant battle...
  17. buddy

    buddy New Member

    There are quite a few parents here who have done treatment centers for their minors. It is a painfully hard situation. I came close but was able to work other things out and convince them that he would do worse there ( cognitive issues, he does terrible on those kinds of systems plus loves to imitate other kids, good or bad behaviors, but then he does them bigger and longer...I wished it would work though). Others here found the placements helpful even if not for forever, the break and changes that they described were nice to hear. I hope they chime in.
  18. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Thank you everyone.
    We went for the evaluation, but of course he said he "couldn't live there", although he did talk non stop in the car about all the "cool" things about the place- like it's not a jail, kids were really nice, and there was a room full of degrees hanging on the wall (including a few from Law schools) that the kids who have been through there have gone on to get- he's all about education.
    Had a psychiatrist appointment when we got home, who really put it to him bluntly, saying he needs to go away somewhere, and not just a 30 day stint... he needs mental health help in a residential facility, as nothing else thus far has worked. difficult child didn't like hearing that, said the thought of it makes him extremely anxious... psychiatric said better that he do a mental health program than substance abuse, as he feels his mental health issues are more concerning right now, and that he is not "stable". He's not at a point where we need crisis though, so now it's up to me to research and find a residential program that will take him, and that my insurance will help pay for. Luckily, I do have great insurance, and have a list of places to call.
    This is crippling! I woke up last night at 1:30, and just checked to see where he was- he was in his room, which was ice cold, because I am guessing, he had his window open so he could smoke. I can't prove it, but that's usually what he does. Of course, he told me I was "paranoid" and he wasn't smoking. Same old story. Then of course I can't sleep after that... ugh.
    I need him OUT of the house, asap. For his sake, as well as the rest of us. I wish there was someone that could help me navigate this course- someone who knows about programs, insurance, etc. His psychiatrist named a coupld of places, but is really not a lot help. There should be some sort of "advocate" or someone we can hire/use to help us with this stuff! It's hard to know where to start!
    Going to make some calls today... wish me luck!
    thank you all for listening. Can't tell you how helpful it is to me.

  19. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    I know all these feelings. I only know a few places in Utah. We chose one a few miles from home.
    It was also less expensive because when she hit her second phase, we began to"host"
    2 or3 girls into our home each night along with difficult child who was the old comer.It was 18 months of a different kind
    of stress. We had hope. Unfortunetly her MH issues were so severe she came out
    worse than ever. The next Residential Treatment Center (RTC) was state run. We were out of money and had to beg a
    judge for help. This didnt turn things around either. I will say she is alive and the constant
    sicide threats have ended. She has worked steadily though at 4 different jobs in the last
    14 months. She does have a few better coping skills. I think that Residential Treatment Center (RTC) placement also
    gave us a little time to learn and circle the wagons because frankly, when they have mental
    health issues, they may well suffer for years and years, and you along with them. There
    qre people who help with placements but they cost money. Our insurance covered nothing
    except for short phospital stays. Your lucky they pay.
    I hope you find the right place and he chooses to stay and learn.
    Questions you may ask are:
    What skills do you teach and what forms of therapy do you use.
    What testing do you use and how comprehensive are your evaluations?
    What after care do you offer?
    How do you involve families and what teaching do you offer us?
    How are your nonprofessional staff trained and supporvised. We had abuse issues these
    people at both this is important because they often spend the most
    Time with your child.
    How often does my child see a counselor 1 on 1....the psychiatric?...other professionals?
    Keep us posted. Hugs and I have my fingers crossed!