Phone calls from difficult child are terrible

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Karenvm, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Hi. So my difficult child went into a residential treatment center a week and a half ago. I visited once, and it was so sad.
    Every time he calls, mon, we'd, and fri, he tells me how bad it is there, how "crazy" the other kids are, all the fights that break out, etc. my son is not a " fighter", he is a smart, respectful kid( except at home!).
    tonight, he told me that a girl hit another girl with a tray at lunch, and she got 13 stitches. He also told me that he got two "death threats" while in school today. The kid that threatened him is not in his "house", but is in school with him. On Saturday, my difficult child told me there were six fights that broke out during the day, some in his house, some not. I did get confirmation from his therapist that it had been a "bad weekend", and there were indeed six fights. And again, the issue with him not even having sheets for a week really made me angry.
    Tonight while was on the phone with him, I heard an alarm going off, and he said it was a " girl fight" in his house. It just sounds like chaos in the background.
    I am very torn. I want him to get help, but now I am thinking that this may not be all that therapeutic for him with all that goes on there. Apparently, many kids are court ordered to be there, and there is even a group of "sexual offenders".
    It is so peaceful at home with him gone. No arguing, no conflict.
    His therapist is great, the NP that works with him is great. The facility seems good, but I am seriously thinking this may not be helping him. He is on a new medication (Depakote), which is good. But I really don't think that being in that environment is likely helping (other than maybe scaring the **** out of him, so that hopefully he won't want to go to another place!).
    I don't want to "cave"! But I don't want him to get hurt either! I keep thinking of "what if"...

  2. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Refresh my memory on how you found this Residential Treatment Center (RTC). I am torn because part of me thinks your difficult child is playing on your motherly feelings to try to get you to cave. The first time my difficult child went to a halfway house she told me outlandish things that almost made me give in and let her come home. Luckily for me, people on this board pointed out how crazy the things she was saying were and I was able to stay the course. I later found out that she had made almost all of it up.

    However, there are some things that are concerning in your description of the Residential Treatment Center (RTC). It is possible that it is not a good fit. That doesn't mean you have to bring him home . . . maybe you could find a different facility that would be a better fit. I would relay your concerns to the therapist who you like and see what the therapist thinks. In the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to start looking for other possibilities.

  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I echo what Kathy said. I wouldn't want him to think all he has to do is complain and you'll let him come home, but I agree that keeping him in a chaotic environment is not good either, so looking for an alternative placement is wise. All treatment centers are not created equal.
  4. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Thank you.
    This treatment center was "in network" with my insurance company. It is a national organization, that happens to have a campus not far from me. I actually have a patient of mine who has been there for a few years (VERY different needs), and so I have met staff from there, and spoken to some of their medical team before as well.
    They seem to have a lot of kids "with anger issues", per my sons therapist, house manager, and NP. The don't have a dual diagnosis program, or drug program.
    It was insanely difficult to find ANY placement on my own! My state said that it would take at 6 weeks to determine whether my son qualified for treatment, and then longer to find a facility. I could not wait that long.
    Not sure if I actually removed him, whether insurance will want to pay for another facility.

    I will be calling again to speak to his therapist tomorrow. I know my son is saying anything he can to convince me to remove him, but I honestly believe what he is saying. He said that some of the kids in school don't like him, because he takes school seriously, and does well.

    Ugh. This really is hard!
  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    It is really hard and it is hard to sort out the fact from fiction sometimes. I think talking to the therapist is really important to get a read on the situation. I always find with my son that there is a shred of truth in his stories but they were often exagerated, or at least his reaction to it was exaggerated. So staying calm and not reacting yourself is important. Doing your best to work with the facility and to let your son know you are doing that is important. I dont think letting him come home right now would be a good idea for any of you.

  6. Wakegirl

    Wakegirl Member

    Oh goodness! I totally understand your concern, and know it's tugging at your heart. Has his therapist said if he is emotionally involved? My son did an outpatient treatment, and a few weeks into it it, it got pretty bizarre. Lots of arguing between the patients. Being that my son also has some anger issuers, it was the last thing he needed. He emotionally detached himself from the group, and was only there in person. Which, to me, is pointless and a waste of money. I agree that your son doesn't need to come back I pray that the issues at hand get resolved, or you can quickly find another treatment center. Please keep us posted!!
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Karen - many gentle hugs to you.

    It is so hard to ferret out fact vs. fiction with- our kids. My son's second Residential Treatment Center (RTC) was a snake pit, ultimately shut down by the state about 6 months after I pulled him out. I heard the stories from difficult child, and I got the rationalizations from staff, and I chose to initially believe staff, because after all, when you place a child in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in the first place, you are having to take a leap of faith that they know what they're doing and that they will protect your kid.

    Residential Treatment Center (RTC) #3 and my son's final placement in a TLP (transitional living program) still had some very violent and aggressive kids (my son being one of them). in my humble opinion, that's part and parcel of residential treatment of older teens. They're not in the most restrictive placement possible because they're cooperative or compliant or even safe.

    I think the difference between snake pit Residential Treatment Center (RTC) #2 and the others - the warning signs that I should have clued in on much sooner - was staff attitude, communication, and ... concern, for lack of a better word. At #2, staff always downplayed the chaos that was going on. They were really good at rationalizing marks on my son's body and the signs of obvious violence in the building (broken windows, broken chairs, etc.). I witnessed staff not intervening immediately as kids started to rev up.

    Residential Treatment Center (RTC) #3 and TLP were always upfront with- what was happening. Not only that, but as my difficult child continued to escalate in his aggression, they were *always* looking for better/safer ways to deal with him. He did get clocked by a peer twice in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) #3, but I immediately got a phone call and an explanation, which always more or less jived with what difficult child told me. They had a boatload of staff per unit in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) #3 and they were on top of those kids. TLP not so much, but by that stage and as part of the nature of the program, if the kids had issues, they'd usually just take off from the building.

    So... what am I trying to say, LOL? ;) I guess it's that the aggression among peers does not, in and of itself, raise huge red flags to me - how staff deals with it is the key. I know the sheet issue bothers you, and I'm kinda on the fence on that one. On one hand, did your difficult child ever ask for sheets (silly question, but I know my kid probably wouldn't have, assuming that someone would wait on him hand and foot, even in Residential Treatment Center (RTC))? on the other hand though, staff should be doing room checks several times a day - I have a hard time fathoming staff not addressing a bed with no sheets.

    I went back and read some of your previous posts, and I'm getting the sense that the substance abuse is the primary issue with your son? Leading to noncompliance with- mental health treatment? I know it all gets so mixed up in there it's hard to weed out the issues sometimes, but... I kinda agree with- you that perhaps this Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is not the right placement since it's not dual-diagnosis.

    I know you searched high and low for this Residential Treatment Center (RTC) - but I think you need to resume the search again. One resource might be your state board of education - lots of them have listings of residential schools approved by the school; maybe there will be something in there that will fit your needs. Another would be caseworker and/or social worker where he's been hospitalized before - the SW at my difficult child's hospital was a real blessing when it came to choosing the first Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

    I'm really so very sorry you're going thru this. I'm not sure it's ever "easy", but I do know it's a gazillion times worse when you have these concerns and there's no sure-fire way to know what is really going on. I would definitely continue with the close communication with- all staff involved in difficult child's tx.

    Hang in there.

    ETA: Perhaps your insurance company would also be a good resource in finding a more appropriate placement. What's in-network? Do they have an advocacy program/help line/resource person? Doesn't hurt to call and ask - sometimes "the" answer comes from the most unexpected places.
  8. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I think sometimes we have to listen to our gut. If you really feel that this is not a good placement then I think you should look for one that is a better fit. But that fit has to encompass many criteria including affordability. I know when I was looking for a place for my difficult child I found some that were exactly what I wanted for him but when I looked at the prices they were no longer a viable option. Sometimes we have to compromise but not to the point where more damage than good is being done. You say you have contacts at the facility maybe you could run someof your concerns past them?
  9. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Thank you. I did speak to two staff members the next morning, one being his therapist. They really did make me feel so much better. The one thing about this place that I love is the staff. I am in the medical field, and I can sense that these people REALLY want to be there, most have worked there for ten years plus. That says a lot.
    His therapist told me that he is really participating in group therapy, and feels he is doing well.
    I then spoke to difficult child the next night, the conversation was MUCH better... Not all the "doom and gloom". I reiterated to my son that I take his concerns seriously, but he has to remember that he is not at a resort... These kids are all there because they need treatment, just like him.
    I am very happy about his diagnosis of bipolar- it makes so much sense now! He has never really been treated for it before, and now he is. I am very hopeful!
    thank you for the support. It means a lot! It is hard to remain "calm" sometimes...I worry about so many things! Are we doing the right thing, will he hate us forever, do I really want him home right now, before he has gotten enough treatment, etc. I just take it day by day, and try to keep everything in perspective!
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    A diagnosis doesn't solve anything.
    But the RIGHT diagnosis opens doors. Doors to understanding, to treatment, to support...
    Hang in there!
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    One thing you may want to consider before moving him is to consult an educational advocate. I think that is the name. It is a person who evaluates what your child needs, what programs have to offer, and then tells you what is the best fit for your child. It might be an educational consultant, I can't quite remember the exact name. It is one of the best ways to find the right program, rather than the closest or easiest one.
  12. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    The amount of violence would concern me as well. This was not something we experienced at either Residential Treatment Center (RTC) over the years. My difficult child is not violent either
    and that would concern me. I agree that the way it is handled is key. My other question is how are the staff trained? Do they have deescalation training? MANDT
    Traing to safely restrain? Our kids spend most of their time with nonprofessional staff at these places (this actually was a huge issue for us as abuse happened with
    Several of these people who were under trained), are they paying attention to the boiling pot and heading off these fights? While you like the professional staff, the honest truth is
    the nonprofessional staff can undo some of the therapeutic effect......this was my experience and the state run place was actually cited for this and then shut down
    Last year. Just be on your toes and i like the idea of double checking that this is the best placement.
  13. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Kanga has been in 4 RTCs and a TLP. There has been peer-on-peer aggression at all of them. Like slsh said, staff's response to the violence is key. (Heck, there is peer-on-peer aggression at most high schools!)
  14. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Thank you again.
    We visited again today, and I honestly believe the staff is amazing. We met with difficult child and his therapist again, and it was really rough. difficult child just begging to go home, saying he is going crazy, etc. bottom line is he has no control, and admittedly hates it. His therapist does not mince words with him, she really calls him out on his lies and manipulation, in a way that no one has in the past. He just acts like he is just fine, and can control his pot use, etc. her point is that if that were the case, we all wouldn't be there today, and that he has to find a way to be honest with himself and be willing to address the reasons why he constantly lies, manipulates, etc. he cried, and was so frustrated, it really broke my heart. Therapist said today she felt he began to really open up a bit. But he is just so angry still. Barely said goodbye to us. Ugh. So so sad seeing him walk away with tears in his eyes.
    I think he refuses to believe there is a problem with his behavior, but I am hoping he will realize that he can't continue down this same path. Today, he promised that if we brought him home, he would be "perfect", would do anything he was told, etc. of course, I know that would not happen, and without addressing the real issues, he would be right back to his ways in no time.
    This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, go through in my life. I hope that someday he realizes that we did this because we love him.
  15. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Karen, It is so hard to watch them hurting but it is probably what he needs to go through. My son was at an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) when he was 15/16. We went through a lot of what you are going through now with the lies, complaints, manipulation and visits where he barely talked to us. He did eventually graduate from that program and we did have him come home and he did well at home for about a year before things went really downhill. He is now 21 and we have been through a whole other journey since then..... but although I have some mixed feelings about having sent him to the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) because iit "didnt work forever" I also know that by sending him there we saved him some brain cells because without it he would have gotten into the drugs worse and faster than he did.

    Anyway that is not really my point.... He was pretty angry with us for a while and it was hard on our relationship but so much has happened since that I think he finally has realized that he got himself to where he is and he is no longer blaming us like he did. So although we have a ways to go to build a really good healthy relationship, I have a lot of faith and hope that we will as long as he stays sober (which of course is a big if).

    A friend who is a therapist told me once that you cannot have a primary relationship with an alcoholic or drug addict because their primary relationship is with the substance..... that made a lot of sense to me.

    So I believe as painful as this is right now you are doing the right thing not to fall for his manipulations and to stand firm. You know that without understanding and dealing with his drug issues there is no way he will keep those promises. My son was great when he first came home....and did well too in a lots of ways.... but once he started using again it all went downhill.

  16. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Thank you TL.
  17. Wakegirl

    Wakegirl Member

    Karen, I can so feel your pain. And I've said the exact same thing...that I hope difficult child realizes one day that I'm doing this because I love him.

    Their tears are so good at making us weak. I'm having a bad day today because I saw those tears yesterday. Oh, how I wish a light bulb would simply go off in their head. What they need to do seems so simple to us. But for some reason, it's a battle for them. And they have to be given the right resources to fight that battle successfully. You're doing the right thing. I pray things are getting better for your difficult child. And for you. Hugs!
  18. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hey Karen - been thinking of you. I know how hard this is, but I think you're doing a great job.

    Wanted to say that I think it's *fantastic* that therapist has your son's #. We dealt with a ridiculous number of therapists who totally bought into our difficult child's "poor pitiful me" routine - it was utterly maddening, especially in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) setting. I think it's just a really good sign that she's on top of things and is calling difficult child on his stuff.

    Dealing with our kids' bargaining and promises is so difficult - I think they truly mean it, but they just don't yet have the tools to follow thru yet. Hang in there.

    Don't know if it will help much, but my difficult child will tell anyone today that we did the very best we could for him and he has absolutely no anger or resentment towards us for going the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) route. I was just watching him this morning, as he deals with yet another major loss/disappointment, and was truly thankful for the man he is becoming. There is hope. I think it just takes some kids longer to get their compass figured out and get on track. Your heartache will fade as your son starts moving forward.

  19. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Sue and Wake, thank you.
    Things are better today. Every day is different!
    I had a good conversation with him on the phone today, and his only complaint was the food. I do hope he is doing some "soul searching" there, and will understand what his actions have caused.
    The support from people here is amazing! No one else would ever understand what we are going through.
    I am so thankful for your advice and support!!