Teen with mental illness


Active Member
My son is 15 and was diagnosed with ODD bipolar 2 years ago,he is so out of control & sometimes I feel the medication does not work, he also suffers with substance abuse, weed & xanex, hes been to therapy, mental/ behavioral hospitals & has gotten kicked out of 2 residential programs. I have 3 other kids at home , 2,6, & 18yr old daughter, Im scared ,Im to the point of giving up , I dont know what else to do, feeling helpless

Baggy Bags

Active Member
What medication is he on? Is he seeing a psychiatrist regularly? Has the dosage been evaluated recently?

I was feeling like you just a couple weeks ago, but the medication has since kicked in (or therapy, or hormones are calming...???) But who knows how long it will last.

Sorry you're feeling despair. You'll find lots of good advice and support here. Tell us more.


Well-Known Member
If he is smoking weed and using other drugs recreationally, his psychiatric drugs won't work. That screws it up. He needs to stop. Of course I realize that isn't so easy, getting him to.

I've been on psychiatric medications for a mood disorder forty years and it's important to only take THOSE medications for results and they take u to eight weeks to kick in.

Weed is very bad for the mentally ill. It has been known to trigger worse disorders.

I am so sorry. Is he violent? You have such young kids who are in his path....
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Well-Known Member
What would "giving up" mean? Is your family involved with social services?

Is there another relative, grandparent, uncle, father, etc., who would be willing to take him in?


Active Member
I’m so sorry. This is very hard.

Does your son accept and have insight into his conditions? It seems like he would have to have some if he was willingly taking medications.

I ask because I’m wondering whether there is some way to get some buy-in about next steps. For example, weed can be the devil in its own right but xanax is a biotch. When abused, it can induce paradoxical rage instead of reduce anxiety. It is very addictive and takes a long time to kick.

Could you or someone else is his life take a team approach with him about getting him more stable? With my son, it seems to help to assume he also wanted more stability (whether he would consciously agree or not) and to act like we are willing to partner with him to get there.

So my son had a debilitating run with Xanax. We were able to agree that he didn’t want rage episodes. We were also able to assume out loud with him that he wants to launch someday (and work in that excessive weed will not get him there).

These were weird little moments where he felt we were on his side and that helped him slowly pivot toward a better direction. Not with me managing, mind you, given all the oppositional traits. He’s working with a substance abuse therapist and making baby steps on productivity and understanding what if any level of substances he can manage. Here I think it helps that the counselor is also a recovered addict. They get it.

It took a lot to process my feelings so I could even approach the issue this way But with ODD it seems like these kids will suffer a lot before they will submit.

Last year, my son couch surfed for four months rather than meet any benchmark for adulting, reasonable use or behaving at home. But I think he traumatized himself as a result. Two years earlier, despite months and months of interim boundaries crossed, counseling and advance warning, he lost his private high school and won himself a stint at residential treatment. I think deep inside he feels massive regret for those choices, but something in his brain just cant seem to protect him from stepping into the steaming pile each time.

So tough love isn’t the best
teaching tool with him. Boundary keeping is necessary for my own personal integrity but as long as he sees it that way, it depersonalizes the consequences for him, which seems important for these types.

He’s 19 now and I’m just now accepting that collaboration works better. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it will lead to a big “aha” moment, like some of the other DCs on this board have had. Just a lifetime of baby steps, maybe.

This is just my experience with my oppositional one. Hope it helps.


Active Member
I"m very sorry to hear how overwhelmed and helpless you are feeling. It sounds like you have tried many things. It is very difficult but reaching out here and finding people you can talk to helps. Many of us here get it.