Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by saveourkids, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. saveourkids

    saveourkids New Member

    I am new here. I have 17 year old twin boys, I am a single parent. Over the past year I have noticed significant changes in my sons. I am trying to figure out the best way to help them. They are using pot regularly and have experimented with some pills and alcohol. One boy is failing every class, the other is maintaining his grades. The one that is struggling more has recently gotten in trouble for attempted theft, They are really disrespectful and aggressive. I started them in counseling a few months ago. Since their behaviors escalated we moved to intensive group outpatient therapy. Initially I thought they were doing better but they were just manipulating me & the program to get it done. I am also concerned that one of the boys has something physiological going on beyond substance abuse. I am confused as to what would be the best way to help them. Recently when I look at my son it seems like he is not there. I am thinking about residential treatment but I am so concerned that this isn't the best thing for them. I don't want them to feel abandoned & neither twin thinks they have an issue with- substance abuse. There is also the twin issue, do I send one and not the other? Do they go to separate places? How do I know if there is a substance abuse issue and not a mental health issue?
    Also, will this damage our relationship and make things worse??
    Struggling but won't give up
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011
  2. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    First welcome-I'm sorry you have to join us but it is a good place. All the decisions you are having to make are so difficult. I had to make them as well but for only my daughter so I can't speak to the twin issue except to say, I would deal with them as individuals. I sent my daughter to a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) when she was 14. She was experimenting with pot but was stuggling with school , despite being gifted. We had tried counseling and depression medications to no result. After a huge amount of money and 18 months, she came out and is worse than ever.( A lot of faking it to get out as well) She has gotten court involved and is again headed to a more appropriate Residential Treatment Center (RTC) with DBT therapy. The good thing about the first Residential Treatment Center (RTC) was that we finially found out about some past abuses that were causing her mental illness and behavioral changes.

    Have you tried getting a school tracker for your one boy? What help will they offer him at school? Boys can be very agressive and hard for moms to handle, I have read that on posts at this site. I dont have this experience so hopefully someone will respond that knows. What diagnosis have you obtained? How is their relationship with their father? Do they take any medications?

    Sometimes at this age they have to hit rock bottom to finially respong to help. Many members find support as parents going to 12 step meeting. I go to NAMI meeting as mental health is our issue. More information might be helpful.
  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    If this is the first that you noticed significant change in their behavior, it's almost certainly related to drug use. Believe me that if you know they are doing pot and pills and alcohol they are most probably doing other things. When my difficult child was in a substance abuse treatment center last summer almost every person admitted to their families on family day to a lot more than what the family believed they were doing.

    Have you spoken to their counselor about your concerns with the drug use? The counselor should be able to give you advice on how to get them evaluated and hopefully get their cooperation, although they will probably lie to the evaluator about their use. Also the son that has gotten into legal trouble, does he have a probation officer that you could talk to? He can make it a condition of probation that your son get help. There is a good possibility that your sons will get into deeper legal trouble with their drug use and then they may be ordered into treatment.

    I don't want to sound pessimistic but I am in the middle of this drug/alcohol use stuff right now and my difficult child is currently livingin a sober house after relapsing from treatment. While she was on the street she began stealing, got fired from her job, smoked pot and drank every day until blackout, began dancing in a strip club, and went downhil very fast. Get whatever help you can for your sons now. They are still minors but they will be adults very soon and it is much harder when you have no say so. Do not be afraid of ruining your relationship with them. It's your job to protect them from themselves, to get in between them and drugs any way you can.

    Start looking into drug treatment programs and other services in your area. Every bit of information you collect is helpful in making a plan. Do research, many treatment program and not appropriate or helpful. If I had it to do over I would have sent mine to an all female treatment facility. Being in a co-ed facility was just a 60 day party for her.

    I'm glad you found us, the parents on this forum have helped me more than anyone else . We have all lived this terrible roller coaster of drug addiction and survived. You will too.

  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. I'm so sorry that you had to find us but glad that you will benefit from the support available. Often we don't have "the answer" but you definitely are no longer alone.

    The combination of that crucial age and drug experimentation is a daunting challenge. I've raised four teen boys. Three of them used drugs. Two moved on to be successful men. Our last has turned 24 and has traveled a very rough road. Like others here, I understand your heartbreak.

    Gathering information is wise advice. Knowing what all the options are is a bit empowering. The frustrating part is that the teen has to want to change. It sounds like one of the boys may still be in touch with "real life" and the other may have turned the corner into more complete addiction. Only you can know their personalities well enough to filter through the action choices and decide what step or steps to take next. We will be here to support you all the way. Hugs. DDD
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    The twin issue! I am a twin myself. When I was little, the schools mandated that twins were placed in separate classes. Doesn't matter if your best friend ended up in your class - best friends were not mandated to be seperated (neither are bullies/victims for that matter) so it doesn't make sense that twins are. There was a therory that for each twin to get the most out of the educational experience that they were not allowed the other twin in the classroom if at all possible. I have mixed feelings on that one. Neither my identical twin or myself would have held each other back - you know, the one twin "hiding" behind the other that the schools are soooo concerned about - the one twin "talking" for the other that teachers could not be taught how to teach around. I would think having the school teach them together would give staff more opportunities to work with both twins so that one would not "mother hen" the other and the other would grow more confident in being independent with the first near by. Anyway, that is for another day and time. It didn't bother us that we were separated - we were very independent of each other - I just always thought it was unnecessary to be so just because of this "twins have to be seperated" issue. Victims have to share a room with their bully so twins should be able to also. Guess it is o.k. to bully but not o.k. to help!

    As twins grow older, they should establish a life of their own. They should not be expected to go to the same college, have the same job, ect. At 17 years old, your boys can have their own lives. It is o.k. if one needs more intense help then the other to provide that resource to just the one. If there is a strong bond then family counseling should address that.

    You don't want the one struggling the most to drag the other one down. You would hope the other could have opportunities to provide strength and guidance but you can not count on that happening.

    Usually by 17 years old, twins want people to see them as an individual. Being identical, my sister and I really struggled with that one. We had to almost push each other apart and stand tall and strong screaming, "LOOK AT ME!!! I AM NOT HER!!!" To the point that when I ended up in the same town and church she had already moved to, I did not feel like my own person. People at church didn't see us together and didn't realize there were two of us. They would be appalled at what "she" did. I would answer, "NO, SHE did not do that, I did!" Our styles are different so whatever I did wouldn't make sense to the congregation. It took years and years and years after she moved away for certain people at work and even church to stop calling me by her name.

    We are strong people so looked on the humurous side of it all. All so funny but a less confident person would have struggles with it.

    I really can't say to keep the boys together or not because I do not know them or your entire situation. However, on my experience I would vote for letting them go their separate ways. Maybe the one struggling the most is keeping the other held back? Who knows?
  6. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I can't speak to the twin issues knowledgably, so I won't try. But my reactions to the rest of your post is good news and bad news:

    1) Good news: They didn't start to misfire until 16 or 17 years of age? That means that it's unlikely that there is a congenital inclination toward ODD/CD/ASPD, as it would've presented earlier: 14 is the usual age of really notable onset. So you're probably not dealing with the really stubborn, almost intractable issues that a personality disorder generates.

    2) What you describe is much more likely eventuated by drug use (a near certainty, from what you've described) and peer influences. Have either or both of them fallen in with a bad kid/crowd? That was very likely the trigger. Knowing that, of course, is no solution once they're embedded in that peer/group relationship, but it's still useful to know that if it's the case.

    3) I frankly would be very wary about sending any kid off to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) unless it has a really sterling reputation and "checks out" very positively via references from other parents. My difficult child family member went off to a very expensive Residential Treatment Center (RTC) out west and came back most of a year later just as bad, although he had learned to be more crafty about concealing it and presenting himself as "fixed." The Residential Treatment Center (RTC) he attended was, in hindsight and by his report, simply a corral for kids with ODD/CD/ASPD and it had the behaviorally and socially congestive and reinforcing effect that prisons have: put a bunch of bad characters in the same confined space and they will learn more from each other than they will from their very socially outnumbered "handlers," especially in the formative years when peer influence is hugely magnified compared to its effect in adult years. If your boys had "good" friends/peer groups before this recent downward spiral, and if those "good" friends/peer groups are still available to them (i.e., haven't walled them out due to recent misbehavior), you're probably better off keeping your boys at home and hiring a REALLY good adolescent psychologist to treat them with frequent therapy sessions. (I grant that this is costly--not sure what means/resources are available to you.)

    But yes, to echo the posts of others here, it sure sounds like your boys' recent problems were triggered by drug use, which always coincides with (is usually a consequence of) having "fallen in with bad company."

    Just my .02....
  7. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I would add that if you have an adult male family member--a brother or your ex-husband (if he's a good man)--nearby who can help you out via frequent presence and availability if you need help in controlling your sons, you should definitely recruit his help, as single moms can have a very hard time managing and controlling male teen difficult children who spiral downward into defiant and physically menacing behaviors. I hate to put it so bluntly, but sometimes it takes force, or the threat of it, to keep a male difficult child reasonably in check when they begin to present ODD behaviors. That was the case in my experience, anyway.

    Also, if you haven't done so already, read everything you can find online about Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder. It sounds like you're dealing with the former and maybe the early phase of the latter.

    Given what you've described, I'd say that the best possible course of action is to try, with as much help as possible from an adolescent psychologist and others, to wean your sons from the bad peer(s) and to get them back into the fold of their prior good peer group (if this applies--i.e., if this is the transition that has occurred). The recentness of the onset of their misbehaviors works to your advantage, I think, in this way--they are probably not yet fully excluded from, or willfully detached from, their former peer group, so "retrieval" is still a possibility.

    Did either of them have active involvement in a sport or other positive organized activity? If so, have they quit it in the last year? Can they be nudged back into involvement with it again? I went into a low-grade difficult child phase (pot smoking, partying, decadence in general but without defiance or amorality or criminality--serious foolishness but not meanness or thuggery) when I was 18-20 (pulled out of it via an army hitch, but that's another story), but I was and had been a very active and competitive tennis player--played varsity high school tennis, summer tournaments, and on the city men's team and college varsity team--and it was that involvement, which I never fully detached from throughout my difficult child phase, which probably kept me from fully sinking into the full-on difficult child quagmire. If your sons had a similar serious involvement in a healthy & organized activity of that kind, I would suggest doing all that you can to nudge them back into that "groove."
  8. Vivian

    Vivian New Member

    I'm going through something similar and I'm so glad I found this website. I, too, have 17 year old twin sons who are juniors in high school. My dilema is that only one has gone downhill full speed ahead in a matter of 6 months. My son went from being an A-B student last fall (and previous years) to failing half his classes, getting suspended from school for smoking pot and skipping classes on a continual basis. I can't believe what has happened to my son. We are a two parent household, middle income, involved in activities with our kids are very active with all of our friends and their friend for years. This has put a grinding halt to our lives and we have been living in an extremely stressful environment all winter. My son went through the mandatory drug abuse classes that were required in order for him to go back to school. After he was done, It took less than a month for him to start skipping again, not doing homework, not making up tons of missing assignments and of course....I drug tested him when I saw these bad habits again, and he failed. My husband and I are keeping him on a tight leash. I know my son, if I give him an inch at this point, he'll take it a mile. He doesn't feel that he's done anything wrong. We tell him he's forbidden to hang out with any of these kids that we feel are bad influences and he says that he doesn't agree with us and that they are his friends. We don't know then and of course he doesn't bring them around. We have grounded him and have spoken to all of his teachers, school counselors and principals with strict instructions that he is not to be allowed to leave any of his classes and if he doesn't attend, to let us know immediately. His twin brother has tried to help and he doesn't heed to any advice. My biggest concern is that he refuses to go to counseling or see a therapist. He's just become rebellious and as a result we have just laid down the law that as parents we have rules and he will follow them. And, until we can trust him again, he has no freedom. If his friends want to see him (the ones that we've known forever that haven't walked away from him) they can come to our house and visit while we're home. His girlfriend is a senior in high school and is wonderful and even she is struggling with his moodiness due to his lack of understanding and constant bickering with us. I don't want to lose my son down the wrong path and refuse to give up. But he's relentless. I know if he runs to the store, he will sneak off. His lack of motivation with school makes me scared to death that he won't make it his last year. I told him I'm drug testing him weekly now, and I find out that his drinking a lot of water because it can fool the test. I tell him to stop destroying his health and future with smoking and unruliness and he tells me that "he'll make a deal with me....he'll straighten up if I let him get a tattoo and ear piercings" and I told him absolutely not. Not while you live in my house or while I pay for your college education. When you graduate college with your diploma then do what you want. My husband and I maintain the discipline at home but when I come to work every day I close my door and burst into tears. I miss my son and desperately want him back. I wish I knew what the core issue was with him. His refusal to talk to a professional is distressing because he insists that there is nothing wrong. I have reached a dead end.
  9. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Hi Vivian and welcome. You are not alone.
    You are doing the right things by limit setting and drug testing. I have to tell you we did the same things with our daughter. She was much younger,14 at the time. Even if your son does go to counseling, he may not respond. Our daughter sure didn't. The problem with how things are going in your home is that you are a prisoner. You are all very stressed. We were the same and finially we broke. We couldn't do it on our own anymore. She wasn't responding to any of our interventions. We did do the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) thing. It didn't help her as much as it helped us. But we finially figured out where her trouble was coming from. In the long wrong,it was worth it-she is alive.

    Kids don't choose this path unless there is a core issue. They won't always tell us. Will he speak to a school counselor if called in? does his girl friend have any ideas? Is she doing this pot smoking with him as well?

    We took away the phone and stripped her bedroom. We hoped that would limit her ability to get and use pot. We never gave her money. However, she was still getting it and using at school or skipping school to use it. The only way that we stopped the water drinking thing is that we would take her to the local methidone place (awful place-hoped it would scare her), and have them test her(also cheaper than home kits). They would tell me she had diluted her urine by drinking too much and we would sit and wait in that horrid place for an hour until we got a good sample (always positive after one of these episodes). Also we did it randomly, she never knew when.

    We turned her in to the police when we found paraphenelia and caught her smiking once-didn't help.

    The lessons 1.they have to want to stop and get better. The RTCs are a place that works for some and gives you some peace for a time. I have some hope this time-but I'm not convinced she will be better after this second one. I am only convinced that she will be alive. 2.Go to counseling for you and the rest of your family and get their professional advise. This is how we are living again and not totally stressed. 3.Our children will have to make the final choice about getting better, no amount of discipline will cause that. You can't make them go to school unless you are willing to sit with them, and then again you are the prisoner and are they learning? Can't make them do that. We are no longer in control and we can't change them. 4. The siblings matter as much. When you put all your energy into the one who is out making bad choices, the other child(ren) suffer greatly. We made this mistake. 5.There are no for sure answers from anyone. Keep reading, trust your mother instincts, and do what feels right for your family.

    Please take care of yourself, keep us posted. This particular forum seems to not have many active users, but there are a few of us who check often. You can make a new thread by pressing the new thread thread button in this forum.
  10. Vivian

    Vivian New Member

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. His counselor at school is a wonderful man who has made us feel a bit more comfortable by taking it upon himself to check in with our son weekly and talk to him about "stuff." It seems as if our son has responded to him in a way the counselor feels is beneficial because he feels that our son is telling him the truth when he asks him things.

    I believe that this hit me hard because I felt that we had made it through the "tough" years because our older daughter was fine through her teen years and is now 20 and a junior in college. When my boys turned 17 I thought all was well and we had skated through the tough years because we'd made it through 17 years and nothing had happened because it "would have" by now. I thought too soon. I will check in on this site to read other parents stories and concerns because I've found it very very difficult to fine support groups or blogs that involve issues with older teens. But I guess when a parent is going through this age doesn't matter. We all hurt the same when it comes to our children.
  11. Ephchap

    Ephchap Active Member

    Hi Save and welcome. This is a little corner of the cd board that is dedicated for those of us whose teens (and sometimes young adults) have gone down that very long, dark road known as substance abuse. You'll find a lot of support from those of us that have gone through this or are still going through it - as addiction is a "one day at a time" hurdle to overcome. It's a daily struggle and as parents, it affects us and all those around us.

    My son began at age 14 with the grades slipping, quitting sports, skipping school and running away. We started with counseling and then a 5 month Residential Treatment Center (RTC) stay. It was not an ideal situation, but as Exhausted in Utah mentioned also, for us it was a way to at least keep him off the streets and safe from himself and the drugging. Things were okay for a few years, but then at 16, we could start to see the signs again. Like you mentioned, when we looked into his eyes, our son was no longer there.

    Things escalated very quickly for my son the second time, and he was arrested for misdemeanors and then a felony right after his 17th birthday. He had graduated from pot to crack cocaine one night, and then went on a spiral into a deep dark hole with crack for 6 weeks. Knowing we again had to save him from himself until he was ready to ask for help, we gave him two options - either go to jail or go into a long-term dual-diagnostic residential facility. This time, we found a wonderful facility and he was there for 10 months. This place truly saved his life.

    I don't want to gloss it over and say that everything was wonderful from that point, but he learned about addiction and no longer used street drugs of any kind. However, alcohol eventually became his drug of choice, though it took years for him to realize that alcohol was every bit as powerful over his life as the drugs once were. He ended up in a hospital for a one week psychiatric stay, and then a one week alcohol rehab type stay. He finally realized that he can't do it alone, and joined an Alano Club by us. It's a sober place where they host AA meetings throughout the day, but also offer a social outlet for those wanting to be sober. It's been a lifeline for him, and he's been sober for over 16 months now.

    That's been our journey, but everyone's is different. We found help through United Way at one point. They offered intensive outpatient drug counseling for young teens. We later went through our county's mental health agency, and they were the ones who found the second Residential Treatment Center (RTC) placement for my son.

    We all do what we have to do or can do. Every journey is different, and the options available are so different across the country. The one place my son was placed in while younger is no longer open here. They have cut financing for so many facililties, that they have closed.

    You asked if it will drive a wedge between you and your son/s if you place them in residential. In our case, we heard enough "I hate you's" to last a lifetime, but I told my son that I loved him enough for both of us, and that I was willing for him to hate me forever if it meant he would live drug and alcohol free. You'll find that it's usually the drugs/alcohol talking when they spew all that hateful venom your way. After they clean up and realize that what you did was for them, they change their tune. Our son is so very grateful that we stuck by him and did everything we could to help - although he knows that until he was ready to change himself, nothing we did would have worked.

    If counseling isn't enough, then look for intensive outpatient. If that isn't enough, ask around at substance abuse facilities for their recommendation. Sometimes they do recommend residential, sometimes hospital type surroundings, sometimes even outdoor farm or work type substance abuse facilities. Just keep asking for recommendations - from professionals and from parents of others who have been in that situation in your area. I made so many phone calls looking for help, but one call would lead to somewhere else and someone else until we finally found the right place/fit for our son.

    Hang in there and know that we are all here to offer support or suggestions if we can. Everyone has gone through this in different ways here, but we all have a common bond.

    Sending hugs and support your way,
  12. galadriel

    galadriel Guest

    A little late to the post but my sons are now 19. Like you, one is "higher functioning" than the other. For the difficult child, we did psychiatric doctor, medications, in home family therapist through the county, drug and alc counseling. It was up and down. At one point, difficult child did thank me for all the help I'd given or tried to give him. He noticed! But, he is still heavy into the weed and Capt. Morgan, and won't be changing until he has to or wants to. He lives by bumming from his brother and me. Yes, we are enablers.

    Both sons are now living @ 40 minutes away, enjoying city life. difficult child has a roomate, the other a cheap studio. difficult child did one semester at comunity college, did great, then dropped out when his brother did, in April just before the end of spring 2011 semester. One has a FT job and a sober(ish) girlfriend, but the difficult child won't work and is talking about going back to school this fall.

    Both these kids dropped out of high school but went on their own for their GEDs. It wasn't the end of the world. I was more worried about it than they were.

    I'm not sure anything would have been better if difficult child had been shipped off to a Residential Treatment Center (RTC), and we didn't have the money for it when I checked into it.

    Teens do what they feel they have to do, and I found it very difficult to change their minds once set. It is more peaceful since they have moved out.
    Lasted edited by : Jun 8, 2011
  13. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    "He lives by bumming from his brother and me. Yes, we are enablers. "

    I'm surprised at the seeming ease with which you say this--as if you've accepted it as a given. Is this working for you? How expensive is it? Are you paying his rent? His community college tuition? If so, why? Do you think that this is helping him in any important way? Or just allowing him to continue to be a parasitic, unproductive difficult child?
  14. gottaloveem

    gottaloveem Active Member

    I am sorry you are struggling with your boys.
    I would say there are some very red flags concerning your boys behavior.
    #1- attempted theft
    #2- failing grades
    #3- admitting to pot and pill use
    #4- disrespectful and abusive behavior.

    I have to agree with anybody who suggested there is more drug involvement than you know of. The attempted theft concerns me the most for some serious drug use. Usually kids using hard drugs start stealing to support a habit. Also this seems to be new behavior since they weren't such a problem before age 17, tells me most likely it is not physiological. When kids admit to using pot, (and yours are admitting to more) believe me, they aren't telling you the whole picture. Heroin has made a huge comeback especially in suburban areas. In fact my difficult child Alex, lost his life to it in 2006. I would never, never, never thought my son was using such a drug. He admitted to me about everything else he was using but seemed to leave the most important one out. I had to learn the very hard way. I know 10 families who have lost their kids to this very deadly drug. So again I reiterate, drug test them so you know what you are up against.

    In my very humble opinion 17 might be too late to send them anywhere but residential drug treatment. That is if they will go.

    I would make their life horrible till they decide to make better choices, no license, no money whatsoever for anything, no tv in rooms, nothing. Take it all away till you see some positive changes in them. Set strict curfews and enforce them. I know it is hard and it wont be easy. But you have to try to convince them their way is the wrong way.

    Good luck, come here often the moms here are the best. You will get the best advice here than anywhere else and also incredible support when you need it most.

    I don't mean to sound doom and gloomy but drugs can destroy a person and a family before you know it.

  15. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    It's not often said here overtly, but often readable between the lines, but I'll say it directly: if your taking-drugs difficult child seems OK with whatever you're doing wrt him/her, you're not responding appropriately or helpfully--instead, you're making it easy for him. If, however, he's raising bloody hell, throwing massive tantrums, and all of the other chaos you wish desperately would end, YOU'RE DOING WHAT'S NECESSARY AND POTENTIALLY EFFECTIVE. To discourage his GFGness, to slow his possible passage into the darkness, to resist and impede his self-destruction. I know it's the inverse of normal parenting logic, which is predicated upon the standard and understandable logical equation of "good times and no trouble = everything's going well," but that's how it is. I'm not saying that you should pursue conflict and upturn tranquility *when your difficult child is doing things right*. I'm saying that if your difficult child is malfunctioning and (especially) using drugs and overtly misbehaving, you should resist it at every turn: take away privileges, strip his bedroom of all the goodies and fun stuff, clamp down on curfew, freedom to do as he pleases, time spent with destructive friends, and so on. If instead you find that what you're doing is making him contented--again, if he's malfunctioning and using drugs and misbehaving--you should regard this as a red flag wrt your responses to him: you're not fighting the problem. Instead, you're giving in to it. "Yes, we are enablers" is a scary thing to hear--you're making it easy for him to move further into the darkness, toward destruction and even death. Stop giving in, stop helping him undo his life--fight for him, which means, in circumstances like this, fighting *against* him. If he rages, tantrums, goes ballistic--good. You're doing your job.