16yo in crisis

Discussion in 'Failure to Thrive' started by country, Sep 30, 2016.

  1. country

    country New Member

    Hi, first time on this website. Hope I'm in the right spot to ask for some advice, I'm pretty desperate.
    First, the background: I have a 16yo son who was diagnosed ADHD first in kindergarten. Developed anxiety/panic in junior high. Also has had dysthimia and ODD (But has learned to manage his ODD a lot better in the past year). He's always struggled: social cues, making friends, keeping friends, organization, time management... on an on. Executive functions and lots of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) issues (although no formal Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis). I've always had him in therapy, on medications (which help a ton), horse therapy, social skills classes (worked wonders!). He and I are super close, probably a little co-dependent. I raised him as a single mom until he was 8 and I got married. He's sensitive, shy, funny and has a good heart. His bio dad was around briefly when he was a toddler for a few months and then he was gone never to be heard from again. Bio dad has issues: addiction, depression and probably more but I'm not sure. If I had to guess I would say bipolar?
    My son has always struggled in life. Never fits in. Tries so hard but never measures up. Last year I sent him to a ADHD camp in the Keys over Christmas break. It was a stretch for our budget but I wanted him to go have fun and see that he is not "a freak" or "retarded", and to be with kids like him. To see that he's not alone. After initial separation anxiety, he handled it like a champ. His counselor later said he was "the glue that held the group together... he lifted people up, helped people get along, emerged as THE leader." Words never spoken about my boy before... I was beyond moved and so happy he had finally had an experience where others could see him shine the way I saw him.
    He then had his best school year on record. His IEP was working, he had a couple friends for the first time EVER, he seemed happy. Then summer hit. We gave him freedom because he had been doing so well and we wanted to reward him. Things started sliding, he was acting "off". Behaviors which we hadn't seen in awhile started creeping in: lying, hoarding sugar, etc. He showed up with lots of new stuff claiming they were gifts from his friend. Never felt right. Finally in August he began confessing to a summer of trouble. It began with his friends breaking into cars and stealing cash, small items and a gun. It quickly escalated with my son getting addicted to the "thrill". He stole from church, from his grandma (7K), from countless people around town. He tried pot and liked it so he decided to try cocaine, oxy, meth, and even "something in a needle, not sure what." (No the needle wasn't clean. He's negative for diseases so far, thank God.) The kicker is teh cash... most of what he stole he gave away. He claims his friends hung around more when he gave them money.
    When asked about how or why, he doesn't know. He says he felt guilty for the thefts so just started using drugs to escape. He spent a couple days in a psychiatric hospital in August, got out and then used a different drug at school each day he was out. He went back and has been inpatient the last month.
    I'm befuddled. What happened to my boy with anxiety? (He remarks he doesn't have it anymore, he is bold.) How did we get here? He has said he's obsessed with stealing and will do it again... that he can't control his impulses. Says the same thing for drugs. He will be out of treatment in 30 days.
    In my state, the max for a first time juvenile offender is 4 months probation. My husband and family are terrified of what we see emerging in him and do not feel safe having him come home. He's become an expert liar, he has pills hidden at home but doesn't remember or won't say where. He's gone too far and done too much to just come back with probation, right? How do we possibly keep him safe? How and where did this go SO WRONG? and SO FAST?
    Does anyone have a similar experience? I'm so lost at the thought of my boy who was doing SO well 6 months ago to now looking at an out of home placement for the next year. I search for hope, I search for a catalyst for this remarkable change in him. How did we get to this conduct disorder diagnosis and how can I save him from himself? So many questions, I'm still in pure shock and feel so lost as to know how to move forward.
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I'm guessing this is tied to serious drug use...more than you guess or want to imagine....and not a conduct disorder. The stealing, the lying, the obvious using...the quickness in which he changed. I say this as gently as possible..my guess is very serious drug use and not primarily due to his other issues. Hugs for your hurting heart. Have you read his cell phone? Searched his room? I feel it is okay to breech their privacy to try to figure out what is going on and how best to help him. Guessing doesn't point us in the right dire tion. We tend, myself included, to refuse to see the worst possibilities because we really don't want to know.
  3. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Welcome and sorry you have to be here. I've been in (and still am on the journey) a similar situation with our son starting at 15 or puberty. You can see my signature. Mine has been a long and hard road. Posting here and reading others' stories does help.

    It's hard when they are minors and you're not even sure what is going on. The drugs make it all crazy though, that much I can attest to.

    I'd get counseling for your and your husband on how to deal with him in the here and now. You're going to need it. Professionals can help guide you on how to parent him. Normal parenting doesn't work for these kids. Do you have other children in the household also? Do you work outside the home?
  4. country

    country New Member

    Thank you, SomewhereOutThere. I guess I hadn't thought of that, how could I not? I feel like I'm too much in the forest to see through the trees so I question my thinking, my decisions, and obviously my ability to be objective, etc... but what you say does make sense that it is drug use as a catalyst. I have tried to go through his things, facebook, phone, etc but he was very good at deleting things. I agree with your last sentence about refusing to see the worst... but it is strange because now that this has happened I torture myself with all sorts of scenarios about what is to come if I don't help him in the right way... finding him dead, his funeral, him being in prison. WHY I have no idea but I do. Probably because if I think of it then I try to delude myself into thinking I can prepare a plan to prevent it. I always tried to be proactive and aggressive with seeking treatments in helping him... I just feel so caught off guard and lost into what to do next.
  5. country

    country New Member

    Hi RN0441: Absolutely, I find comfort in these pages. We aren't alone. I read your signature and my heart weeps for you and your family. Your son got addicted to "altered states" which is probably like my son. And part of me thinks "how can I blame him"... he has struggled forever and tried so hard and nothing ever works quite right. Could I do better? Probably not.
    We do have 3 other small kids (under 7) so I'm scared to have him back home until he has proven some stability. I do work outside of the home part time. And, we started counseling last week and I love having someone to talk to that can help me sort through things... although I feel like my thinking just goes in circles. Conclusions are hard because everything is so uncertain and I'm so scared to make the wrong decision for him. But, in reading the forum it seems the consensus is to be too tough rather than too lax.... and he will be 17 soon. I want to be aggressive in helping him as much as I can before he's 18 and out of my hands, and out of home seems like the most likely way to do that. THanks for sharing, these pages are therapeutic.
  6. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    The people on here have so much knowledge and we're all open and honest. No judgement. Just trying to muddle through it together.

    Every situation is different and I don't think there is any right or wrong answer.

    It's truly heartbreaking to see our kids struggle. We just want to fix it. But we can't. We have done everything in our power to help our son. Everything. I have no guilt because we left no stone unturned. However as parents we have to take care of ourselves too and that is the stage we are at now.

    I am in therapy myself right now to accept the uncertainty of how things are right now. It is hard not knowing. Also working on detachment so I can keep my own sanity.

    More will be along to offer you thoughts and comfort.

    Hugs and I hope that you and your family get some peace soon.
  7. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    Oh sweetie...We hear the shock and panic in your words.

    We have been there. He is young...your son is buried in the addict. No, 30 days isn't the answer...I found knowledge....and asking so many questions on your options. Can u get extended treatment...if you can't what is his exit plan?

    He cannot have freedom...you strip his room, remove the door...get the phone...strip the computer...and drug test.

    Prison is a scare..but your prison is worse, your not alone..there are resources...there is hope...He is at a difficult age. Ours started pot then...and then u see my signature...we are one day at a time.

    Find out your options...keep posting....the truth is hard...I know...Hugs and prayers!
  8. country

    country New Member

    Thank you, mof. Insurance will only approve 30 days... after that he will go to a horse ranch for boys (therapeutic, not boot camp) for 6 months. The crimes he has committed would have him in prison if he were 18 so the courts (and we) think having him in this ultra-structured and rehabilitative environment will help him as well as keep him safe from drugs at least for the short-term. At least we have a few months where we can know he will be safe and pray for the best. I wish you the best with your boy too, thank you again for reaching out.
  9. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    That sounds good...take time for yourself, and your family.

    Those six months could can be a great thing for him and time for you to know the next step.

    Hugs...and keep us posted.
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  10. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    That is great news. Keep us posted!
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  11. Tylersmom1979

    Tylersmom1979 Member

    I would search every nook and cranny of his room.
  12. country

    country New Member

    Hi everyone, wanted to provide an update. In our state, the juvenile justice system was radically reformed a few years ago and they now slap kids on the wrist (probation) rather than incarcerate them. For our son, due to the rapid escalation in behavior, drug use and multiple felonies committed, all thought probation was woefully inadequate. We've worked with the court officer, doctors, school the past couple months during his inpatient CD/mental health treatment to come to a plan to have the courts place my son at a therapeutic boys ranch. It was basically known by all parties he would be sentenced in that manner. Well, come to find out at court, even with all this planning, letters of support from every one of his doctors, support staff and parents... the court cannot sentence him there because he has not committed any crimes of violence. Worst punishment available is 4 months probation, so that's what he got.
    I'm flabbergasted. In just over a year he will be 18 and with these crimes he would be in prison for a few YEARS. How is he possibly supposed to learn any consequence?? He ends his 30 days of CD treatment Friday and will be discharged home. I will grant that he is much more stable and level headed than he was 2 months ago. I see a kid that really wants to be home and have another chance. On the other hand, my son is a masterful liar and I see that familiar ODD in him and know life is about to get hard again. He had us FOOLED all summer, how can I possibly know how to manage that and regain any trust, keep him safe and manage the rest of my young kids' needs?
    Do we do our best and give him a second chance to succeed in home? I've heard functional family therapy and DBT would be helpful (but that's what most people say about CBT and that's always been a waste of time for him).
    Or do we push to find a way to send him to the boys ranch by other means? The clock is ticking until he is 18 and I am fearful if he doesn't get major intervention his conduct issues will worsen into ASPD.... maybe there is nothing to stop that from happening though and I'm just deluding myself.... any advice appreciated.
  13. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    And it all falls down. So sorry to hear this latest development.

    Since he is a minor I guess you'll have to let him come home and see how he does. If he is remorseful and really wants to change then maybe it can work. It's always scary because it seems they have the control over everything (they don't know it; as you wait to see what they'll do) and that is not a good way to live. I think if it were me and his age I'd try it. You need to have firm rules and boundaries and your husband and you need to be on the same page. I think for us, that is my biggest regret. Made things harder in the long run for all of us.

    Trust takes a very long time and you are probably years away from that. I don't know if I will ever trust our son again. I only hope that someday I will but I don't even worry about that right now. My son was good until he wasn't.

    Is him going to the ranch now even an option? What is the cost involved to the family?

    Good luck with your decision and keep posting.
  14. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Is the therapeutic ranch an option?

    I would look into it and see if it is affordable and what it would take to get him in. At least that way, if he comes home and doesn't do well, you have that info available.
  15. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    You know in your heart what is best...the stress of him home can make even the strongest of families crack.

    I would absolutely give him a chance at success at the ranch. If possible...and start from there. We all know 30 days is a drop in the bucket...

    So sorry for the disappointment...hugs
  16. jetsam

    jetsam Active Member

    country, its amazing how the courts work isn't it! Just slaps on the hand..no real consequences. and not just in regards to minors either! I feel that maybe if my son would have had immediate consequences maybe his behaviors wouldn't have taken such a turn so quickly,(but i do say maybe). My frustration with the court system is over the top! here is a scenario... first son is over 21 so i have no input. Got arrested for pot possession. went to court, got a fine and what they call ACD which meant he was not allowed to get into trouble for 6 months..he laughs coming out of court saying its all about the money! ok 3 months go by this time gets arrested for heroine possession...released on his own recognizance. goes back to court..Im thinking ok they will put him in jail or rehab since its less than 6 months and he is in trouble again. He goes to court, they slap a fine, which he doesn't have money for...they let him go, say come back in a month to pay fine. thats it. He leaves court saying i told u mom, they only care about the money!! how the h--- can they learn anything from a system that keeps slapping them on the wrist?
  17. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    I know in our state, they simply have not got the space and money to jail all the drug possessions. Mental health issues....

    Our son was in back seat of a car..had one pill on him...would not arrest him because he had a split lip. Country could not arrest anyone with an injury..they were too poor.

    We do have to go to court...but will probably want money, ok, since he's sober and working..it's been almost a year!

    It hurts us all..they want to give these young guys a chance to clean up...but when do you draw the line? Families get hurt...doesn't really benefit anyone.

    So yes, is about the money.
  18. jetsam

    jetsam Active Member

    its just so frustrating because these kids know they can scam the system...more of the old no consequences for bad choices. they will never learn especially if this is what the court shows them!! I would agree that they get fined the first time but if you say "if you get in any kind of trouble within the next 6 months there will be consequences" then have some consequences for god sakes! ugh just hate the system
  19. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    Keep us posted!
  20. country

    country New Member

    I completely agree with all the comments, thanks everyone. And RN0441, your line about your son being “good until he wasn’t” is SO TRUE. Ours has had periods of great success but never can sustain it for long. It is that that has probably turned me into the World’s Biggest Enabler.

    Going to the ranch is an option (and free to us if his school sends him) but his school and the probation officer feels like he deserves a chance at home first. Honestly, he has some ODD behaviors but has been a pretty earnest kid up until the last 6 months. The kind of kid who has 2 left feet and just keeps tripping no matter how hard he tries. My prayer is that he can keep the addiction monster away – he has a shot if he can do that.

    That being said, and I have told him, the ranch is always going to be an option going forward. He is coming home but his future is determined by his choices and if he messes up, he’s gone.

    This community is the only place where I feel understood, thank you all.
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