17 yr old son hanging out with members of a gang and doing drugs

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by defiantchild, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Our son has always hated school. We finally let him drop out of high school to pursue his goal of becoming a chef. He was working as chef's apprentice for a well known chef and doing quite well until he got fired after 1.5 years because the local police chief arrested him for marijuana possession (several ounces which he was dealing) and reported it to his boss. So now he's in trouble with the law, getting drug tested weekly...he found another job....but now he's doing worse drugs than weed. Bc some drugs like acid don't show up on the drug tests and unlike weed, RX painkillers and Xanax are out of your system in a few days, so I know he's doing that as well.

    We don't know what to do anymore...we've tried seemingly everything to teach him right from wrong...but nothing we say or do resonates.

    We won't let him drive our car anymore...he's too irresponsible and worried he could kill himself or someone else. We are very seriously considering letting him live on his own in Queens or Brooklyn so he won't need a car and can take public transportation to work. But now we just found out he is hanging out with some members of a really bad gang in nyc....we are petrified that he is going to get hurt. We don't know what to do or where to turn. He just doesn't seem to have any common sense at all. Doesn't think anything bad will happen to him - so he keeps breaking rules and laws - even though he continues to get in trouble all the time.

    Should we let him go? What in the world can we do to help him? Should we find a place for him to live away from NY to get away from these people? Will he find them no matter where he goes? We don't think living at home is helping him at all...

    We are numb at this point. It's been 17 years of frustration and anxiety trying to parent him.
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I think you'd get a better response on the Substance Abuse forum. Maybe a nice mod can move it there for you. This forum is mainly for younger kids without drug problems (although some younger kids do take drugs...what a world!)

    Can you get him into rehab? After he turns eighteen, you will legally be able to do nothing.It's hard enough at seventeen. Eighteen is when you have to hope he decides to change his life because it's up to him completely. Have you gone to Al-Anon? When my daughter was using, it saved my sanity. Literally. Also gave me good ideas, not how to cure her (I couldn't), but how to interact with her and how to take care of myself through the stress. If not, a private psychologist or therapist can be very helpful.

    I'm so sorry for your hurting heart.
  3. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Thank you very much for your reply SomewhereOutThere. It means a lot to me. My son's therapist doesn't think he has a drug addiction...but not sure about that. He said he has a conduct disorder because he will not
    accept any authority (unless is personally benefits him - like at work he gets paid). He's grandiose...and arrogant...and breaks laws and rules. Difficult Child just doesn't think rules apply to him.
  4. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi D C, so sorry for your need to be here on CD, but...welcome dear to the forum. Hugs for your aching heart, I know how it feels when at our wits end with our d c's.
    I am reading two different stories here from you and sons therapist....

    I think that your experiences and gut are telling you what is what.... The behaviors you are mentioning are very indicative of substance abuse....why does the therapist think otherwise?

    This is true.

    This is difficult D C, your son is nearly adult age, and is on a dangerous path. I feel for you and your family.
    SomewhereOutThere shared this very good advice....
    It helps to go to a group and seek out answers...folks may have gone through, or are going through a similar journey.

    I echo the encouragement to post under Substance Abuse forum as well, there are parents there who have been through the ropes with their kids.
    I am so sorry for your troubles, you are not alone, there are others who will come along and share.

  5. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Thank you New Leaf (Leafy), I think you are right. In fact, I just called my son's therapist and told him the new developments which he didn't know about (the acid, the Oxy/Xanax) and he said of course he has a substance abuse problem. He advised us to emancipate him immediately and find him a place to live. I think he is right. We can't go on like this. It's so depressing:(
    This forum is so incredible. Such caring, wonderful people out there for complete strangers....Thank you SomeWhereOutThere and New Leaf. xo
  6. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Oh my, that was very quick. I am glad you talked with sons therapist.
    Finding a place and emancipating sounds somewhat complicated. What kind of place? (if you do not mind answering).
    You are very welcome D C. I hope that you will continue to post. This forum works because we all learn from each other's stories and journeys.
    I agree wholeheartedly, it is depressing living with a child out of control with their life's choices.
    Take care, dear, keep posting and let us know how you are doing.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I too believe it is substance abuse. What else do gangbangers do? My daughter knew quite a few gangster-wanna-bes who did drugs when she used them. They scared me to death...I had two younger kids to protect. Now that she is clean, and has been for many years, she has come clean with all she had tried, and that included heroin. This shocked me as I always thought that heroin was one of those drugs you were hooked on the first time, but it must not be true. She most certainly doesn't use now. Her main drug of choice when she did use was any sort of speed from ADHD drugs (crushed into a pillcrusher and snorted) to meth. I had no idea it was that bad and thought it was mostly weed.

    I'm not surprised your son's therapist missed it. They don't live with our kids. My daughter was in a psychiatrist hospital for two weeks and they felt she had cleaned up her act so foolishly we believed it as well with consequences. They are good at fooling us when they are actively suffering from the disease of addiction (yes, it's a disease).

    Please do all you can now, if you can do anything, because eighteen is too late and then many of us have had to make the adult children choose between the drugs and home. I was very lucky my daughter chose to quit...it was 100% her decision and was very hard for her to do. I really thought at one time she would die or end up on jail. She was so skinny and pale and she is not built skinny nor is she pale. It is nice now to see her pleasantly plump and a productive citizen with a house and a SO and a lovely baby whom s he takes such good care of. You could never have sold me that this would be the outcome when she was using. Drugs literally take our children and make them different people! They lie, lie, lie. It is part of the illness. Yes, they revert back to themselves once they quit. Or at least my daughter has.

    Never give up hope, but don't enable. It doesn't help or work for them or for us and we matter too. Lots and lots of hugs to you.
  8. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    The psychiatrist said because our son has a conduct disorder (which he diagnosed my son with a couple of years ago), he doesn't believe any sort of therapy, unless internally motivated, will help at all. No drug treatment center will do anything for him either.

    He said our son is on a collision course to self destruction and the only one who can help him is himself if he ever reaches rock bottom and decides he wants to change. In the meantime, he will only drag us down and possibly do serious damage to us financially, it could be devastating if he hurts someone. He just totaled our car the other day....and his girlfriend was in the car with him. She's only 15. Thank the lord neither of them got hurt.

    The psychiatrist is absolutely positive that there is nothing we can do to help him. The only thing we can do is protect ourselves from him. This is the most painful thing to accept. It's devastating.
  9. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    SomewhereOutThere, that's an unbelievable story. It's horrifying to watch these precious children turn to such self destructive ways. I'm sorry you had to endure this pain. Thank goodness she is in a good place now.
    I'm so happy for you. xo
  10. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Well, remember, psychiatrists can be wrong. But one thing is true. If your son doesn't want to change, he won't. Nobody can make him change. In fact, we can't change anybody in the world except ourselves, not even our beloved children. But we can let them know we are here if they WANT to change. Then it's up to them. It's a scary thing to face, but there is nobody we can change but us. And we can change our reaction to our troubled loved ones. We do not have to enable them or go down their path or put up with abusive conversations about how their behavior is our own faults, which is a lie they like to use to get us to give them money (for drugs). We can see them as often or as little as we like and we can choose to hang up on or delete abusive calls and texts. It also helps, I think, not to check their Facebook. They use that for abuse too. Yes, our kids CAN and often DO abuse us when they are on drugs. They like to make us think we caused it. The only way we caused it is if we forced them to use drugs at gunpoint. We did NOT teach them to use drugs. It is not on us; it's on them.

    Focus on positive people and yourself. It helps! It does NOT help to fall apart because they are.

    Sending extra hugs.
  11. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    D C, I am so sorry for the pain of this, it comes right through my computer screen. My two, were on a pretty destructive path at this age as well, so I know the angst of it.
    Your son is nearly an adult. I remember going through similar feelings, just wanting my two to be responsible legally for their decisions, it was a hard time.

    Thank the good Lord is right, oh my D C, this is tough.

    I understand what his therapist is saying. SomeWhere is right, there is always hope, but, we absolutely cannot allow our Difficult Child to drag us down with them.
    The PE forum has a good article that helps

    Yes, I agree, I think it is the most painful thing known to man. But, D C, there is always hope.

    There are many stories of kids who wake up and take responsibility for themselves.

    In the meantime, prayer helps, al-anon, reading, posting here helps.

    I know it is so difficult, we are here, and we care about folks who go through this, because we have been through most of it ourselves.

    Stay with us, keep checking in and take very good care of yourself D C.
    Feel what you have to feel, get it all out,
    then work, work to build yourself up.

    We all have our moments, it is a grieving process, really.

    One day at a time, works good and taking small steps. Try not to look at the whole picture, but pieces of it. Breathe. Take things real slow.

    Try not to get drawn into an argument with your son, keeping it simple is best.
    One cannot anticipate a reaction from a Difficult Child who is under the influence, or coming down from it.

    Stay safe and guard your heart D C.

    You are not alone.....

  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I agree with somewhereoutthere. First, for as many psychiatrists you may encounter, you may receive different diagnoses. Second, he is very young. I believe, too young to diagnose with certainty. Especially if drugs are involved. Third, there are millions of young people who have been on this kind of collision course that decide to change. Fourth, anything you have your name on, reel it in. He should not be driving your car or any car, if it can be helped.

    That said, I do not know the laws about emancipation in your state. In many states a young person 16 or over can legally emancipate, if they are self supporting and have the where with all to manage their own life.

    In a sense your son has done this already. He refuses to accept authority. He will not obey your rules. The only way he will learn is to butt heads with the consequences of his actions.

    If it were me, knowing what I know now, I would not secure housing for him in another area. If there is no trouble there, if he is hell bent to find trouble, he will leave there seeking it. Better that he be in an area where he knows the lay of the land, already. Like NYC where there is everything available to him both good and bad.

    If he meets the criteria, legal emancipation may be the answer.

    Keep posting. In some ways your child is in better shape than some of ours, because he works.

    If he wants to affiliate with a gang, or use drugs, what can you do? As long he is underage you can deprive him of any means to move himself, all but the most basic of support. You can call the police at anything suspicious. You can deprive him of privacy, taking doors off, etc. He is already out of school so there is no leverage there. You can insist that none of his friends come near the house. He will circumvent every single one of these things, if he wants to get himself in deeper.

    It seems like parental influence, the opportunity for it, has reached its limit. Why not think about calling it what it is, and let him be responsible for himself?

    That said, I am sorry you find yourself in this situation, but glad you have found us.
    Keep posting. It helps a lot. Really, it does.

    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  13. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Thank you Copabanana, New Leaf and SomeWhereOutThere:) You are all God-sends....when we are so low that you think there is no hope, there are people like you out there to remind us we are not alone in this. Your words of wisdom and kindness are so very much appreciated....
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  14. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    New Leaf, I just read your family bio. OMG! What a mixed bag! You are an amazing woman with a great attitude.
  15. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Yes a mixed bag for sure D C. Been down the road a piece and back. Lol. Not much one can do, but roll with it, and learn, you know?
    Thank you very much D C. I have my dog days, that's for sure.
    Being here on CD helps, these kind folks have bolstered me every step of the way. So, my dear it helps me to keep sharing, and then, I try my best to help others. Every time I write, I am reminding myself of my commitment to keep peace in my home. My two have been in and out, with us trying to help, to no avail.
    They need to find their own way.
    It is tough D C, but when our kids show us who they are, we need to believe them and go from there. Doesn't mean they won't change, but Lord, we do not need to be smack dab in the thick of it, by having them in our homes. If they refuse to follow rules, have respect and decency towards their parents, they should be on their own.
    God be with them! I gave my two over to God, they have problems that are way over my head!
    Do you have children other than your son?
    Since he has been in therapy for awhile, this has been a journey for you as well.
    I hope you are able to sort things out, and make the changes you need to, to keep safe and sound. Not a fun time of year to be dealing with this.
    Hang tough girl, you will be okay.
  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    If you are interested in exploring emancipation you may find out more if you google Nolo press/emancipation of minors.

    Below are snippets. Emancipation is obtained by going to court. Other ways to emancipate would be getting married or joining the military.

    A minor who is "emancipated" assumes most adult responsibilities before reaching the age of majority (usually 18). Emancipated minors are no longer considered to be under the care and control of parents -- instead, they take responsibility for their own care.

    What Is Emancipation?
    Usually, parents or legal guardians are responsible for children who haven't reached the age of majority. This age varies from state to state, but it's usually 18 or 19 (it's 21 in Puerto Rico). Until a child has reached the age of majority, parents are expected to provide them with shelter, food, and clothing. Parents can also decide where their children will live and go to school and can choose what medical care their children will receive.

    If a young person under the age of majority is emancipated, the parent or guardian no longer has any say over the minor's life. An emancipated minor can keep earnings from a job, decide where to live, make his or her own medical decisions, and more.

  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Conduct disorder. Sure. Stick a label on that has no effective therapies and no effective medications.

    At this age, it's a really tough thing to address. A couple of years ago - you might have been able to get to the bottom of what is really going on. And I suspect there is more going on. But right now... at 17, he's not really going to hand you compliance or anything else that would make a new evaluation effective. I'd just like to knock the blocks of some so-called professionals who don't have what it takes to push through and get real answers. We've had a few of those... we didn't get real answers until our kid became an adult and we left the "child and youth" medical system.

    At 17... with two years of conduct problems behind him, and lots of dark-side connections. The question is, how do you protect yourself, while still leaving a crack of a door open in case he ever does want out of that life and really wants to change?
  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is the starting point, I think.

  19. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Hi InsaneCdn,

    I really don't know. We have tried everything. We've been to specialist after specialist. First it was ADHD, medications seemed to help a bit in school and socially. But he's been kicked out of almost everything he's done since I can remember. His teachers all really liked him, they all tried to reach him. In 9th grade he started smoking weed and got suspended from school. Still so many of his teachers thought he was a good kid and tried to help. It hasn't improved much since then. He just doesn't seem to think rules apply to him. He has a grandiose type of attitude, quite arrogant. My husband and I thought it was just the grandiosity was a cover up for his insecurity....he really can be awfully sweet. But we've completely lost control of him. He listens to no one.

    I understand what you are saying about labeling...I don't like it either. And this particular label is a dead end because as you said, there is no treatment. I don't know where to turn and what to do. No specialist, therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist has been able to get through to him. They all give up at some point. And we are feeling the same way now. We are worn out. It seems we have no choice but to set him free to rise or fall on his own. I wonder if his brain is just not developed enough and how tragic to set him free to fend for himself when he just doesn't have the capacity to do it....I'm at a total loss.
  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think the research says that male brains do not develop fully until about 27 or 28, and sometimes later.

    I worked in prisons many years and I saw that that was the age that there was a huge drop off in recidivism. I asked them what changed. They said something like: It used to be fun. Now it is not. It's not worth it anymore. And they changed.

    Ask yourself this: With all of your worrying and trying, have you been successful? Do you think there is something that you still have in your arsenal as a parent that stands a chance of working? There may be.

    If he does not want to go straight, how will you get to him?

    What about Job Corps? Or the military? Both options are very effective with young men such as your son. Or even college. There may be some program that appeals to him.

    My son went to Job Corps when he was 18. I made the mistake of letting him come back home. He did not leave again until he was 23 or just 24.

    The thing that most of us had to face is that we are powerless to help them. They must help themselves. If you offer him a range of possibilities, and let him know that you support him, that might be an option. Except th.ere may be risks, both to him and to you.

    First there is the danger. If you believe he is using dangerous and/or illegal drugs, there is that.

    Realize that if you provide support you may subsidize bad behavior. And as long as he remains in your house and he continues to do risky things that you know about...it could be argued that you are responsible, perhaps even condoning it.

    I know how hard this may be to read. I hope I am not being harsh.

    Perhaps with the police or probation department or the district attorney you can speak to people that work in early intervention, for youth who might turn to gangs. There has to be people like this that you can turn to. Or the school may have some idea. They are still responsible to some extent, even though he is not in school.

    What about insisting he return to school? Could you do that? The problem is this: Where is your leverage?

    Keep posting. It is slow here at night. Many more people are on the board from say 7 am Eastern time to 4 pm Eastern. You will get a variety of responses. Why not post a thread on Substance Abuse, and maybe on P.E. Because in a sense your son is already independent. That is part of the issue, I think.

    Take care. So many of us have been over our heads, feeling how you do. Nowhere to turn. Desperate, even. Believe me. You will do this. You will get through this.