I do not know where to start. My son is 16 and for the past 1 1/2 things at home have been steadliy going downhill- in Jan, 2007 I found my then 14 1/2 yr son having sex with his girlfriend, having beer and meeting someone who was selling grass. He has always done well in school, played sports etc. He is well liked by anyone who meets him. He just started Gr 12 with the last 6 mths of Gr 10 being hell on earth- Grades declining, still smoking grass, lying to the teachers about why he was missing classes- me being in contact with teachers about work not done,etc. Then end of May, 2008 the verbal abuse really started, like f..k you you f...ing b...h and so on. He left the house for about 1 1/2 and stayed with various friends. The school suspended him beginning june but h eventually passed Gr 10.
There is no parental control right now-with holes pushed in his bedroom wall, verbal abuse increasing etc. It was suggested by a counselor to get an order to have him picked up, put in a safe house to be de-toxed and assessed. He came out after 5 days only to stay home 1 night, go to counseling next day and then not come back to sleep for 6 nghts except to shower and change 2 of the days. There have been more things said by my son about his father who lives back east and has been pretty deliquent in his parenting. We have read alot of parenting books out there, been very involved in his school, sports etc, but right now he seems to hate us( particularly me, his mother) The counselor from the safehouse( Drug Program) could only tell me she was surprised he had not gotten in more trouble by now and that his drug use has had an impact on his home life. Because of his age, they do not have to tell me what was discussed in the evaluation.
She did agree that he needs to continue with drug counseling and also that she had discussed with him that one of the thing I needed him to do was go for counseling so that the family issues could get worked out. When he left the house after being home for just one night I was able to see the assessment that he brought home even though I know I wasn't supposed to. It was worse than I could have ever imagined- he's using ecstasy regularly, as well as drinking on and off. He was also selling at one point but stopped when he was able t get it so easy and was using more.
Any Counselor that I have spoke with said the same thing- if he is not willing to stop the profanity and go to counseling to get his anger out then he is choosing to not live at home. I said that to him Sep 1 and he has not been back since. I believe I know where he is staying, these parents have not called to speak with me. My heart aches for him and I am so terribly worried about him. The stress at home is off the scale and now I feel horrible about what I said even though it was said kindly and I told him we love him so much, we would always be here for him but things had gone so far that this was the only thing we could see having to be done.
There is more to this story but I know this is long enough- If I lived there I would come to see you and pay for the session. I have read your book- Yes, Your teen is crazy. I don't know what to do right now- I just want him to be ok. All the counselor(school and otherwise) say he may have to hit rockbottom before he realizes he needs help, but sometimes, I wonder what is their definition of rockbottom? The counselor at the drug safehouse says he is still in the pre-contemplative stage and does not think his drug use has had an impact on his life.
I am thinking that I am going to try to meet with the parents of a friend where I think he is staying- they are believing what he is telling them but I want them to know what else has gone on with the safe house etc. Then I want to see if they still want to keep on "enabling " him to be able to do what he wants with no parental control whatsoever.
I can't tell you how hard this was to write to you, but I am getting more desperate by the day worrying about him. Anything you could suggest would be greatly appreciated right now. Thank you for your time
I can't tell you how many times I've advised this to parents, but I can tell you that each time I felt terrible saying it since it sounds like giving up. And that advice is to reframe your son's very scary present situation as the only chance he's got at controlling his demons and for achieving sobriety. We call that "hitting bottom" but a better description is having the insight that we alone are really to blame for whatever choices we make REGARDLESS of the hand that life deals to us. Without that awareness, your son is in trouble. And the only place he is likely to get that is on the street.
And yes, he MIGHT perish there quickly, but he PROBABLY will perish slowly in your basement if you let him back in and tolerate his behaviors.
In the interim, I have three suggestions: the first is to make every parent/friend in his network aware that your child has serious drug issues and that enabling him is killing him. Second, if the option arises and your local juvenile justice system is a good one, do not hesitate to get him busted for illegal drug use. I hate to admit the number of kids I couldn't help who found that a judge "cured" their insight problem overnight. The third is to reach out to your kid every day to remind him that your love for him never quits, and that you love him far too much to allow him to do these things that will take his life away. And that whenever he can truly commit to getting help, that you will be there holding the front door open.
Until that day, pray if that works for you, and if it doesn't, look at the research that confirms what your experts are telling you to do now.
Be well, and know that your family is in our thoughts.
Dr. Mike Bradley
Hello Dr. Bradley,
Thank you very much for responding to my mess of a letter. I have not seen my son since Sept 1st, the day before school started(Gr 11). I told him that if he does not go for counseling to talk about any issues he may want to talk about( We will go when he's ready for us to be there) and make sure there is no verbal abuse and also have respect for one another, then he is choosing not to live at the house. He is staying at a friend's house. I had another friend's mom call the woman Sept 4 to get her to call but she hasn't. I just received a text from my son just now Sept 17 asking for his father's phone nbr back east and also to tell me that he is coming home today to get my "stuff".
I am glad I read your message because I know I cannot budge form being consistent. We are going to a support group tomorrow night and then I know I will be contacting the house where he is staying to tell them some things, however, I am afraid to tell them I opened up the assessment from the safehouse when I wasn't supposed to have seen it and that this will make my son furious once again.
I appreciate your thoughts and advice more than you know. Your book was recommended by the counselor from the safehouse along with a few others.