15 year old daughter/drug issues
I had written to you about our therapist and psychiatrist's recommendation to have my daughter take an anti-depressant. She takes adderall for adhd and generally it works well both academically and socially. About 4-6 weeks ago, the dr. put her on zoloft for what she thinks (and I agree) is depression. Dad abandoned her when she was 7 and never saw her regularly. A couple of years ago she decided she didn't want to see him at all. She didn't feel comfortable at his house with his new wife. So i stopped fighting it and stopped forcing her to see him--this on the advice of our therapist. So, she has some serious abandonment issues and I believe that she's been suffering fromj depression for a number of years--either triggered by her father leaving her life or possibly she is chronically depressed. She is on 50 mg of zoloft and I suspect this will be increased until we have the optimal effect.
This brings me to the concern I currently have. I am sure she smokes pot from time to time. I did find a tiny bit of pot in her back pack and took it and conftronted hera few weeks ago. She also smokes cigarettes. I do not condone either. She does not drink alcohol after 1 bout of getting sick almost a year ago. I have used an over the counter drug test and thus far she has not tested positive. I have been told that this is because it is occasional use. She is my only child and I feel that I have a good handle on what she does and always check with parents before she goes to anyone's house. Today I found some empty packages of coricidin cough and cold in her pocketbook. I went on the internet and researched illicit use by kids. I confronted her and after much pressure from me, she admitted that she took 5 yesterday with a friend. I massively overreacted and got pretty hysterical. Yes, I read your book but I lost my head and it got ugly here. After things calmed down, we talked quite a bit about this tonight--lots of tears. I've threatened to send her away to a live away drug rehab program, but I don't know if things are serious enough for this. It is a drastic step AND I don't believe you want to play this card too soon. I am however extremely concerned about the mix of drugs that she is taking--zoloft and adderall and added to it over the counter cold pills. I have tried to explain to her that she cannot do this because of the unique circumstances with her brain chemistry and the medication she must take.
Dr. Bradley, I will consult with our therapist and psychiatrist about whether or not rehab is the next step, but I would like your input also. Should I immediately move to an outpatient program, admit her to a residential program? Am I overreacting. I think back to the things I did as a teen and frankly I did much worse things and survived and became a responsible, conservative adult and parent. I would appreciate your insight.
First of all, stop beating yourself up about overreacting. Should you have done that? No. Do we all do that? YES! You are now chatting with a 30-years-experienced clinical psychologist who this morning yelled at his 9-year-old for turning on his windshield wipers---and she didn't even do it! So first, do like me and apologize.
Second, my advice would be to not rush off to rehab yet unless your kid is much more involved than you know. There is no magic there that you cannot create at home except for providing her with a safe lock-down facility where she usually cannot access more drugs. What she often can access in rehab is a drug culture where she will be living with kids with terrible and severe addictions whose behaviors can "rub off" on her a bit. Many of my teen clients who were drug involved describe rehab as "graduate school for druggies" where they learn lots of useful information about hiding and balancing out their drug use (with other, new drugs). The research mostly supports the view that most drug issues can be treated at least as successfully with individual therapy without raising the "graduate drug school" risks.
Please let us know how you make out.
Dr. Mike Bradley