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Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults

At The End Of The Rope! Help....seriously dont know my next step.

My son is 19. He has ADHD. Takes Vyvanse 60mg in morning Along with 2 mg of Intuitive and 40 mg of Vyvanse in afternoon. See a great psych. We have done everything to support him. We are at a loss now. Dropped out of college 2 years ago, been home since. Loss jobs cause of just not showing up, currently working but not sure for how long, he is on his last leg there. We encourage him, support him, offer help all the time, heart to heart talks, etc. He lies daily, spends uncontrollably so then has no money to pay his bill. Has a cell and out of blue buys another one with no means to pay it, gets a credit card and spends $1000 in less then 2 weeks again with no means to pay it, has had 2 trespassing fines, 3 speeding tickets, and the kicker is constantly steals of us. We have had to lock everything up in my home of value to us (we resorted to buying a safe). Now he cant steal off us and the heartbreaking result is we just found out he has been stealing of his 9 year old little brother. The little brother don’t have much money so he been stealing from his little brother. We have stood by supporting him with his ADHD everyday of his life. I’m starting to really believe this isn’t just ADHD. He lives his life doing whatever pleases him with no regards for others feelings or rules. If it benefits him then he will do it. He doesn’t worry about any after effects. Then when he has to face them he just doesn’t. How does someone hurt people over and over again and not feel it. I dont know what more we can do.


Unfortunately, I don’t have any helpful tips or wise advise to give you on this matter.  I just felt compelled to reply and say how sorry I am for what your family is going through.  All I can do is pray that you will find a solution and your son will wise up very, very soon.  God bless.

Posted by horselover36 on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:17pm

I am so sorry you are having such a difficult time. I think that sort of behavior is something we all worry about with the ADHD and other associated conditions that often go along with it. Do you have a counselor or therapist you can turn to for help?  It sounds like your family has been extremely supportive and loving.  Perhaps you need to consult some outside help on this serious issue.  I hope you can find a solution quickly and get your son back on track before it gets any worse.  My best wishes to you!

Posted by JAMurphy on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:30pm

You may be correct that he doesn’t feel anything when he hurts others. However at age 19 he is not likely to share any of his pain with his parents. You said he has a great psych., By that did you mean psychologist or psychiatrist? I ask because if you believe it is something other than ADHD then he should be evaluated by a psychiatrist. The behavior and traits that you described could be the result of poor executive functioning or it could be something much more difficult to deal with. I have some clients who exhibit this same behavior pattern and want to get out of it so they come to me to learn how. I have had some clients who simply lacked the maturity be able to make the changes needed. So I can feel your frustration. I am not a clinician and would never suggest a diagnosis but you may gain some insight about other disorders by looking at some of the other groups here under Related Conditions such as depression, impulse control disorders, and I would also do research on Borderline Personality Disorder. You should also be certain that you are dealing fully with the ADHD. The foremost writer on the subject is the author I mentioned below.
Ari Tuckman wrote the book and has an excellent website entitled Integrated Treatment for Adult ADHD. The subtitle says it all: a four-part comprehensive treatment model that includes:
·  Family education as a clinical intervention.
·  Effective medication options.
·  Coaching for better time management, organization, and self-esteem issues.
·  Cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, anxiety, and more.
A well-trained ADHD coach can help you coordinate all of these elements that are essential to a highly fulfilled life. Bob Hathcock. ADDventure Coaching - ADHD is a Paradox <>

Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:34pm

That seems to be a fairly high amount of meds he is taking. Could he be over-medicated? I would question your psychiatrist. My son had a terrible reaction to Vyvanse. Started out on a low does and went gradually up to 60 mg once a day. He was very agitated and plucked out most of his eyebrows. He became very defiant and difficult to manage. Improved somewhat after he stopped taking it and went back to Focalin. I agree there may be something more going on besides ADHD - either drugs, depression or something else.

Do you know if your son is involved with illegal drugs? Much of his behavior is the same as what I am experiencing with my 18 year old son and he has been doing drugs since he was 14. Stealing from you is a big red flag! Marijuana especially has a negative affect on ambition and motivation. I am not sure if I will be able to do it myself, but the advice that we have been given is - send him to drug rehab and if he refuses, then he is out on his own.

I too am at the end of my rope and I know how stressful this can be on you and your whole family!

Posted by artistmom on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:36pm

I have a 19 year old whose ADD was not diagnosed till he was 17 and who started smocking marihuana at 15 whose behavior is very similar to what you describe for your son.  We have everything under lock for years, his younger brother takes pains to hide his money and valuables. He is defiant and can be violent.  I do not know the solution for the problem.  He is addicted to multiple drugs and alcohol which makes it much harder.  Somehow I blackmailed him into going to intensive outpatient rehab program.  While it has not solved the problems he has become aware that he has a problem.  I am afraid to through him out of the house but he knows it is a possibility and right now he is focusing of finding a job and moving out on his terms.  My problem with that scenario is that he will get into even more trouble on his own and in the end we will have to sort the mess out since he is not able to.  Also, he does not learn from his mistakes.  He needs to be told in such a way that only counselors know how.  He needs coaching from a third party that he trusts and is willing to take seriously.  There is a great program for ADD young adults that in a relaxed setting teaches coping skills and I had a great hope when my son started to attend this program, but he quit after a week.  He is not ready to admit he has a problem and has to change.  It all boils down to their awareness of the situation especially when drug/alcohol addiction is involved and all we can do is work to promote this awareness every way we can.  And bring the bottom up.  There is more rope at the end of the rope.  Hang in there and look for support.  There is plenty.

Posted by Gordana on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:05am

HI Everyone. I wanted to thank each and everyone of you for your responses. When you go threw this and their is no easy answer it means so much just to have people listen, hear you and better when they give their thoughts opinions and prayers.
To answer some of your questions, he does see a psychiatrist and recently the psychiatrist has increased his sessions with my son from once every month to now every two weeks. I do feel he is really good and he specializes in ADHD. My son likes going to him as well. However I do suspect that he also feels their is more to this then just ADHD because of comments he has made and I think he is holding off is any other diagnosis at this point to get a clearer picture. I could be wrong but this is the sense I get from him. I was also paying privately for a time for a ADHD Coach but I struggled with this. I felt that the strategies that were being coached where not working for my son and I felt that the coach was falling for everything that my son was telling him Which I knew for fact were not true. Because of my thinking of more then just ADHD, I felt this was beyond the coach. I would ask for advice for example on constant lying and I was told to don’t address the lies, don’t call him out on them and this actually resulted in my son lying in more cause the more he lied and more he got away with it the more in his mind he was succeeded and this made him proud. I would hear him tell his coach stories and their were so far out there I would try and figure out how does he possibly come up with stuff and being so smug about the fact the coach was believing him. In the time frame we were working with the coach I seen no change.
As far as the drugs, I did have concerns about a year ago and found it a few times and we started to do drug testing and for over a year he was clean. I don’t suspect the drugs now but who knows. He has shocked me several times. The stealing of money and racking up of credit cards are for his pleasure of spending on junk. I got a hold of his credit card statement and all the items that where purchased was food from restaurants, activities, stores (shopping), gas for his vehicle, he spends on items like as if he is a rich man. I truly believe he gets a rise out of this. He feels the big guy! He portrays himself with his friends as a big spender. Again total disregard that he will have any consequences from this and he is untouchable. His behaviour is very sneaky, conniving, and misleading. What is even more interesting is to others (like coworkers, family etc) he is a sweet, honest, genuine, nice guy. People don’t believe that he is anyone different. He knows exactly what others want to hear and sucks everyone into his words knowing that his words are not what he truly is thinking and will walk away and I have seen the smirk on his face. It scares the hell out of me. I am sure this is not just ADHD (and I’m no professional)  and I need to push more to have this looked into. I have been told by several and by professionals including the psychiatrist that there comes a time where I have to let go and remove him from the house and let him go out there and figure it out on his own. I am having a very hard time with this thinking. Yes because I am a mom but also I look at this way…...If he is struggling with this much support around him, how bad will it get if he has no one. I don’t believe that he has the skills to go out and figure it out on his own. I’m not sure I can turn by back on anyone with Mental Health Concerns/Diagnosis never mind my own child. All I have to say at this point Thank You again and I really appreciate all the support and feed back.

Posted by Jodtam on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:20am

If you get a diagnosis, I would love to know what it is, because your son sounds so much like my son it is scary. (Except for my son is definitely into drugs, especially marijuana.) But the lying, stealing and manipulation are so familiar. My son has been telling big stories since he was in grade school. He lies about things that don’t even matter, not just trying to get out of trouble. At times, I feel like he really believes what he is saying. I often wonder if he really doesn’t remember things so he just makes them up. I always try to communicate with the psychiatrist or therapist what is actually going on (which is much harder once they turn 18), because I have no idea what kind of story he will tell them.

He is also very kind and generous with other people, especially his friends but treats us like dirt. He also goes through money like water, often treating his friends to dinner or giving away his stuff. I want my son to be a kind and generous person, but I feel like he is often being used by his “friends.” He is always the one that takes his car and will even drive all over town to pick people up and take them places- to school or work, etc, even if it means he misses doing something he is supposed to do. I think some of this is due to low self esteem and he is trying to “buy” their friendship. A counselor explained to me that kids save their best behavior for other people and their worst behavior for their family. This actually means they feel unconditional love and safety at home.

I too am having a hard time turning my son out on his own. It is hard to explain to others that it is not just “bad behavior” or “acting out” or that you “just need to teach them a lesson.” That is the problem! These kids just don’t learn from their mistakes. My son has never responded well to normal disciplinary tactics. I have to get very creative. The consequences just don’t seem to matter to him or he is not able to consider the consequences, only thinks in the moment! It is so unfortunate that mental health issues are so hard to diagnose and treat.

Thank you for sharing, it helps to know we are not alone in this battle!

Posted by artistmom on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:55am

My 21 year old son has discovered Zen meditation and it really seems to be helping him.  He still takes Cimbalta, Vyvance, Adderall, and Depakote.  But, the meditations, which he downloads on his phone, really seems to be helping him put everything into perspective and relax.  I know it could just be the latest thing he is putting all his energy into, but I’ll take it.  He is in his third year of college. My husband put his foot down last summer about the Cannibis use and drinking.  He made my son leave the cushy college apartment with a buddy roommate and move into a modest apartment alone. He took away his car and sold it.  I grew up without loving parents and I wanted my son to have everything I didn’t have, but he is a different person than me and maybe didn’t appreciate it.  He seems to thrive with hardship, like a crappy apartment, no car, little money, not coming home whenever he wants.  It’s counter intuitive to what a mom would think her son needs.  I can remember when my son was little we would read two books at night, then go to bed.  If we started reading early and I said we could read three books, my son would listen to the third book, then not go to bed.  He’d want more.  He’d try to stay up, etc.  Looking back, that was an indication of how he acts now.  if we make him stick to a strict rules, he follows it.  If we let him have whatever he wants, he becomes irresponsible.  I learned that he does better if we expect a lot out of him.  I think he gets scared of not having a safety net, but he is learning to rely on himself.  In fact, he’s come out and told me that he needs to rely on himself.  I told him that I don’t want him to be sad, but he told me that those are his feelings and he needs to experience them. He’s voluntarily limited contact with certain “bad” friends and reconnected with the “good” ones.  We let him get a dog to keep him company in the single apartment.  That has helped him, too.  He has to take care of the dog.  She is good company when he is alone. He takes her for walks, so he gets outside even on a bad day.  The dog is something that is just his.  He picked her out on his own and named her.  In fact, we didn’t know about her for a month, but she helps my son so I insisted to my husband that my son keep her. 

It was very scary to force my son to be on his own.  I didn’t sleep well for over a month worrying about his apartment and if he was lonely.  But, it’s actually working out and I am more relaxed about him and his future than I’ve been for a long time.  He is taking the GRE for grad school this week and is scheduled to graduate from college in August.  He has also realized what his ADHD is and how to work with it.  He knows he will never be happy in a regular daytime job and he is exploring what he can do on his own schedule, rather than fighting the clock every day.  His major is psychology and he has thought about working with patients at night so people like him can have appointments during their non- traditional hours. 

Overall, the scary pushing him away has benefited him.  I’m glad we did it.

Posted by mama36_13 on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:25am

I have not been in your shoes, but I want to share my perspective. I wouldn’t go straight to kicking him out of the house, but you have to stop helping him so much. You need to charge him rent and make him pay all his bills. Don’t do his laundry for him or clean up after him. He has to learn to do things for himself or he will always be terrorizing your household.

I fell into the trap of doing everything for my son and making excuses for my son when he was first diagnosed with ADHD. It took a while and a lot of people pointing it out to me time and time again, but I finally accepted that ADHD is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior or a reason to do everything for your child. We have to take a step back and teach them to do things for themselves, or they really really flounder when on their own.

I would let him know it’s time to take care of himself, lay out your expectations, and tell him you’ll give him a certain time frame to find a job and then start paying rent the month after. Let him know you are happy to support him mentally and emotionally, but you will not take care of him any longer.

Truly, if you keep stepping in, he will keep letting you, and nothing will change. I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, “Give an inch and he’ll take a yard.” That is the perfect analogy for parenting a child with ADHD and exactly where you are right now.

I realize all of this is easy for me to say when I am not in your position, but it is my perspective as someone who is not emotionally attached to the situation.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 29, 2014 at 9:20pm

These behaviors are certainly not caused by ADHD as practically everyone I know with a teen exhibits these behaviors. I think even as the most well meaning parents, we make mistakes. The biggest is enabling our children, making excuses for their behavior and not holding them accountable. Clearly it’s your house and your rules, but I would suggest steps for separation. If you keep supporting him and keep bailing him out, you only have yourself to blame. I would stop paying any of his bills, keep everything under lock and key and start making steps for him to move out. He is an adult and you are no longer responsible for him. He needs to understand that.

Posted by adhdmom2000 on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:04am

Sigh…..of relief—- mostly to know what we have going on isn’t so unusual.  We, too, have a 20 year old.  Dropped out of college…resists any suggestion, offer or advice about going back to college or getting some type of other skill.  Stays home most of the day.  We control internet access by blocking his computer off our wireless router during certain times of the day.  Ours is looking for a job—how hard I’m not sure.  He walked out of his other job without having a new one due to issues with a co-worker that our son wasn’t prepared to handle so he basically chose to avoid the entire situation by quitting..on the spot.  It’s very hard to deal with him right now because we have other children that need our attention, we both work full-time, gravely ill parents and basically do not have time to devote extra time and energy to him all the time.  Ours is complicated by also being a high-functioning autistic individual so his social capabilities are also interfere with his “normal” activities. 

When he was working we charged rent and a portion of utilities.  He is not working now, but is still required to cover his upcoming car insurance payment with money in his savings.  He also would spend money like there was no tomorrow—-until he had to start paying rent to us. We tossed any and all credit card applications that came in the mail, shut down the account that had a debit card attached and I sit with him every month to balance his check book.  I have told him if he has no job by Valentine’s Day he’ll be looking at volunteering at a local non-profit.  Right now he helps teach computer classes at the local library with my husband, but it’s not enough….he needs to get out more and more on his own.

But I understand your worry about pushing him out when he can’t handle the little things of everyday….like taking pills, handling money, showering consistently But things have gotten so stressful, my husband has actually toyed with the idea of buying a condo/townhome to move him into.  We’d cover the rent and he’d be responsible for everything else.  Part of that sounds appealing but the other part of me knows if he’s given that option his little social skills will become 0 because he’ll gladly isolate himself.  It’s a tough tug-of-war of emotions.

It is interesting though how many boys about this age are struggling.  A couple have been diagnosed with depression and are in the process of balancing meds and weekly counseling sessions to try to get a grip on what’s going on and how to handle it.  Ours is more of a bad combo of ASD and ADHD…...

Hang in there….let us know how things are going….and I wish you didn’t have to go thru this, but you’re doing the best you can with what you know at the time…that’s all we parents can do.

Posted by greyhairedmom on Jan 31, 2014 at 8:37pm

I read those sad storied. I am not alone. Even if we know our son/daughter has ADHD. What is the best solution for the family?

Posted by lovingmom365 on Feb 03, 2014 at 11:45pm

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