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Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults

Teen Getting into Serious Trouble -- HELP!


13 Year Old getting into serious trouble—-HELP!
Posted by AJGO to Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults on Oct 30, 2013 at 3:06pm

ETL, 13, boy, ADHD/ODD—Has meds (Intuniv/Vyvanse), has therapy, has psychiatrist, has IEP.
Is dealing pot behind our backs. Was caught using but we started testing and last 2 tests came back clean.
Dad whom he lives with 85% has severe ADD and is totally naive and lets him run fairly unchecked. I basically single-mommed it for the first 12 years as Dad was totally checked out but I was going under from the stress, so he went to live with Dad last year.
We live in same town, close by.
Have tried to get him engaged in sports—no go.
He needs and gets tons of outdoor time, but is clearly making poor choices about whom he hangs with and what he’s doing. Has hard time understanding consequences. (Dad has very few, so that reinforces issue), acts out, impulsive, foul mouth, doesn’t want to talk about issues
When he’s with me I set rules, boundaries, check his phone when he’s asleep, keep track of his stuff on social media. I have close contact with local police, who understand the situation but there is only so much protecting they can do.
He’s been suspended off bus and from school multiple times. I fear expulsion if he is found out
I’m at a complete loss as to where to turn for help. I fear he won’t make it through to adult-hood (much less HS next year) on this track. I go between utter despair and heart break over my beautiful boy, glimpses of whom I see here and there—and then feeling like I have to just walk away because I feel so helpless and I have his sib to raise, and myself to care for and we can’t all go under with him


It may be time to shake things up a bit. You say he has therapy, psych, and meds, but his story doesn’t suggest they are working, at least not well. Try an appointment with a new psych or therapist. Ask about medication change. Ask about plan to get him back on track.

If he’s not interested in sports, what is he interested in? Everyone is interested in something. My son (11) is very interested in science, especially chemistry and physics. My daughter (14, NOT ADHD) is very interested in drawing and art. Find what your son is interested in and give him opportunities in that area—lots of opportunities.

Ask the school for a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). Ask them to do a Functional Behavior Analysis to derive strategies for the BIP.

Read the book, The Explosive Child, by Dr. Ross Greene and check out his website at

Yes, this is a lot of work. Yes, it’s easy for me to type up this list of suggestions. It’s up to you to do all you can for your son. Don’t give up on him yet.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Oct 31, 2013 at 6:16pm


Thanks for your insight. We have tried new therapist, new meds. He’s a sneaker head and we try to support that in any/every way we can but I’m afraid there is cash flowing to unknown and bad places…and when his Dad’s not fully on board it’s really hard.

We read the Explosive Child when he was 5, lots of good advice, but it’s not working for him

Posted by AJGO on Oct 31, 2013 at 6:27pm


I have gone through the same with my son ADD/ODD/anger…..I keep very close watch….my son is now 18. I have kicked him out this past summer. He is back home and things are better. I am a single parent and have been since his birth.  I have utilized all sources of support, med’s, counseling, behavior plans, etc. I have learned that my son is one who will learn the hard way, and I have been told that by several professionals.  Having said that, I still have rules for him if he chooses to continue living with me.  They have to be hard and fast rules with significant consequences. It is extremely hard, exhausting and heart breaking sometimes. Right now I am praying he stays in college.  He hates school, and I understand why, but I won’t encourage him to quit. He has had such horrible experiences with teachers, it has truly scarred him. I keep trying, praying and continue reading about ADD/ODD.  I feel better when I can understand where he is coming from…I know that he gets very frustrated. I don’t take his behavior personally anymore, I used too. I also don’t let him push my buttons…I stay very calm for the most part.  It sounds like you are on top of things….but then your son changes environments.  I don’t know where you live, but I am sorry I couldn’t get my son into an in-patient program. He wouldn’t go and I couldn’t afford to hire two large men to get him there. Now that he is 18, that possibility is gone, unless he volunteers to go, which won’t happen. I can’t tell you what to do….but maybe its time you allow him to experience consequences from others….i.e. police or school administration.?  Good Luck….. I feel your pain.

Posted by touchforhealth on Oct 31, 2013 at 10:23pm

I commented on this yesterday, but I don’t see my comment. Our school district paid for the two burly guys to come and get our son, and take him to Residential Treatment. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the BEST for my son, who is now back home and helping others!

Posted by hendlefrix on Oct 31, 2013 at 11:32pm

Does he have passion for anything? Even if it is as mundane as doodling, it’s a starting point…maybe ask him what he likes to do. If you judge him, or if he feels under “attack” he will , as you’ve shown here, rebel. You mention he is into grass? Maybe he has natural entrepreneurship skills. Checking his phone, without his permission is an invasion of his privacy. If he suspects you are doing this, it will push him further away. Likewise, getting chummy with the police will affect his disposition in a similar fashion. When he gets in mischief do you take his side, or the others involved? If you are able to keep an objective point of view (I know, easy to say) look at the positives. He’s not in jail, he doesn’t kill animals for no reason, he doesn’t abuse others needlessly? Those few things that are positives. If he is getting kicked off the school bus, maybe he doesn’t like being told what to do, maybe he is being bullied, maybe he is screaming on the inside and chaffing at all the controlling others are trying to do to him. I have no idea what its like to be in your shoes, and having an ex who isn’t assisting you must be hard, however, you obviously love your boy very much or you wouldn’t be online here. Sometimes the more you try and control a situation, the more it can slip through fingers. Maybe you need to let your son fall down until he realizes that he’s screwing up. Or maybe you need to let go of residual hate of your ex. Kids of all ages pick up on that stuff, and it affects them deeply. Again I’ve no clue how challenging it is to be in your boots, but speaking as a survivor of a brutal childhood with undiagnosed and rampant ADHD, I can tell you from the kids perspective, all a child wants is unconditional love of their parents. Easy to say I know, but if your son feels like he has no say in however he wishes to live his life, or if he feels his sense of self is always under attack, he may continue to set himself up to fail. Take heart in the fact that your son maybe a person who is under-stimulated and once he discovers his niche, he will not only shine, but do you proud. Never loose faith in him, and surround yourself with positivity. May the force be with you.

Posted by Michael Tucker on Nov 01, 2013 at 5:22am

I thought I was reading my own story here. My 16 year old son was doing the same thing, pot smoking frequently which then led into dabbling with valium. Percocet, alcohol etc. also making poor decisions with friends, sexual risks… we begged for help from his doctors, psychologist, to no avail. He had become increasingly disrespectful, belligerent and angry. The final straw was when he got caught with pot in school and expelled. His anger increased, we called 911, he ended up in lockup…..but this led us to getting him admitted to an inpatient adolescent detox.  It helped slot, we are now doing outpatient substance abuse treatment and have a great new psychologist, but it is a daily struggle.  And not being in school doesn’t help.  So I totally sympathize with you and am open to any suggestions as well!

Posted by Dori Mom 33 on Nov 12, 2013 at 9:42am

We have a 15 year old son who is starting to use drugs and alcohol. He is angry and lost. He is gifted /Ld and cannot see the point in school. We are currently trying new meds and they are not helping him fast enough. I acknowledge his struggle and how hard it is to be so bored at school. I acknowledge his frustration with the meds and encourage hi to be patient. This is so hard. It’s like I am watching him fall. At this point he will see the counsellor, expert in parenting ADHD, and the Psychiatrist, specialist in ADHD at our hospital. His sleep issue is the worst at this time. SO he is looking for an escape because he cannot see a solution. I try to keep some dialogue with him. But, I can see that it may get worse before it gets better. This is also very isolating for families. No family dinners with other families at this time and his younger sibling is suffering from the conflict and struggle. Try to get the best help you can and keep giving him choices with kindness. He will have to decide but, and, watch for depression. Why is he turning to drugs? It is a difficult balance to strike between empathy and firm boundaries, I struggle with this every day.
Thinking of you…..

Posted by heather3 on Nov 12, 2013 at 11:40pm

Have you considered online public school? Maybe you can make a deal with him that you will allow him to do online school instead of attending school all day every day, in exchange for him doing his school work and disconnecting from friends and activities that are not good for him. Can you help him find a job or even an unpaid internship in something he’s interested in? If you show him empathy, like offering online school, he may be much more open to you working with him toward more positive goals. Just a thought.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 13, 2013 at 6:55pm

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