Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Archive for the ‘enabler’ Category

Father Checks Son into Rehab

Posted by Marcia on September 18, 2012

I have moved my blog; please click here for the new location.

The new blog post is about a recent conversation I had with someone whose son has been causing them a lot of heartache and the father’s emotions regarding the situation.

Posted in Addiction and Prescription Medicine, alcoholic father, changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, chemically dependent, drug use, enabler, enabling, Parents and teens, teen alcoholic, teen and addiction, Troubled teens, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Addiction and Prescription Medicine

Posted by Marcia on February 21, 2012

If you go to the Centers for Disease Control website, you can find reports about the increasing numbers of people addicted to and overdosing from prescription medicine. Here’s a paragraph from an article on their site:

“In 2007, approximately 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, one death every 19 minutes. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. The increase in unintentional drug overdose death rates in recent years (Figure 1) has been driven by increased use of a class of prescription drugs called opioid analgesics (1). Since 2003, more overdose deaths have involved opioid analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined (Figure 2) (1). In addition, for every unintentional overdose death related to an opioid analgesic, nine persons are admitted for substance abuse treatment (2), 35 visit emergency departments (3), 161 report drug abuse or dependence, and 461 report nonmedical uses of opioid analgesics (4). Implementing strategies that target those persons at greatest risk will require strong coordination and collaboration at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels, as well as engagement of parents, youth influencers, health-care professionals, and policy-makers.”

To read the remaining post, please go to my other blog. I’m gradually migrating to Strained Relations: Parenting Troubled Teens and hope you sign up for the RSS feed to follow me there.

Posted in Addiction and Prescription Medicine, behavior of someone using drugs, chemically dependent, danger to self, drug use, enabler, enabling, out of control teens, parent coping with disappointment in kids, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, Prescription Medicine, signs of drug use, teen alcoholic, teen and addiction, teen intervention, Troubled teens | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Made it through Mother’s Day: how’d you do?

Posted by Marcia on May 19, 2011

I thought I should write an update following my last post about Mother’s Day.

Much to my relief, it wasn’t too bad this year.

We spent the day with my wonderful mother-in-law. It was great spending the day with her.

Did I miss my mom on that day? Absolutely, but my world doesn’t revolve around sorrow – there are some trigger points for me to think about loss. It’s appropriate to think about people we’ve lost, especially on special days.

And then there’s my son. Still not talking and I really miss him especially on Mother’s Day, but I’m not devastated as I was in years past. My feelings float in and out of resignation, anger, calm, hurt and so on.

Overall, I am stronger this year. Someone asked me about coping with a severed family relationship, and I think it’s like with death in that it takes time to learn to cope and adjust to a “new normal” as they say.

I’m taking some positive steps and hear my son is doing the same. I started going to a support group to reinforce how not to enable, how to let some things go. I appreciate the group and when I go, I am going in to listen to others without thinking about writing their stories. Whatever I hear there is confidential. I can see that for a few years I’ve written other people’s stories and distanced myself from my feelings. Now it’s time for me to look inward without thinking about what I will write here. I know I’ll find more things to write about and so will my contributors.

If you found this blog or read my post as you were worried about Mother’s Day, tell me how you fared. Was it hard? Easier than it was? What tips can you share to help others?

Posted in changing parent behavior, cope at the holidays, enabler, enabling, estranged, estranged from parents, family difficulties, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, sadness at the holidays, Troubled teens, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Are You Bullied by Your Child?

Posted by Marcia on April 11, 2011

As parents, we want our children to be respected at school and most of us would be upset if they were being bullied. We teach our children to stand up for themselves and we may enlist the aid of the teacher and principal. We don’t want children to be bullied, so why would we allow them to bully the parents?

A father and teenage son were at a table in a restaurant near my friends. The son was berating the father, being sarcastic, talking back, insulting his father and using foul language.

My friends were shocked to hear a teenager talk to a parent like that. The father didn’t reprimand the son and didn’t do anything other than hang his head. Frankly, given the people I’ve interviewed and the people who have contacted me, I find this shocking but I am not surprised.

I imagine the father has been bullied by his child for years and did not address it when it started. When you overlook this behavior or give the child a “pass”, the child can assume it is okay to be disrespectful to parents. Bad behavior that is allowed will often escalate, and once escalated, parents may feel helpless to stop it.

Bullying comes in many forms, but experts agree that it is repeated behavior that is intended to intimidate, humiliate or demean another person. It is intentional disrespect. It may take the form of verbal abuse like the father and son in the restaurant. The bully has a pattern of behavior that may include yelling, intimidation or humiliation, criticism, insults or even personal sabotage. This emotional abuse and may escalate into damaging personal property or even physically harming family members with the idea of further intimidation.

Victims of bullies usually do not confront the bully or react aggressively. They may have different reasons behind their decisions not to confront, and it could be that they don’t want to stoop to the other person’s level. Maybe the victim is startled, upset or angry and decides to walk away; hoping that will prevent reoccurrence of bad behavior, but the bully sees this as a victory. You’ve just given your child a lot of control over you by not speaking up for yourself.

Whatever form it takes, the parents have to consider this to be intolerable behavior and must put a stop to it. Clearly define what bullying is, talk about it in your family, explain it will not be tolerated and the disciplinary action that will be taken to those who violate the family rules. Train your children about what is and is not appropriate behavior and what constitutes a healthier environment in the home. Teach kindness and sympathy, acknowledge and reward small steps in the right direction with praise and a hug.

Children learn from the model you present and the way you talk with them, the corrections and guidance you give them. It’s in your family’s best interests to stop bad behavior, don’t let it slide and don’t avoid confronting it. Help your child to stop the bullying and stop being a victim.

Posted in bullies, changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, compliment your child, emotional abuse, enabler, enabling, family difficulties, family violence, out of control teens, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, rewarding good behavior, teen intervention, Troubled teens, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Guest Blogger: Fern Weis’s Top 5 Parenting Tips

Posted by Marcia on March 24, 2011

Our guest blogger today is Fern Weis, and she provides tips and some insight into her own family. She is a certified coach, middle school teacher, wife, and parent of two wonderful young adults. She specializes in supporting and educating parents of teens and young adults through individual and group coaching, as well as educational workshops. Fern continues to volunteer as a facilitator of family weekends at Hyde School. She is committed to strengthening American families, one family at a time. Learn more about her work at www.familymatterscoach.com. You can also contact her at fgweis@gmail.com. And now…here’s Fern.

In a recent blog post, Marcia Stein posed some serious questions about the downward spiral of Charlie Sheen. She also asked readers to share their own experiences. I am pleased to be able to share part of my life with you and what I learned along the way.

In our family, it was our son spiraling into a pit as a teen (and taking us down there with him). What was so painful was that somewhere in this out-of-control teen was a kind and loving person who didn’t know how to come back to us. When he was having a good day, we would hope against hope that this was a sign he was turning around. We were not facing reality. When we could no longer deny it, and accepted what was happening and that we had no control, we pulled him out of high school. First step, a one-month wilderness program to separate him from his community and from us. Second step, two years at an amazing boarding school called Hyde School, a program of family-based character development.

The deciding factor in choosing Hyde was the intensive parent program. While we considered ourselves good people, and understood that he made dangerous choices, we knew that we needed to change, too. We couldn’t ask the school to ‘fix’ him, and then have him come home to the same parents. We had to do things differently, see ourselves differently.

I learned that I taught my children so much about how to see themselves and life, not only by my words, but by my actions, reactions and responses to people and events in my life. It’s frightening how much our children learn from us that we are not aware of.

I learned that you cannot stand by. It hurts to take difficult steps, but it hurts more to watch your child self-destruct. Change is hard, but not changing takes you in the opposite direction of where you want to go. So…

1) Do the hard thing. Don’t worry about your ‘relationship’ with your child. He has lots of friends, but only one set of parents to teach him how to get through life. Children need us to set limits. They don’t have the self-control to do it for themselves. If you don’t do it, who will? Whether it’s saying ‘no’, or having a serious intervention, do it!

2) Understand that parenting is more about YOU than your children. Step up! You know all those qualities you want to see in your children? You want them to be truthful, persistent, courageous, compassionate, generous, thoughtful, curious and optimistic. Make sure you are the best role model you can be (for your own benefit, as well as theirs). Have you given up on a dream? Have you ever been less than honest? Do you tell them to be more assertive, and then avoid saying what you need to say to others? Do you expect more from them than you do from yourself?

As they get older, you have decreasing control over the choices your children make, the actions they take. They are counting on you (even though they will deny it) to show them how it’s done, and to be their guide.

3) Ask others for their insights about you (this includes your kids). I can sense some of you mentally walking away from this one. But we are often the last ones to see our own inconsistencies. It’s the inconsistencies that prevent us from moving from struggle to confidence. The mixed messages make parenting, decision-making and personal growth more difficult.

Ask the people who love you most (spouse/partner, kids, trusted friends and family) for their input. You don’t want them to sugarcoat it, and you don’t want them to be cruel, either. You are looking for helpful feedback so you can be a great example for your children and enjoy life more.

3) Listen, listen, listen! Your kids want to be heard. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with them or not. Listen and become the trusted adult they turn to when there’s something really important to talk about. This is not the time for judgment, criticism, or fixing it for them. After they have vented is the time to help them with coping and problem-solving strategies.

4) Be a teacher, guide and mentor… but don’t be ‘the fixer’. Too many young people are not prepared to launch themselves into independence. When we give them the answers and solve problems for them, they are not learning the skills.

Step back. Guide and teach without doing it for them. And if you are not always the right person to teach the skill or lesson, you have options. Ask for help in being a better teacher. Consider who might be more effective in helping your child work through challenges. There is no shame. It really does take a community to raise children.

5) Share your struggles with your children. What was challenging for you growing up? What did you fail at? How did you deal with it? Our kids see us as adults who mostly seem to be in control and know what we’re doing. As confused, hormone-ridden teens, they can’t imagine being competent and self-assured. They need to know that it does get better, that we were once like them and we, mostly, successfully muddled our way through, too.

You already know how important this job is. And while you weren’t given a user manual for your children, it doesn’t always have to be difficult. Learn when to step in and when to step aside. Listen as least as much as you speak, if not more. Ask for help when you need it. Inspire your children by sharing your own difficult experiences. Your children need this from you, now.

P.S. My son graduated high school and college, and is employed in his chosen profession. The child we thought we had lost is a motivated and generous young man who gives me bear hugs, tells me about his work day, and dances me around the kitchen. His sister, who prefers not to be highlighted in my writing, is an amazing young woman and daughter, and friend to all who know her. Life is good.

Posted in changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, chart progress, confidence, enabler, entitled, family difficulties, Fern Weis, forgiveness, listen to family problems, missing our son, out of control teens, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, teen intervention, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, wilderness program, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Information About the Involuntary Psychiatric Hold

Posted by Marcia on March 14, 2011

I have blogs and websites with tools to analyze traffic, see what terms people are using that lead them to my sites and my book. I use analytics to learn more about what information you’re seeking, and I occasionally use that along with discussions, emails and calls to determine topics to present.

Due to the ongoing discussions about Charlie Sheen and similar or more extreme experiences of others, this article is devoted to a difficult subject: the involuntary psychiatric hold or commitment. Involuntary commitment is when a person is placed in a psychiatric hospital or ward against his or her will. This must be in compliance with the mental health laws, is usually limited in duration and requires regular reevaluation.

I will direct you to some informational websites to help you or your friends as I am not in a profession that deals with these matters: I simply know how to research.

A Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Involuntary_commitment#Alternatives has a good overview of the history of involuntary commitment and some information about the process in different countries.

In California, Section 5150 allows a qualified officer or clinician to evaluate a person and have that person involuntarily confined. There are specifics as to who is qualified to evaluate a person and what circumstances would lead to this decision. Generally speaking, the person must be a danger to self and/or others and/or be gravely disabled. There is a Wikipedia entry regarding Section 5150 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5150_(Involuntary_psychiatric_hold).

There is a brochure describing the California involuntary 72-hour and 14-day hold that explains the process and a person’s rights under the law. This informational piece was created by the California Network of Mental Health Clients in Sacramento. The brochure is at http://www.disabilityrightsca.org/pubs/502401.pdf and their number is 916-443-3232. They have provided additional resources if you need them.

The last topic I will mention is “conservatorship” or “guardianship.” You can read an explanation at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatorship. In order to be another person’s conservator, you must have clear and convincing evidence that it is necessary to provide for the other person’s “physical health, food, clothing, and shelter” or that the person cannot “substantially manage his…own financial resources or…resist fraud or undue influence.”

I started this article by mentioning Charlie Sheen. It’s terrible to watch and I can’t imagine what this is like for the family and friends who love him. What would I do if I were in their shoes? I don’t know, and it’s hard for any of us to know from a distance exactly what’s going on and why. I can say this on the basis of my research – you don’t have to stand by and watch, and you don’t have to walk away because you don’t want to be enabling the behavior. A good psychiatrist and/or an attorney can help you sort through the options.

For those of you living in these extreme situations, I hope this has given you some information to consider and the courage to act. You will absolutely need courage and resolve.

Posted in behavior of someone using drugs, conservatorship, danger to self, enabler, enabling, estranged, family difficulties, family violence, Involuntary commitment, Involuntary Psychiatric Hold, mental illness, mentally ill teen, meth addict, out of control teens, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, restraining orders, Section 5150, teen and addiction, teen intervention, Troubled teens, violence in mentally ill people, what drugs cost, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Parenting Troubled Adults and Notes about Charlie Sheen

Posted by Marcia on March 7, 2011

Even if you don’t read tabloids or view gossipy entertainment shows, it’s hard to avoid the train wreck that is Charlie Sheen’s current situation. The headlines generated by his behavior are dominated by stories of drugs and alleged violence.

I have seen several of his movies and watched Two and a Half Men occasionally. There’s no doubt this is a talented actor who can easily master drama and comedy and do it with style and charisma.

He reminds me of another actor with range, style, charisma and a terrible history, Robert Downey, Jr.

Information provided here is drawn from Wikipedia entries that have citations.

Both were born in 1965 and were born into show business families, and both started acting careers as children.

Downey has said that his father was a drug addict and introduced him to marijuana at age 6 and the two did drugs together, eventually Downey also drank alcohol to excess. He dropped out of high school to pursue acting. He was arrested several times, was put on probation and was sentenced to serve time in the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison. He went through rehab and rehab programs repeatedly until it “took” in 2001.

Sheen has been married three times and has five children. He was expelled from high school for poor grades and bad attendance. He has overdosed, been sent to rehab, allegedly threatened or hurt women in his life and created havoc in his life and in the lives of his ex-wives and children.

Last year, I heard an interview where Martin Sheen, Charlie’s father, said he found himself planning Charlie’s funeral at a certain point: the situation was serious and his son’s life hung in the balance. As a parent, that thought just struck me through the heart. It’s got to be one of the biggest fears of family members.

Sheen’s latest escapades have been blasted all over the news and he has been calling in or appearing on various radio and TV shows. It’s mesmerizing and appalling, and it’s sad to think that this dangerous situation serves as entertainment to many.

I’ve wondered how a person like Charlie Sheen can get into so much serious trouble and not have their children removed from the home. This did happen last week, but look at his severe and acknowledged history of substance abuse. At what point does social welfare step in and protect the children? Perhaps one of the social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists or attorneys who read this article can provide this information.

I have also heard talking heads who have not met Charlie Sheen speculate that he may be bipolar. (A good explanation of this disorder is available on Wikipedia. It doesn’t seem professional to speculate on someone you don’t know and haven’t examined.

Might there be underlying reasons for the extreme drug abuse experience by both Downey and Sheen? Maybe some of the same reasons we see in other addicted individuals.

I would look to their early years for behavior and decision making, see if they were in some pain that they wanted to dull or treat by taking drugs or alcohol. Some people who have disorders self-medicate to help get through the day, while others simply love the feeling of escape and find themselves addicted.

Addiction is complex and difficult, and I know from meeting recovering addicts that treatment is not easy and it truly is “one day at a time.” It’s helpful for family members to seek their own treatment, to understand how they are only in charge of their own feelings and reactions. You can’t change another person, and enabling another isn’t helpful to anyone. (Please see my post on enabling.)

How do you stand by as a parent and watch your child spiral out of control? Have you experienced this? What did you do? What worked for you and what did not work? Do you comments or insights to share?

Posted in behavior of someone using drugs, enabler, estranged, forgiveness, listen to family problems, mental illness, out of control teens, parenting adult children, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

How to Listen to Disclosure of Family Estrangement or Difficulties

Posted by Marcia on March 2, 2011

In my last post I wrote about the process of deciding to share difficult information about one’s family. This post is devoted to receiving this information.

Some of the richest and most heartfelt conversations I have had have been when someone decides to confide in me or when another person listens to my story.

When your family member or friend is having family problems and decides to share these issues with you, it takes a lot of courage, hope and trust that you will not judge, will listen carefully, offer help if asked, will not gossip. This is a confidential and difficult conversation.

Truly listening means that you turn off distractions: this is not a time for watching TV, texting and taking calls. Turn off your phone and give that person your attention. Listen with your head and your heart. Don’t ask a lot of questions, just a few to clarify the situation if needed.

Don’t change the topic unless you’re very uncomfortable hearing this news, and if you are, it’s better to just say you’re uncomfortable.

This conversation is about the other person, not you and your family, unless you’ve experienced a similar situation. Then it’s appropriate to share but limit your input: this person has a lot to say.

Be private and confidential. If the person wanted all of the family and friends to know, there are many ways to alert everyone. It can hurt the person’s feelings if you talk about this to others and damage your own credibility as a confidante.

Don’t judge the people involved. You’re hearing a part of the story and you’re hearing it for the first time. It may be shocking news, but all of it is in the realm of the human condition: the things that happen to people and the decisions we make.

Ask if there is anything you can do to help and provide resources if you have them. One woman called me regarding her son and after listening to her story, I asked if she wanted resources or how I could best help her. She was looking for resources and I gave her a few places to start, indicating there were additional resources in my book and on the blog if she needed them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re already dealing with a stressful situation. I also keep in touch, ask how things are going, and remember her on Mother’s Day and Christmas, two really hard holidays for her.

When you see or talk with the person in the future, ask about his or her child. I know from personal experience that the concern people show is helpful. It helps me to know that they haven’t forgotten I am a parent, and birthdays and some holidays in particular are really difficult.

Keep in touch and show concern and compassion. That’s the best way you can help anyone.

Posted in adopted kids, apology, behavior of someone using drugs, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, defiant adopted kids, enabler, enabling, estranged, estranged from dad, estranged from father, estranged from parents, family difficulties, FASD, feelings about Father's Day, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, file restraining order against son, forgiveness, juvenile hall, kid on meth, listen to family problems, mental illness, mentally ill son, mentally ill teen, meth addict, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, orders of protection, orders of protection against son, out of control teens, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, restraining orders, return adopted child, rewarding good behavior, sadness at the holidays, signs of drug use, step-parent, teen and addiction, teen intervention, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, truancy, truancy and penalties, violence in mentally ill people, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Teens, Drugs and Consequences

Posted by Marcia on February 8, 2011

Our guest blogger is Asher Levine, and his website is www.cleanbreakinterventions.com.

Asher Levine has experience in interventions, wilderness therapy and assessing teens for substance abuse issues. He supports families who are committed to seeking treatment for their teen. Asher created the “Clean Break” program to support high school and college students during Spring Break by hosting destination sober spring breaks.

In this article, we are referring to the teen as “he” as a matter of convenience: the teen in trouble could well be female.

Just as “love” and “money” are terms we understand, “consequences” is one of the universal languages that can be communicated with most if not all teens. We have all been faced with consequences both natural and logical at one time or another whether it’s being late for something because of procrastination or wearing two different color socks! When I go to schools and speak on substance abuse and addiction, the first thing I ask is: “Who has ever had a consequence”? Most of the hands go up but everyone acknowledges in some form of communication that they know what I’m talking about.

The point of discussing consequences with teens and parents is that experimental drug users and addicts need consequences or else why would they stop using? I ask the students if you came into school late everyday and no one said anything to you and you got a “A” for tardiness on your report card, would you keep coming to school late? The answer 99% of the time is “Yes”.

It’s the role of parents, siblings, friends, caregivers, etc. to create and force those consequences. If a teen has been caught using any drug and his parents ground him and a week or two later he is caught again and the only consequence is a short period of being grounded — the teen can live with that penalty. The teen’s perspective is “I will take my chances.” The scary thing is wondering what other decisions the teen is comfortable making, knowing that his parents are aware of the drug use.

Intervention strategies

As a parent myself, I recognize that it is my responsibility to provide an emotional, physical, spiritual, safe environment for my child at all cost. Just because my children know what I do for a living, it does not mean they are vaccinated from using drugs or becoming addicts.

When we’re in a car and come to a sudden stop, we instinctively reach our right arm over to stop our kids from going forward as if it will keep them from going through the windshield. We have innate instinct to physically and metaphorically reach across and protect our kids.

When putting out a fire we have to take away the oxygen and handling addiction is similar. If the lunch money or allowance you’re giving to your child becomes the fuel for their addiction then the parent needs to take away the money. This includes lunch money. You can provide food for them at home and let them make it. Using lunch money for drugs is the most popular option for teens to get drugs. They come home after school to eat and therefore have traded lunch for access to a bag of marijuana or a handful of pills. By Thursday or Friday of that week they can sell or flip drugs like flipping a house. Once this process happens they are in business.

How many lunches do they sell to get some drugs?

Most Loritabs or “tabs” as they are referred to, cost $3 and a 10 mg would cost $6-$10 = 2-3 lunches.
Marijuana “blunts” cigar with the tobacco removed and replaced by marijuana can be purchased for $3 = 1 lunch.
Xanax or “benzo” can be purchased for $3 and a 2 mg bar can be bought for $6 = 1-2 lunches.
Oxycontin “oxy” is usually a much higher price approx. $1 per mg and they typically come in 40 mg and 80 mg. = 10-20 lunches.

Signs of Use

If your teen is taking Loritab, Darvacet, Percoset, Heroin, or Oxycontin (Opiates), you will notice withdrawal symptoms very similar to the flu. A teen will complain of aches, leg and stomach cramps, sweating, nausea, goose bumps, pin pointed pupils, constipation leading to long periods of time in the bathroom, will be hunched over and usually talk as if he is sick. These symptoms can be mistaken for the flu or stomach bug, however if your child is displaying these symptoms frequently and is missing school or is frequently in the nurse’s office, you should follow up. A user’s diet will include lots of snacks, chocolates, energy drinks to replace the electrolytes from withdrawal, and will not eat full meals. You will notice weight loss and abnormal sleep patterns.

Marijuana users will usually hide out and stay away from family so their cover is not blown by smell/odor of the drug. Some kids will use lots of cologne and eye drops to mask their use. A teen might change clothes frequently or use layered clothes such as a hooded sweatshirt. They might also ask for $3 or $5 here and there.

Some teens will leave for school early and smoke before school in a designated spot close to the school. 4:20PM is the universal pot smoking time and April 20th (4/20) is the universal pot smoking day so be aware of these times so you can confront or give a urine screen.

Parents also need to be proactive in not participating in a “text” only relationship. You can tell so much from a phone conversation i.e. the tone in their voice, background noises to detail location and who they are with. You can hear truth or a lie, also inquire about concerns. Teens are more likely to say things in a text that they will not say verbally. Also listen to your kids’ vocabulary. If they’re using they will be preoccupied with drugs and the lifestyle.

I don’t believe all teens that use drugs are addicted, however I do believe it requires immediate intervention and each day your teen goes without treatment is a day his addiction will progress.

www.tellmeaboutyourself.info

Posted in Asher Levine, behavior of someone using drugs, changing parent's behavior, enabler, enabling, family difficulties, out of control teens, Parents and teens, signs of drug use, teen and addiction, teen intervention, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, what drugs cost, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Do you know the next Jared Lee Loughner?

Posted by Marcia on January 24, 2011

I haven’t posted for awhile as I wanted time to mull over the January 8, 2011 shooting in Arizona.

Like many people, I feel that the yelling and disrespect shown to others creates a climate in our society that is not only unpleasant: it’s dangerous.

That said, I do not hold anyone responsible for this shooting except Jared Lee Loughner, the 22 year old charged in this shooting that killed 6 people and injured 14 others, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

As the news unfolded, we began to get a clearer picture of Jared and his mental illness. The life incidents that happened to Jared would, in an emotionally and mentally healthy person, be a chance to demonstrate resilience, to learn and grow from being hurt, being fired, being rejected.

Jared’s parents are Randy and Amy Loughner, an apparently very private couple: even their neighbors didn’t know them and no friends have come forward. Jared dropped out of high school and started developing behavioral problems with a change in his personality. (It is logical to assume his problems led to his dropping out of school, but I don’t know this as fact.)

High school classmates saw his life unraveling: he abused drugs and alcohol and his behavior and conversations became bizarre. A friend’s father felt uncomfortable around him, friends turned away.

Court records indicated he had 2 offenses in 2007 for possession of drug paraphernalia and defacing a street sign, and he completed diversion programs for each.

In 2008, the U.S. Army rejected Jared as “unqualified” for service. During the application process, he had admitted to marijuana use on numerous occasions.

Jared started taking classes at Pima Community College, and from February to September 2010, campus officers talked to him on 5 occasions as he was disruptive in class and at the library. A teacher and a classmate indicated they were fearful he would commit a school shooting.

In September 2010, college police discovered his YouTube video in which he said the college was illegal according to the United States Constitution. He was asked by administrators to leave school and return only if he obtained a mental health clearance. They wanted a professional to say that Jared did not pose a danger to himself or others.

Jared had a job at Quiznos but was fired: the manager said Jared had a change in his personality. Jared volunteered at an animal shelter but was asked not to return.

Even with this pattern of deep problems, rejections, being fired, being told he needed help, Dr. Laura Nelson, deputy director for behavioral health at the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the state had no record of Jared seeking mental health treatment in the public system.

The night before the shooting, he left a message on his friend’s voicemail along with a Myspace post saying goodbye.

With all the signs: problems at high school and community college, drugs, drinking, being fired from a job and volunteer work, rejection by the Army, disturbing private texts and public videos, friends and parents of friends seeing problems – how is it there was no help for Jared?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thinking a lot about all of the people murdered and wounded that day and the ongoing trauma to their families. I’m also thinking that if Jared had professional help, this may have been prevented.

One interview with a psychologist was asked about Jared’s parents, and she said there could be a few scenarios at home but we’re not sure what happened. In some similar cases, there is mental illness in one or both of the parents. Another possibility is that the parents took him to therapists but he stopped at some point. The final option is that the parents didn’t know what to do, were at the end of their rope, maybe they were afraid of him.

I don’t know what was happening in Jared’s home and none of us know that part of the puzzle.

Just three years earlier at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (“Virginia Tech”), Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded many other people before he committed suicide. Some of his history seems similar to Jared’s. The Virginia Tech Review Panel said Virginia Tech administrators failed to take action that might have reduced the number of casualties. The panel also pointed out gaps in mental health care and privacy laws that left Seung-Hui’s condition untreated.

Wouldn’t you think that following Seung-Hui Cho’s rampage, all schools would be alerted to do more to protect the greater society? Sometimes the schools have to step in when the parents can’t or won’t.

It’s surprising that we haven’t seen more shootings like this. Unless we deal frankly and effectively with the heart of the problem, we are all endangered. A percentage of our population is seriously mentally ill and they are underserved with resources. Family and friends do not always know how to help, when to report someone, where to turn.

Some of the parents who find my book and blog and write to me need to stop and think about their own kids. Is there something you need to act on or are they facing normal teenage angst? There is also a difference between the angry teen who yells and punches the wall versus the mentally ill teen who is rambling incoherently and has inappropriate verbal outbursts.

If you’re seeing bizarre behavior, when that’s combined with drugs and/or alcohol, when your child’s friends drift away or if you have warnings from school, you must take action.

If your child’s friend is going down that path or your student is acting in a bizarre fashion, use the resources at hand. Don’t be afraid to speak up: you may be saving the life of that child and the lives of others.

I have a list of resources on my blog and encourage you to review the list, make the call if you need to on behalf of your child or your child’s friend.

Posted in enabler, enabling, family difficulties, Jared Lee Loughner, mental illness, mentally ill son, mentally ill teen, out of control teens, violence in mentally ill people, worried parents | 5 Comments »

 
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