Holiday Blessings: How My Marijuana-abusing Son Turned His Life Around

Posted December 15, 2008 by

Next week our son Matt will graduate from college.

I couldn’t think of a more magnificent gift during this season. It reflects the hope and joy that all parents of struggling teens pray and yearn for, but don’t believe will ever come. I know. I was in that place.

Rewind eight years. That Christmas we were living in the eye of a storm; the storm of stealth, anger, belligerence and marijuana abuse, neatly wrapped inside the lie of, “It’s only marijuana, no big deal.”

No-big-deal marijuana abuse (which is the drug of choice for over 200,000 individuals to drug rehab every year) was ruining our family, including my marriage. It took a huge toll. While in the midst of this storm, Matt’s older brother was cruising through his sophomore year of college, underneath his brother’s radar. He ended up earning nine (yes, you read that right!) transferable credits the entire year. Thirty is considered standard. And this was at an expensive private college…And Matt’s younger sisters became accustomed to being dropped off, often on short notice, at various places so I could attend to the latest crisis. Merry Christmas…

Fast forward six months. Matt was court ordered out of our home to a Therapeutic Wilderness Program. It saved his life. It saved my marriage. It started the healing process for our family. And it planted the seeds for long term transformation in Matt. His experience there led to a passion for the wilderness and ultimately directed him to his college major, Outdoor Adventure Leadership. How cool is that? It almost made me want to go back to school so I could study in that field. His curriculum included mountaineering and ice climbing; risky choices for sure, but so much better than the risky choices he had been making.

I bristle at the notion that wilderness programs are “Brat Camps” or some kind of cushy retreat. While I am certain as with anything, there are a range of programs from the sub-par and abusive to the excellent, we were blessed with an experience at an outstanding program. Matt spent nine weeks in the Utah Wilderness at Second Nature where he was challenged in his thoughts, decision making and in his ability to survive. The Hilton it was not.

There he gained firsthand experience in problem solving and responsibility in a way that our children’s comfortable worlds (to which they have become accustomed to as an entitlement) cannot possibly provide. Stripped to the bare essentials (which did NOT include cell phones, IPods, or any other form of technology or communication devices) he experienced and really learned about survival, responsibility and communication. (Don’t even get me started about how kids are now texting instead of talking to each other…)

Fast forward eight years. Matt is now graduating with his degree, and guess what? He has decided to work at Second Nature as member of their field staff.

If you had predicted that this was what would unfold in my future, I would have snorted in disbelief. As a matter of fact, I did snort in disbelief when a professional in the field told me our family would heal and grow together. But yet, it has come to pass.

If you are struggling with an angry, belligerent, teen who is getting high and bucking authority at every turn, let me encourage you. Been there done that, and come out the other end.

May this holiday season bring you a glimpse of the promise of hope and renewal.


Kathy has four children, aged 9, 12, 24 and 26. Her second son was seduced by marijuana when he was 16. Kathy is now a published author of "Winning the Drug War at Home". She is also a childbirth educator and is writing a pregnancy and childbirth book. Kathy graduated from Brown University with a degree in Health and Society, and also has a BSN in Nursing.

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  1. R.G., my fivesons (Edit) Report

    After raising five sons, and going through three marriages,I finally see what it’s all about. I’ve had three sons murdered. Archie my, middle son, was murdeded in 1999,it was a drive by. In 2005 T.C.,who was next to the oldest and my baby son Chaoe were murdered on T.C.’s birthday. One of his so called friends gave him a surprise birthday party and had hired some strippers. Well to make a long story short the host (the so called friend), wouldn’t pay the strippers so the called their boyfriends and told them to come this guys house.When they entered they came in with enough weapons to kill ten people. They didn’t even ask any Questions they just aimed and fired. One shooter shot my son, Chaoe in the chest and killed him instantly. T.C. ran out of the house, only to be shot in the neck and back. He also died instantly.I’m telling this story because the boy who shot my son was seventeen,and had used drugs pryor to killing my sons.Altogether there were four young men involved in murdering my sons,and they had all been using drugs.I later found out they always got high,they had killed other people. So when you hear drugs can kill take it literally. I don’t know if we will ever know why some kids turn to drugs, but I do know we better pay attention to what our young people are doing, and who they hang out with. I say this because young people like to get high around their peers. Find out who your children are spending their time with. And by all means inlist as many positive people as you can to help you with your child if you suspect he is using drug.I have come to terms with their deaths,but the murderers also have died, they received two consecutive life sentences. So it’s not just a drug problem but it can effect them the rest of their lives. Let your kids read this.

  2. life3d (Edit) Report

    I am glad not to be in this boat alone and I am sorry so many are struggling. It’s hard but we have to let our children deal with whatever their actions bring them. The wilderness program our son went to was excellent. It is North Carolina. It is called SUWS of the Carolinas.
    Our son is 16, at home, working on a GED and working at a job part time right now. We are completely on the token economy system so he has to earn any money we hand him. We continue to at home drug testing and family “forums.”
    The Total Transformation program literally empowered us to take needed steps to let him know we would not allow the abuse, stealing, and drugs.
    Thanks to all those out there who are willing to work with our young people and their parents.

  3. intothemystic (Edit) Report

    I’m not a parent, but I am someone who has experienced this kind of behavior first hand. I grew up a little too fast. Looking back, I regret putting my parents through a lot of situations. But, I have to say, I learned a lot of lessons and I matured a lot…I’m 22 years old and I just graduated from college. And I think it’s like that for a lot of young adults, they’re going to make mistakes.

    On the other hand, I had best friends, left and right, who were hitting rock bottom. And looking back, it could have been me. I had a few friends who were sent away to wilderness camps. And to me, it wasn’t one of those things where they returned and they were fully transformed into this new person. I mean it’s a very emotional/spirtual/physical adventure that kids who are sent away experience. So, they’re experiencing resent/anger toward their parents for sending them away, upset/confused because of where they are, and at the same time, inspired by the coaches and people around them and hopeful of a second chance.
    One of my friends who was sent to a wilderness program and then to an all girls school in Montana during her last years in high school, is still my best friend to this day. I think the program worked for her because of her family situation. She lived with her stepdad and her mom and well, they were not very family oriented. Her parents just saw her behavior as nuisance instead of maybe a cry for help. So, I think her feelings toward her experience are bittersweet. I think there’s still a wall between her and her stepdad and mom, at the same time, I think, it was the best thing for her (and her family) because it inspired her and molded her into the person she is today. She loves traveling, has studided in Afria, and spent 7 months studing in Australia. This semester she’ll graduate college with a degree in Enviornmental Studies. Since she’s returned, she’s made some mistakes, but now, they effect her differently. She takes it more seriously. She takes life more seriously.

  4. Joann (Edit) Report

    As I read the comments left by so many parents it continue to confirms that We are not alone…our son is 23 and we are guestimating he has been smoking pot since 13 or 14. He drinks and has dabbled in other drugs. He has been in and out of in and out patient re-habs and halfway houses. He has and is in trouble with the law, is currently under probabtion. He cleaned up a little over a year ago and seemed to be doing well, but is now back to square one, smoking, drinking. He holds down a job and is good at it, makes good money, but has nothing to show for it. He dated a 36 divorced woman that has 2 children that live w/ her X who is not all there. Crazy life in and out of their lives, sometimes abusive. He now is backed up against the wall since he said he has a bench warrant out on him; he was caught w/ pot(we spoke to his PO and she said she saw nothing) and needs to leave the house refusing to see the PO to discuss his situation. Basically he refuses to take responsibility for his actions and refuses to stop using pot. He has told me he hates us all and needs to get away; we are at the point were we have accepted the situation. I personally feel he hasn’t been a member of our home for more years than I can remember. We are married for over 30 years and he was given every opportunity to succeed, living in a nice home, dinner every nite, family around him…I will be picking up the 2 books mentioned by another parent, it certainly doesn’t seem fair to allow our children to kill us; we don’t deserve being treated this way, nor do his sisters.

  5. RGaller (Edit) Report

    Reading over all theses stories I see that our family is not the only family with problems. We have a 16 year old son and a 9 year old in our home. Our 16 year old has always had a hard time in school since the beginning. But since high school things have gotten even worse. Now he is smoking herbs and maybe cigarettes in the house. We do not smoke this makes it worse. I do not like the fact he is smoking at all. But why in our home he thinks we don’t know he does it. I call him on it and he denies it over and over again. We started a counselor but the last appt he said he was sick. The other day I caught him having sex with his girlfriend in his room!! I am lost We debate calling the police about the drugs. I do not know the best thing to do. But we do have a 9 year old in the house also. I am worried and concerned about him seeing and hearing all these problems with his brother. WE love our teenager but do not like him. By husband and I are having problems because of this. Does anyone have any suggestions.

  6. oneluckywoman (Edit) Report

    I’ve never blogged before, but I’ve been looking for a place like this to possibly find some answers. I have a 20 year old daughter who is an overachiever, never been in trouble, etc. and an 18 yo son who moved out of our home the day he turned 18. Prior to that, from about age 12-18, he was in constant trouble. At 14, he snuck out of the house, stole our truck, picked up a friend in the middle of the night and went joy riding. We awoke to the phone ringing about 1:30 a.m. to the local police department saying they had found the wrecked truck but no person in it. Luckily, it was a minor wreck and after describing our son they found him and his friend. Sneaking out at night became such an issue that we finally put a keyed lock on his window and an alarm on his door. That worked for a while but for years we couldn’t sleep at night for worrying whether he was home or out carousing. Not totally sure when he started smoking pot but suspect around age 15. Our lives were literally a nightmare from day to day, never knowing when the next crisis was coming. We wanted to believe him so badly, but every time without fail, we would find out he was lying to us and being disobedient and defiant. We took everything away and offered incentives to get it back. We took him to several counselors. We even signed him up for a program for troubled teens but that just made him angrier. We didn’t let him get his drivers license until age 17 1/2 (when we were duped into believing that he was clean). 6 weeks later he tested positive for pot and lost his license due to us withdrawing our consent. We thought for sure he would come around but never did. He never stopped sneaking out, never stopped lying. He wanted to be emancipated from us. It hurt us to the core. He stopped going to school in his senior year and had to withdraw. He did attend adult ed and finally got his diploma, but there will be no walk across the stage with his fellow classmates. That dream is gone. College is not even close to an option…he has no plan for his life. No job…and is living with less than upstanding people. We are good parents, married 22 years, no broken home, no abuse, and have given him every opportunity in the world to make the right choices. This happens to good people! It happens to good parents! Sometimes despite everything we do, our children choose to make bad decisions and there comes a time when there is nothing we can do about it. That time is here for us. He is out of our house and has been out of our control for several years. Our marriage survived it, with lots of bumps along the way. Now we are trying to deal with the worry. Our feeling is we have to let him fail. We are just afraid that he will end up getting into trouble with the law and making a mistake that he won’t be able to fix. But we have to let go and let him find out the hard way, just as he has done his entire life. It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. I read a helpful book I’d like to recommend if any of you are living our nightmare (and I know you are). It’s called “Don’t let your kids kill you.” Another one I’m reading now is excellent and it’s called “when our grown kids disappoint us”, (even tho 18 is not what I would call “grown”. I’m sure our journey is not over. I don’t know what’s to come. I’m tired of hearing other people say “he’ll grow out of it.” I hope he does, but I can’t let myself believe that yet. Thanks for listening, and please respond if you have any ideas for help.

  7. Pat (Edit) Report

    Kathy, I love your original article, and thanks to all the parents for sharing. My son is at the very beginning stage of these stories. He is 16, and we have caught him twice having smoked pot, and once being drunk. Each time he has been put on restriction, had his driving privileges taken away, lost his cell phone, and has been blocked from myspace permanently. This has all been over a 4 month period of time, and is still on restriction, indefinitely, for the last incident. I believe that a wilderness program will be next, if we let him out, and he is ever caught again. Do you think this is the right course, to nip it in the bud?


  8. kathy pride (Edit) Report

    Thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, I think when kids say they can quite whenever they want, it isn’t true. They think they can, but can’t, don’t want to, and don’t generally think it is a big deal.
    I know Second Nature in Utah is an outstanding program. Don’t know about Arizona, though.
    Be strong, hold firm and let him know you love him, but don’t accept his choices.

  9. Lei (Edit) Report

    How should I deal with a 14yo son which we just discovered he is using pot and we wants no counseling because he says “he can quit pot whenever he wants”?

    Also, anybody knows of a good wilderness program in Arizona?

    thanks in advance. the past month has been the worst of my life and i don’t know what to do to really help him.

  10. Ivy (Edit) Report

    For Jon’s Mom,
    He can get help through the state, he should call social services& get some help. Bipolar is very hard to deal with, not just for the person afflicted but for all those watching on the sidelines. He needs to deal with it & get a handle on his life. You should not be supporting him, I’d use some tough love here & he will probably find his way. If not you have to live your life. Love him but don’t enable his craziness. You could also contact NAMI, they are a wonderful resource. Good luck, I’m sending you healing thoughts via the cosmos.

  11. Vanda Henry (Edit) Report

    My 15 years old daughter is very reabel and disobedient. She is a pot head and her 15 years old boy-friend is a criminal and has been in jail 3 time for shopping lifting. She hates school and plan in not going back in thie semestry. What can i do to save her from all this special from her boy!

  12. Jon's mom (Edit) Report

    I do not think you should give your older son a car. I have found that sometimes as parents we need to step back from the situation and take time to rest. I’m not saying to neglect your children–I’m saying to take time for you and your wife. Why is your younger son on my space and have access to a computer? School is his job right now and getting F’s is a slap in your face. Do not feel guilty–you and your wife are trying to prepare your boys for life!

  13. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    Hi Paul,
    I will give some thought to your struggles…and encourage others to as well…my gut tells me you are doing an awful lot, perhaps too much. I personally would not give your older son the car. How do the rest of you reading this feel? I hae no doubt you love your sons, but it doesn’t sound like living with their mom is a good choice, and perhaps too easy for her if you are paying all the bills…

  14. paul (Edit) Report

    Sorry for the length of this. I am a parent struggling with the plight of my 2 teenage boys. They have grown up in 2 very diff households. as they became teenagers they got into smoking pot. Their Mom’s house had no discipline and allowed them to get away with everything. Their step mom and I were the disciplinary parents but only had them parttime. This created conflict and a great deal of stress for my wife and I. A year and half ago, their Mom took the boys on a vacation and never came back. They lived in NY and then moved to Mass. Mom never had a job and I paid all the bills to keep a roof over their head. In the meantime, the boys, 14 and 17 at the time, ran a college dorm like party room out of their Mom’s house. Alcahol, pot and salvia were consumed in great quantities. It was a lost year for both boys. My older son went thru a wilderness school in Maine the winter before his Mom took off with them. This was after being kicked out of a HS in Vermont for troubled teens for stealing cough syrup to get high. He came home from the Wilderness school after 13 wks a very changed person for 5 months. then they left with their Mom and he slipped back into the partying. Fast forward to now…Mom moved back to were my wife and I live last summer. I continue to support and pay all the bills although she has just now found a job. The boys lived with her primarily until Oct when Mom kicked them out and they have been living with us since. My 17 YO quit school and took his GED. We talked quite a bit about his options and I tried to support his plan. Last month he moved to Mass to be with his girlfriend, find a job, and go to school. He worked hard for the month prior to leaving to make some money by painting our house and working on various home improvement projects. So far, he has no job. He does seem to be trying and his girlfriend encourages him. She is in college and living at home. I don’t think she is a big part of his partying ways, but not sure how positive an influence she is. I am thankful that he has her in his life for support and love. Not sure he is going to make it there but I hope so. I have thought about giving him one of our old cars, but so far I have kept that to myself. He says it is easy for him to get around up there, but between a job and school, I am not sure he can accomplish without a car. He is staying with some friends in their house were the Mom is not around much so the teenagers live pretty much alone.

    My 15YO now lives with us, most of the time. He continues to do poorly in school…all F’s until the last month when he began to do work in some class with me all over him. He improved his grades in a few classes to a passing grade. He hangs out with mostly older kids that have left HS or on in a special online HS program…basically kids that have too much time and little parental guidance. Since he has been with us, and his brother moved, I don’t think he has smoked as much but my wife and I cannot be with him 24hrs a day. I have access to his myspace and know he and his friends smoke when they can. One of his brothers friends is trying to get him to try DMT now. I am certain his brother was dealing some pot before he left and the 15 yo was probably as well. I took away his phone sometime ago saying he could earn it back by passing all of his classes. He now communicates with his friends via myspace. I am at a loss for what to do with him. In addition, the stress of last few years has taken it’s tole on my wife and I and now, due to the economy, we are working 3x’s as hard, many hours for much less. Our financial situation is now precarious from paying for 2 households for past several years. not sure how I can afford to send my younger son away to a program at this time. I think I have done a good job to keep my head, but this is effecting all areas of our lives now. I am hoping to find some time to research some programs over the holidays, but time is hard to come by. My wife and I are struggling for an answer. I also feel that my 17yo will not make it on his own and will probably be back in a few months time. One more thing to deal with. I have a lot to be thankful for but this is wearing us down. any thoughts?

  15. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    He did for awhile…and the really low group was a problem.When he went to college he made new friends. The really down in the dregs crowd he did stop hanging out with.Important.

  16. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    And to thinking…I know that unbelievably difficult decision to not bring your son home after the first intervention. Matt went on to an aftercare as well, but he was aging up and schools wouldn’t take him, despite him not having completed HS. The program we chose was not good; and we ended up allowing him to come home, and he did well, there were a few bumps, but…I will share that story another time. I will pray that you have a most wonderful time together, full of sharing, laughter and healthy tears.

  17. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    Jon’s Mom: The small, sweet moments are a wonderful gift; but also a wonderful gift is your ability to keep on keeping on no matter what, whether he joins you or not. And of course other family are affected also. It is truly a family disease. One step at a time…

  18. thinking (Edit) Report

    thank you for sharing your story. i too have sent my son to a wilderness program in utah. outback therapeutic expeditions. i think they are similar to second nature. the change in him was nothing short of miraculous. it was very hard for me not to bring him home afterward. but at the suggestion of ALL the professionals involved i decided to send him to a residential treatment program, also in utah, for this school year. he continues to do great and i pick him up at the airport this afternoon for his first home visit. these have been very hard decisions and the decisions have also been very difficult financially. yet so far i could not be more grateful.

  19. Jon's mom (Edit) Report

    Your Words of encouragement kathy are very comforting
    “Keep loving your son or daughter (seems like mostly sons…) hold firm, love tough and pray. And I will as well.”

    and the hearing that we are not alone and that other parents are struggling with the same issues. Not just parents–Jonathon’s grandparents and aunt and uncle are feeling the same things.
    Thank you for posting this comment page. A month ago I wanted to go on a cruise for Christmas and not have to deal with any of this hurt. This morning I am baking cookies with my son and suppose to bespending the morning with him. I have learned to handle things differently–I am not saying it is easy and I know this is a small baby step.
    He may not show up and that is ok–I will just take that s time to say another small prayer for him–and continue to do what I planned.

  20. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    This obviously is a common issue. I was just at a Christmas party tonight where another mom shared her story. Another variation on the same theme.

    I think I will keep posting elements of our experience on this blog to both help you feel sane (the you are not alone piece, so important) and also to encourage you. It is a journey that teaches us much as parents…

    Keep loving your son or daughter (seems like mostly sons…) hold firm, love tough and pray. And I will as well.


  21. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    The name of the program Matt went to is Second Nature in Duquesne, UT. Brad Reedy is the director/owner who walks in empathy, support and understanding accountability.
    There is a common thread here of others just dismissing pot, herb, weed whatever they call it as a no big deal drug. The only thing that is true about that is it makes the user believe that nothing is a big deal; it is the drug of amotivation. If we hadn’t stuck to our bottom line, I’m not sure we would be standing in success today.

  22. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    For those who have over 18’s. This is a tough one, because they can sign themselves out and deny that they have a problem. There is some truth to letting them hit bottom. It hurts for everyone…but why should they change if we keep rescuing them?

  23. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    For those who have over 18’s. This is a tough one, because they can sign themselves out of a program. My sister and brother in law have a 23 year old son who didn’t abuse substance but has mental health issues and can’t seem to hold a job. They keep financing him unable to force him to stand on his own two feet. There is a fine line, but I think to say you will work or go to school if you want us to participate financially is reasonable. Hitting bottom is also necessary, so if we keep shielding them, it just prolongs the ordeal and chaos.

  24. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    A comment to Jon’s mom: You are so right that drugs do consume the entire family and your son’s problems and choices affected your daughter, too. I know this all too well. I applaud you for apologizing to her. I think it is important to admit our mistakes and vulnerabilities to our kids.

  25. Jon's mom (Edit) Report

    Please remember that your 15 year old daughter needs a mother. My son’s drama consumed my entire being–I was not a good mother for his older sister. She was making great grades and doing exactly what was asked of her. I knew she would be ok–and was consumed with her brother’s drama–forgetting that my daughter still needed a mother and I was letting her down. My daughter told me this a few weeks ago–she has been caring her hurt around for two years–she didn’t want to cause anymore problems. I apologized to her and told her I loved her and sometimes adults do not make good decisions and that I didn’t know how to handle all the drama. I am in a much better space now–and slowly rebuilding my relationship with my daughter. Drugs do not just affect one person they affect the entire family.

  26. Love2Dream (Edit) Report

    God Bless and thank you for sharing your story. I have
    a 17 year old son who is a substance abuser now getting the help he needs do to being on formal probation. He is entering and outpatient substance abuse program. We have been struggling with his issues for several years, tried relocating him to live with his dad but things just got worse. He is now back home and lives with me “mom” and
    his 15 yo sister. One day at a time and I pray for him and his choices daily. Also for the impact it has on his sister.
    It is so very painful to know that you are doing everythning
    possible to encourage, love and support your child but the rest is up to them.

  27. Kirky (Edit) Report

    My son is eighteen years old. He is currently not going to school and not working. He has been to 28 day treatment programs and we have seen some progress but we also see him slipping again. We have decided to give our adult children that live at home a list of expectations that are expected if they want to continue to live at home. One will be you are either working or going to school. If you do not like your job you must find another before quitting or you are not welcome to stay in the family home. We are going to establish a date as to when he must be registered for school or hired for a job. Of course the first expectation in the home is no drugs.

  28. Stuart's mom (Edit) Report

    It’s so hard to think when you’re in the eye of the storm.
    Our son who has ADHD began smoking weed Jan 1st 07 and we
    have had a rough year. In Feb. we entered into Kaiser Chem Depend. grp. Teen and Parents’ group. Terrific resource, weekly urine
    testing and 3 grps a week for teen and 2 for parents. Everyone
    said we were using a cannon for a little problem. However, it
    put all of us on the same page. In June we sent our son to
    Oak Creek Ranch School(H.S. for ADHD) He’s been attending
    ever since then and it’s been great for him. Structured behavioral consequences, however it’s not a treatment program
    so there are gaps. Between OCRS and Total Trans. We feel
    stronger but we have 3 weeks ahead of down time. We told
    our son that if he smokes one time then he will need to be with us at all times for 2 days, if he does it again he will
    follow us around for 3 days and so on. He’s had to follow
    counselors around at school several times and it a drag.
    It’s comforting to read all of your experiences, feels like
    being back in the K. chem parents’ grp. Keep posting please

  29. Kathy Pride (Edit) Report

    OK, so I know if I keep the posts short, they will post…Thanks so much for joining the conversation. I remember feeling so alone when we were on this journey, so alone in fact, that I wrote the book I needed to read (Winning the Drug War at Home). Noone wanted to share. So I applaud your courage by sharing here. I will respond in bits and pieces to each of you tomorrow.


  30. JON'S MOM (Edit) Report

    Programs do not work if our son’s are not willing to change their behavior. Our son’s need to learn to be accountable for their actions.

  31. George (Edit) Report

    We have a beautiful son, at least when pot is not involved. We have been from one crisis to another all evolving around Pot usage. When our son was sent away to a program 3 years ago, he came back rejuvinated and involved in our families success. We thought we were out of the woods and gave more leniency which enabled him to get back into his old habbits.He learned how to stay under the radar. It only gets worse with more usage of pot. After a year of a good relationship we have suffered with a year of old headaches. We are now resolved that this is a lifelong issue that needs to stay on the radar after yet another wilderness program that he is attending now. It does not get better if it is not addressed daily. He always said he was under control and everything was OK. We are waiting for his maturity to kick in that will hopefully take us out of the insanity of wondering what is next.
    The Empowering program has been inciteful to us and I wish I had seen it years ago. We are religeously going through its paces now to hopefully resolve a nightmare in our family. Our Godsend right now is that he is in a wilderness program that has put some calm into our lives and he seems to be “getting it”. We are getting it more and more as we learn more about our parenting styles that are lending to the situation. At least his older siblings are through this period of their lives and seem to be moving in a positive direction with their lives. We look at all of them and realize that we have much to be thankful for.
    We are hopeful that this current Wilderness program will give our son the clarity he needs away from drugs to get on with his life. It was difficult to manage consequences to a 17 year old who felt like they were invincible. The Wilderness program is going to save his life as well as ours. We highly suggest it when all seems lost as it does get them to a place that we had a hard time getting him to.
    Prayers have worked for us as well. Stay the course and good luck to your families. There is a heaven after the hell that we have gone through. The drugs that have entered our kids lives have kept them from many of the good things that we had planned to happen in our family. We are hopeful that we are not too late in our intervention of our 17 year old. We would like to hear about some of the methods of consequences that others have used to keep a 17 year old motivated and away from Pot.

  32. Paul (Edit) Report

    I’m seem to be in the same situation with my son… After being in trouble for drugs he is currently on probation and we just can’t seem to get him to stop using pot. After we think he is on the right track after a month or so we find evidence of him getting right back to what got him in trouble in the first place.

    I read all the posts so far and feel the Camps seem like a great idea and we have thought about getting him in something like that, but we just can’t afford the expense. Also, we are not completely convinced that this will get him on the right track. I aggree with the person who posted hitting the bottom will finally make see the light.. The other day he tried to get a job & his background prevented him getting hired. We tell him see what you have gotten into… You have to find you way out to a better place but,I guess the temtation is too great with his friends he still goes back to the same circle of problems…

  33. Lisa (Edit) Report

    It is wonderful to hear about situations which turned
    around for the better. It gives us all hope. It is so
    frustrating dealing with a child who seems to be their
    own worst enemy and lacks insight to their situation.
    It pushes a parent to become very upset and angry. In
    some situations it becomes difficult to tell if the problem
    is drug use or mental illness or both. In the worst
    case scenario it could be necessary to try to commit
    an individual if they are a danger to themself or
    others, as a last resort a decent mental health inpatient
    setting may help, but the stigma is a worry. Getting an
    accurate diagnosis to rule out drug use or mental illness
    can take some persistence. It seems the effects of pot
    which seem to have a reputation as being not addictive
    actually cause a lot of havoc for some people. Children
    may not even realize what they are buying if someone
    mixes in another drug and cuts it to make more profit.
    The only answer is to insist that there are real risks
    for some people and sending a child to a good facility f
    for help is difficult but may be needed. Police will not
    want to charge youths maybe until they cross 18 and then
    they will have to deal with the law. Things can be too
    late at this point. It seems some children become aggressive
    using pot. It is scary and sad, and as a parent you feel
    there is no where to turn. It seems there is a severe
    lack of resources for adolescents with drug and mental h
    health issues and the two illnesses should not be put
    together, they need different treatment. Departments
    of mental health need to expand more available facilities
    as inpatient and outpatient to deal with adolescents.

  34. DebbieM (Edit) Report

    can anyone out there help me.
    My son is 20, has been diagnosed bipolar/ADHD/Manic
    He presently lives @ home, but his actions are causing havoc in the house. I have one son who has moved out due to the behavior issues, and my husband is fed up, a younger son 14, has asked if he could move out also. I feel like I have done all I can with this child/adult, but because he is over 18, it seems like noone will help me. He really is a wonderful person, but because of no insurance, no meds,help maybe once a month,with a counsler. Is there any place out there that can help mentally ill adults that dont charge your entire savings. He really needs to get out on his own, but it seems like living here, he going nowhere. Oh I forgot to mention, my hubby is an alcholic…. I am backed into a wall, between the 2 of them. I would love to find a full time professional job, but to leave my husband, and 20 year old home together, I would come home to one of them probably dead. Some one please give me advise, before I end up with a stroke or something

  35. Jon's mom (Edit) Report

    My son attended and completed a 15 month boys ranch. He has come home and is now in more trouble. His life is filled with drama. I was driving myself crazy worrying for him and feeling helpless as his mother–I decided that everytime I think about him (which is usually atleast 50 times a day–or more) That instead of worrying and feeling helpless–I will say a short prayer for him. This is keeping me shane. I am no longer worried/and dreading Christmas. I called my son and told him that I realize that my role as his mother has changed and he is an adult now and making adult decisions and that those decisionsad good or bad will impact his life. I told him I love him and that I would love to have a relationship with him and to build that–we could spend time together. I will not be his pocketbook, his driver and he will not curse at me–and in exchange I will not preach to him about his decisions that I feel are bad choices. (the preaching was not working anyway). I started doing this three weeks ago-last Friday my son stopped by my work (I had not seen him in 4 months) (he has been living with his father and friends) Yesterday, we spent the morning together and talked–this is a big step in our relationship. I keep praying that he will get tired of the drama and the lifestyle that happens when drugs control you—arrest, courtdates, financial problems, unable to find people to hire you, broken relationships with family…..Please pray for my son!
    Jon’s mom

  36. jrose (Edit) Report

    hello all- Boy, it’s a relief to know we are not alone with the same issues isn’t it?

    My 17 year old only smokes “herb” too; and “my friends parents let us in their house”. I have recently been looking to send him to a wilderness camp before he ruins his life. thank you for the positive reinforcement about these camps. Any advice on how to convince my husband because our marriage is on the downhill slide with the conflict between us about whether or not his behavior is out of control and needs someone other than us. thanks and happy holidays to all.

  37. marie (Edit) Report




  38. Karen (Edit) Report

    Another thing, sometimes people have to FEEL the consequences of thier choices, in order to make changes.
    That may include hitting rock bottom. Sometimes you have to let them go and let them feel failure. If we constantly are the ones doing all the work, and setting things up for them, they never learn skills. We are supposed to be there to coach and guide them. As the TT Program says, you have to change the way you parent first, if you want a different response and result from your kids.

  39. Karen (Edit) Report

    Congratulations! It is a beautiful thing! This Christmas I am celebrating a similar story. My 19 year old son, whom i thought would be dead or in jail before he graduated high school, is coming home to share the holidays with us, after a year overseas in the USAF. We had to do an intervention program as well, a private, christian baording school in Missouri for his senior year.
    Marijuana, OTC drugs like Dextramethorphan,(seriously!)
    alcahol abuse (and almost death by intoxification) led us to make our choice. Tough love, YES. Hard. YES. But it wasn’t about me, it was about him, and getting him out of the environment he was in. The school was jail-like in style, militaristic in style, but also an accredited school. It was important to me that he earned a diploma, not just a GED. There were more options for him with his diploma.
    Of course, there are not guarantees for any program out there, but by him being in the environment he was in, and the rest of us healing and learning how to respond to him in a different way, and growing ourselves, we have reset our relationships. He is now building his self esteem by acheiving success and proud of wearing the AF Blue.
    It takes alot to take action, and realize that the way we interact with our kids, how we respond, and our problem solving skills (or lack thereof) may enable thier behavior.
    Start with improving your communication skills by adapting some of these techniques. You will be empowered as parents and be a better role model, and you may be writing your own success story!!! God Bless You All this Holiday Season!

  40. crazymom (Edit) Report

    Wow for a minute I thought you were talking about my life. I have twins boy and a girl. They are 21, my daughter is an overachiever and son under. She is away at college with all the self confidence in the world. My son tried a community college for a semester was bored and stopped going neglected to tell us. ALL F’s, how impressive, didn’t care one bit of the loss of the money. When he works he does well but is laid off due to the nature of his abilities more often than we would like. When laid off he is a thug and has informed us he smokes pot and likes it “whats the big deal”. It is making me crazy, I am very productive, feel like he has wasted 3 years of his life. Doesn’t get in trouble, doesn’t feel he is doing anything wrong. I try to make him see doing nothing with his life is wrong, he needs a purpose. Wants me to get off his back, how do I do that. I only want sooo very much for him. I am very tired of wanting more for him than he wants for himself. I know he doesn’t have a lot of self confidence but I have cheered him on and told him how we believe in him and nothing happens. HOW DO I MOTIVATE THIS KID TO BECOME SOMETHING??????

  41. sternacbr (Edit) Report

    I am very happy your son’s life has turned around. HOw old is your son?
    I have a 21 year old with the same problem. My husband and I are at our wits end. What can you do with a 21 year old? People tell me throw him out of the house. I just think he is sick. His self esteem is very low. He flunked out of two colleges and can’t seem to hold a job.



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