Adult stepson is out of control.

grass1973March 30, 2010

My 20 yr old SS, soon to be 21 yr old SS, is tearing my family apart. His out of control antics started about 3 yrs ago, stealing, drug use, verbal abuse towards everyone in the family, and destruction of our home. My wife and I have been together for 14 yrs(married for 3 yrs). He has left home several times and always seems to come back, The last time was about a yr ago, in which he returned from about a 3 month stay with his father. That's the most time he spent with his father at one time since his mother and I have been together. He has tried community college that didn't work out, he now has a part time job with no bills other than for his pot. His mother seems to think that aint so bad "its only pot". But when you cant function without it its more than just pot. He has her convinced that he has some mental problems that he cant control his temper he doesn't know what he's doing when he looses his temper, at least that's what he says. He refuses to get help for his so called mental issues and thinks that pot is the only solution. My wife and I have a 12 yr old son together and all of this turmoil is definitely affecting him. She thinks that I'm being cold and uncaring when I tell her he must leave because he has nowhere to go. I feel like if since he has nowhere to go he should be doing everything possible to straighten his act up. This has pushed my wife and I to a point where I'm not sure we get through it together. I love her and don't want to separate but I cant continue to put my son in a situation where he might be hurt physically when my SS throws one of his temper tantrums. Any advice would help. Thanks.

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I strongly suspect your SS has more than a "pot" problem, and my advice (take it or leave it, as you wish) would be to take him in for a drug/alcohol assessment at a reputable susbstance abuse center.

He's got a known substance abuse issue alreadly, the potential to become violent and hurt someone. It's way past time to get this young man some help whether he wants it or not.

I would tell your wife the kid goes into to treatment for at least 30 days for both the substance abuse and emotional instability immediately. And that she must make it clear to him that his refusal to do so means he needs to leave the home.

Otherwise it's just going to get worse. If she refuses to deal with this problem then I'd suggest packing up your young son and moving asap.

The whole thing sounds like it has the potential to become very volitile.

I wish you the best, you may want to do some googling on interventions, I can forward you a few good resources if you like.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:24AM
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I know from first hand experience that dealing with anyone on drugs is difficult. I have had friends that feel into drug abuse and my DH has a brother that is an addict as well as my sister's husband being an addict. It takes it's toll on the entire family.

First let me say that I also suspect he uses more than just marijuana. Now I am just going from what you have said and I am not a complete expert but I have taken many classes towards my certification for drug/alcohol counseling so I know a little bit but that is all just a very small tip of the iceburg. Anyway, I say that I suspect he is using more than just pot because he probably does have some mental issues and is trying to self medicate with drugs. I personally don't think that pot is the worst thing in the world but no matter what it is still illegal and not acceptable to be in your house. Even though I don't think pot is all that terrible I still would never condone its use to my children. I believe kids need to be taught to follow the law, period. Ok so that is my opinion on that. I can see how your wife might feel about pot but I don't think it is right for her to just ok it either.

Now the trouble with dealing with a drug addict is that most of the time they don't want to get help. In my opinion rehab is useless unless the person wants to get the help and that is normally only after they have hit rock bottom. Now that is not to say that you shouldn't try to get your SS help because I think that you should. I am saying that rehab might not be a miracle cure and he could get out and spiral right back to where he is now. But rehab is definitely worth a shot.

If he refuses going to rehab then I say you have got to get him out of your house. Not only is it not fair to your son but it is not safe either. And God forbid if something happened to your son, even if it was an accident (say your SS accidently hits your son during a tanturm) or something similar then child protective services could always get involved. I would never have thought much about that before but just had something similar happen to a family member. If child services comes to investigate and finds out you let your SS stay in the home while he was on drugs, any drugs, and while he was violent then they would feel that you and your wife are not providing a save environment for you son and could take him away. Now it might just be for a night or two while they investigate or could be months but any way you look at it it is a horrible situation to put your son through. Why even take that chance.

If he won't go to rehab and you have to kick him out he will find a way to make it. I am sure he has friends to take him in and maybe it will be a wake up call if he finds out he can't depend on mommy all the time. If that is too harsh then at least sit down with him and your wife and get a plan into action to get him out of the house on his own two feet and set some serious boundaries and make it clear if he acts violent or you even suspect drug use in your house that he has to go.

But you and your wife need to be a united front. To me she sounds like an enabler. My DH grandmother just passed away last week and she was enabling two of her grown sons. They were 50 and 44 and now they have no where to go since she passed away. Neither one has a job and both were drug addicts themselves. I do not know what is going to happen to them but it has put a huge stress on the family while everyone is mourning as well. You do not want your SS to still be living there at 50. It is not healthy to keep enabling a child and to not teach them to be independent. Your wife needs to step up to the plate and be a mother, and not his best friend.

I hope and pray things get better for you. I have found just talking on here has helped me get my head straight. Good luck to you and your family.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 3:32AM
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he is using illegal drugs, pot or whatever else, unless he has a prescription for it, it is illegal. i am pretty sure you don't want anyone possessing illegal drugs at your house. besides the legal issue drug use is dangerous, it will get more dangerous if untreated.

i would not stay in the house where people use drugs especially with a minor child. he either goes to rehab tomorrow or you move out. if he stays and continues using maybe time to call the police, he is probably dealing too, not just using.

By the way if you and your son move out, you'll get full custody because there is drug abuse going on in mom's house.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 6:06AM
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If he has mental health problems (and has admitted it), then he needs to be in treatment for them. Right now, he's self-medicating with pot (and ?), and that self-medicating is either contributing to or masking the symptoms that would allow a mental health professional to properly diagnose and treat him. Not to minimize the drug use -- but it may be the result of his mental health issues instead of the cause.

As you know, your wife is enabling him. Odds are good she knows this too.
But I can understand why/how she would be unwilling to kick him out -- He's only 20, not self-sufficient, and in the middle of a personal crisis.
But as the others have already said -- You have responsibilities to your younger son as well, and don't want to enable him forever.

Something's gotta give.
Would your wife agree to making him go to some sort of counseling as a condition of staying there? Maybe make an appointment with a counselor (who specializes in teen issues / failure to launch / drug abuse) for say, three weeks into the future, then tell SS (together) that he either goes to that appointment (and future appointments) or moves out.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:50AM
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It's very easy to call the wife/mother an enabler, but I suspect she's more of a doormat.

OP's screen name is grass1973;
I'd bet there's been more than a little pot-smoking in that household since the beginning...when this boy was 6 years old.

& OP lived with the boy's mother, & therefore with the boy, for 14 years & has a 12 year old child with her, yet they've been married only 3 years.

At 20, the boy has tried to make it on his own several times???

There's more disfunction here than I think can be dealt with in an internet forum;

I'm thinking there needs to be some intensive therapy.

I wish everyone, especially this angry 20-year-old, the very best.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:38PM
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I thank everyone who has committed on my situation. It is good just to let someone know how your feeling and whats really going on. I am going to take all of the suggestions into consideration and try to work something out with my wife and SS. Hopefully get him some help and maybe that will help everyone out in the process. As far as the last commit grass is my last name not my way of life. I grew up in a family where drug use was the norm, older siblings encouraging the use, and yes I have done my fair share of pot smoking and other recreational drugs. I have not on the other hand done this in the presence or since I have been with my wife. I had my life on a good path when we met and we started a life and a family together. My wife knew about my past and I have discussed it with my SS and have tried to teach him better than what I was. As far as dysfunction I dont know of a perfect family we all have skeletons in our closet and demons to deal with.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:06PM
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Just one more thing to consider---If you knowingly allow someone who lives in your house to use illegal drugs (even pot), aren't you breaking the law? Couldn't you be charged with possession since the drugs would be in your house? Couldn't you be in danger of going to jail? What would your DW think about this?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:11AM
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There is no way I would tolerate illegal drug use in my house. I don't care who it was, stepson, son, husband, whatever. It's illegal. Regardless of whether I think pot is harmless or not, regardless of whether I've smoked it before in my life or not. At this point in my life, illegal substanses have no place in my house. Period.

I think the first thing I'd do is get the drugs out of the house. If that means searching his room so be it. And don't get me wrong. I'm a very firm believer in privacy. I never have and never would snoop around in my kids' rooms, UNLESS I supsected that they were harboring illegal drugs. At that point, all bets are off.

The next thing I'd do is get with your wife and go to counseling - the two of you. It's imparative that you and she get together on how to deal with the son. And a professional is probably the best person to help you two with that that since your wife is either enabling or letting him walk all over her or both.

And the third thing, drugs or not, at 20 it's time for the kid to grow up and begin to support himself. College isn't the only avenue. What about learning a trade or skill? I told my kids I would support them through college and that if they chose not to go to college or otherwise further their education, they were on their own after high school. At what point does someone become an adult -- at what point WILL mom expect her son to become self sufficient?

I didn't touch upon the influence/endangerment of the younger son since that was discussed above but I agree that I would absolutely not want my 12 yo child living in the same house with a half-brother (which the 12 yo potentially looks up to) while he does drugs, has temper tantrums and generally takes advantage of you and your wife.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 2:11PM
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I think that the statements made my syliatexas are a little too judgemental and made up of nothing but assumptions. Just because the man and his wife cohabitated and had a child for years does not mean that they were drug users. How in the world can you even make that assumption?

I see the OP has stated that his last name is Grass and that is where his username comes from. Now see don't you feel a little bad for jumping to conclusions?

And sylviatexas states 'At 20, the boy has tried to make it on his own several times???

There's more disfunction here than I think can be dealt with in an internet forum;

I'm thinking there needs to be some intensive therapy.'

What exactly are you implying here? So what if he is 20 and has tried to make it on his own several times. Lots of kids return back home from time to time and then they get life straightened out and make it just fine. This 20 yo has admitted mental problems and that may very well be part of the reason he has not made it on his own yet. He needs some help and some very clear set boundaries.

To the OP I do hope that you and your wife get the boy some help. I am sorry you are all having to go through this and I understand about coming on here and just getting out what you are feeling. That is why I have come on here as well. I have received some wonderful advice and already this site has helped me open my eyes and grow up some.

Please come back and keep us posted.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:51PM
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By the age of *20*, no one should have been on his own "several times".

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 3:21PM
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Twice in two years for a 20 year old? I agree. That's not crazy-unheard of. And marriage is not an indication of a lasting relationship. I think being together for so long, having a kid and then getting married years later is actually a sign of a good relationship, not dysfunction.

That said, most people do not go off drugs because they are forced to or told to.

My house... my rules. Rule #1, if you're not going to school, getting good grades, helping around the house... you need a job to pay room and board. (a parent can always take that money, put it aside, and give it back to kid later when they have their act together).

If you're not paying rent/utilities/food/etc... go live somewhere else. This is not a flop house. Period.

No drugs in my house. No drinking. You're under 21. My house, my rules. You don't like them, you leave. You're welcome here as long as you follow my rules.

If you enable him, he will only get worse. It's a disservice to him.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 3:36PM
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I have an adult step son who is 30. I have been married to his father for 3 years. all 3 years his son has been getting into trouble in one way or another. he does herion or what ever he can get his hands on he doctor hops also getting medicine. I married my husband because i feel in love with him but i have had to put up with so much. my husband doesnt like it when i voice my opion expecilly when it comes to his kids. he takes things that dont belong to him. im a parent i know what its like to love your son or daughter but there has to be a limit. on what you are willing to keep putting up with.. am i tired of it hell yes. but im not willing to give up my marriage. i keep hoping that soon very soon my husband will catch on and put his foot down.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 1:00AM
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As a mother I would tell my child no alcohol, no drugs, etc. but there would be no way in h3ll that I would throw him to the wolves if he needed me. Some perhaps would call it enabling but I just don't think I could be a fan of "tough love" with something as critical as not knowing if your child is sleeping in an alley or prostituting themselves... I feel for OP. I'd probably remove my impressionable 12 year old from the home. However, I also feel for OP's wife, essentially she must choose one child over the other (even though one is an adult, he will always be her child) - OP's wife must be going through h3ll right now :(

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:24PM
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