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Something’s not right

Tam7
Casual Contributor

Stepson with ADHD

Hi, I am new to this forum. 

My partner and myself have been together for 8 years. He has 2 sons (17 and 15) and I have 1 son (17) and 1 daughter (16). My partners eldest 17 son has had problem behaviour since we met and I have felt in my gut he has ADHD and bipolar. It has been a constant battle in our relationship with his behavioural challenges and unfortunately the parents have enabled a lot of his bad behaviour. Things have been getting progressively worse and in particular the last 12 months. He left school, got a job, girlfriend, licence, car etc and has been allowed to rule the roost so to speak and there are never any consequences. He subsequently lost his licence within 3 months, lost his job and girlfriend, drinking, vaping, marijuana, has fallen asleep behind the wheel of his car and smashed and more. Finally the parents agreed to have him evaluated and of course the diagnosis was obviously ADHD. The depression / bipolar still undiagnosed. He started medication, but then refused to take it even though we could see a slight improvement. 

He has threated self harm multiple times, is verbally abusive daily, so so moody, massive risk taking behaviours, has been assaulted multiple times due to trying to purchase drugs and we are all at our wits end. I do not feel safe around him and have stated he is only to be at our home if his father is present. 

 

How do I get help, his parents are scared of him, he is not taking his ADHD medication and antidepressants any longer and is basically smoking pot daily and being verbally abusive and he is extremely intimidating.

 

I have reached out to Mental Health Services, but because he is 17, he is classed as an adult and has to self admit. I have been informed that all I can do is call the police if I feel at risk and unsafe and that is the only way to get him forcibly admitted and then he will receive the help he needs. This is insane. 

I am scared of him breaking up our family and destroying what we have. The other kids have had enough and the parents have had enough, but will not seek help. 

 My hands are tied, this is influencing my life so much yet I have no power or control to get help. 

 

6 REPLIES 6

Re: Stepson with ADHD

Hi @Tam7,

 

I’d like to welcome you to the forums and thank you for sharing here today.

I can hear how stressful this situation is for you and the whole family. It can be very frustrating trying to get support for someone who is legally in that adult range and who isn’t willing or interested in seeking it themselves.

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been feeling unsafe around him recently and am glad to hear that you’ve been able to set that boundary of only being around him while your partner is also present. I notice you mentioned that his parents will not seek help and are afraid of him, which sounds as though it’s putting additional stress on you. I wonder if they would open to seeking some guidance or considering making some changes in the way they are approaching this situation? If they’re open it might be helpful for them to check out Reach Out’s parent resources here.

 

Considering the amount of stress that this has been placing on you, I’m wondering what sort of supports you have in place for yourself?  

Re: Stepson with ADHD

Thank you for your comments, I will definitely put the parents onto the Reach Out resources. I am doing okay and have been getting online advice and phone advice to support myself and I have amazing family and friend support also which heap me in these stressful situations. I just want to see some progress in treatment and support for my stepson as I just feel so unsettled with the day to day things happening.

Re: Stepson with ADHD

Hey @Tam7 ,

 

I hear how much you care. At the same time, seeing he is an 'adult', unless he WANTs change, it's unlikely he will commit to much. And yes, drugs don't really help.

 

I really hope you will be able to find time for self-care for yourself as this is most important. In time, fingers crossed that things change for him.

 

Sitting with you.

Re: Stepson with ADHD

I'm so glad to hear that you have those supports @Tam7 , and that you've been reaching out when you need it.

 

I hear that even this these supports it's a really frustrating and distressing situation. Hopefully he's able to accept some support in the future. In the meantime, is there anything that might help you cope any better with these day to day things that are currently leaving you feeling unsettled?

Re: Stepson with ADHD

@Tam7we went through something similar with an older sibling.  He was violent tho, for 20 years he terrorized me verbally, emotionally, psychologically, physically.  We were walking on eggshells as a family. I had no choice but to go no contact (i lived with him but stopped talking to him as every conversation he would flip out and beat me).  I moved out.  He also turned on my elderly parents and verbally abused them. Death threats etc.

 

Initially he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia as he was delusional, paranoid.  But 13 years later I broke my silence and reported the abuse to MH system.  He was diagnosed with Anti-social Personality Disorder (Psychopathy).  Those with behavioral problems usually have a co-morbidity, which is they have a myriad of things.  My therapist mentioned to me that Schizophrenia does not make a person violent. I never understood that as we have a culture of blaming bad behaviour on mental illness.  They said the Schizophrenia did not cause his violent aggressive behaviour.  He has a character deficiency which causes the violence (Eg Narcissism, Sociopathy, Psychopathy)

 

I have come across people with ADHD online and in real life.  They are not all abusive.  If you want to get MH system to help you,  you have to demonstrate they delusional, paranoid or disheveled to warrant hospital intervention.  Or if they are aggressive and violent - you need to report it otherwise they wont take your case seriously.  I was lucky we had a family doctor who advocated for us and pushed the MH system to intervene and hospitalize him.  The medication makes him docile/sedated, so that improved things markedly.  In the end the MH team told us what we went through was domestic violence not the effects of Schizophrenia.  I wrote to them and told them all the horrible things he did they were so shocked they admitted him straight away.  You might want to get the GP to be your advocate and call them and pressure them to admit him.  After all you said he was getting worse, that means the behaviour is escalating.  He requires psychiatric intervention.

 

When he was in psych ward he was on his best behaviour - so they were planning to discharge him without medication. That is when I reported it and broke my silence.  I also wrote to them and said "if you discharge him without medication, refer him to a housing service, he is not to come home, we are changing the locks".  You really need to be firm and advocate for yourself.  No one is going to do that for you.  You also have to understand the Pub Health system was always underfunded and with covid, PH is now in crisis and understaffed, so they only intervene in the most severe of cases.  That is how the system works.  Even with NDIS you have to really work hard to put a case together.

 

Even if he is not physically violent, it is not sustainable to be walking on eggshells and be at the receiving end of psychological and emotional abuse like that.  It is not fair that the rest of the family is living on adrenaline and cortisol as he is left to terrorize everyone.  My mum had Blood Pressure of 200 systolic in her 80s!.  His behavour ruined her heart.  It has real repercussions.  There needs to be intervention.

 

Call 1800 respect for help if you think this is DV.

Re: Stepson with ADHD

Thank you so much for your feedback and sharing your experience. Even though there is so much talk about mental health, sadly it is still seen as a dirty secret. I feel stuck given he is only my step son and I feel I have no power and it is up to his parents to make the reach hard choices and take action. I am definitely learning after my recent experience that I need to ask for help and keep myself and my children safe and make the parents realise that none of this is normal behaviour and it is an illness and he needs serious help before someone actually gets hurt. I have made the decision to call the police in future for anything to create the record and history so that we can get help and there is a clearer picture of what is happening. It was just be nice for his actual parents to step up and stop being ashamed and feeling like it is a secret and do what needs to be done.

 

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