Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

18 year old step son newly diagnosed

My stepson who just turned 18 in Febuary has been having “symptoms” that we noticed for the past 6 months. The last 3 months have been bad. After a birade or erratic behavior and calling the police several times we finally got him admitted to a behavioral health facility. Because of his age we do not get all the information because he is an adult. But they were trying to diagnose him between bipolar and schizophrenia. It has been about 3 weeks since he’s been back home and we do not think he is taking his medicine or the medicine how he is suppose to. His behavior is getting increasingly worse, any tips or ideas in how to get him to take his medicine? We are new to this and new to living with this. His behavior is irratic at times and he paces the house all day long. We are open to suggestions or anything to know how to live with someone who is schizophrenic. Also open to family support groups if anyone knows of any. Thank you!


The main thing is not to get complacent. Get a couple of independent opinions from psychiatrists who preferably have experience in psychosis and serious mental illnesses. If they agree it’s bipolar/schizophrenia/schizoaffective, then get appropriate meds and just as important get your stepson started on psychosocial support like the NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group and a therapist whom he likes.

Don’t think that since things are better for a year or two it’s over. It’s not over until there is evidence of recovery, which I think means the ability to live independently – i.e. work, paying rent and having friends or a partner who is at least as well as your stepson and preferably more well. Until all these things happen, then the goal is recovery though meds and social support. At that point, you might start to let your guard down.

The book “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” is required reading, but just a tool in one’s toolbox. It’s about as useful as what cognitive ability the family member has. If whatever type of delusional thinking he has prevents communication, then it’s whatever works, which might include more forceful approaches.


Thank you for this advice, we will read this book and use your suggestions. We are new to all this and do not know how to handle how he is now vs how he used to be.

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Medication non-compliance is discussed in Amador’s book. If he’s communicative you might try the LEAP technique. If he’s hostile and uncommunicative, I don’t know what you do. It’s almost like you have to wait for something bad to happen and then have him involuntarily committed.

If his objection is that the drugs harm him, then that has to be taken seriously since it’s his body. I think bounds would have to be set, so if they are crossed, then the drugs must be taken and that might motivate him not to cross the bounds.

If he has some non-harm reason for not taking them, they maybe you could bribe him in some non-obvious way, but I don’t know what that would be.

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Hello. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is an organization which has support groups for families and individuals living with mental illness. I attended a 12 week course called Family-to-Family. It was very informative and educational. All courses given are free.
Another suggestion, if you have insurance that covers counseling/psychologists, would be to find someone who specializes in schizophrenia/psychosis. I saw a psychologist who helped me very much through a very tough period with my son. Wishing you the best.

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You might try getting him on an injectable
and an ACT team.

I hope this helps.

My son is schizoaffective and 34.

This site helps. Good luck! and lots of patience.

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I have a sin lived with this 3 years. The inpatient helped didnt work well for 8 months too long and getting the medication right is the key. Sometimes resident to meds.
Taking meds it is a difficult one. A doctor , health support worker someone he can listen too. A group support mentor. A call to say time to take meds . Yes I do every day and evening g. He 25 now. But I look at the other capabilities he has. Food care vitamins all these things are so important. Retraining health and how important meds are in there to stop further psychosis. Vitamin d zinc, Nac, c, magesium.ashwadgda all taking. Gut brain link taurine and prebiotics. Seriously you need structure, juicing and we struggle here in uk for psychotherapy or Cbt or other help…just getting him out each day is good and that’s I.portant social interaction.act on things dont wait , even some small thi gs, get him to look at his strengths.
The meds your key to get him to speak with dr his important it is take care of

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Going off meds is so common. My son now gets a shot once a month. So we don’t have to worry if he is taking his meds…and he lives with us, so this seems to work for now.


Was he open to the shot suggestion? Or did it take him a while to agree to it? Thank you for your reply.

he was mandated by courts, thru AOT (Assisted out patient treatment)
Look it up on internet.

I am sorry to hear of your son’s diagnosis. I also have a son diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia. During the course of diagnosis we had many hospitalizations, was told he was treatment resistant, had anosognosia and would require State Hospital care.
I joined NAMI, attended family support groups, took Family to Family class and eventually became a board member. Becoming a member of NAMI had helpful information and I realized I was not alone. I gained invaluable information about this challenge confronting us…

I learned about the illness, how to make safe calls to law enforcement, how to de-escalate.
I learned Mental health language that helped me to speak with hospitals, doctors, crisis teams.
I learned my rights as a caregiver (all though few) and was able to advocate for my son when he could not help himself.
I kept a MH journal of episodes, medications, hospitalizations and treatment plans.
Although I was not able to receive information regarding my son due to the ridiculous HIPPA requirement, I knew I had the right to provide valuable communication, like the journal to the team treating my son.
I insisted on a medicine DNA test and determined my son was a rapid metabolizer of specific AP medications. It was documented in his journal not use these medications. I insisted they use medications from the DNA green list that are injectable.
While in the hospital, I called nursing stations and/or case workers everyday and pleaded for them to present my son with HIPPA and release of information so I could become involved as his caregiver in the treatment plan. His last hospitalization the doctor was not sure they would be able to capture him since he had been “Brain on fire” for sometime. I pleaded not to give up, here is his MH history, here is his DNA. He did not give up and after 3 months in the hospital my son came home. He walked up to me and said “Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for my room and thank you for my food”.

Although he is considered an SMI, seriously mentally Ill person, he has not been ill for 2.5 years. He lives with me, he works for me part-time and is learning to care for self and keep stress down as that is his vulnerability.

We beat the odds. I attribute our success to NAMI education, support groups, DNA testing, injectables, advocacy and HOPE.

Have hope and prayers to all who walk this difficult and heartbreaking journey.