I have just joined and this is my first post. My 19 year old son was diagnosed as Schizoaffective in his early teens and spent 4 years in various institutions, including 2 years as an in patient at the State Hospital. In the past few days, we found out that he has taken a large amount of acid and magic mushrooms and he was arrested 2 nights ago for erratic public behavior and harassing the police by repeatedly calling 9-1-1. We do not tolerate him being under the influence of drugs in our home, however he has alienated himself from all of his “friends” and basically has nowhere to go if we were to eject him from the house. He is still coming down off the acid trip that caused his arrest and he is having a major psychotic episode. I have my wife and 15 year old daughter in the home and I do not feel safe having him around them, but I am at a complete loss as to where to turn. The cops don’t want to know if he is not breaking the law and the local mental health group has no interest in advising us if he does not have insurance (he refuses to apply for medicaid). In his distorted mind, he feels that he is not ill and will not voluntarily seek help (typical for his condition, I know). I am at a complete loss as to where to turn for advice and options. Please help me!
Hello, I am sorry your son and your family are going through this.
First question, can you put your son on your health insurance since he is under 26? If not, get all the paperwork for Medicaid and fill it out for him, then just get him to sign it, maybe in exchange for something small he wants, like a bribe,
Second, where you live, could he camp in the back yard or something? I know this is not always possible depending on the living situation, but you can set boundaries about polite and non-disruptive, non-aggressive behavior that all family members must follow. If he is unable to, he could camp in the yard.
If you PM me, I could help you look for resources in the county where you live if you live in the US. It can be really hard and sometimes impossible to find resources.
This illness is not your son’s fault, but it’s very, very hard to live with someone who is symptomatic and your family may or may not be able to. One day, one hour at a time is all we can do sometimes.
And if you take him to the ER and he is admitted to involuntary inpatient treatment, often times the social workers in the inpatient hospital will help people apply for Medicaid and where we live, anyway, we can apply to have it go back three months from the application date if certain criteria are met.
Does he have a court hearing coming up?
Thanks for your reply. We are unable to add my son to our health insurance because we are all currently on Medicaid. I am going to call them on Mon to see what we can figure out. We have considered allowing him to camp out in the backyard, but this just provides another avenue for him to invite his druggie friends over to smoke weed in a non-controlled environment. I live in Utah and have exhausted all local resources, so that is a problem for us. I have strong feelings regarding the effectiveness of organizations such as NAMI. They are well meaning, but there is little substance behind their marketing pitch. He has been to the ER multiple times over the years and it is extremely ineffective. They sit for 6-8hrs before a crisis worker even shows and then it’s a fiasco getting him into a facility. He has a court date coming up end of May and this will be his first arrest and charges. I am less worried about the results of this than I am the long term effects of taking psychedelic drugs while dealing with his mental Illness.
I understand that this illness is not his fault and I we have to constantly remind ourselves of this. However there comes a point when a person is reckless enough experimenting with psychedelic drugs that they are a danger to others and I simply cannot allow that to happen in my home. My son has already tried to kill my wife and daughter while he was in care and I know that the voices will still tell him to do this when he is experiencing a psychotic episode.
One thing to note is that the lack of support groups for caregivers is astounding. We often feel trapped with nowhere to turn for help, advice or just a listening ear from somebody who actually gets it.
My daughter, age 35 now, became ill 3 years or more ago, but the episodes became obvious 3 years ago. She lost everything and had to begin living with us. While unmedicated the episodes were almost 24/7 and ruined most of the peace in our household for 2.75 years. After the second time she was arrested, I was more educated on the “system” and its faults through NAMI, our county, repeated hospitalizations, and advice from this site. I took advantage of the arrest to go to court while my daughter was still in jail and tell the judge my daughter was ill, diagnosed and unmedicated. He asked what he could do to help, and I said, she needs medical help. He ordered her to be released ONLY if she agreed to medication, and she went from jail to a psych hospital where she was force injected with a medicine that I knew had worked before. She became un-psychotic on these repeated long-acting shots, and has been accepting her shots and seeing doctors, and has gone back to work part time since the arrest Dec 2018. She is sane from an outsider’s view. Only the right medicine, force injected (she won’t take pills) helped. I used the law to my advantage. I don’t know if this helps you or not, but it was almost impossible to be happy before with her unmedicated. She STILL does not think she is ill, she STILL does not “need” the injection, but she takes it because it has helped her find and keep a job. I wish you luck sorting out your life. This disease is a curse, and anosognosia (lack of insight) makes it a double curse.
I agree with you about NAMI as an organization, but I did find a great deal of support in the family and friends support group with people who are going through what we are going through.
I hope everything goes as well as possible for your family. If you have to kick your son out to keep the rest of the family safe, in the long run, if he receives effective and consistent medical treatment, he will understand.
I’m sorry you are going through this. My experiences are with my husband, but I’ll add my thoughts.
As you know, the acid and other drugs are sabotaging his recovery. (Is he on AP meds? ) But I understand that it’s nearly impossible to get a 19-year-old boy to do anything he doesn’t want to.
Maybe you should look into dual diagnosis residential facilities. Find a nice one, and present him with this option. My brother, who is not mentally ill, finally was saved from his heroin addiction by going to a rehab on the California coast. He was your son’s age. I think it was being around his peers and younger counselors who were in doing well in recovery finally did the trick.
I never joined NAMI, but I got some useful info from their website. I did see a private social worker to deal with the stress of living with my mi husband. We also talked about practical solutions to crises.
Don’t hesitate to call the police if he threatens violence while in psychosis. Even if it’s just a temporary solution, better safe than sorry.
Sign him up for Medicaid and SSI disability.
You can apply for Medicaid for your child. I know because I’ve filed for it for my 21 year old son. There’s a place where you check that you’re filling it out for someone who’s not capable of filling it out themselves. And I ran my son off you know few times when he would come around mostly he lived on the street from 17-20. Finally itold him he could come live with me but he has to take care of his mental health he absolutely has to do that
Your story sounds like so many here and m heart goes out to you. It is so scary during these times.
My son has had schizophrenia for about 3 years. He sold his house and everything he owned, bought a van and decided to live in it.
This was around the time of his first symptoms.
He lived in the van for about a year (collected many many parking tickets) and then sold his van.
He lived on the street for another year. Sleeping behind Home Depot, eating out of garbage cans, getting thrown in jail on bullshit charges. All while being completely delusional.
He got some $ from a school application a the voices told him to fly to Germany (from LA) to go live in Germany and be homeless in the winter!
All of his decisions were breaking my heart. I started having anxiety or panic attacks and realized after a hospital stay of my own that I had to start living again.
I worked hard to get out of my hell
I went to counseling and she suggested I go to alanon. I had all the symptoms of grief and stages of grief, but I was trying to life.
For myself I had to realize that this is his life. I remembered the 3 Cs I can’t CURE him, I didn’t CAUSE it, and I can CONTROL it.
I say this often
I payed his way back to the USA but only if he agreed to go to AA and the VA
He moved in with me kind of…he had to sleep in the garage.
I was scared to sleep in the same tiny house with him. (He had already proven to me that sleeping inside didn’t matter that much )
While living in my garage for 6 months he went to jail 3 x and was baker acted twice
I always went to see him and always asked how I could help. But it was up to him 100%
The last Baker Act he started medication for the first time ever. I never thought I’m a million years he would take meds. He had been on them for about a month and I don’t have any fear when he goes out that he will get arrested or kicked out of stores.
I am like you soooooo scared of the side effects. But really this abuse that he gets on the streets by COPS alone is enough to keep him medicated.
There isn’t an answer. But I do know that it’s a 911 EMERGENCY that you care for yourself!
This community on this website is AMAZING
. There isn’t one cure fits all because it a day by day case by case
Don’t let people tell you you’re “doing it wrong” or you need to blah blah blah lol
Nobody knows your family and what is needed like you do .
The 3 Caregiver C"s helped me so much years ago. We didn’t Cause it, we can’t Cure it and we can’t Control it.
Recently I read a quote that said we can either master our circumstances or be mastered by them. It took me a long time to realize that a big part of my job needed to be containing scz’s affect on family life the best I could. The rest of us still need normalcy, relationships, joy and laughter, surely that is helpful for our family members as well.
There were times when I felt very uncertain about what steps to take, how extreme to go in our attempts to get our son on meds. Looking back, I am glad I listened to myself when I had doubts. Like our FtF teacher told us - “only hindsight is 20/20 when you are dealing with severe brain disorders”.
Your story sounds very similar to mine. It is painful to read and remember the agony I have experienced. I wanted you to know that when my son was 19 I went to the courthouse and I got guardianship of my son. A temporary one was setup until the permanent one was activated. I was able to force medication in the hospital where he was and decide where he would live ( a group home funded by SSI, Medicaid) He has lived in a couple of poorly run group homes . He would find a way to steal alcohol etc . From 19 to 21 he was hospitalized, in 3 different group homes and homeless. I was at my wits end when he was for the second time in an ER setting ( 5 weeks, no window n no activity) I had an immediate relinquish of guardianship and my son became Ward of the state. Things changed for the better then! They found a group home that works with his type of drug, alcohol, running away behaviors and also psychiatric disorder Miraculously he has remained there for a year.
I hope this helps you to better understand how things can go. I also had to get counselling for myself and put on an antidepressant because I thought about him non stop and cried. I had other children living at home so many of my decisions that I made were done thinking of their safety. Good luck n you are NOT alone in this pain