How many of you have an unmedicated family member and what's happening today?


My son is 34 years old. He is suffering from a form of schizophrenia that progresses gradually. He is disabled due to his illness. He tried working for several years after graduating from college. Eventually the paranoid thoughts and auditory hallucinations made it impossible for him to work. He suffers from anosognosia, making him totally unaware of his illness. Which of course means that he thinks all of the fears and auditory hallucinations are real. If he sees a person, he will hear them saying rude things to him, calling him names or threatening to kill him.

Our daily communications- and they aren’t daily as he often won’t respond- are through texting. I never know if he will think I am saying something rude, so I try to avoid talking to him in person.

Today he said I could mow the yard anytime I wanted. I text first to find out if he’s awake as waking him up with loud noises can trigger his psychosis. He has been in a relatively calm state lately, I know it will go away at any minute, but at least asking is an excuse to have some sort of contact with him.


Interesting, I would have thought there would be more than me with an unmedicated family member with schizophrenia.

I receive a lot of pressure at my NAMI support group to stage an event that will cause my son to be arrested and taken in front of a judge to have medication court ordered. From what I understand we are to force the issue only to save a life. I listen closely for threats to himself or others when he speaks. He has damaged property when his psychosis has been extreme. Using Dr Amador’s LEAP communication techniques we have made progress in trust.


I don’t know if this counts.

My son had stopped all medication earlier this year. I’m not sure for how long, but he finally got sick enough where he ended up in the hospital.

I did not stage an event, but I did jump when the opportunity presented itself to get him the help he needed.

For the first one, we had went into fill out paperwork to get him a case worker. He was pretty unresponsive, signed his name as bugs bunny, all kind of stuff where you could tell he was very, very sick. They asked him what hospital he wanted on his emergency list, and of course we didn’t know. So, I asked what the options were. The lady explained lots of people liked one because it was close, and another because you could smoke there. He chose the smoking hospital.

Later that day or the next, he asked to go to the hospital where you could smoke, so I looked and their website said they did 24 hour evals. Off we went at about 9 PM. I think he had the idea he would get there, smoke in a safe place, hang out & leave. They wouldn’t let him leave when he wanted to & did an involuntary hold.

He came out better, but promptly gave up the meds and was very sick again very soon.

Nearly 2 months later, he was very agitated one morning and wanted to speak to someone right away. So bad, that he said let’s just go to the mental health clinic and ask to see the therapist or case worker. I said OK, but if they’re not available, you have to ask for crisis. He did, and within 10 minutes they were starting the involuntary hold.

This time, they started him on the injection, and I had lots of hope for it, but now it doesn’t seem to be working well enough or his dosage is too low, and I wonder if we’re not on the downhill slide for a 3rd trip. I’m really hoping we’re not.

Here, the involuntary hold laws have more in it than an immediate threat to yourself or others.
It also includes verbiage about gravely disabled, not capable of caring for oneself or protecting oneself from harm, and not being competent enough to voluntarily agree to treatment.

My son was not threatening to harm himself or others when he went in on an involuntary hold, but he was visibly out of it and barely able to communicate. And, communicate is a loose term, he could speak, but it wasn’t making any sense at all.

I think the first time it was “not able to protect himself from harm” and the second time was because he wasn’t competent enough to voluntarily consent to treatment.

I would not stage an event, but that’s my personal thoughts on the matter. I’ve worked very hard for a very long time to maintain trust between us.

I don’t understand what your goals are. Do you want to get him into treatment? Or are you looking for ways to cope with allowing him to stay unmedicated?


SLW, thanks so much for responding.You have such a good relationship with your son. I hope the meds will work out and help him more at some point. The trust issue is such a key according to Amador.

I think I am getting close to the goal of coping with his “choice” to be unmedicated I don’t feel its something I am allowing. My son’s version has been progressive, I know we have more challenges ahead which may result in a hospitalization. Him being medicated by his choice is still my goal. Dr Amador says if they choose medication they are much more likely to adhere. Your son seems to be asking for help during his crisis times that seems like a good thing.

At one point he agreed to see a psychiatrist for a year, we sent him to an excellent doctor who specializes in schizophrenia. We have been told that our son is one of the nearly hopeless cases with little hope for medication compliance. The doctor was pro-meds, just wanted to be honest with us.

I think I am simply looking for contact with people who are in the same situation.


Hope - there are many people like you out there. Our own family took over a decade to get our family member into treatment and on medication. Prior to that it was extremely hard. But - I suspect many people who are in your situation are not as active here in our forums because its so hard to get people into treatment if they are over the age of 18. You’ll also see as you scroll through the messages in this this forum that in many situations the person who is ill is either homeless or has left the city or town where they live and is no longer in contact with the family (sometimes they fly internationally and get lost in foreign countries). All of these are nightmare scenarios for the person who is ill as well as the family who worries for their safety and wellbeing.

I think you’ll find more people will add their comments here over time - and hope others will join in the conversation because this situation is common.


When my son had insight, he was very compliant and he would try any medication they gave him to make the psychosis go away. My battle then was to keep him from taking to much to make it go away faster.

My son’s illness is apparently progressive too because he lost his insight this last year, and without insight, I don’t feel he’s capable of deciding whether or not he needs medication, so I will make that choice for him as long as it’s in my power to do so. He would not willingly take anything before, but he is accepting the once-a-month injection for now.

If he had insight, I would try to respect his wishes and work on alternatives.

Does your son recognize that he’s ill?


My daughter refuses to take medication cause she doesn’t believe she is sick.
I don’t know what my options are and how to help her.


Hi, our family was in this situation for years until my family member was arrested and incarcerated during an extreme psychotic episode.

It really is family member’s choice whether or not to take medication as far as the laws are concerned, even though people with serious psychosis spectrum disorders don’t frame the decision not to take medication or the symptoms in the way doctors and judges frame the decision.

Because of my childhood of being abused and people in my family constantly telling lies about it, I won’t tell lies to or about any person I love for any reason.

But practically speaking, if you do decide to lie, find out which lies to tell the police so your family member receives treatment, but that would also NEVER put family member at risk for arrest, legal charges, and incarceration.

Incarceration is a form of torture for someone in severe psychosis.


Whenever my son has tried to live un-medicated, his life quickly ends up in shambles - pending eviction, threatened with lawsuits for perceived or real threatening behavior, banned from restaurants and other merchants, and behaving in unsafe ways both at home and in public spaces.

I respect your decision to wait for your son to decide to accept treatment. Knowing that it was possible for his illness to worsen without treatment, that he was likely to end up in jail without treatment, that he would be unable to ever even consider working on some of the goals he had before illness, and that because of his lack of insight he would likely never seek treatment, I chose to get guardianship, intervene, and do what I can to keep him med compliant.

My hope is that he will remain safe and stable, and that another treatment might one day become available that will help him gain insight and take steps on his own to continue recovery.

Good luck to you @hope - as long as your son is relatively happy, and stays safe, it sounds like you are doing good by your son. On the other hand, if you reach of point where you think intervention might be best for him, don’t feel you are doing a horrible thing. I also would not put it in terms of a ‘staged event’, but another way to try to help your son when he is unable, because of his illness, to help himself. Maintaining contact - even if it is about mowing the grass! - is sometimes all we can do.


Would please kindly share your experience as to HOW and WHERE to apply for the guardianship for an adult child?
I have googled the subject and asked at the hospital, but so far got no helpful info.
Thank you so much


I’m sure it varies from place to place. In my community, it was thru the county. Hospital social services SHOULD be able to help you. Keep asking until they find the person who has the answer for you.


Most counties have a mental health dept too, they might know as well.


My son has been unmedicated for almost a year and has no idea he’s sick it has progressively gotten worse and worse and we finally got him deported back to the United States and in a mental hospital where he still refusing meds but I pray that he will start taking them so he can maybe get some insight . I personally am so scared that he’s never going to come back to any kind of reality . His psychosis is so bad that it breaks my heart to see him this way I don’t have any answers but I just pray every day for all of us going through this and all of ouchildren who are suffering from this terrible illness


Each state is different. There is sometimes a department within Health and Welfare that is called “Adult Protective Services.” They will know.


"Adult protective services"
I searched that for my province in Canada and finally was able to find the right agency.
THANK YOU for your help


ok have 50 yr old stepson diag about 15 yrs ago bi p para schz locaj mental health just wanted to rx him to zombie status. say different dr each time for about 4 min apt. case worker meant well I guess but bus ride outings with other mentals weren’t for him. I got him on ssa ds first try. he has several good das then something will set him off and that lasts a few days. I saw a show about ortho molecular treatment for schz and have had him on heavy vits/minerals ever since I like to think it is helping him somewhat but not really sure. but haven’t been to the local mental healh clinic in over 10 yrs. i’m 75 so not really sure about his future since hes also dyslexic which complicates being on his own. oh well doing the best I can and yes the key word for all these folks is STRESS!!! overall a bleak future for all I think. good luck to us all


Thank you, you are the first time I have heard of anyone being unmedicated for over 10 years and eventually getting into treatment and medication. That makes me feel much more hopeful. I know that we are fortunate in some ways that our son is so very afraid that he can’t bring himself to leave here.


Thanks for asking slw, he does suffer from the symptom of anosognosia. He does not have insight. He tries to represent his desire to not take medicine as being about not wanting to take more medicine when he has to take some serious medications already for an unrelated physical condition. We have asked ourselves many times what would his choice be if he was aware of his illness.

He has never been hurt anyone or tried to hurt himself.


My son was arrested once. He had called the police for help as he believed a neighbor was about to kill him. After arriving and assessing the situation, they arrested him for unresolved automobile tickets.

We didn’t know what was wrong with him when he was arrested. The police must have suspected as they sent someone to question him in his home after he was released. They possibly knew what was wrong, but no one told us. Our son changed so gradually that we had no idea what was wrong with him. Because I didn’t know, I missed that opportunity. At the time we actually believed his auditory hallucinations were caused by his other meds. I was terrified the few hours he was in jail. Now with what I do know, I would be even more terrified.

I didn’t know anything about schizophrenia. He always heard actual people saying things they weren’t saying. I didn’t realize that was the same as hearing voices. Sounds foolish doesn’t it?

He was fired from his job a few months after his arrest. He heard a co-worker say something they didn’t say and he reacted. He was fired for what he said.


Hi Rinda. My son hasn’t been hospitalized yet. Usually his presentation is paranoia. Sometimes he suffers actual physical symptoms that are quite painful. He did go to an emergency room once for the phantom pains. The pains disappeared as soon as he walked into the ER. I raced to get to the ER to see if I could somehow communicate to the doctors what was going on without him knowing. The situation was resolved before I got there. Such a nightmare we are all living.