How to get help for my adult son that has schizophrenia? Canada

My son is 26 and we struggle with his illness for almost 2 years now.He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in September 2013. He doesn’t think he is sick and therefore didn’t accept treatment.He has delusions and he is convinced that he is tortured by certain people through brain waves sent through a computer.
He was taken to the hospital by Police a few times but they had to release him after days or weeks as he called in the Rights advisor , got a lawyer,and was released by the Board.
We even agreed to take him to Court when he threatened me one time and then he called the Police while he was having a psychotic episode- all that came out of this was a charge for utter threats and he was not allowed to see me or come home. for a while.
This whole thing aggravated the situation rather than helping or forcing him to get treatment. It made it more difficult for us to support him and take care of him, some of the groups and associations in the community denied help or support saying that he might be dangerous now that he threatened his own mother, he was kept in hospital restraints (tied up to the bed) for three days when Police took him there because the staff was afraid of him…and so on.
Now he is back at home and the result is …he doesn’t trust his p doc anymore as the thinks he cooperated with the Police and the Court, he pretends he takes the meds but I caught him spitting them in the toilet, he doesn’t speak unless he really needs something (food or cigarettes) doesn’t shower for weeks, refuses to get out of his room and he is in bed all day looking at the walls.
I am desperate and don’t know what to do - I watch my son slowly dying under my eyes, under my roof…
He constantly hears voices, laughs out loud in the middle of the night or swears to the voices. He sometimes says strange things and talks about killing the person that tortures him with these "magnetic waves’’ .
Does anyone have the same situation, or have any experience or practical advice as in how to force him into treatment?
He is a young man, handsome and once very intelligent and I cannot believe what the illness can do to someone

Hi lidialap,

At the worst of my condition, I wasn’t aware that I was making my parents’ lives a living Hell, everything felt fine, that’s why I was awestruck when they called the Police to have me sent to the Psychiatric ward. I say if his behavior becomes really tough to handle, you should call the Police again. Just understand that getting treatment for this disease means being in a cycle of hard-to-tolerate meds and loads of unpleasant side-effects. If he is taking drugs, he needs to kick the habit, as these can really mess with your thoughts, I wouldn’t be surprised if drugs are at the origin of his persecutory delusions. Other than that, try and sit down with him and discuss the problems you have, if they are things like personal hygiene or noise complaints then you should make clear that you cannot tolerate such antics.

When I was psychotic, I feel instead of having me arrested, someone should have sat down with me and at least tell me that if I didn’t start eating I would be sent to the ward, the threat would have made me consider going back on medication. Tell him to join a site like this, the sense of belonging to a community like schizophrenia has helped me immensely. Tell him to read up on the condition, it will help reassure him and he will realize the things he has in common with other schizophrenics. My mother always tells me that I can’t do all things by myself and need help, there are resources meant to help us, if they do a good job at it is still up for debate in my opinion. Also, you can try to talk to his pdoc directly, but it has to come from him if your son is to change. My mother couldn’t handle me anymore and she wanted me out of the House. I was lucky to get benefits and my own place, but it was a supervised apartment and when I stopped my meds again they wanted me to find regular housing. I now regret not keeping up with treatment earlier…

I know how hard it can be, I hope you can hold on to your love for him and find a way to re-connect with him, what helped me have a better relationship with my parents is keeping up with treatment, otherwise things would have gone sour fast. I often wish I didn’t need meds, and I’m certain I could manage well, but that’s not the system’s point of view. Once you get into it it is really hard to get out so I imagine at some point your son will have to accept the fatality and be compliant. I was diagnosed 9 years ago and it took four years before things started looking up for me and my family.

Hang in there, he needs you even if he doesn’t realize it yet… I wish you luck. :wink:

Since you’re in Canada I don’t know the exigies of your system. Maybe you could look for a different, maybe higher, authority. Let them know how much your son needs treatment.

Would your son agree to talk to a therapist? That would be the first thing I would recommend. That way, he can talk to a professional, and not have to worry about being prescribed medications. If it’s possible, maybe you can refer him to an ACT team? I think they are called PACT in Canada? It is kind of intrusive because a nurse or social worker comes to your house every day and watches you take meds, but the daily interaction with a treatment team might help him, and be able to recognize symptoms before he has an episode, and can talk with him and offer coping skills and advice, or be able to take him to the hospital when he needs it.

Hope you and your son all the best!

I am sorry to hear what you are going through,it reminds me very much of where my son was at 2 and a half years ago. He lived independently but would not leave the house, would not have eaten if I did not take him food, even threw some of that away as he thought it was poisoned. He clearly heard voices and laughed inappropriately or at in known things. He thought he was terminally ill and the government/doctors were conspiring against him, and at his worse me too. He had absolutely no insight and old not engage with any outreach I contacted.
My son is now 25 and the past couple of years have been a struggle but I am starting to see glimmers of my son back, he is med compliant, lives independently again. Buys his own food, comes on dogs walks and engages in his outreach care, attends all his medical reviews, picks up his prescriptions etc.
To get to this point was tough. I first contacted a crisis team and requested they did a mental health assessment. My sister was present with the social worker, psychiatrist (and police but they kept low profile, don’t think he knew they were there). They detained him under the mental health act and after three hours he walked to the ambulance (thankfully not restrained). Unfortunately he only stayed in for three weeks and stopped taking meds and slipped a few weeks after ( he thought his meds were contaminated).
A few weeks later I went through the same scenario again, requested the mental health assessment, his sister was present this time and the social worker drove him to hospital this time. He was in for 3 months. Was angry at first. Was on riseperal which gave him headaches, then olanzapine which he still takes at 10mg. He became more engaged with the outreach during his stay and stayed on his mess when he was released.
He found living independently hard , especially in the environment in which his delusions had been worse, so I fought to get him into a group intervention home. He was there for 8months and they supported him in life skills again, cooking,cleaning and social activities (the social bit was and is still hards for him).
He got a flat, they provided housing support ,which included decorating, carpeting, curtains, cooker and washing machine etc. he continues to have the housing support, an outreach worker and employment support (a long way off but they are looking at voluntary work).
I know I have gone on but I wanted to let you know that things can and do improve. The key to this is fighting their corner and having to make very tough decisions that go against your motherly instinct at times(getting your child sectioned). I also think you need to step back and think of your own needs. I see him every day and did even when he was in hospital, but I have still continued to work and exercise and see my friends. If I am not strong I can’t be strong for him.
I hope this can give you some ray of hope in a difficult time.

Welcome to the forum @lidialap

Some links you may find useful: - under resources are free videos on using LEAP
LEAP is a way of communicating to build trust. Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner. - Dr. Xavier Amador is a clinical psychologist whose brother had schizophrenia. He is the founder of the LEAP Institute. Wrote the book: I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! Can buy from his website.
Search Xavier Amador and LEAP on and you should find some long videos

Treatment Advocacy Center - under problems you will see anosognosia
Anosognosia looks like denial but is different.

Bayes for Schizophrenics: Reasoning in Delusional Disorders - LessWrong - helped my understand delusions - National Alliance on Mental Illness. - Schizophrenia Society of Canada

Can also find some very useful information here:

My son is almost 20 and was diagnosed paranoid sz 2011. I live in Ontario. He can be pretty defiant and I have had to call 911 on him before and he has called them as well. Recently we have been filling out forms for him to live elsewhere like a group home or shared living. I’m hoping that being truthful on the forms that he has done property damage and been violent will not affect his ability to go to one of these places.

It’s not easy trying to decide what the right thing to do is and trying to find the resources that don’t seem to be available. I have considered trying to get power of attorney or substitute decision maker but I haven’t taken that step yet. I know that shelters do not want to take anyone that is being violent so we are left with the choice of putting ourselves in possible danger or putting our child out on the street… Sometimes the police are helpful and sometimes they make things worse…

My son is part of PACT or ACT - Assertive Community Treatment. Your son would qualify to be a part of an early intervention programs if there is one in your area as it is for the first 3 years of treatment.

I’m sorry I don’t have a lot of practical advise. It’s a roller coaster ride for sure…

This lady has a Facebook page. Her son is diagnosed.

The important points in your short story;
1-He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in September 2013
2-He constantly hears voices { the main symptom/illness or disorder }
3-He is convinced that he is tortured by certain people through brain waves
sent through a computer {how he feels and recognizes the symptom and explain the source of symptom}
4-He talks about killing the person that tortures him with these “magnetic waves”
( self reaction or response towards the mischief,make trouble or raison d’etre}
5-He refuses to get out of his room and he is in bed all day looking at the wall,
laughs out loud in the middle of the night or swears to the voices,doesn’t speak,
doesn’t shower for weeks (the symptoms as it appears to your eyes }
6-He is a young man,handsome and once very intelligent
7-He doesn’t think he is sick and therefore didn’t accept treatment
( for his perception;the inner symptom is just heard voices not symptoms of frank disease}
8-He doesn’t trust his doc anymore {because the medication can not disposal the heard voices ,he hears the voices during the time of medication }
9-YOU ask ;How to force him into treatment ?

You should know that,all symptoms will disappear if he knows everything
about the heard voices.and the improvement is possible in the existence of these voices.
If he stills have wrong explanation to these voices,he will stills suffer from all symptoms

In other words,let him know all real facts about the heard voices,he will help himself to overcome his mental,emotional,psychological and behavioral problems !!

Thank you for your message and your kind advice.
I have the forms from ACT team, they need him to sign disclosure forms for them to access all the information from hospital, police, and Court proceedings. The manager told me that he is now considered dangerous since there is a record that he threatened me. And sure thing, he refuses to sign these forms, he thinks that they want access to all his records for other reasons; to persecute him.
He lived in a group home for a few months when the court prevented him to see me or come home and it worked well for a while; he improved a little and I believe he was taking his meds but then he could not really keep up with the programs there, the daily chores and group counseling. I also suspect that he started to spit the medication and things turned out pretty bad, they wanted to "transition " him to another home, which is basically ask him to leave. We live in a small town and this is the only good group home, well kept with permanent staff on site and counseling and for that reason there is a great demand for a place there.
Once the court allowed him to come home I agreed to take him back and I think that was a mistake; he really gives us hard time and it also isn’t good for him. He becomes abusive when psychotic, demands alcohol and asks for money.
I thought of asking for a substitute decision maker but I was told that it isn’t easy - this is probably my last resort and I am reluctant for the same reasons that you mentioned.
In our case Police was not helpful - they thought that taking him to Court for uttering threats will force him into treatment but once the issue was out of their hands the Courts have a different approach - they see the legal issue at hand and not his need for medical help. They “assesed” him as criminally responsible (the evaluation is based on a few questions - if he understands who the judge is, what date it is, etc) and they charged him. There area few conditions in the probation order - to see his p doc, comply with meds ( but if he doesn’t and the probation officer reports the breach he goes to prison) and that is all.
I am looking into a treatment program into a larger city, his doctor referred him and I hope he will agree to go there. I will see how that goes.
Otherwise, I will try the substitute decision maker alternative.
Good luck to you, let me know how your son is doing.

Just wanted to let you know you are not alone–and most of us have had similiar experiences.
Really cant improve on the advice given---except that it might help to get your son on injections instead of pills. Here in the US, we have mental health court for people who have a MI, or dual diagnosis and have commited minor crimes. My son went through that. Hang tough and dont give up!

Dear ekoms,

Your message touched my heart, thank you. you gave me a few good suggestions here and i value them as coming from someone suffering in the same way as my son does.
I will hold on to my love for him until my last breath, I just want to find the way to help him and connect with him.
Hopefully I will…many thanks and good luck to you as well.

Sounds nearly the same as how we see our eldest son. He is 27. Diagnosed Feb 2013. He too does not believe he has schizophrenia. He does not take his meds. He believes he has lightening, he believes he is psychic, he believes he is both male & female, he believes he is married to Jesus. This is totally disturbing as I know deep down he loves the lord. He says he has time travel, and communicates with aliens. Our son too does not trust any p doc. I’ve witnessed how he speaks with counselors he’s seen. He has them 'buffalo’d." He gets upset at me if I mention to them what he does and says while at home. Most do nothing for him except give him meds which he won’t take.

I’m back. What do I do to get him to see a counselor? He won’t go. I believe he needs hospitalization again so they can find a good medication for him. He was getting a little out of control one night and I decided to call the police (I have been told to call them by nearly every MH office I’ve contacted).I thought he could get hospitalized then. But he heard me ‘whispering’ that to my husband. Good hearing! He left in his car until the police came and left. Somehow I ‘fudged’ it over to the police. Our son eats us out of house & home so to speak. He asks for money daily for smokes & sodas! I use to be his only ally, but his thinking is getting so way out there, that I tell him I dont believe what he tells me is true. Mostly what he says about God, which is hateful. He yells at the voices an curses at the voices whom he believes are spirits. It hurts me so much to know he’s being tormented. But I know its his condition that causes this. I even attempt to tell him he has a brained deficiency and the meds would help him. Just not sure how to get him hospitalized. He was seeing a counselor first of the year, but that counselor I feel did him no good. My husband and I went with him the last visit. Counselor seemed too passive to be able to help my son. I was disgusted! Anyone have any ideas? I even thought about sneaking the meds into his food, but he’s pretty smart and would notice if I did, as he has told me how the meds affect him. I want him to get help. But I feel stuck!

My son is similar… Without court ordered treatment getting him the help he needs is hard. My son is part of an ACT/PACT Team however they are not of much help since my son refuses to participate in what they have to offer.

Calling the police is hit or miss… They can’t take someone to the hospital unless there is obvious signs of psychosis or certain ‘key phrases and words’ are said…

I can certainly relate with feeling stuck. My son is in a shelter again. My hands get tied on what I can do based on what my son says or does like not signing releases giving me access.

Hi buggliboo,

My son is also 27 years old and I still have the same problem -he doesn’t accept treatment because he doesn’t think he is sick. We went through the experience with the police and here is what happened: he freaked out one night , had a big argument with my husband and HE called the police. The local police has our house flagged in the system already as he called the police numerous times before and they know he is mentally ill.
They came prepared, he is a big boy, all acting out at the door… they had him handcuffed in a few minutes because he was very agitated.
He threatened us a few times during the conversation and that was enough for them to take him to the hospital. He was really confused and upset when he was taken and the confusion and desperation in his eyes broke my heart but they told me to stay away and not go to the hospital. I listened and that was a mistake. He was kept in restraints for 3 days, he couldn’t go to the washroom, wet himself and he was fed while tied to the bed. This whole experience made him confused, angry and humiliated and aggravated his psychosis. The three days were necessary to the police and the hospital to reach to the conclusion that yes, he needs help (what a surprise!) but the hospital can’t do anything without a court order and plus, the staff was afraid of him and not prepared to deal with this kind of situations.
He was arrested after three days, taken handcuffed straight to jail in slippers. His shoes were stollen somewhere between hospital and jail ($200 leather shoes), he was jailed and charged for uttering threats, he was not allowed to speak to us (myself and my husband). We have no other family here and no one could bail him, he had to stay in jail for a week, until we figured out something with Mental Health program and a lawyer. The whole story took about 6 months of court appearances, visits to the Crown Attorney’s office and so on. The result: he had to live in a group home for 5 months - he was a bit better in the beggining and then he hated being there - he didn’t participate in the group counselling sessions unless forced and threatened by the probation officer, he didn’t want to get out of his room, shower or socialize. He had to plead guilty and get charged with utter threats and put on probation for one year.
Nothing about getting help for his medical condition which is paranoid sz.
The probation order has a few conditions such as: see the pdoc regularly and he does but he lies to him and doesn’t listen to him; to take his meds and he does on and off and they don’t work.
In the meantime, his condition worsened a lot, he doesn’t talk to anyone, doesn’t shower or shave for weeks, does not get out of the room or the house, often says that he doesn’t want to live anymore.
So the police is a hit and miss, be careful and plan it ahead if you want to do this.
I did some research and you can go to the Justice of the peace and explain that he is a danger for himself (neglects his health, etc) or to others if that is the case and the judge can give an order that you take to the police - they will then take him to the hospital for a capacity assessment but this can be challenging in many ways. This applies to Canadian legislation as I am in Canada , not sure if it is exactly the same in US.
I am getting ready to do this, but I find it very tough emotionally, plus it is not a guarantee that it will work.
If anyone went through this, please let me know, I would appreciate an advise.
Good luck to you and your son, buggliboo!
Pray, have faith and support your son.

My husband and I had our son committed two times (he has been in the hospital five times total). He became ill at age 20, he is now 26. We went through the whole gamut for five years, in and out of psychosis, non-compliant with his meds, acting out, several jail stays, lawyers, court system, etc.

During his last hospital stay in May 2014 he was put on a monthly long-acting injection, Invega Sustenna, and is still on it. Best thing that has happened so far.

Committing him was the hardest thing we have ever done, gut wrenching to say the least. But in the end, it was the best thing we’ve ever done.

I’m in the U.S. and not sure about Canadian procedures, but I would think that your son saying he doesn’t want to live any longer would be enough to have him committed. It’s so hard, I completely understand your feelings. But you have to follow your gut and hang tough. I wish you good luck with your son.

Hello, ma’am. I don’t have schizo, but I have a psychotic disorder. When someone is first diagnosed they do not believe they are sick, but I can tell you that sometimes you need to get him to see that he is sick. It took my best friend telling me that she didn’t see or hear my hallucinations in order to get me to see I needed help. I know how it feels when someone wont accept treatment. it is annoying, but keep trying.

This is such a thorough insightful post. I have a similar handsome young son who I am totally devoted to. So, please tell me if I understand you correctly. So since he feels worthless after being hospitalized for 3 years, he hears voices of women who he talks to all day long who he insists are famous stars (he thinks he has 4 kids with Mylie Cyres and recently started seeing Ariana Grande). Do I suggest my perception of the reason he hears these voices? Sometimes he thinks he is a hit man and I think it is because he feels powerless. I don’t challenge his beliefs because it causes him unnecessary stress , and my compassionate thinking is - Whatever = makes him feel better. Should I talk to him about feeling powerless? How do I help him develop emotionally and integrate him to reality and help improve his coping skills? He had severe paranoia as well which is another reason for the powerful self image. The last thing I want to do is go back to the days he was so extremely fearful.

I never took my medicine faithfully until I had a psychotic episode that I would take any medicine to not experience it again.
When I left my parents house I was seen as a threat to society (I don’t think I ever was) and forced to take my antipsychotic with the threat I would be kicked out of the foster home, and left to the streets.
My mother couldn’t handle me at first, she was really stressed out not knowing how to help me. Until one of my stays at the hospital she asked the nurse for help in managing me, she suggested that I have a case study done on me for my illness.
But I didn’t get help until I realized it was what was best for me.

I know we are at the same boat my daughter who is already married with one child has been diagnosed with schizophrenia having auditory hallucinations when she was a fourth year high school. She was having medication and thanks she went a normal life. But lately it was triggered and she did not take her meds anymore and really refused to take it, I really don’t know what to do. She thinks all the people around her are not her friends . She will always cling to her little daughter who is now the innocent victim of her moms illness. Her family is suffering she will not go to a pdoctor, I do not know what to do please help me. I am from the Philippines.

Hi Blue,

Sorry to hear about your daughter. I recommend you watch these videos (and the rest of the family also):

I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! - Dr. Xavier Amador - Pt. 1


I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! - Dr. Xavier Amador - Pt. 2