Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Need advice quickly - I don't know what to do

Hello all - My 25 yr old sz son stole my wedding ring from me today. He has been diagnosed for 4 years and for the past three years has stolen from me and his dad repeatedly. We have to hide our billfolds, valuable jewelry, anything valuable.

When he had his first break he was locked up and has been locked up twice since then, all three times when he was psychotic. He is a pot smoker and God only knows what else. We have had huge ups and downs with him, hired lawyer to help with his legal issues - he has a final court date at the end of this month. We are retired and are exhausting our savings and income just trying to help him and help him get traction in his life. We can never let our guard down and it is physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting. He has been mostly med compliant for about the past year, but things still up and down, with him smoking pot, etc.

I told him immediately after I noticed it missing from my bathroom today that he must return it. He of course says he knows nothing about it, even though he had gone in my bathroom to dry his hair and it was immediately after that I discovered it missing. I have begged him to please give it back and he insists he does not have it, although I know he does. He then left the house. This was 2 hrs ago.

I texted him and gave him three hours to return my ring, telling him otherwise I’m calling the police. If I do call the police he will be in jail for a very long time. All of our previous efforts to keep him out of trouble will be in vain. The ring is probably worth about $12K - 15K. I am just sick and heartbroken that he could take my ring. This is such a huge decision for me. We love our son dearly, but he is so disrespectful and I guess hates us, I don’t know how much more we can take. If I call the police he will be in the jail unmedicated for a long long time. And then what?

Has anyone else been through this?

I have been through similar with my son. This behavior in my opinion is addiction related. I had to take my purse to bed with valuables in it for awhile. Even now my son is stable SZ wise but still lies outright to my face when it comes to pot and alcohol. He doesn’t hate you. He is being controlled by his addiction. It would be like putting a feast in front of a starving man and telling him not to eat it. The temptation is stronger then he is. I know it’s hard but I try not to threaten my son with an action that I am not prepared to follow through on. If I don’t he knows that they are empty threats and will count on it the next time. I’m not sure how the jail system works but I think if they know that he needs medications then they would provide them, same with any medical condition. Only you can decide what boundaries you are willing to put into place. I know you probably don’t want to hear this but you may want to be prepared for the ring to be gone. Possibly to his dealer which I doubt that he will give up. Although you could be lucky and he went to a pawn shop instead in which case the police may be able to track it down.

Thank you Barbie for your response. My husband and I did end up calling the police. I gave him every opportunity to give the ring back. The police told us we will have to come to the station and fill out a report, so I am now in the process of obtaining the appraisal for the ring to bring with us. I’m not sure what will happen when the report is filed, but we told them that there was no one else home but me and our son. I took the ring off just before I got in the shower, then usual routine getting ready. When I stepped out of the bathroom area son asked for money and I told him I didn’t have any cash on me - he became very snappy and rude, told me I need to keep money on me! Then he stepped into the bathroom to dry his hair for about 30 seconds then left. I panicked when I realized I had left my ring unattended in there and sure enough it was gone. This all happened in a matter of two minutes, so there is no doubt he did it, and I cannot let this go.

We have resigned ourselves to the fact that if he goes to jail, he goes to jail. He has to learn he cannot do this and get away with it and I know of no other way to teach him. Our daughter, his sister, wants him in jail yesterday - she is so fed up with how he treats us, tears up our house, our cars, and uses us as an ATM. My husband is done too, has been for a while. He is so close to getting his SSDI and getting rid of his legal woes. I have kept on keeping the peace, hoping that soon he will get on with his life – I know he is sick and he has been allowed to get away with so much already – this is the final straw and I won’t cover for him any longer. My heart is breaking.

When I was going through it my parents did not understand. They worked against me instead of for me. Because of my actions I was jailed. Ultimately what it took for me to turn around my life was education of the mental illness I have. Can’t be med compliant for the most part it requires 100 percent dedication. Sorry for your turmoil your family is experiencing. It took us time and money but now we have a policy to take our meds follow up get refills. Also to live a straight life period. A family can’t function with addiction. It ruins lives.

Lesterwayne, If you don’t mind sharing, when you say your parents worked against you instead of for you, more specifically what did you parents do or not do to make you feel that way? How long were you in jail and what was the impact it had on you? Was your jail time a result of something you did to your family? And how did you finally get the education on your mental illness?

Sorry for all the questions, but it may give me more insight into my son’s situation. As most other parents on this site, I am always searching for any morsel of information that will help me help my son. I do a lot of “lurking” on the diagnosed section of this site as it gives me a greater understanding of what you guys go through.

I think it is great that you have turned your life around, that is a huge accomplishment. That is my hope for my son:)

What does this have to do with schizophrenia? Theft is not a symptom of schizophrenia.

Maybe you should be looking at a forum entitled, “Thieves, Druggies, and Losers” instead.

In some cases there is concurrent disorder which is schizophrenia and addiction together.

Malvok, Don’t forget your classed as a loser to most people your on benefits.

lovemyson I know this is a difficult time. These are hard decisions to make. In April when my son came back to live with me it was hard. At the time he was chronically smoking marijuana. I don’t know how much but I think at least a joint a day. Each of the 6 breaks that he has had was from getting himself too high which triggers his psychosis. He is only recently starting to understand that. He was diagnosed in 2011. He can actually maintain on small doses of anti-psychotics if he would stay away from the pot. Even alcohol is a small problem because when he drinks he doesn’t take his meds which can cause a domino affect. We went through some tough times. Times where I was on the verge of kicking him out because I didn’t know what else to do. Every day was chaos with me carrying my purse everywhere with valuables likes rings and other medications that he would abuse because I couldn’t trust him alone with it. Nothing was safe. If he wanted he took it. Even doing that he would sneak in at night when I was sleeping and take from my purse. Threatening violence if I didn’t give him what he wanted. My husband had to go on an anti-anxiety do deal with the stress of everything.

From my son’s point of view. I was being unloving, unreasonable, controlling etc. He couldn’t see that his own actions where causing his own stress levels. His anxiety goes up when he is going through withdrawal from pot and alcohol. The first week that he was with me he was almost literally climbing the walls from withdrawal. According to him I had no idea what he was going through. I have been an addict and lost everything and was afraid of dyeing it got so bad, so yes I do understand addiction and withdrawal. What child wants to admit that their parents might have a clue… If they did then they would have to take a look at their own actions and take responsibility for them. He would walk into a perfectly calm room and start swearing about all the negative energy, negativity that he brought with him. Then say that he didn’t swear or say that. I was almost to the point of recording our days so that he could hear just how much swearing and negative attitude he was unleashing on me out of the blue. Everything that I was doing to get him clean, sober and stable was against what he wanted to do and that was all that he could see. Once I even got told that I would feel guilty if he committed suicide… He didn’t go easy on me.

I finally decided that enough was enough. I deserved to be treated with respect as did our home. If he can go out in public and not unleash on strangers or go next door and wash dishes for a couple of cigarettes then there was no reason why he couldn’t pick up after himself at home or not swear and talk to me like I was nothing. He was capable but because I was mom he didn’t think that he had to. I would forgive him because I loved him whether it was stealing my money or my husbands smokes or whatever else he decided he wanted. Yes I’m mom but I’m also another human being with feelings and I had had it. I looked into how discipline adults with ADD/ADHD and I looked into Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Rules are on our coffee table. No drugs and alcohol in the home or it gets thrown out. Swearing at me or my husband and slamming doors etc is a loss of internet for each offense. It got worse before it got better but I stuck with it. I refuse to argue with him. If he starts I walk away and leave the home if I have to, locking my computer and taking important rings and medications with me…

Of course there is the I’m an adult and you can’t do this. Yes I can. If he doesn’t like it he can he can move out.I will get him in contact with the appropriate agencies that will help him get started.

Currently my son is doing the best that he has in three years. I attribute most of it to the lesser amounts of pot and partially due to me standing up for myself. Both of these things I think are causing my son to have to look at his own actions. He is not being controlled by his addiction 24/7 anymore. Maybe look into a drug rehab program if your son is willing to go to one. Perhaps a condition to him continuing to live with you. Try not to lose hope. Sometimes what seems like a bad thing can be what is needed to turn things around.

Replace the word sz with African-American and you’ll see how offensive the original post is. My point is that just because someone is sz doesn’t mean that sz causes every action they make. To imply that they steal because of sz is stigmatizing.

I get your point. However she is looking for advise for her son who happens to be schizophrenic with a drug addiction. She is in the right place. That is what the family section is for. To imply that an addict is a loser is also a form of stigmatizing.

I always figured for me personally it was a big circle…

I am undifferentiated Sz and because of my SZ I self medicated and reached for drugs. But because I needed money for drugs, I too stole from my parents, my aunts, my brothers. I don’t see stealing as a direct result of SZ. I’m still undifferentiated SZ, but now that I’m stable, I don’t steal.

But there is a lot of resource even on about comorbidity between sz and drug use.

Malvok, I apologize if I offended you or anyone else, I certainly didn’t mean to. Not all sz’s are drug users and not all drug users are sz, of course, but in my case and many others on this forum, being a caregiver for someone who has sz and is a drug user, poses it’s unique set of circumstances and this is where we go to glean helpful information from others in the same situation.

SurprisedJ, yes, that’s what I’m trying to figure out. Son never stole from us until he developed sz. He has smoked pot and done other drugs before he developed sz. On his good days when I think he refrains from smoking pot or whatever else, he is not as mean and disrespectful and he has never stolen on those days. It seems like the drugs totally rob him of any morality or decency, and that in conjunction with sz symptoms and meds makes it an impossible situation. He could be doing so well if he would just stop using.

I am going to play devil’s advocate and say that maybe you should give your son the benefit of the doubt against filling out a police report. The police do not have a good reputation at all in handling mental health situations, at least here in the U.S. So if you’re not in the U.S. I don’t know what it would be like. But here, we have cases of police just shooting mentally ill people and getting away it, same with African Americans, and any other minority they can get away with abusing. I just don’t see jailing someone like a criminal for a minor theft. It’s not a safe environment for someone with schizophrenia and it won’t help him. Jail makes people with schizophrenia worse. It made my mother full blown psychotic, because they didn’t give her medication in jail and she needed it. Jails are not mental hospitals! If he has an addiction he needs to go to rehab or a mental health facility. Mental hospitals are safe places for people to get well. It’s not a dangerous place, and you won’t be around people like in jail. People are crazier in jail I assume. I’ve never been to jail. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE that should be drawn between being a criminal and being mentally unwell. You are kind of linking the two together. I think people with addictions should be in rehab, not jail. Addiction is a different illness than schizophrenia, but it is a psychological condition. Jail just doesn’t solve the problem.

According to my parents, I was sort of out there and had my first break when I was 5. I know I started having hallucinations when I was 7 and actually got into a real fist fight with an imaginary friend and broke my hand when I punched a tree because he turned into a ghost on me. I had delusions when I was 10 and got really weird when I was 11 was 100% sure my unborn sister was talking to me from my mom’s belly. I had very long conversations with her before she was born. She even told me her name long before my parents even knew she was a girl.

So I ended up doing drugs Because of my Sz.
I grabbed for pot to try and calm myself from my panic
I grabbed for alcohol to quiet my voices
I grabbed for XTC to get out of negative symptoms and try and feel for other people
I grabbed for amphetamines to combat my lack of motivation and gazing at the walls

But a life style like that can’t last. I didn’t end up in jail… How that happened I will never know. But I did end up homeless when my parents who I do know love me very much… had noting left to give me and decided that my 4 younger siblings deserve some of their attention and resource too.

I was in rehab and detox and played that cycle a few times before I really hit bottom and took rehab seriously and then took my meds seriously and then the rest started healing. But it’s been many years and tears. My family and I both did damage to each other. I hit an anger phase that didn’t pass until I was in a group home and left to sort of stew and work it out. Again, I know my parents love me. But at the time, i was blinded by anger and resentment. I HATED being in the group home, hated my parents for putting me there… but it did turn me around.
I’m NOT suggesting that for you at all. It’s just how my hand was dealt.

Your son might have been SZ or in the onset before you knew and he was reaching for anything to make him feel normal or functional. I was able to hide my SZ behind my drug use until rehab and the symptoms never went away even after the drugs left my life.

I’m going out on a limb… no disrespect meant…

I have a feeling if you son never developed SZ but did go into drugs anyway, he would probably still steel. My younger brother is NOT SZ and he is in detox right now. Before last month (when he was slapped in detox) … he stole from my kid sister mercilessly. He makes so much more money then she does. But he still stole from her. Not SZ, just addicted…

Sorry… i know that doesn’t get your ring back or relieve the stress in your house. Just putting some ideas out there.

Barbie sounds like we have much the same going on. The stress is so great, my poor husband had a heart attack and since then has had a pacemaker installed. It all worries me. We have become the masters of sucking it up and have learned to keep our cool, talk in calm voices, walk away when things start escalating. I do need to set more rigid boundaries and stand up for myself more than I do. It is such a balancing act, trying to be firm and not end up having things escalate out of control, which with our son can happen lightening quick. I am surprised the doors in our home have not fallen off their hinges. I will check out the discipline adult items you mentioned.

How did you get your son to cut down on his pot? Our son has had five hospital stays, and one in a dual diagnosis/rehab center. When he came out of the rehab center he did well for about a month or two before slipping back into his old ways. He still resents me for sending him there, says it just made his sz worse. The only reason he even agreed to go was that we had just bailed him out of jail and that was the condition.

My husband is checking out the local pawn shops right now and when he returns we are heading to our police headquarters to fill out the theft report. I don’t know if they will want us to press charges or just what will happen. I am so mixed but I know that we just can’t continue to live like this. A mother’s love is unique in that our children can do the most awful things, but we still continue to love them greatly.

And btw, I’m happy that your son is doing so much better. I always like to hear of better outcomes, it gives me hope. Seems that is all I have right now.

My earlier posts may have come off harsh so I want to clear things up a bit.

I do not think your son is a loser because he has an addiction problem. It’s because he stole his mother’s wedding ring.

I also don’t have a problem with people discussing virtually any subject on this forum. You could ask how to rebuild the engine of a 1968 Corvette if you wanted to and I’d be fine with that.

The issue I have is when people tie schizophrenia to crime. Coming here to deal with the crimes of your son implies that somehow crime and schizophrenia are related. Coming here to talk about his crimes is as appropriate as talking about his crimes in a video games forum because he plays Minecraft or going to a textile manufacturing forum because he wears blue shirts.

I’ll bow out of this thread, but please remember that just because someone is schizophrenic doesn’t mean that everything they do is because of the disease.

I would like to add one thought concerning this comment. I am a parent of a 34 yr old szh man. When he was a teenager he sneaked out of our home and run with the gangs at a local summer beach area. He took drugs that he did not even know what were. He was just an 11 yr old child. He left school but managed to get his GED. He sold drugs. He used pot, mushrooms, acid. He played with guns.
At 18 he thought people were reading his thoughts and famous people came to see him, movie stars. He told me he starts tripping when he smoked pot. He came before a judge for breaking into a camp for a popcycle. He did community service. I fought like hell to make sure he was not sent to jail. Even though we let him sit at the police station over nite to teach him a lesson. Maybe alot of parents have these problems without the szh in the mix. It is the whole package. Questions like how can I get my szh daughter to brush her teeth? The answer may be the same for a family without szh as for one that has szh or different. Any question is good, all you need is to be a parent of caregiver of someone who has szh.

I said I was done but…

People with schizophrenia don’t struggle every day with the stigma of not brushing their teeth.

You may not realize it since you’re not in our shoes, but we have to deal with a lot of stigma because people associate our disease with crime, violence and murder.

I’d think someone who has a sz child would know these things.