Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Schizophrenia son with street drug issues

Hi. Our son came down with schizophrenia three years ago. It’s been hard to get him to get help and on top of it he has a drug issues. He doesn’t want to help himself but he wants us to help him. He refuses case management, he refuses a payee, he refuses medicine most of the time except for Abilify, and he really doesn’t want housing but he wants to do activities we don’t allow such as drinking (because of past alcoholism). We try to encourage him to do these things but he refuses. It just seems like we go in circles. Please understand the drug abuse consist of crack and heroin. We’ve had to kick him out of the house due to drug abuse. He went to jail for four months and into the mental hospital for two months. He threw his prescriptions away from mental hospital, and now he is out of medicine and refuses to go back to the mental hospital or to the hospital. I almost want to quit. I don’t know if I should just let go and quit trying to help him or what. When it’s all said and done he will be broke starving and dirty and come back to our house Because of drugs. Any thoughts or suggestions it’s fine


Hi Cindy, your story sound very familiar to mine. My sons drugs of choice are alcohol weed and inhalents. Mixed with his schizoaffective dx can really be a nightmare. i have no answers but can tell you I have found letting go to be the only way for ME to survive. We to have kicked him out, pushed him into treatments, rehab, everything to help him only realizing in the end he was not engaged enough to take it seriously . Since letting go and making him really deal with his poor choices and their natural consequences , including court, fines, losing a car, he seems to be " maturing " a bit. There is a total lack of motivation that can be difficult to accept but I read a lot and try to meet him where he is. He has been mostly med compliant for 6 months and I Believe the success of that is his starting an injectable med after his last hospitalization. Even if he uses and occasionally skips his other meds, he doesn’t lose too much ground. It takes a while for them to realize meds keep them out of the hospital . I wish I could give you advice that where simple instructions but all I can really say is let go, still give advice but don’t get angry when he doesn’t follow it. We keep supporting our son emotionally but when he’s our of money and cannot pay a bill we don’t step in. We do not tolerate drunkenness or abusive behavior- we have had police remove him for this in the past so now he knows better. The best advice I got once from a SW was" I should tell you to set boundaries and stick to them, but realistically, do what lets you sleep best at night while not being taken as advantage of, because addicts are master manipulators" best wishes.


I was feeling at my lowest & decided to read some posts for support. My 32 yr old sz son had been calling me all night drunk, I stopped answering. He just got out of jail yesterday. When he was arrested, he had called me saying he didn’t remember what happened the last 3 days & didn’t know why he was in jail. Of course, I was extremely concerned. But after talking to his parole officer, I found out the truth of why he got arrested. Now on phone, I asked why he made up amnesia & he said cuz he didn’t know what else to say. I have helped him so much by paying his bills for last year and half, he continues to drink, take drugs, not go see doctor, I’ve had enough. But my family members say, he’s schizophrenic, he can’t help what he does. But there does come a time when, we as a parent have done all we can do. Reading your similar situation makes me feel I am not alone. Sometimes you do have to let them go.

1 Like

I know what you mean about master manipulator. I have one. 32 yr old sz son who uses illness to excuse his behavior. He’s been in & out of jail from everything from dui’s, assaults, drug possessions, terroristic threat, parole violations & still I have a mother & sister that hound me, that he’s sick, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Am I the only one that thinks he needs to take responsibility for his actions even though he’s schizophrenic? Even his parole officer told me, schizophrenics still have to follow the law. Pls help with opinions, I’m about to have nervous breakdown.

1 Like

Where does your son live?

I really appreciate your response and my heart goes out to you and your son. I know how hard it is. You really confirmed what God has already been telling me. I read a devotional the other day and it said to let go. As soon as he got out of jail, I became his payee and now I’m regretting it because he’s threatening us for his money and etc. I’m thinking about going to Social Security before the end of the month and have my name removed … thank you again for all the advice. Ps. I call my son the pushbutton master Lol … you’re right addicts are masters at manipulating people.


We live in Youngstown Ohio so it’s even worse because we live in a bad area and I worry about his safety. We’ve already had a drug dealer come to our house asking for money he owed them

1 Like

My heart goes out to anyone reading this. I hope the best for you. Stay encouraged. Everything will be alright.


My heart also goes out to you all. You do have to let go for your own sanity. I needed lots of counseling to let go. Once I was able to let go (and stop answering the phone in the middle of the night and bailing him out financially) he had a very tough go of it. He lived on other’s couches and the street and did drugs and refused to take his meds… he occasionally would show up back in town and get into a another facility. Every time he got out - I was like a broken record- stay on your meds, stay off drugs and I will help with housing. I could not have him come home as he was also dealing in my town.

Eventually ( 3 years) he called and said he was “willing to do whatever it takes”. I engage when he does what he needs to do - no drugs and taking meds. I stop when he quits his part of the bargain. I moved him out of state to a psyche hospital - 3 weeks in patient, 1 year out patient 20 hrs a week. He lived in assisted living. I was the payee for SSI and stayed engaged and visited often.

He is stable, drug free, on meds, and happy once again!! It has been 2 1/2 years since the “do what ever it takes” day. He needed to take responsibility for his actions. Your job is to point out his choices have these consequences…(life will teach him that anyway) and other choices have other consequences ( the more positive ones).

My son relies on the NA/AA support system and in the outpatient activities he was able to learn he is not alone; others are dealing with these same issues. He was able to see the ones that were struggling like he was and the ones that were well along the path of recovery. He now speaks freely to NA meetings about the tough road and is a good role model for others.

Hang in there - preserve YOUR sanity, be there when he is ready for the help he needs, and realize this is his battle. You can help, but he needs to want it for himself. Hard lessons for us both. We are both better for learning that.

Responsibility is his, recovery is his, healing will happen for you both as he gets well. All your original parenting lessons are still within him as is your love. He knows you love him even though he says he hates you. He really hates how he is feeling and hates that the solution is so hard. They do accept tough love and even thank you for it someday. (don’t hold your breathe it takes a while)

Take good care of yourself in the meantime!


Thank you so much for your advice and support. I agree completely that he needs to deal with the consequences for his actions. My family support is pretty bad, they say he is sick & can’t help what he does. That is what is confusing to me, I cannot put up with drugs & alcohol. But they feel sorry for him. He has been spoiled, everything has always been handed to him, he’s never worked, paid bills, etc. I am finally tired of being taken advantage of. I am going to start counseling for myself soon.

1 Like

Your family is not educated about what he is capable of doing. He is sick- but can be made well if he wants to do the work necessary. The tricky part is we can’t make them want to get better!

Pass along materials (NAMI is a good source) and educate them and your son of what the illness is and what can be done. Many with this disease live “normal” lives if they are on meds. It is not a lost cause! Bottom line, he needs to want to get better to be compliant with meds and stay away from the street drugs.

In our experience you need to work on both issues at once. It is called dual diagnosis. There are programs that treat both! Note: many mental health patients self medicate with street drugs so it is not uncommon.

It is possible to get well, but it takes a decision on his part and lots of hard work. Your support of him (emotionally and as much as you can/want financially) as he goes through the hard process will be key. If he is not committed to get well- this will drag on for a long time and you will be spent!

I pray that counseling will give you some peace along this bumpy roller coaster ride!


Hi everyone. We had a difficult day yesterday. Dillon purchased a street gun and was walking up and down the street with it. I tried to get him to give it to me but he took off down the street with it. Our house was surrounded by half the cities police dept and search dogs, they found him and the gun. Thank God I was so scared for him and the police’s safety. He’s in jail now. He had been off medication for almost two months. Another long story. We had just got him into Turning Point’'s The First Program. He had an appointment on the 18th and was finally signed up for case manager… they will probably close his case again and we will have to start all over. Ps. Not even a month ago he shot a man in the temple with a BB gun and he was in the mental hospital. heartbreaking.

1 Like

I’m so sorry to hear this. Thank God he didn’t shoot anyone with the real gun.

Truly heartbreaking. Our family is going through somewhat similar experience and I am not able to cope anymore or understand what to do.

The thread is about whether or not people with schizophrenia will take responsibility for their choices, but when acutely ill they truly cannot. Yet they must. They face the consequences of actions they never would have chosen prior to becoming ill.

I hope your son can get out of jail and back into the program with a case manager.


Thank you. I hope the best for your family as well. God Bless

1 Like

My fiance’s family and I have been through a similar situation. Right now you can call the pharmacy and ask for an emergency refill. The next step to take is to hospitalize him for a couple of months if you truly want him to get better. For now you’ve done what you can as a parent, this is the final step. He needs to be in an environment where he can be treated and supervised constantly in order to be rehabilitated back into society eventually.

I got this advice from someone once:

This is interesting. This is my situation exactly, but reversed. Notice the big gap of time between my posts? I am also schizophrenic and back in July 2015 I attempted suicide. I overdosed on a bunch of dangerous drugs and was put into a coma for three days. When they found me so long after the fact, still lying on the floor they took me to the hospital, restarted my kidneys and sent me to the ward from July 26, 2015-March 2, 2016.

My advice: determine threat level and get him assessed by professionals. The 8 months I spent in the mental hospital did wonders for me. I’ll tell you this: no matter what I had, who loved me, what I had going for me back in July, in a whim I decided to do it. It took me years to go through with a serious attempt…a lot of threats, ya know? Eventually we do it. There’s no stopping someone who is serious about it. I tried, my dad who was also schizophrenic was successful in Oct, 1997.

The only thing you can do is get him into the hospital if he was serious about suicide. Saying you love us doesn’t help.


Thank you for your reply. Dillon has really got himself in a lot of trouble. He’s being arraigned this morning for having a fire arm but they’ll probably evaluate him at a mental hospital through the court system. He’s been on and off meds now for over eight months. More off than on. He was in jail for three or four months after breaking restraining order and at the time he was drying out from drugs. (And in mental hospital for 2 months) When he was released from jail he had nothing in place for him (in July) no case manager, nowhere to live and no medicine (because he threw his paper prescriptions away). In the meantime, the clinic he was going to closed his case so he had to do another intake appt. To make a long story short, after a month requesting appointments, after being in mental hospital again, throwing away paper prescriptions again, (I’m not sure if he’s accidentally throwing out the prescriptions or if he doesn’t like the medication the hospital prescribes) and finally appointment to see doctor on Oct 18th which he’s not going to make it to now. (So another cycle) I think next time I have any issues or problems I’m just going to ask you guys for advice in advance. Honestly I think Dillon needs to start following through with things and we need to let go… we were able to get him to signed up for case management which may make things easier.

That’s one of the problem with Dillon it seems he doesn’t understand their consequences no matter how much we tried to teach him when he was younger. Almost like the concept doesn’t exist to him

I hope that some agency or court will help your son.

1 Like

Anytime and I’m really sorry that you’re going through this. My fiancé was in JDC (Juvenile Dentention Correctional Facility) when he was 8 years old, he never told me why because he said he didn’t remember, but he did tell me he stabbed someone with a pencil and he would have a lot of tantrums and fighting with his mom and the teachers, so I think maybe that’s why. I don’t think Dillon will be going into jail though, you and his lawyer need to stress out the fact that he’s mentally ill and incompetent to take care of himself. From that point on, they will put him in psychiatric care for a few months to a year until he’s recovered or eventually they’ll send him home, but housebound him. That means he can’t go on beyond a certain perimeter and you’ll be able to manage his medicine, he can get better that way. I think even in psychiatric they give you vocational training, I know that they let you continue school in there as well. If he doesn’t go into a mental hospital, if he likes, maybe he could even get some credits online and then that’ll help him later be reinstated back into society. I think all schizophrenics refuse drugs, because all the ones I’ve known have, they either don’t like the medication and how it makes them feel or they think they will be fine without it. I really wish his mom had hospitalized him as kid and forced him into treatment, prescription and therapy. He started doing drugs when he was 17, it only enhanced all his conditions. I was able to get him to quit eight months into our relationship, but I had no idea he had been smoking marijuana or doing meth since the relationship had been a long distance one initially. The only medication he’s ever been on is an antidepressant and that for a little while. He’s never been on anything for Schizoaffective Disorder (a subset of Schizophrenia & Bipolar Disorder).

1 Like

My son was also strangely immune to consequences as a child. We felt if something he did resulted in consequences, instead of curbing the behavior, he would actually persist in digging himself in even deeper. It was a very frustrating aspect to his childhood. Rewards also seemed to work in opposition to the intended goal - if he missed getting a reward, he would melt down as a result, rather than try harder next time.

I knew at some point I needed to either - step back and let go - or - get guardianship. I could not accept what the potential outcome could be if I left my son to deal with what could result if he continued to not manage his illness - so I got guardianship. It isn’t fun, but it has kept him out of jail, and safe.