Son won't take meds...recovering from psychosis

Have a 17 year old son (schiz) who is in recovery and now is refusing to take meds. We tried everything. How long does it take to accept that the meds are necessary to avoid psychosis. We already tried no meds to see if he could manage and he went into a full blown psychosis 4 months later. Having to take him back to hospital to get reassessed. He gets really angry and threatens to leave…of course he doesnt…he just sits in the driveway. I feel such heartache. :frowning:

You may find some useful information in the below links: - 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 has had 7-8 breaks. He has been hospitalized 8 times since 2011. He is 20. I wish that I could say that after a certain number of breaks that insight happens and stays however that is not usually the case. I don’t argue with my son on taking his medications. I do find however that approaching it a little differently can sometimes go a long ways. I think my son has ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) and it gets triggered very easily where I’m concerned. We call his medications, pills as pills is his word. We discuss them in terms of anxiety or dopamine instead of schizophrenia. I don’t push him to take them. I put them in a dish and ask him where he wants them. In his room or in the living room. I don’t get mad when he doesn’t take them however I will try to gently remind him as he can easily forget when not stable. Of all the things that we bump heads about his sz or meds are not usually one of them.

My son is also the same way. He is 37 years old, has been on injections–but only when forced. Im afraid he has always been that way. I wouldnt say he he has no insight at this point. He may be trying to do this without meds, or he may be going through a learning curve.
This is a heartbreaking disease, but one thing Ive learned is to listen. Sooner or later you child has to figure this out on their own. My son also abused drugs-which complicated everything. If your son is not, there is a better chance that he will do better in making his own decisions, and having some insight a lot quicker. I wish you luck on this journey--which is really your sons journey OO

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I was in my late 20"s when I was first in the hospital and got my diagnosis. I absolutely hated meds. In fact for seven years I took none. PLUS Its really got to be difficult for someone with early onset…

The main reason I didn’t like meds was because I could not achieve my goals and ambitions, which were “getting back” to work.

I think you may have a med that is not able to help. If you can ask him, what most exactly does he not like about “his” meds. Then you could ask your pdoc. There are like 20 combinations and 20 different meds.

I was brought out of my psychosis by a low and gradual dose of a tricyclic anti-depressant. after that I came to my senses.

Treat the acute symptoms, and find something or way for him to be part of the recovery.

It takes work and is not an easy path to follow.

How many psychiatrist’s does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.

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Thank you so much for these words of wisdom. This is a learning curve for all of us that is for sure. I definitely feel getting therapy, when is not in psychosis, will be key in getting him to understand his condition. In the meantime I am reading, watching and learning from doctors, books and especially the ones who have the condition that can give me a view inside the condition and the struggles from a first hand perspective. Thank you so much and I admire the courage that each one of you has. :slight_smile:

my son is the same way and still says he is not sick after 3 years of on and off meds…Now the court has ordered him to take shots,My son is 39 years old…I think he will always be in denial…He has been in and out of hospitals till he turned his anger towards me…this last time he has a doctor that cared and he ordered the treatment…i f he refuses they will come and get him and put him in the hospital…good luck

It is easy for a schizophrenic to resent the med’s because they weaken you physically. In spite of all the experience I have with med’s I still have a lingering resentment against them. When I am not on med’s I can work all day in 100 degree weather and not think twice about it. When I am on med’s I can take about 45 minutes in 95 degree weather before I start to get in serious trouble. One time I just walked around outside for several months so I wouldn’t have to take Haldol. My family would have accepted me if I had come in, but I would have had to take Haldol. Thank God for the atypical med’s. I wish I knew what to tell you to do about your son. Just try to coax him into taking med’s. Let him know that the atypical med’s are so much easier to tolerate than the typicals.

Hi Sonya,

Your son may or may never accept this diagnosis. I’ve been diagnosed for seven years and still have a hard time accepting it for what it is. He watches movies with people that have this condition, he reads about it, he learned about it in class, etc… All he knows is that he knows what it looks like, and it isn’t him… He most likely realizes that something isn’t right, but schizophrenia? No, he thinks, absolutely not. I don’t know if this is an issue but when you have an inconsistent system (some people say that you have it, others, such as friends, say no, no way) We start to wonder who or what are supposed to believe.

A severe psychotic episode can and will cause cognitive damage, and it makes so much sense to blame the cognitive impairments on the meds. Unfortunately those meds are not optional, and are not the cause of the damage, but it does repair itself.

Maybe go through Nami and get him in contact with someone high functioning that has symptoms that he can relate to. I must tell you though, coming out of a delusional state can be devastating. If he has or had delusions of grandeur, all he knows is that yesterday he was a hero… and today, he’s just ill.

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No easy solution. Sry

I wouldnt say that in every case. i’ve been on thorazine for the past four years after trying every atypical on the market. im doing much better with the thorazine.

You’re right - not in every case. I talked to one guy who found Geodon hard to tolerate, and Haldol a comfortable drug. That sure isn’t the case with me. I find all the typical med’s very hard to tolerate, and all the atypicals much easier to handle. I think it is that way with the majority of the mentally ill.

These meds can cause Psychosis to worsen if not properly withdrawn from. Maybe that’s the reason it went full-blown that fast. Ask the pdoc to help you withdraw from the drug safely if you decide to do an non-drug alternative. Long-term outcomes are better for those that choose the non-drug approach.

It’s hard to force the kid to take them. It’s stealing their youth. Been there, didn’t like it. Felt like an eff’n statue.

Educate the kid about his condition. That will help him when learning natural coping skills.

Yes - Antipsychotics can cause brain damage. It shrinks the part of the brain called frontal lobe, enlarges basal ganglia and causes biochemical imbalance in the brain.

shot two and I know he is to take pills for a bit he threw them away and told me they told him to.yesterday he was hearing voices and seeing stuff on tv,we talked and today a little better ,my question is how long befor the invega shot starts to work?

It takes a while, it took my son about 6 weeks.

There’s no timeline for this. Even highly functional folk like myself lapse from taking medication from time to time. I find I have to reach certain crisis points which motivate to medicate. For me, I started medication for fear that I’d lose my job if I didn’t and my life would be much worse for me if I didn’t at least try.

While you can certainly suggest, nagging or lecturing isn’t likely to help. The decision must come from within and be motivated by self-interest. I know it must be frustrating, but you must be patient engaging and positively motivating. Negative reinforcement was generally unhelpful for me, and led to acting out and defiance ocassionally.

Consider alternatives. If he won’t take medication see if he’s open to other therapies. (I had over a year of psychotherapy before I first took meds). If not, ask him about goals and help him with plans.

Ask him how he feels. Ask him about what it’s like to be psychotic. Ask him what it’s like when he’s on medication. Praise him when he has good days, and be patient when he has bad ones.

Caregivers often don’t realize that it’s very lonely being ill, and you feel you can never do anything right. Or no one will listen to you.

Above all be patient calm and forgiving. Maintain a dialog and listen, and hope that little by little he gain insight into himself and his disease, and learns to make good choices.


My son is due for his next Invega shot tomorrow. I think it started wearing off about 4-5 days ago. At first I thought it was residual psychosis from his break but now I don’t think so. His voices seem to be getting worse again and more and more he is asking me questions about the ‘spiritual world’ etc. I have heard that it can take up to 3 months or more to see the full affect even for injections.

Thank you. My son is paranoid and may lose his job soon. but he has no insight so I’m lost as to how to help him. He tells me he doesn’t know what it’s like to be psychotic and lies about taking meds.

Nagging sure didn’t help, nor did bribery. Perhaps he will decide to take a small dose of something just so the anger dissipates.

Meds help with the anger, but for me it helped to realize where my anger came from.

First, it came from frustration over lack of control. I didn’t ask for the disease, but it was causing me to lose control of my life. And people were telling me they knew better than I did and to do as they said. Then doctors told me to listen to them and take medication. Then even if I took the medication, it made me feel different-- as if I was losing control.

Second, it came from feelings of not being heard. I can’t tell you how many times I went over my complex delusional system with my mother and she didn’t understand it, or wouldn’t let me finish, and blew me off in other ways. And I’d get angry and start over from the top and increase the volume etc. It didn’t matter much that she didn’t believe me, I just wanted her to listen.

Third, it came from not being asked for my input on things that directly affected me. A combination of lack of control and lack of being heard. For example the first Psychiatrist I visited talked to me for about 10 minutes and after I said I wasn’t sold on medication and would like to take as little as possible, proceeded to prescribe six different medications. Well, I walked out of his office and didn’t see another Psychiatrist for over a year.

Eventually, I realized that my parents didn’t want me sick any more than I did. And they were doing the best they could as far as listening me, but were frustrated. And eventually they asked for my input as I calmed down and they learned they could trust my judgement about things that affected me. It’s a learning curve for everyone, and not everyone learns at the same rate.


I just can’t break thru and make him realize he is sick…he still says he is not sick…

Hi Sonya. I have schizophrenia and I have to tell you that the meds are not necessary to prevent psychosis. The psychosis comes and goes, the first time is most likely the worst experience of psychosis. It does improve but a supportive family is important for recovery. So, there should not be nagging about tak9ing medication. The meds are not effective. The illness is spiritual in nature and spirituality helps aid recovery. So, for me I volunteered with the Legion of MAry (a Christian volunatery organisation) and they helped me get my self together again.

FAith helps. Volunteering with religious organisations helps as these orgaisations are like a buoy in choppy waters. As I said schizophrenia is spiritual in nature, so spirituality helps a lot.