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18 yr old w/ADD refuses medication
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alakupasina posted:
My 18 year old daughter was diagnosed w ADD about 18 mos ago. She's a senior in High School. She has classic symptoms of challenges w executive functions such as organization, impulsiveness, losing things, quick to anger, relationship issues, etc. She's tried several ADD meds, the latest is the patch.

She says she feels anxiety when on meds and after working closely w her Dr over the last year, she's refusing to take anything any more.

She intends to go away to college next year. I see her acting impulsively when she drives. She has issues with relationships. She takes anti depressant medication.

She won't compromise, she won't cooperate. What to do?
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10brandley1 responded:
I would say to your daughter in a firm voice ''You will take these pills or else we are going to the doctor''
 
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ChristophorM responded:
You may not like how this starts out, but stick with me, please.

She's not "refusing" to take her meds. She's "choosing" not to take them.

Like it or not; She's a grown woman. She can drive a car, get a job, smoke cigarettes, vote or die for her country if she so chooses and there is nothing you can do about it. What she talks about with her doctor is none of your business. You'll need to get that straight in your mind and accept it.

She'll always be your little girl, but all you can do now is give her the best advice you can. She's responsible for her own life from now on. You don't have the right to make her eat her veggies let alone take mind altering drugs.

I wish I could say she's going to be fine and you have nothing to worry about. I can't. I can tell you that despite all the odds and crazy statistics, I didn't become a casualty and I had a much rockier start than your kid.

When I was 16 or 17 (can't recall which). My dad and I got into an epic argument that started over nothing. The whole thing was ridiculous. We both had ADHD and nobody knew it.

The last thing he said that day was "My house. My rules. If you don't like it you can leave!"

I said "Sounds like a good deal to me." and I left.

I was a 17 year old 9th grader. Over the next 11 or 12 years, I had a grand adventure. I got a GED and went to vocational school for computers. I didn't get a drivers license until I was 21. I worked as a dish washer and a stock boy at a grocery store. Rode in cars with complete strangers who stopped to ask if I wanted a ride. I discovered there was such a thing as male prostitutes because apparently a skinny kid walking home from work at 2:00am looks just like one. (I wasn't btw.) I joined the Army. Got kicked out, married a lesbian and got divorced about 10 months later. Almost became an alcoholic, but flipped a coin and married this hot Thai lady who can cook and pay the bills on time and reminds me where I'm supposed to be, when and what to take with me. She convinced me to stop smoking, drinking and staying out late. The last 10 years have been a lot better. We now have a kid of our own and she probably has ADHD too. I ask her to brush her teeth and find her in the hallway drawing on the back of her homework instead.

The point is you don't want your kid to get so angry with you that she stops listening to anything you have to say. You don't want HER to be walking home from her dish washing job at 2:00am or riding in cars with strangers. You want her to graduate HS. You want her to go to college and live a long happy life. She doesn't need to take drugs to get there.

I wasn't diagnosed until the age of 37. That was less than 2 years ago. I'm not dead or in jail. (Though I did spend a night behind bars for fighting with my bi-polar drug addict brother in my parent's front yard.) Ah memories...

Yeah. It's not easy to live with me. Even I know that. But I'm not an idiot. I know my limits and my skills. It can work. With the right support system and survival skills, she can do just fine with or without meds. The meds are a convenient tool, but they're not for your convenience.

These things are not candy. They mess with your head. That's what they're designed to do. They take the brain you were born with and make it do things it wasn't made to do. There are bound to be side effects. She has to decide if the side effects are worth the benefits. That's a personal choice.

All you can, and frankly should do, is be supportive. Help her learn techniques she can use to keep herself on track without you. So what if she's not doing things your way. Does it matter what route she takes to get from point A to point B as long as she arrives safely?

I choose to take my meds because they help me get along better with my family. But nobody forces me to do it. She may make a different choice. You have to support her decision. She's family. Just help her no matter what she chooses.

Good luck.

- Chris
 
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Boyzmomee responded:
Who's paying for college and living expenses? Yes, she is a grown woman but if she won't cooperate with medical treatment then you are free to let her act as if she is a grown woman and take financial responsibility for herself.

You are right to have concerns about her safety.
 
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ChristophorM responded:
That sounds a lot like what my dad said. Except he wasn't using money as a weapon.

My point is if you want your kid to act like an adult, you have to stop treating them like a kid.

"Take these pills or get out of my house! I'm not paying for you to go to college if you don't take the medicine I say you should take."

That doesn't really sound like it will work.

A parent's job is to make sure their kid is ready to take on the world, make a living and live a good and happy life.

I can tell you from experience, you don't need drugs to do that. Even if you have ADHD. I did it.

I was 37 when I was diagnosed. I didn't graduate high school. I didn't go to college.

I've never purchased a used house or a used car either. I've worked for nearly 20 successful years as an IT professional. I only ever got two employee reviews that didn't result in a raise. Despite untreated ADHD.

I did it my way. I got a GED. I got a high score on the test, so I got some kind of special recognition award to go with my diploma. Instead of college, I joined the Army. I received excellent training. That has served me well. I also learned enough discipline to maintain a professional demeanor at work in a field that I absolutely love. If I ever bother to take a few English, Math and Humanities classes, I'll walk away with a computer science degree.

All without any help from anybody.

My wife has made the last 11 years of my life a lot better. I won't lie about that or diminish her contribution to our success in life, but she didn't do it alone. I'm a valuable member of our family. I'm an excellent dad.

Once again, without drugs. WIth untreated ADHD.

I cannot succeed in traditional school. I cannot succeed in a job where I have to sit in a box and do boring stuff all day long. I need to be in a situation where I can work at my own pace and have the physical freedom to walk around a bit every so often. I naturally gravitated to a field that suited me and was interesting and challenging enough to keep me interested day after day.

Nobody ever believed in me. I didn't even believe in myself half the time. I just did what I had to do until I found a place where I could be myself and succeed enough. Sometimes that's all we need. We don't have to be the best of the best. We just need to be good enough.

Don't tell me it's not possible for an ADHD person to thrive without drugs.

It's up to the parent to teach their kid how to have a good life. There is no cure for ADHD. When she goes to bed at night, she's going to have ADHD. Every night for the rest of her life. How will she get to work on time? How will she pay her bills? Not make enough money to pay them, I mean write the check on time.

If you want your grown adult kid to act like an adult, you don't treat her like a kid. If you want her to pay her own bills, teach her how and get out of the way. You might learn something from her.

When my wife and I moved into our first house, the paint was barely dry and the lawn hadn't been sodded yet. My Dad came to visit. I asked him to take off his shoes.

"Why do I have to take off my shoes if I don't want too?" he asked.

"My house. My rules. If you don't like it you can leave. " I replied.

He smiled and said "OK."

I didn't fail. I didn't need drugs to succeed. I just wish I had those 11 years I wasted learning stuff my parents could have taught me back to spend withy my daughter. She's in Kindergarten this year and she's a lot smarter than I was at her age because I take the time to teach her what she needs to know and when she falls, I help her dust off her feet and try again until she can do it without me.

That's what parents are supposed to do. I had enough of people telling me I was too lazy and too unmotivated. Nobody bothered to help me find out what was wrong or help me find my own way to do things. But at least they stayed out of my way while I learned it on my own.

Give your kid a chance to succeed and
 
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ChristophorM responded:
continued...

Give your kid a chance to succeed and you'll be glad you did.

- Chris
 
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Boyzmomee responded:
This mother would like her child to have a successful life and graduate from both high school and college.

A parent is not required to fund a college education nor provide a vehicle if they feel that they won't be utilized properly. It has nothing to do with "weapons.' It has to do with mature thinking.

The chance to succeed at college with ADHD and the denial or refusal of treatment is slim to none.

In addition, concerns about driving a car are real. This young woman could both endanger herself and others.

If i had a child with diabetes (rather than ADHD), I would not provide a college education nor a car to drive if he/she chose not to comply with medical treatment and refused insulin or medications.

That too would put themselves and others at risk.
 
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ChristophorM responded:
When I talked about a weapon, I meant using your position as a parent to browbeat your kid into compliance. I'm talking about scaring them into doing what you want for the sake of making them do what you want.

The right thing to do is talk to the kid. Try to understand their point of view. Treat them with respect and explain your own position and why you think meds will help them. Giving them a chance to succeed on their own is better than assuming they will fail.

Why is it wrong to have a rational conversation and respecting their decision?

How is it better to scare them into obeying you by threatening to remove their only means of support if they don't give up their rights as a grown adult to you?

I don't know if you personally have ADHD or not. I do. I grew up with people talking to my face the way you're talking about this ADHD adult.

When I hear someone say "Take these meds or I'm not going to help you get an education or a car.", this is what it means to me.

You will fail. You will not succeed. You will get into car accidents. You won't pass your classes. You aren't capable of surviving in the world without me. If you don't take these meds, I will make sure you never get the chance to leave this house and live your own life. You will always be a failure. You will always need me to take care of you. You are incapable of being a grown adult.

Well, here's the news flash for anyone who thinks that about ALL ADHD kids. You're wrong. That kind of thinking is wrong. Making your kid feel like less of a person by removing their choices is wrong. Ignoring your adult kid's opinions and concerns for their own health is wrong.

i've had untreated, undiagnosed ADHD for 99% of my life. I've never been in a car accident. I've never failed a class as an adult.

I bought my first house at the age of 28. It was brand new. I don't fail. I may fall behind but I always finish the race. ADHD is NOT Diabetes. It's NOT cancer. ADHD is completely treatable with life skills training and a little support from friends and family. Drugs are NOT necessary.

If you don't believe that, then you don't know enough about ADHD.

People who say those things are not doing their kid any favors. You have to build your kid up. Not knock them down. I'm too stubborn to go down without a fight. That's why I didn't fail in the face of all the negativity pushed on me in my life. Not every kid is like that. Some kids take that criticism and lack of faith from their parents and caregivers and internalize it they become what their parent's said they would. They loose faith in themselves and they die inside believing they were incapable of doing anything else because that's what the people they trusted told them.

Not me. You have to kill me before I die. As far as I know I'm immortal. I must have cat genes or I'd be dead already. I'm probably on my 8th life now. I got this way by pushing back against the negativity. I have a hard time figuring out when NOT to push back because I've been doing it for so long. It's not good. It's hard to trust people. It's why I never ask for help. I just do what I have to. I hate being that way.

Do you want that for your kid or this kid?

Why is respecting your kid and obeying the law wrong? Medical information is private in America. Nobody can tell you what pills to take and not to take. Forcing them to do it is like blackmail and it shows the kid you don't trust them and you have no faith in them.

Don't think I made this stuff up. This is all straight from the heart. I'm about to burst over the emotion this kind of thing stirs up in me. I've had people say this stuff to me for as long as I can remember and I always shove it right back in their face by succeeding.

Bullying your kid is not mature. It means you've failed to be rational and this is all you have left.

Maybe she's not taking the meds because her parents made it an ultimatum.

It's about respect. She's a person. Not a pet.
 
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ChristophorM responded:
Boyzmomee

I'm sorry about getting all worked up in my other post. This is a sensitive issue for me.

You said, "The chance to succeed at college with ADHD and the denial or refusal of treatment is slim to none. "

That's not really true.

Treatment does NOT equal drugs. There are other treatment options available that don't require medication.

Having ADHD doesn't make you an automatic failure. You fail your kid when you say that.

Don't close your mind to the real possibilities.

It may be hard for you to understand what's coming. I think your kid is very young. When your kid is small and they may seem like a bouncing ball of destruction and noise until you put them on pills. It's not like that for adults generally. We run late a lot. We forget appointments. We forget to bring stuff. We don't always hear what people are saying. We kind of zone out when we're bored. We get frustrated easily and we say stuff that sounds mean when we didn't mean it that way.

Drugs can help. But they're not the only way. There is a lot of info out there now. Life skills is a necessary part of any treatment plan even when drugs are helpful. Some people don't need pills at all once they know how to address their symptoms.

That's all I'm saying.

- Chris
 
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Boyzmomee responded:
Chris, I am a psychiatric social worker with 20 years of experience including multiple years working in an acute care child/adolescent psychiatric inpatient unit. I am well aware of ADHD throughout the life span.

This is not a sensitive issue with me due to my education and work experience. I can easily look at it objectively.

Succeeding in college with untreated ADHD is slim to none. I would not fund that endeavor.

My husband is 49 years old with ADHD and working in law enforcement.

My first son (ADD) was valedictorian at high school and is pursuing a career in criminal justice. He is 20 years old. He no longer requires medication. His symptoms were mild to moderate when he was younger.

The second (ADHD) is moving successfully into middle school (age 13) with good grades and good social skills. He is currently on medication and will likely need it for quite some time if not throughout his life.

Medications are/were not the only treatments used for my sons. As a psychiatric social worker, I am well aware of other ways to help manage ADHD.

It appears that your assumptions are way off base.

.
 
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ChristophorM responded:
I wasn't apologizing for the content of my post. I stand by every word. I was apologizing for the tone in case it sounded a bit harsh. I didn't mean it that way. That's all.

I didn't mean to assume anything. Please clarify which "assumptions are way off base."

The content of your post "appears" to equate treatment with drugs.

It seems like you are saying you would not pay for the kid to go to college unless she takes drugs.

Amy I wrong about that?

Are you saying something else?

I appreciate that your profession puts you in a position to see people with psychiatric problems. I wouldn't presume to discount your knowledge and experience. However, seeing people who need help isn't the same as being someone who needs help. Please keep that in mind.

I'm proud of your family. As a fellow ADHD person, it makes me feel great to know that people like me can do so well in the right circumstances. I wish them every success and I know you?ll do your part to help them succeed. I made a mistake about the age of your kids. Probably mixed you up with someone else. (I do that sometimes.)

I didn't have those circumstances as a kid. My parent's meant well, but they just weren't equipped mentally or financially to put 4 kids through college or even pay their mortgage on time. They hit some hard times and things just didn't work out. I don't think I would have been any better off at home than I was on my own, except it wouldn't have been as much of a tight-rope walk.

My kid probably has ADHD. She's a lot like me. After all I've been through, I know that ADHD people can do anything anyone else can. They may not be able to do it the same way. I'm teaching her that it's OK to be different. I'm teaching her that she can succeed and that failure is only temporary. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. When she falls, I help her up, let her try again until she gets it. Then I leave her to it. I don?t get in her way.

If I were in the same situation as the parent who started this post, I'd support my kid's decision not to take meds, but I'd make sure she had a plan to deal with the situation. Maybe she takes a few less classes or whatever. No matter what I won't deny her the chance to succeed. I'm not stupid. I won't let her be one of those career students still in college and no job at 40. But I?m not going to tell her she can't even try if she doesn't take meds.

I won't punish her for car accidents and failed classes that haven't happened yet. She'll never succeed if she doesn't have a chance to fail. There's no way I'd deny her the chance to go to college even if she chose not to take meds.

I think that sums it up.

Please let me know what's wrong with anything I've said. Please include a bit of detail so I can understand your position. I have ADHD and I might be missing some nuances you'd intended. I?m not good at subtle. That?s why my posts are so long.

- Chris
 
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abakale responded:
Has she tried counseling and behavior modification?

How are her grades? If she is not able to attain the grades, complete the essays and applications, she won't be going anywhere for school. If she is able to do all these without the medication, then I don't see a problem. You may not be pleased with it, but she is an adult, and she's obviously doing well. If she can do all these, and you've already promised to pay for school, then why not? You mention she's worked closely with her doctor, and tried several meds. It sounds as though she's given it a fair chance.

She has issues with relationships? From what I've seen, medication will probably not help with this, but therapy might.

Paying for her insurance and car if she is an impulsive driver is another matter. That impacts your finances as well as the safety of others on the road.
 
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Boyzmomee responded:
Chris,

Where have I said anywhere on this forum that the sole treatment for ADHD is medication? I'm really curious as to where you have gotten that impression.

Yes, I don't have ADHD and that helps with my objectivity.

Children who receive treatment are much less likely to drop out of school and are more successful socially. All education does not take place in the classroom.

Abakale:

This mother said her daughter has "classic symptoms of challenges w executive functioning" which is common for people with ADHD. This does not bode well for success in college.
 
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alakupasina responded:
Hello all. I started this post and have been reading your replies with great interest. Thanks to all for your honesty, advice, examples and opinions. Special thanks to Chris and boyzmomee.

I value the opinion that medication is not the only answer. I also understand that perhaps a combination of meds, therapy, behavior modification and more may be helpful. I think I can conclude that doing 'nothing' in response to an ADD diagnosis is not OK. Unfortunately my daughter has mostly refused everything until recently.

My daughter and I reached an agreement that she will try the meds again, and she will work directly with her Dr to stay on, modify the dose, or go off the meds. My concern was that she was unilaterally deciding to go off or manage the meds without consult. At this point, she's giving Adderall a try again, but she's working directly with her Dr to manage the doses. I've stepped out. She's trying to stick with it, but her commitment is tentative at best.

She's stayed on for about 2 weeks. I notice a marked improvement in her study habits, and far less impulsiveness, and less irritability. One day without, and immediately she becomes irritable and aggressive, sometimes wicked mean.

She has flat out refused therapists. We tried two and she nearly walked out.

I'm still concerned about college. She's been accepted to some really great schools. However without managing her ADD, I am concerned about her ability succeed academically. I'm even more concerned about her ability to live peacefully with others, and have relationships.

My hope right now is that she continues with her meds until she realizes that life is really less confrontational and difficult without them. Without meds, she's impulsive, loses things, she's reactive, volatile. Some examples of how she behaves without meds: she takes clothes that don't belong to her and loses them, she drives without her license in her possession, she procrastinates homework til late and then watches tv til 2am. She's irritable and not rational. When she's on meds, the edges are evened out, she's more focused, more thoughtful.

Please keep the discussion going. I am so grateful to 'talk' with others who understand and can help me help my daughter. I look forward to future posts. Thanks again.
 
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Boyzmomee responded:
Alak,

Thank you for providing more information.

Go to google and type in "ADHD coaching." Tell me what you think. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a wonderful book on ADHD and you can likely obtain a used copy on Amazon. They have chapters on various treatments, coaching and helping ADHD teens.

It sounds as if your daughter does better on medication. The key will be not only finding the right medication but the correct dosage and your daughter's developing maturity.

I remember being age 18 and sometimes wish I didn't. ;


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