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Advice on dealing with a 19 year old son with possible ADHD
An_244878 posted:
I have a 19 year old son that has been seeing a therapist now for about 2 months and she feels that he has severe ADHD. He graduated from high school barely, he got accepted into an out of state school, called me before the end of the 1st semester to tell me he was failing and needed to come home. I chalked this up to being a "typical teenage boy", he decided to enlist in the Army, passed the tests, however, he wasnt going to boot camp until August, and that is when more issues started. Breaking curfew, drinking, pot, fights with me over "rules", then got into trouble with police. it was after he got into trouble that he himself asked me if he could go see a counselor. So i agreed and was shocked when she diagnosed him. I feel so guilty for not "knowing" this or seeing the signs before. His father committed suicide when he was 2 and I raised his sister and him by myself. I poured myself into their lives, thought i was "raising" them the best way a single parent could. Exposed them to sports, academic activities, etc. My daughter graduated from college last year and is currently employed with a job that her degree allowed her to get, she is living on her own and doing great. 5 years ago I met someone and he moved in and have recently starting blaming myself for my sons problems/issues thinking that it was his resentment of my boyfriend. I guess I just dont still understand this ADHD and what it does and how medicine can help him. Or am i just a "softie" of a mom being taken advantage of and need to do Tough Love with my son and say see ya....It breaks my heart to see him so lost and all over the place. I am scared also that he feels so bad about himself that he will do the same as his dad did. reading this, makes me even more sad and hopeless. I just dont know what to do or even if there is anything more i can do for him.....
Gina Pera responded:
HI there,

Yes, the reality of ADHD takes many people by surprise -- and many of them very late in life.

The good news is that your son is learning early in life (though, admittedly, earlier perhaps would have been better).

It is not "typical teenage boy" to suffer the issues he has suffered.

Suicide is a risk with untreated ADHD. And if his dad committed suicide, that is something to pay attention to. Especially if your son resembles his dad in other ways. ADHD is highly genetic. So perhaps his dad had ADHD. If your son has ADHD, there is no reason for him to continue suffering.

If this therapist feels his ADHD is severe, I suggest you take it seriously and support your son in getting help.

The best thing you can do now is read solid sources of information on Adult ADHD -- what it is, what are the treatments for it, and how you can best support your son.

I can recommend two books:

My own, called "Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder"

"Taking Charge of Adult A.D.D." by Russell Barkley, Ph.D.
Patricia Quinn, MD replied to Gina Pera's response:
In addition to Gina's comments, it is also important to know that seeing a therapist and dealing with his depression, self-esteem, and ADHD symptoms with medication therapy could help your son get his life under control. Teens and adults with ADHD often self-medicate with illegal substances to take away the pain and make themselves feel better. ADHD is actually a hopeful diagnosis because with proper treatment things can change for the better.

Dr Quinn
GrandmaJanie responded:
Welcome to the roller coaster of ADHD. It is a life-long learning experience for you and your son. The best thing you can do is find a support group. I joined CHADD and had a great experience with these folks. It's people that live with ADHD or a family member with ADHD that can give you the best advise and support. I was lucky, my child's doctor also had a chlid with ADHD. He knew what it was like day-to-day. Don't be afraid of meds. The trouble with meds is that you have to try them out and see if they work. It's very frustrating, but well worth the effort. And way better that self-medicating with illegal drugs and alcohol. Do your best to keep a journal along your journey. Years will pass and you need to remember what worked and what didn't. Toss in the good times, it helps to remember they always return. Most of all, find a good therapist. Neither of you can do this without professional help.
Remember - this is NOT your fault. You are an awesome mom.

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