September 16, 2017 at 11:13 am #61749
I have a 16-year old boy who has been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and high anxiety. We had him on stimulants during the school week up until Christmas 2016 when he decided he wouldn’t take them anymore. complained how they made him feel sick and cut out his appetite. We didn’t see much of a difference when he was on meds anyway. He’s completely out of control though; tantrums when he doesn’t get his way, lies, has zero motivation, and grades have been slipping since his freshman year. I have an appointment at the end of the month to talk about meds for him although he’s adamant that he won’t be taking it. Previously I’ve watched him put the pill in his mouth and supposedly swallowed it with water, but then I’ve found the pill later in the day in his sink or floating in the toilet. I believe he might be suffering from some depression too. We’ve sat down and explained to him the importance of getting him help but that ODD just gets in the way. Anyone else experiencing a teen who refuses to take meds? How do you handle it?
- This topic was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Penny Williams.
September 18, 2017 at 2:34 am #61768SumebParticipant
Our son has ADD (without the Hyperactivity) and took medication from 3 – 15 years. Then he refused to take his medication. He was attending a private school for ADHD-kids where the classes had fewer pupils. Someone in his class introduced him to weed and he totally changed. It was as if his off-button was pressed and we couldn’t find the on-button again. We were unaware that he was smoking weed and only found out 4 years later (believe me, we weren’t asleep. They are just very clever to hide it!)
Eventually, we sent him off to a long term rehab (13 months) and he came back a new person. Most of his behaviour changed in a positive way. They taught them life skills, and how to cope with the stresses of life. And they challenged him on his laziness to address certain of his ADD behaviours. He has been clean for the past 6 years and lives a disciplined and grateful life. (He still has his challenges that are typical of ADD – especially socially)
This is the long story. What I want to say, is in our experience (at the Narcotics Support Group), most of these kids and adults, who land up in addiction, has some underlying mental challenge, that is untreated. I would say, more than 80% has undiagnosed ADHD and they keep falling back into addiction. We have also encountered co-morbid conditions like depression, bi-polar, Aspergers, Taurette-sindrome, ODD, etc. If these conditions remain untreated, they will struggle to cope with life – more than anyone else and more than people who are treated. And there is a strong chance that they will start using drugs to cope. These are facts. You can read about the newest research on it.
I know it is exactly what you believe too. Perhaps you can start investigating other forms of treatment or would he be willing to take supplements? Go and read on dr Daniel Amens website. http://www.amenclinics.comThere is a lot of helpful info. I hope you succeed to convince him to get help – in any form!
September 18, 2017 at 10:06 am #61779
There’s a great article on ADDitude on why teens refuse to take medication, and how to go forward from there:
The bottom line to successfully changing his willingness to try medication again is going to be listening to his reasons WHY he doesn’t want to take the medication, and showing him that you validate those feelings and concerns and want to work with him to find a resolution that treats his ADHD to help him, but also considers his feelings and input.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
September 18, 2017 at 10:58 am #61781
Thank you. Wish the ODD didn’t get in the way of him making rational decisions. Read the article and it’s great for those teens that really aren’t opposed to meds. My son believes meds are toxic to the body and he’ll die from someone making an error. His anxiety is worse than the ADHD :/
September 19, 2017 at 10:05 am #61823
Oh boy! He has some serious fears, maybe paranoia? It sounds like some intensive therapy is needed to help him manage those thoughts, and move past them.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
September 21, 2017 at 6:34 pm #62055lenalcsParticipant
Good response. As a mental health professional who does not have prescription ability I often discuss medication with clients.
It’s not uncommon for teens to want to try without medication. Giving him the opportunity to share what his thoughts and feelings are is helpful, yet difficult.
As moms and adults we want them to learn from “our wisdom”. We see the risks and benefits.
It may not sound rational to us but to the individual they have a reason for wanting a break. Remember pre frontal cortex is still developing so don’t expect consistent responsible behavior.
It might be a comment he overheard or some association he’s made with “psych meds”.
Hopefully there is an objective supportive mental health professional or healthcare person who can validate his opinions, help him understand the risks and have a back up plan if certain symptoms surface.
So scary and not uncommon.
September 21, 2017 at 4:38 pm #62038leapdaymomParticipant
Talking with him is key!! Have you looked into Genesight testing? My son actually responds best with a non-stimulant. He either metabolized one type of ADHD medicine too quickly(like methylphenidates) or the another type of meds were way too much for him to metabolize. He stiil takes a small dose of Metadate for morning at school, but that’s it. He’s been on Vayarin(high doses of lipids) for 2 months now. He also started L-Theanine
September 21, 2017 at 4:46 pm #62040leapdaymomParticipant
Talking with him is key!! Have you looked into Genesight testing? My son actually responds best with a non-stimulant. He either metabolized one type of ADHD medicine too quickly(like methylphenidates) or the another type of meds were way too much for him to metabolize. He stiil takes a small dose of Metadate for morning at school, but that’s it. He’s been on Vayarin(high doses of lipids) for 2 months now. He also started L-Theanine (Read up on that). My son really likes how he feels on that! Helps him relax and focus (he’s a competitive swimmer). Said he doesn’t feel tired like he does on his ADHD medicines..
BTW, my son is 14 & started ADHD meds at 6 unfortunately.
September 22, 2017 at 9:54 am #62124
I appreciate all the advice! Thank you for taking the time to answer. My son has been completely off meds for nine months and prior to that he was only on them for a few years and only on the days he had a full day of school. He’s never complained about feeling like a zombie. He’s complained that it makes him feel sick to the stomach and it cuts out his appetite – he can’t eat lunch. He’s already very thin so I wasn’t happy the meds cut his appetite. He would also get frequent headaches. When we stopped seeing the good grades his psychiatrist up how meds from 27mg to 36mg. The nurse at school called me to come take him to the ER as his heartbeat was erratic and he was pale. Since my son has an abnormal fear of death that was the beginning of the end of him refusing to take meds. Urgent care doc said for his body weight the 36mg was too high. So now my son doesn’t trust professionals in dosing him. We’ve seen psychologists to try to help him but he closes himself up and believes what he wants. His ODD gets in the way of trying to rationalize with him. I’ve recently sat him down and asked him wouldn’t he like a happier calmer life. And what if meds could give him that. At that time he replied, maybe. But now, a mere five days later he’s stated that he won’t be taking meds and going to see someone is just a waste of time 🙁
I finally got him into a sport so he gets some exercise. We started last night together and he liked it!! That’s a first step. I’m buying omega 3 today hoping that will help even just a tiny smidge. Appointment is next week so we’ll see if they can convince him to try for a little bit. I believe this place does gene testing so definitely paying for that. Again thanks for ALL the advice!! And I would never try my son’s adhd meds!!!! We’re completely different physiologically so what might work for him might have adverse effects on me, and I need to be his mother for a lot longer 🙂
September 21, 2017 at 6:16 pm #62050kojitomo31Participant
Our son did the same thing. He has ADHD, anxiety, and depression. He said he will no longer take meds. He took stimulants from 15-16. He then began trading Aderral for Xanax and selling them and making money. He eventually found his way in to marijuana (unbeknownst to us.) He ran away a several times. And barely graduated HS. At this age, he is his own worst enemy. That’s what we found out. Despite wanting to ring his neck time and again, the one thing we have been persistent in is unconditional love. (Not to say you are not.) Many of these kids really feel lonely, isolated, have low self esteem, and that nobody “gets them”, etc. Have conversations often with him in a RELAXED setting. Avoid questions that put him on the defensive. Ask questions that make him think. Ask questions that are open ended. He may not answer them and may not seem like he’s listening, but he is. How would you feel if I told you to take a pill in order be somewhat “normal”? (Non accusatory tone.) Ask what meds represent to him. Find out what he is anxious about, if he’ll open up. Our son was beyond terrified of letting us down. (He would lie, cheat, and steal to avoid disappointing to us. In a very twisted sort of way it was sweet on his part to attempt that, but we had to lovingly inform him that those are not normal or healthy ways to show love for family.) Depression is almost a given with his other co-morbid conditions. We tried therapy; it didnt work. He didn’t want to trust the Therapist. I bought some parent led CBT, anxiety and depression books. Finally, we gave him parameters/ultimatums, “if you don’t pass this class, then you will not be allowed to do this…” You could pay him for his grades for more incentives (and with chores). Bottom line, you cannot force him to take meds or talk to people. If he’s not motivated, it won’t happen. It may get to the point of homeschool or rehab/boarding school, if he doesn’t respect the rules of the house. Our son just turned 19. He’s one year out HS (no college yet) and he’s doing better. We still have rough patches with him, not as bad as he once was. For the most part he is keeping clean. As of recently he is feeling better about himself and recites a lot of statistics I told about ADHD’ers and their behaviors. These are bright kids with complex walls put up. Love and trust help to lower those walls centimeters at a time, it seems. It’s a long road with these kids. Best wishes to you and your family.
September 21, 2017 at 8:53 pm #62063WMDUParticipant
At 16 you can’t force him to swallow the pills, it has to be his decision. Its not that many years until he finishes school and will be out in the world either attending college or looking for a job and there will be nobody there to tell him to take his medication so he needs to make the decision for himself.
The first step is to find out why he doesn’t want to take them. As a teen I would also spit them out, and it was because I did not like the way they made me feel, in many ways they made me feel less like myself. I felt duller, like I had lost my spark. Maybe this is something that can be explained to the doctor the dosage may be too high, the meds might be the wrong ones.
The next key with teens is to find out what matters to them. As parents we want our kids to do well in school and not cause trouble but those things are not necessarily a priority to a teenager. But what goals does the teen have – be able to focus when playing sports, get into college, do better with friends because he can focus on conversations and activities, being able to enjoy hobbies like being able to sit through a movie or read a book etc. Perhaps have him try the meds some days and then not on others and see how they impact these activities that matter to him.
Meds are not the only treatment option for ADHD, would he consider trying some other treatments – biofeedback, elimination diets, cognitive behaviour therapy.
There are other things that can just be done in life as well which improves ADHD symptoms like reducing screen time, more physical activity, cutting down on junk foods, increasing protein etc.
September 21, 2017 at 9:17 pm #62065trinascParticipant
Not every teen with ADHD, ADD, ODD ect will turn to drugs when they stop medication. Yes it is a concern for all parents but it doesn’t have to become your reality. My almost 18 year old son has ADHD and ODD and we took him off medication after 1 year of meds, at the age of 12, because in his words, they made him feel like a zombie. We sat and cried together that day and I swore I would never do that to my son again and I vowed to help him understand everything I could about his brain and never used it as excuse for bad behavior. Although it is an explanation of behaviors, it’s also why they need more attention, positive attention and understanding. Has our life been challenging without him medicated? Yes! But I’ve spent the last 6 years educating him, picking my battles and changing his diet and lifestyle/activity/screen time. A very low carb diet has completely transformed my sons behavior. Not every trait has disappeared but he is better able to handle himself and is now seeing the difference for himself when he carbs out as we call it. He is taking more responsibility for his actions and has now graduated from high school and is starting his own business off of my husbands. Nothing is perfect but so far we are very happy with the results of better, clean eating. Educate your kids, love them hard and help them understand and cope. They are not alone! As parents we are really the only ones that truly understand our kids!
September 22, 2017 at 2:01 am #62093lambie1970Participant
My wife and kids refuse to take meds, despite my psychiatrist testing them and recommending them. He especially thought my wife would benefit, but she is too proud and married to the blame game (I am right and normal and all my problems are everyone else’s fault) to even acknowledge the (very strong) possibility that she may have ADHD or some similar impairment, and is certainly intolerant of ADHD in me and the children. I wish I had an answer but I do not.
September 22, 2017 at 2:04 am #62095lambie1970Participant
I could not take the stimulant meds for years because of a heart condition I have, which has hurt my career as a lawyer. I was finally cleared to take stimulants, and I take Vyvanse, which I am not as happy with as I was with sustained release ritalin.
September 22, 2017 at 4:50 am #62101jerhongParticipant
I have had ADHD for 37 yrs and took medication when I was a child.
100% medication eliminates your appetite, and causes mania….depending on the medication. My suggestion is you try one of his pills, see how it feels. You will understand why he doesn’t want to take medication. I think medication doesn’t work anyways if the individual doesn’t want change….NO medication will miraculously make u smarter or work harder or motivate u. What he needs is a mentor. If you can’t find him someone local to meet up with business owner someone that may have had the same issues, there are plenty of people he can look up to online. Tai Lopez, Tony Robbins, Brendan Buchard, Gary varynercheck…..don’t force him to take pills they stunt your growth and sexual organs….not good for man. If u know what I mean….work with him and understand he has a mental disorder it’s that simple…but eventually he will decide to make the right decisions….I got kicked out of my house when I was 16, used drugs weed,exctasy until I was 21….got girl pregnant, etc but some how I managed to start a successful business in my early thirties and became a multi-multi millionaire and got married had other kids and live a fabulous life with my ADHD….stop the meds does no good.
September 22, 2017 at 1:27 pm #62166sergiomelicioParticipant
I took one of my son meds… I complete hated that. Funny how people call week narcotic and these medication we have been give to our children are not…interesting.
Anyway…just meds will not do the job. It needs parenting…something rare in these days for lack of lots of resources and specially TIME! Why go, when we are young, most of us have a mother in the house, no video games and lots of outside activity. That is gone and coincidently the rate of this call ADD increase. Also, is something else that brings my attention In the past there was not this thing call ADD or ADHD. And I have friend is France, not sure if that is truth, but they said there is not such a thing as diagnostic children with ADHD…nor sure…hummm
I am a divorce parent and I still think the main issue with my son is the Anxiety. I am working on that constantly with him. I believe if he control the fear is half win battle accomplished.
I still don’t believe in this meds because they don’t bring a cure…just treatment. I am try to go with the his mother and the school (how the schools today are so forward with this type of medication wonders me!!!) and I keep giving him the meds. He is just 13 and he has a goal of stop using that. I am still trying alternatives way to the treatment including meditation (good luck on that), cognitive therapy and nutrition.
September 22, 2017 at 6:02 am #62104OldocParticipant
Could I suggest that you seek counselling for your selves on the best approach to help your ODD son build rational decision making skills and how to work around his tendency to ODD then be there to support him in his choices. You can then certainly offer your input but as only as another viewpoint to be taken into consideration
My daughter had the same combination and although slow and frustrating I found long term this approach has paid dividends. I admit I still have to bite my lip a fair bit.
September 22, 2017 at 8:59 am #62119
If ADHD medication makes an individual feel like or seem like a “zombie” then it’s not the right dose or not the right medication. The goal of ADHD medication is to make up for a deficiency in neurotransmitter effectiveness in the brain to improve focus and impulsivity and help to slow down hyperactivity and/or a racing mind. When it’s the right medication and dose, it does not change one’s personality.
Do not ever take medication not prescribed to you, especially controlled substances like stimulants. That is dangerous. Plus, you would have a completely different experience on the medication because it’s efficacy depends on metabolism, genetics, and an individual’s brain chemistry. So, this “experiment” is dangerous and won’t even provide the intended experience.
Studies have shown that medication is effective for 80% of those with ADHD. A blanket statement to “stop the meds because don’t do any good,” is simply inaccurate, and only that one individual’s experience.
Yes, there are many other ways to treat ADHD: https://www.additudemag.com/how-to-treat-adhd-with-medication-therapy-diet-coaching/
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
September 22, 2017 at 1:12 pm #62156quandaryParticipant
Some of what you describe might share attributes with bipolar disorder, which is one of the few forms of depression that afflicts people in childhood. It strikes me as odd that doctors treated your child with stimulants when there are severe anxiety issues at play. I think I may have some aspects of undiagnosed ODD as well, although somehow I’ve managed to keep it inside most often.
For me personally (ADHD and BPII), anxiety and depression are so intertwined that I often mistake one for the other.
Here’s another idea: I just wrote about neurofeedback in another post. It has been used successfully with children and teens with ADHD and comorbid defiant behavior problems — mainly Child Conduct Disorder (obviously different from ODD, but they share the defiance aspect perhaps) The British study found an overwhelming success rate. You may wish to check it out.
Keep an open mind about your child’s diagnosis. I think that psychiatry still hasn’t really figured out how the brain works. There are so many conditions that mimic each other, or that are comorbid with others. Then there are the psychosocial factors. I’m sure you know this already. Hope this helps. Good luck.
- This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by quandary.
September 26, 2017 at 12:36 pm #62494gentlygenliParticipant
After a short adjustment, the right meds at the right level should make him feel better. He should also believe that you’re on his side wanting to make him happier, not wanting to drug him into not being a problem.
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