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ADHD Parents Together
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13 Year Old Son and the Wrong Crowd

Hello, I am new to the site and, like many others, seeking some advise and words of wisdom from others with ADHD and behavioral issues. He was provisionally diagnosed at 7 and started meds at 10 years old. The meds have other side effects and we have been challenged to find one that really works. He has an IEP for math but has never put forth any effort in school; his learning disability was caught early and he received tutoring and special assistance - he just isn't motivated to even try. He hates it and received 4 F's in his core subjects last semester - I wanted to retain him, but the public school won't do it. While he has had friends, he has had trouble keeping them (he's very socially immature and a year younger than kids in 8th grade. In the last 3 months he's started hanging out with like-minded kids from his middle school. I just learned that he is vaping and am aware that a few of them smoke weed, drink, are sexually active. Most have absentee parents who let them stay out all night and arrange for Ubers. He is covering up and lying to me, so is now off of social media. I'm an emotional wreck and must get this under control. We are trying a new counselor in 7 days, one who specializes in child/family issues. I'm a single mother and I just feel so ineffective as a parent. His dad lives in another state and doesn't really bother with him. My family just keeps telling me that he knows exactly what he's doing and is just a clever, manipulative teenager. Any thoughts would be appreciated....

8 Replies

Unfortunately, I don’t have any great words of wisdom. However I am going through the same stuff with my son.

Including flunking all his classes in 8th grade and the school advancing him on to 9th grade anyway.

Vaping seems to be very common with the age group. I have found vaping paraphernalia in my son’s room.

I have not found evidence of anything else yet. One thing I try to do is have his friends over to our house whenever I can. They spend the night frequently, that way I can at least kinda know who they are and what they’re doing.

I don’t know what I’ll do when they all start to drive in a couple years.

It’s good to hear about the new counselor, can’t hurt!! Hopefully the counselor can help him see that some choices are bad enough that they follow you forever.

I’m so sorry you’re going through this! It is very lonely sometimes.

One parent at my workplace said she found a couple bottles of alcohol under her 12 year old daughters bed!!!

It’s scary! Keep trying to help your son and know that there are many many of us all in the same boat.

As far as your well meaning relatives,

they’re probably partially correct, your son is clever. Seriously though, these kids have very little impulse control.

Hang in there!


Thanks so much for the note. I'm meeting the counselor tomorrow.....


lhannigan- Thank-you for joining this group we are here to support you. Some of us have kids that are younger than yours and some have kids older, but we want to support you no mater what age they are. First of all, we all want to give you a big hug and tell you how hard it is to raise a child, then to add the ADHD on top of that... Then the single parent with a father that is not in the area.

First off, are you working with the proper specialist that can really get you dialed in with proper medications? My son was on the wrong medications for many years until he started seeing a ped. psychiatric. She is amazing and really read by son's personality and knew that he was an out going person so she recommended medications that she thought would benefit him. We are also working with a therapist to help him realize when he makes choices that are not good he will have consequences. As far as grades, in my opinion he should have a weekly check in with progress. If he is failing that bad then he needs IEP goals that better support him with staff that can help.

I hope some of this helps.. Can you redirect him time with other activities? Sports? Afterschool program

I hope seeing the new therapist will help.

Good luck


Like EJs Mom, I wish I had better advice....but I will tell you that you must get this under control ASAP because the odds of your son getting addicted to drugs is very real. Many ADHD boys have such poor impulse control and are so defiant at this age that they don't see any danger in anything. His ADHD is running his life right now and this will only get worse as he gets older. I would definitely try and enlist anyone who can help, including the new therapist. Meds might work, but I'm not sure if he will take them. (I am talking about ADHD meds and possibly something like Abilify.) We had basically the same experience, but our son was about 16 when he really started running wild. We ended up sending him to a residential treatment center for 18 months. This was not a "magic pill" but it did mean that he graduated from high school, which I'm sure he would not have if we hadn't intervened. A counselor will help you, but at this age, your son will probably not listen. Here is some practical advice: get a lock for your bedroom door and lock up any cash, credit cards, alcohol, and be sure his siblings also have their allowances, etc locked up. Our boys will steal from us and at his age, this is really the only way he can get extra money. Make sure he can't get to any savings accounts he may have....your name should be on them. He needs a cell phone, but just a cheap phone with calling/texting and nothing else - no internet, etc. Go through his room, backpack, etc on a weekly basis - you want to know if he's using anything besides the vapes. I agree that any type of sports or activities can be a help. And having kids at your house is always a smart idea - encourage this if you can stand it! Our problem was that our son ditched all of his old friends for the new creepy ones....Finally, you may have to go to the school board about having your son held back. You really don't want him in high school like this - there's even less control. I would call the board this week - someone is there even if it's summer. Or start with your school's principal - they're usually in the office the month of July.

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Hello Seller, thanks for the advise, I will definitely take heed. He is currently grounded and without a phone at all due to disobeying me. I am calling private schools this week to see if I can get him in to repeat 8th grade outside of the public school arena. He is so furious and wants to see his friends so bad. I am staying determined though. One good note is that the girl with the most "bad" influence is moving out of the state inn 2 weeks!!! This prayer has been answered....


Good luck and hang tough! You have some control now since he's younger and can't drive. (Never ever allow your 16 yr old ADHD boy to drive!!) Do not back down and if you can get him into private school to repeat, that would be good. We sent our son to private school for 7th and 8th grade because our experiences in 5th and 6th was so bad, I was afraid jr high would be worse. The private school was fine - he wasn't too happy but he did okay and nothing terrible happened! (He waited for high school for that!) On a serious note: I met a woman on this site many years ago when our boys were both horrible....we both ended up sending them out to Utah to different places, but she discovered her son was using heroin (he was 14) and he was sent to a place for substance abuse. It took 2 stays in the treatment center and 2 years in a sober house, but he's okay now. I think he started using weird stuff like bath salts and smoking pot, but graduated to heroin. (This cost my friend and her husband lots and lots of money.) This is not to say your son will do this, but to let you know that you have to stay vigilant these days.


My 13 year old daughter with ADHD, ODD, anxiety, depression, and OCD hangs out with the worst crowd. She has a hard time keeping friends also so she ends up getting accepted by the kids with bad grades, suspensions, do drugs, sexually active, etc. She hasn't really done anything too bad yet but is going into high school in a couple of weeks and I'm so nervous for her. She says she wants a fresh start to make better choices of friends but I'm not sure she is capable. She is drawn to kids that bring her down. Despite all of her issues she is a good girl that is very intelligent, but her lack of impulse control and gets bored easily so she is always looking for something exciting. It's a frustrating situation for sure. It sounds like you are doing everything you can for your son. Hang in there.


Thanks for the response Mamab3...good luck to you, sounds like they are both in pretty similar situations. I am learning so much from the past few months as he is changing rapidly.


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