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Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 in Parenting Tips, The Quest Project, Tips for Moms | 0 comments

Adolescent Son In Trouble? Final Step

Over the past 3 weeks I’ve laid out the steps to take if you suspect trouble with your adolescent son.  Unfortunately, when the first three steps (boundaries & limits, counseling and intensive outpatient) have failed it’s time to move to the final step. 

The Final Step=Intensive Inpatient

If you’ve reached this step with your adolescent son it’s now a matter of safety for you, your family and your son.  This is the most drastic yet necessary step if behavior is out of control.

Intensive inpatient programs are designed to stabilize, regulate and bring out-of-control situations under control.  Here are some examples.

  • Running away for days at a time
  • Cutting or self-destructive behavior
  • Excessive drinking
  • Addicted to drugs
  • Stealing money to support habit
  • Family fears for its safety
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts
  • Bizarre behavior

Many of these examples were covered last week; the difference is nothing is changing, and in fact are getting worse.  This is a very hard step for parents to take.  The idea of admitting their child to a rehabilitation center is inconceivable.  I get it, however if you’re reading this and can identify behaviors that are happening with your son, it’s time to face the hard facts.  You’re responsible for his safety.

I’ve seen many tears fall over the years as parents made the tough decision to seek out inpatient programs.  I’ve also seen some of those same parents full of joy and happiness after their son received intensive therapy and stabilized.   Keep in mind, your son is not rational if he’s reached this step.  He needs more help than what you can provide.  Likely he doesn’t want help, but you know his life may depend on it.

My advice is this.  If you’re experiencing any of these examples with your son get him to the emergency room and get the process started; get him stabilized (that’s key).  After stabilization is achieved, immediately work the above steps by moving down the ladder!  It is very important that once stabilized and regulated don’t stop, there is still hard work to be done. 

Residential programs may also be necessary and/or recommended for your son in this final step.  Residential programs include living and attending school at the facility.  These can include military or boarding schools which are an extended stay environment.  Again, I stress making the right decision for your son and family, with the ultimate goal being to do what it takes to keep everyone safe.

This last step is certainly the toughest one.  It’s the most difficult to address, and there isn’t an easy way.  Think of this final step as a marathon not a race.  Don’t forget to breathe and take care of yourself too.  Seek counseling when you need support and take a break when you need it!


Clayton Lessor
Clayton Lessor, PhD in education and counseling, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. He is author of “Saving Our Sons: A Parent's Guide to Preparing Boys for Success." Clay has seen over 2000 boys since 2000 and facilitated over 300 Quest Project groups. Boys attend a 10-week "boys to men program" where they and their parents will learn the tools needed to get through these turbulent teen years.
Clayton Lessor
Clayton Lessor

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