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Episode 18: Anyone here have overdose experience?

CantComplain's picture

SD15 has twice declared that she overdosed on pills, prompting ER visits, mental health treatment cul-de-sacs, and causing her mother to lose her goddamned mind. 

I don't think she took the pills. I think she lied, partially or entirely, about both incidents.  

Let me explain. 

The first incident she had supposedly swallowed a bottle of muscle relaxers. On Friday night. And told her therapist about it on Monday morning. 

The second incident she supposedly swallowed bottles of Adderall. On Friday night. And told her mother about it on Sunday. 

I researched overdose symptoms for both those drugs. She had none of the symptoms in either case. The doctors didn't give her any of the recommended/usual treatments for overdoses on those drugs. She was surrounded by family from the time she supposedly took the pills until the time she told someone and nobody noticed any changes to her behavior or appearance. 

Please keep in mind that my doubt has had absolutely zero effect on her treatments (because as a SM, I don't exist except to carry her health insurance). And regardless of whether she actually did these things, I believe she clearly needs help and possibly drugs.

Do any of you have experience with this? How do you handle repeated events such as this? Because we all know this won't be the last time she cries suicide as long as BM gives her rewards (BM kicked her BF out of the house for SD15 after the first pill-swallow. And bought her a new phone and sent her to a treatment resort after the second one. And kicks the siblings out of the house so that she can pay exclusive attention to SD. And brings her breakfast in bed every morning before school. And etc etc.). What's a SM to do?



Wrong Way Diva's picture

I am disgusted by her 'fake' overdoses.   I have close friends who really have buried children due to overdose.   I carry Narcan in my purse just in case.   I will say, it is a cry for attention and she needs help but this is NOT the way to go about it.   She needs a hobby or job to keep her busy and get her deserved praise and rewards.

If she says she overdosed again, I would immediately take her to the ER (even if it is days after) and get it on record.  Absolutely get her into counseling with a therapist.   I wouldn't recommend a treatment center yet--all that did for my daughter was to get her more drug connections and teach her ways to hide addiction and pass UA's.   

CantComplain's picture

Well, yes. 

But since the only kind of attention she ever wants is to take her places and spend money on her, doesn't that reward bad behavior? That's rule #2 of raising kids, I'm pretty sure. Or at least it ranks in the top 5. 

#1 Keep them alive and safe

#2 Lead by example

#3 Teach them how to behave by rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior

#4 Give them enough space to fail but be there for support when they do

#5 Teach them basic skills like laundry, cooking, budgeting, and conflict resolution

sunshinex's picture

I second the "disgusted" part. I lost 2 good friends this year to overdose.

I myself have overdosed a few times in my teen years. I'm not familiar with muscle relaxers but I would imagine overdosing she would likely be nodding in and out of it for a bit. Adderal, on the other hand, would absolutely, 100% be noticeable unless she does have ADD. 

If I took too much adderal, I would throw up constantly, especially if I tried to eat. Behaviourally speaking, I would speak really, really fast and confusing. Anytime someone overdoses, it is not something they can go about their normal day while it happens. It stops everything. There is convulsing, cold sweats, shakes, etc. It's terrifying.

The first time I overdosed, I knew it was happening and I was scared. I was 15 or so, I woke my mom up and told her what happened and that I needed to go to the hospital because I didn't want to die. I knew she'd be angry but I knew it was waking her up or dying - those were my options. You just sort of "know" and feel it in your gut that death is imminent. 

Sounds like she wants attention, and worse, sounds like she gets positive attention when this happens. She needs to be brought to the ER immediately after the next "overdose" and checked for the drug in her system. Right now, she should be on lockdown - constantly check her bags, her room, don't let her go out without an adult supervisor, tell her it's for her own good so she doesn't overdose. Annoy the crap out of her with it. 



CantComplain's picture

Thank you for sharing your experiences! I really appreciate the support. I hope you are in a better place now, health-wise. 

I agree with most of your suggestion, although at 15 we can't exactly keep her on lock down. We can't even keep her in the house if she wants out. She's too old to lay hands on and her mother will always come get her if SD cries loudly enough. 

I'm reminded of a time when I was 19 that I broke up with a boyfriend who threatened to kill himself if I did. I called his mother in tears and asked her to do something. I still remember the long, horrible pause before her kind, understanding voice came over the line with advice I've never forgotten: "Oh honey. I'm so sorry he's doing this. He's been doing it to me for years. I used to panic and take drastic measures, but none of them worked. He keeps threatening. And there's no way you can watch him every minute. I'll check in on him tonight and call you to let you know." And she did. And he was drunk but fine. 

That pretty much sums it up for me. I don't believe she wants to die, she just wants to manipulate us. I realize she could accidentally do it at some point, but I can't control her behavior. [I can't emoji right today]

sunshinex's picture

Oh I'm in a much better place! I haven't used any substances in about 6 years, since I've been with my now husband! 

At 15 and "overdosing", you absolutely should be able to keep her on lock-down. It's unfortunate that her mother will jump in and rescue her if you're trying to lay some rules down. When my sister had a boyfriend who threatened suicide everytime they faught, she got worried and upset and stayed, too. Until I told her to leave the house, call the police immediately, and let them know there's a suicidal person at XYZ address and to show up immediately. This stopped his threats.

Maybe this is in order? Call the police next time she says she overdosed, tell them you have a suicidal child and you're worried for her safety. That should snap her out of it. 

Wrong Way Diva's picture

Google this.   It's big in the Nar-Anon community.   You didn't cause this behavior, you can't control this behavior, you can't cure this behavior.  It is absolutely gross manipulative behavior.  Let her know it is her choice to end her life and you will truly miss her.  Share your opinions about religious views and suicide, assisted suicide in the terminally ill/elderly (I very much support this) or other issues. Then shut up.   No drastic measures, no more attention.  

You can however make her plan her own funeral service complete with music, write her own obituary, pick an outfit to bury her in, 'will' her belongings to others because you will be "too upset about her loss" to do it.   It's sort of cruel but it made my daughter see how much she had to live for.

CantComplain's picture

All the other comments are good and I am VERY grateful for everyone's sharing and support; but they are mostly suggestions that only a parent can perform. This, though, is something I can do myself even as the invisible stepmonster. 

Thank you!

justmakingthebest's picture

My receptionist burried her son Thanksgiving weekend due to an OD. This isn't something that should be "faked" but I don't know what you could do to stop her except take her to the ER and have her stomach pumped the next time she says she did something like take pills. 

CantComplain's picture

Agreed. Except that she hasn't needed her stomach pumped when she gets to the ER. Because she has no symptoms. The doctors there don't give her anything but a referral to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrists (multiple) she's seen gave her prescriptions and talk  therapy. 

susanm's picture

A "bottle" of muscle relaxers and Adderall?  No.  Even relatively mild muscle relaxers like Flexeril in large doses will knock someone out and eventually stop their breathing and Adderall is a stimulant that would act like a coke OD.  Both would need prompt medical intervention if she actually did it.   I agree that it was attention seeking and the best way to stop it is to haul her to the ER the next time she announces she did anything like this.  They will not take any chances and she will NOT like what they do!

CantComplain's picture

Thank you. What I've been able to find by playing doctor on the internet agrees with you. And the way the professionals treat her in the ER supports that, too. 

Aniki's picture

I think she is faking it for attention. But I would also be concerned that this is a "prequel" of what may happen. Two things:

  1. Get her into therapy ASAP
  2. If she claims to OD again, immediately take her to the ER

The daughtre of one of my closest friends has lost SEVEN FRIENDS to overdoses in ONE YEAR. Appalling that anyone would "fake it". Sad

CantComplain's picture

Seven. Holy shit. That is... Do we even have adjectives for something like that? Horrible, tragic, wasteful, and disgusting, don't seem to cover it.

SD is in therapy; has been since OD #1. And yes, if she pulls that crap here we will have her in the ER so fast she won't have time to text her mother about how mean we are. 

Seven. I can't wrap my mind around that. 

Aniki's picture

Yes, seven. They were all between the ages of 19-23. Tragic.

Also in the last year, my friends have lost four to suicide. One just yesterday. Sad

sunshinex's picture

It's getting bad, especially with fentanyl now. I've had 2 acquaintances and 2 good friends pass away in 2018 alone - all from overdoses, all young in their 20s. 


susanm's picture

Unfortunately I understand it.  When the skids were in high school one of their friends committed suicide.  The aftermath and viewing and funeral were awful for the parents but oddly a love-fest for the kids.  The out-pouring of how much he was "loved" in that week was likely more attention than he had ever gotten in life.  Signs and locker decorations with his name and hearts and crowds of weeping kids with their arms around each other everywhere you looked.  Several of us started talking about how this was not healthy at all but were told by the school administration that the experts advise them to let the students "take the lead and get their emotions out."

Four more kids killed themselves in the following two months.  Who doesn't want to be loved like that?  Especially when you are feeling unloved in the moment and don't have the life experience to know that love ebbs and flows.  But if you know all that will happen when you are gone....    Finally the administration removed the "memorials" and the last kid's parents had the presence of mind to have a private funeral.  That broke the cycle.  But it was a terrifying two months.

susanm's picture

It was.  Needless to say that I am not a fan of "13 Reasons Why."  Sad

DPW's picture

Children and young adults are dying left and right in my city due to overdoses and she is presenting as someone who has overdosed with no symptoms and no follow-up treatment??? I'm not sure what the laws are in your area, but here, they would place your SD on a 72 hour hold in the hospital's mental health unit and only allow her to leave if she can prove that she is not a threat to herself. If she is not faking, then they will help her there; if she is faking, then she can be taught a lesson on what it's like to be in a mental ward. 

CantComplain's picture

I second your astonished and offended question marks. 

When she went to the ER the first time they did just that. She spent 2 weeks without her shoelaces or anything pointy. She hated it and vowed never to go back. 

The second time she manipulated her mother into not taking her to the ER and instead just letting her 'sleep it off' as if that's something you can do with an overdose. BM fell for it and since SD refuses to go back to that facility, so BM found her one where "the kids will be just like SD, not all weird and messed up like that last facility". A facility across the country. Which won't be covered by insurance. 

So she is learning and she is doing a damn fine job of gaming the system while at the same time driving BM to panic attacks and rash financial decisions. And I'm pretty sure that manipulating someone to that extent is its own kind of mental illness, but I'm saving that rabbit hole for another day.

Harry's picture

She needs perfessional help, really good help,  Most likely in some type of mental hospital.

 You can not let this go on for months.  You have to do everything you can so if anything really happens you are not guilty the rest of your life, for not going enought. When you could of.

But actually there very little you can do.  She has rights, you cannot force he into a program, and they will not force her to stay in the program. She can walk away any time she wants.

that being said, She could not have taken that many pill, and be walking around. Hospital had to of taken blood and know what amount of druges she took.  Yes it a cry for help. But there also is not a quick fix for this. She is depressed about something. Or has a real mental problem.  

I personally can not fathom how an 18 yo has depressing problems, is she being bully, or something else going on in school ?   Why was BF in BM home,  why does a 15 yo need that type of relationship with a BF.? Why is she not doing fun 15 yo things. ?

But as a SM there is nothing you can do. Except supporting your DH who must be guilty as hell for being away from SD and not being able to do anything for every day.  

Exjuliemccoy's picture

DH and I went through this. We had gone on vacation, leaving YSD19 home as she was (supposedly) attending community college. We got a call from a neighbor that there was an ambulance at our house, taking YSD to the hospital. We were 570 miles from home at the time, and broke a lot of laws speeding back. We called FIL and asked him to go to the hospital - he did get pulled over for running a red light.

YSD had broken a number of house rules while we were gone (had a party, had strangers in our house, etc). Addtionally, she had dropped all of her classes without telling us (but continued to leave the house each morning), and a boy she'd really liked had dumped her, so she'd driven some distance to his home to plead her case. The boy's mother was worried enough about YSD that she kept her there overnight. YSD had always been a liar, and I think she couldnt handle it when the fantasy she wove didnt line up with reality. She'd knew she'd be in BIG trouble with us, her dream lover dumped she took some pills out of our med. cabinet and called the boy to "tell him she was killing herself".

I dont ever want to go through something like that again. 

Because YSD was 19, all that happened was her stomach was pumped and she met with a social worker who asked her if she still wanted to hurt herself. Because she was an adult there was no mandatory inpatient commitment, no referral of any sort. YSD already had a therapist (her fouth,whose appointments she kept skipping). She was released the same day, leaving DH and I to try to figure out wth to do.


Dogmom126's picture

So you can't control what BM does but when the child is at your house and mentions ODing or suicide promptly bring her to ER. No fancy hospital, a public mental health ward where she can go without her comb and shoelaces and spend time with people who REALLY have it bad.  every. single. time. she mentions suicide or a pathetic overdose. lather. rinse. repeat. If she refuses to spend time at your house after that, then good riddance. buh bye!

Dogmom126's picture

Oh and if she is at your house and refusing to keep her therapy appointments or behave appropriately? Next time she shows up leave her stuff packed in suitcases on the front porch and don't answer the door. Conditions of living under your roof and eating your food include actively working towards her recovery from mental illness and participating in the household in preparation for becoming a producitve member of society. tough love


I am a child psychologist btw.