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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5451
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My nephew ran away from home almost a year ago, he is emotionally,

Customer Question

My nephew ran away from home almost a year ago, he is emotionally, mentally, 14-15 yrs. old but his actual age is 18 almost 19. He comes from an abusive homelife,his mother and father are recently divorced, he has never had a job,a girlfriend, or been social in school activites,etc. He has been raised around video games, and the computer,unsupervised.He became a regular player on the online game, world of warcraft, He apparently met some people there,(without his mom or dad knowing) and the day he turned 18 he ran away. He now lives with these people,(Whom he calls his friends,...very strange, we found out by physically going there after some detective work, that they are 65-70 years of age and living in a retirement community a state away, and yes, apparently they played this online game). He now stays in contact once a month or so by a phone call, his conversations are very guarded,they never have any communication with anyone. He says he is perfectly fine and safe. He does nothing but play online games,and stay there. When we were there, he seemed to be almost tranquilized, his pupils, his mannerisms, etc. We all tell him we love him and miss him, but he says he has no plans on doing anything,nothing. We realize he is 18, and he can do what he wants, but we know there's something wrong, very wrong. We understand this site/answer column is for children, but that's what we all feel he still is mentally and emotionally. We have run out of options at this point, We all hate to see where this could be leading him. Please help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

Getting someone to get treatment when they refuse is always difficult, especially when dealing with an adult that you have no control over. You want them to see the importance of taking care of themselves but for some reason, they refuse. It can be upsetting when you care about the person and they will not listen.

It may help to ask your nephew what he might be willing to do instead. If you can, talk to him again and let him know you are concerned about him. Ask him how you can help.

He may be doing what he is doing because he feels these people care about him when his parents did not. His pain from the abuse and neglect might be very deep right now and he is seeking out others he can identify with and who seem to care about him, something he may feel he never had. So it may help to approach him with that in mind. You have told him that you love him and miss him, which is a good thing to do. It helps him to know that you are there, in case the situation he is in breaks down and he needs somewhere to go. Keep doing that, and also add that you would like to see him more often. Then try to keep building a relationship with him through doing things together. See if he will go with you to dinner or to an event. The more he can relate to you and have experiences with you, the more you can bond and have more influence in his life.

Here are some other resources to help you with ideas on how to help your nephew (though he does not seem to have a mental health issue right now, these will still help):

http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/publications/factsheets/families-friends-help

I Am Not Sick I Don't Need Help: How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment-Xavier Amador.

Most of all, offer your support. Be there as much as you can for your nephew. Sometimes that is what makes the most difference in helping him to change.

If you have tried all of the above and he still refuses, you may have to let it go. Your nephew needs to make his own choices, even if they are not the best ones. And you do not want to create more tension in your relationship by making this a big issue between you. You want to try to keep your relationship on good terms so you can keep an eye on him. And if things ever change and you can try again, maybe he will listen.


I hope this has helped you,
Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5451
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much for the rating and bonus. I appreciate it!

Take care,
Kate

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