I have to say I am very surprised to see a parent calling antipsychotics "harsh." Schizophrenia is the harshest thing I have ever seen. It is a terrible monster that invades the most precious organ... the seat of whom we ARE. I am a psychologist; I have worked in residential psychiatric settings for years and the biggest problem I have seen with medication is difficulties with compliance.
I have had many parents ask me how they can get their children to take their medication... I have only once had a patient express negative feelings about psychiatric meds... and that was because of religious beliefs that include refusal of all medical help.
Schizophrenia is a vile, ugly monster that robs a person of his own mind. I hate it. I hate to see young people disappear under this terrible thing. As of this date, medication is the best thing we have. It certainly isn't perfect, but it can be helpful. And we have good, solid research demonstrating a robust benefit to the brain from taking antipsychotic meds. Schizophrenic patients who do not take their meds suffer more neuronal loss. The brain of the schizophrenic literally loses mass over time. The medication is protective. It is very important to understand this. Antipsychotic medications reduce loss of brain mass.
Schizophrenia is a lifelong, progressive brain disease. It is the cruelest disease in existence. Medication is the best tool you have. Yes, some of the side effects are uncomfortable, but schizophrenia is much, much worse. And as your son has had many hospitalizations, that tells me he is very ill, indeed. Hospitalization is a lot more rare than it used to be.
I am so sorry you must carry this burden, Bitzygal, and if I had the power to lift the horrors of schizophrenia from your child and the burdens of it all from your shoulders, I should be so very glad to do so. My heart aches for you... I have seen the pain parents must endure more times than I care to think about. Sometimes the grief of the parents is more painful to me than witnessing the beautiful promise in a young person being strangled slowly from his mind by this monster. I am so very sorry you are going through this. But please do encourage him to take his meds.