Teen Marijuana Abuse: Is There Something Parents Can Do?
anonymous Asks ...
My 17 year old son uses soft drugs. I have known that he has been using drugs like marijuana since he was 15. I have tried everything I can think of to try get him to stop and nothing really works. He has been grounded on countless occasions, he has had to do volunteering at a local hospital, he has had his allowance cut…all the normal punishments I meet out don’t seem to be able to stop him because I can just tell that he and his friends are still smoking weed and probably doing other drugs as well. Should I give up? He says he only smokes marijuana on the weekends and that it isn’t a big deal. His grades are still good and he is not a bad kid. Maybe he is right and I am wrong to be getting so upset. If his marijuana habit doesn’t seem to be harming him should I stop battling him on this point? After all, he is going to be an adult soon enough.
Delisted Expert Says ...
As a parent, your expressed attitude demonstrates a strong concern about whether you are being an appropriate parent with your son. I understand that he regularly uses a mind-altering, mood changing substance; known as, marijuana. Your teenage son has been indulging, coping and/or managing his life chemically with marijuana since he was 15 years old, high school student (and other drugs if you assumptions are correct). I have worked with many teenagers who thought they were only getting “high” recreationally and found they were more dependent than they realized. From your question, I hear you questioning whether or not marijuana is not harmful. For more information about this go to websites:
I have been working in the addiction field with teens for many years and I have never heard of a drug b called a “soft drug.” What I do know about marijuana is that it’s often a gateway drug (like cigarettes and alcohol), and can lead to the use or abuse of more serious and dangerous drugs. This can lead to other problems; e.g. overdose, drug reactions, addiction, and potentially death.
I think you are right to be concerned. There is evidence that the younger a person begins substance abuse the higher his potentiality is to become addicted. Please understand this: Do Not Give Up! Instead, of shouldering the burden yourself, you may want to recruit support. Is his father involved with him or know about his substance abuse? Do the other boys’ parents know they are using marijuana and other drugs? Do you know how they are getting the money to buy marijuana or other drugs? Do you know where they are obtaining these substances from? Is your son the only family member who is engaged in substance abuse? Does addiction run on either side of his parents’ families? Has anyone else expressed a concern about his substance abuse? Has he ever been recommended for substance abuse treatment?
As you can see, there are many questions which need to be answered to accurately assess this situation and make any kind of appropriate recommendation. The main recommendation that I would like to make is for you to obtain the services of your son’s school counselor or, preferably a professional substance abuse counselor. Substance abuse is a medical problem and should be assessed by a substance abuse professional. When your son is accessed, you have him submit to a drug screen and know exactly what other substances he could be using. It is best advised to make an appointment, and later take you son for the evaluation. This is not any form of punishment as it is part of medical treatment. Your son may need some level of treatment, i.e., outpatient, intensive outpatient, residential or inpatient. If his problem is addressed sooner than later, he may only need outpatient treatment. After his assessment, the counselor will give your son and you his treatment recommendation for your son. This problem is not going to go away on its own after two years of regular substance abuse with regular using friends. Do not wait until his grades begin to suffer to address this. On some level, you knew something was wrong and that you may need to do something to help your son. This is a dark cloud that is brewing on the horizon of your family.
Additionally, I would strongly recommend that you seek support at one of the 12 step groups for families of substance abusers, e.g. Al-Anon, or Nar-Anon. These support groups can offer you support while dealing with your son’s substance abuse problems.
This is not easy for a parent to come to terms with their child’s substance abuse. I applaud your effort to figure out the best course of action for your son. If I can be of any further help, please let me know.
John W. O’Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC