“No one is immune to the disease of addiction,” warns Katherine Ketcham, the coauthor of thirteen books, including Teens Under the Influence: The Truth About Kids, Alcohol, and Other Drugs – How to Recognize the Problem and What to Do About It and the bestselling classic Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism.
For the last eight years, she has worked with addicted youth and families at the Juvenile Justice Center in Walla Walla, Washington. She is also the mother of three children.
“I have extreme empathy for any parent who is dealing with this in their family.” Katherine understands the difficulties families go through when dealing with addiction firsthand.
“Chances are, if you think that your child has been smoking pot, he or she probably has.”—Katherine Ketcham
“Although I’ve written nine books on addiction, I didn’t know my own son was smoking marijuana until I found the pipe wrapped up in his gym clothes. I suspected it, but I didn’t have proof. And I wanted to believe he was not involved with alcohol or other drugs. I knew it, but ignored it because I couldn’t imagine he’d do that.”
After going through an inpatient treatment program, her son is currently in recovery. During a wide-ranging interview, Katherine spoke to us about teen marijuana use and drug addiction. She told us how parents can read the signs and get some help for their kids—and themselves.
This is why marijuana is so dangerous: the research holds that of the adolescents who enter treatment these days, the majority list marijuana (weed, pot, dope, etc.) as their drug of choice.
Marijuana is a much more subtle drug than, say, alcohol. It gets them into the culture of the drug world, which is a perilous step because it can lead down the path to drug addiction.
One of the dangers of marijuana is that it’s much stronger than it was a generation ago. Back then, pot, as we used to call it, contained four percent THC. Now it’s about twelve percent—which is a significant increase.
We also know from the research that it’s a physiologically addicting drug. Once a child gets hooked on marijuana and combines it with other drugs, the chances of getting addicted, particularly if they start using at an early age, are very high.
And the age that kids first start smoking it is going down. In the eight years since I’ve worked at the Juvenile Justice Center, the age of the first high was 13 and 14. Now I’d say it’s 11 and 12. And I see kids who are starting in the fourth or fifth grade.
The perception that it’s not dangerous is widespread. Even most kids will agree that marijuana is a so-called “gateway drug” because as their tolerance increases, they move on to other drugs. And regardless of its legality, it often exposes kids to harder drugs and to drug dealers.
It’s rare for young people to use marijuana by itself. Most kids, in my experience, combine marijuana and alcohol—“the regulars,” as they call them. And combining drugs can exponentially increase the risk of addiction.
Marijuana is easily available, relatively cheap, and it’s becoming legal in more and more places. These factors make it an easy drug to obtain and adds to its popularity.
Just as important, though, is that kids say that it relaxes them. They claim it’s effective for stress and gets rid of their anxiety.
The anxiety factor is huge. Consider that, by conservative estimates, half of young people with addictions (alcohol, marijuana or other drugs) also have a mental health disorder. The research is clear on the intimate connection between chemical dependency and mental health problems. Of course, it’s often very difficult to tell which comes first: the drug use or the anxiety and depression. In the end, neither can be ignored.
A lot of kids who I work with at the Juvenile Justice Center tell me that they “wake and bake,” and use marijuana daily. I have a son who is in recovery, and in his case, marijuana was also his drug of choice. I’m not sure that the reasons for smoking marijuana have changed all that much, but the motivation or desire to use seems to be intensifying. Kids are telling me that their lives are out of control. They feel extremely stressed out and anxious, and I think their problems are very, very real.
When I grew up, I didn’t worry about kids walking into school with guns. And today’s movies, video games, and music—I believe they all intensify their stress levels. I think growing up today, unless you’re in some kind of protected environment, you’re going to see bullying at school, pressure to use drugs, and, in many cases, a lack of parental oversight because both parents are working. Indeed, it’s during this time after school before the parents are home and the kids are unsupervised that so much of the trouble begins.
We also can’t discount the pressure we’re putting on our children to succeed in the form of academic performance and athletics. Kids today experience enormous stress, and they crave, as we all do, peace and serenity. Drugs may promise peace, at least the first few times a person uses, but in the long run, they destroy any hope of peace and serenity.
You have two legs! Marijuana was half as strong twenty years ago, and we know a lot more about its ill effects now. Personally, I would counsel honesty. Drugs are all about lying and dishonesty, after all, and if we’re going to get through to kids, honesty is vital.
Tell the truth, but tell how things have changed. Give them the facts. Marijuana is stronger than it used to be and we now have research that tells us about the frightening things it does to your personality and your performance in school, sports, and every area of your life. All the neurological wiring is laid down in adolescence for judgment, reason controlling impulses, empathy, compassion, flexibility, and all those more mature brain functions that help people grow into responsible adults.
You throw drugs into a developing brain and you stop emotional development cold, which is an important reason why it takes kids so long to recover from addiction. Think about it, most kids don’t have their emotional skills built up and they have not developed the ability to build strong relationships and to make reasonable and rational decisions.
I’d also tell parents, first, set aside your rationalizations. Don’t argue that because alcohol and marijuana are legal that they are “better” than “hard drugs.” Don’t make statements like, “At least he’s only smoking marijuana.” Learn everything you can about alcohol, drugs, and drug addiction.
I think where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Chances are, if you think that your child has been smoking pot, he or she probably has.
These are the big signs: kids’ grades slip, they change their whole group of friends, they stop playing sports or going to youth group, their personalities change, and they become more negative and less approachable. Don’t ignore these changes, because they are like signs on a very dangerous path.
If you’re a parent and see these problems in your child, I would be proactive and talk to your child, express your concerns, and tell them that you’re keeping an eye out and that you’re not going to ignore the situation. Kids do not respect their parents when they ignore the signs staring right at them. Even as they seek independence, they need and want you to act as their guardians and guides.
Marijuana destroys motivation, it screws up memory, and it gradually destroys self-esteem. The kids I work with say that it makes them feel “lazy” or “dumb.” Their grades drop, their ambitions disappear, and their friends change.
There are emotional changes too – anger and irritability increase and they often become more paranoid. Depression and suicidal thoughts can also be a by-product of smoking marijuana. Remember that while adolescence is always challenging for kids (and parents), it’s not normal for your child’s personality to change in dramatically negative ways. The more a child uses, the more you will see negative emotions and moodiness build up.
You may see a gentle, smart, calm child turn into an angry person who doesn’t in any way, shape, or form resemble your daughter or son. This was the case with my own child. You will see increasingly dramatic personality changes.
One of the keys is to look at what’s happening to your child’s relationships. People focus on bloodshot eyes, but I focus on how drugs affect kids’ values. I focus on their love of family, their self-respect, and the respect they get from others. These are the important issues that people don’t generally talk about.
When I tell the kids at the Juvenile Justice Center that pot affects their liver or heart, that it will change their grades, and they agree but don’t care one bit. But if I ask, “Has marijuana affected your relationships with people?” they look at me and hang their heads and say, “Yes.”
So look honestly at your relationship with your child. As parents, of course, we get confused by the normal ups and downs of adolescence. But if you have a 12- to 14-year-old going through some unusual or serious emotional changes and relationship changes, be on your toes. Ask yourself honestly:
It’s also important to be honest with yourself about your own rationalizations, fears, and denials. Are you doing any of the following:
The consequences piece is essential—it’s how we learn. Take a deep breath and allow your children to experience the consequences of their actions and decisions.
Related content: How to Give Kids Consequences That Work
When you suspect your child might be using drugs, the faster you can jump in and be authoritative, decisive, and strong, the better. You have to be like steel with this disease. When they are using alcohol or other drugs on a regular basis, kids can be incredibly manipulative and they will lie to your face. The way they can shift blame around so it’s your fault is unbelievable. They are masters of deception and manipulation.
The truth is that they have to lie to protect their ability to continue to use. Lying, deceit, cheating, and dishonesty are part and parcel of this disease—but not because the addicted person is a liar or a cheat by nature—because the addicted brain needs drugs in order to function “normally.” Lying is one way to escape detection. Always remember: for an addicted person, the poison is the antidote to the withdrawal symptoms. Once addicted, the poison is what keeps away the pain, at least in the short run.
And remember, you are the parent. Your first role is to support and protect your child. You know they have a drug problem and it’s destroying their lives and you know if they have money, they might buy drugs.
Cut the money off. Guard your wallet. If your child has a part-time job and you have good reason to believe they’re using the money to buy drugs, then you say:
“We’re taking that money you earn from your job and putting it into an account for you so you can save it.”
Let your kids suffer the consequences of their decisions.
If you think your child might be taking drugs, I personally don’t think it’s unreasonable to search their room. It’s understandable that we’re afraid to use our power to impinge on their freedom and independence. But if they’re in trouble with drugs, they’re going to lose their freedom and independence and maybe their life.
Check their rooms and in places you’d never imagine. Check wall sockets, look in their shoes, and take every bit of medication in your medicine cabinet and put it someplace under lock and key. That’s everything—pain pills, heart medication, sleeping pills, anti-depressants.
Related content: Teens and Privacy: Should I “Spy” on My Child?
Believe me, kids will walk into their friend’s houses, take a few pills and see what happens. It doesn’t matter what the pills are. Even if your own child doesn’t have a drug problem, their friends might. Therefore, I would advise that you keep all prescription medication in a safe, inaccessible place in your house.
There is not enough compassion out there for parents whose kids are addicted. You simply can’t judge what they’re going through if you don’t know it.
For those of us who are going through this, you face your child’s addiction every day, and you think, “Will he come back tonight, and will he be alive tomorrow?” You’re half-crazed by fear and anxiety. And you’re fighting something that is seemingly so much smarter than you are.
Addiction is the wiliest disease that there is. It’s intense because it’s a disease that literally rewires the brain. The addiction says, “Give me more drugs, and if you don’t, I will put you in terrible pain.” Withdrawal is the consequence that keeps addicts coming back for more.
The addict knows the pain of not using (withdrawal) and in time they become a prisoner of their addiction. Research also shows that if you’re addicted to one drug, especially at a young age, then you’re brain is wired to become addicted to any addictive drug.
Keep in mind that you’re not your child’s friend, you’re their parent. You have to stand firm.
And realize that your child has a disease because it will allow you to be objective and not take their anger personally. This will help you be more effective in your efforts to get them some help.
Remember, this person who is screaming, “To hell with you, I hate you, you’ll never understand me” is under the influence of drugs. The enemy is not your child. The enemy is the addiction that has taken over their life, mind, heart, and spirit.
Approach the problem with love first. I know it’s really, really hard, but say:
“I love you so much and I don’t know how I’d live without you, and that’s why I’m grounding you or shutting off your bank account or taking your car away. You may hate me, but I can’t watch you destroy yourself. I’ll be part of your recovery, but I will not be part of your addiction. But I will do everything in my power to help you get better.”
One of the heartbreaking things for parents is they often don’t know where to go when their child is using drugs. If you can, find a doctor who’s knowledgeable about addictions. Work with your doctor to find the best treatment center you can for your child. The first step will be to have a chemical dependency assessment done. Your doctor should be able to direct you to a reputable institution that can do this.
By the way, if you’re going to the doctor with your child, call them ahead of time and say:
“If I were to bring in my child who is addicted to alcohol and marijuana, what would your approach be?”
Some doctors tell parents they will not deal with addicted kids. Or they may tell the child that smoking marijuana is not a problem as long as they keep it under control. Believe it or not, this happened to me when I took our son to the doctor to talk about his marijuana use, and it has happened to other parents I know.
If it’s decided that your child should undergo treatment, there are both inpatient and outpatient programs your child can attend. Most centers don’t specialize in treating adolescents, but there are some that do. A good place to start looking for a program is through the American Society of Addiction Medicine, an arm of the American Medical Association.
When you contact them, you need to ask:
“Who do you have on staff who understands adolescent addictions?”
And, if at all possible, try to get a mental health evaluation. But do this only after your child has been in treatment for several weeks. Addiction creates its own mental health issues, so you need to wait until the drugs are out of the system before you can get an accurate assessment.
A word of caution: you can’t get a child sober and then release them back into the community without putting some structure into place. If the treatment is only 28 days, which is the standard inpatient stay, make sure that when your child is released that they have support resources lined up. Support resources may include attending Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or meeting regularly with a counselor or case manager.
Talk to teachers, family members, and friends and ask for their support. Educate them about addiction and recovery. A child who has all those supports in place has a good chance to stay clean and sober. Without that support, about 80 percent of kids relapse. During recovery, it’s of vital importance that your child gets into a good support group, where they talk about what’s happened to them and how they can become the person they want to be.
There are two reasons to seek help as early as you can. The first reason is to enable you to find out what’s happening with your child by having a professional step in and help you. Find someone who can see the problems quickly and who understands adolescent addiction and co-occurring mental health problems.
The second reason is to get help for yourself. Because you can’t do this alone—you’ll go crazy. Try to find a support group in your area. Contact your local hospitals and community center. In my case, I started a support group in our town to help our family deal with the fall-out from our son’s addiction. Our support group continues to be a lifeline for us as we reach out to others who are going through what we went through.
I think you need to teach the facts at a really early age because they are exposed to drugs at such an early age now. I think it’s important to talk to them about it in elementary school where kids are exposed to inhalants – substances such as nail polish, gasoline, and permanent markers. Very young kids are inhaling or huffing those substances and risking permanent brain damage. That’s a very serious issue.
You have to find a way to talk to them in an age-appropriate way without terrifying them. I’m a great believer in stories. You can say, “I just heard this story about a boy in trouble with drugs. And it made me so sad.” Say it with love and explain it in terms of another child.
There are ways to educate kids with love and compassion for the people who are suffering. Addicted people need our support and compassion. Always. No matter how many times they relapse. They need us to reach out to them with love and understanding but also with a firm grasp of what needs to be done to get them well again.
I would also say that talking about values with your child is paramount. Ask your child:
“What is honesty, what is trust, what does forgiveness mean?”
Have a solid, steady ritual where you focus on what it means to be human, what it means to be good, what it means to do bad things. Tell your children:
“We all make mistakes, but do the next right thing.”
99 percent of the kids I work with at the Juvenile Justice Center say they have been called bad kids. I tell them:
“Don’t let anyone put that label on you. We all do bad things, but do the next right thing.”
ElSohly et al. “Changes in Cannabis Potency over the Last Two Decades (1995-2014) – Analysis of Current Data in the United States.” US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. (2016) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4987131/.
“Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. (2018) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-gateway-drug.
Ketcham, Katherine. Teens Under the Influence: The Truth About Kids, Alcohol, and Other Drugs- How to Recognize the Problem and What to Do About It.
Ketcham, Katherine. Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism.
Running Away Part I: Why Kids Do It and How to Stop Them
Empowering Parents Podcast: Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher
Katherine Ketcham is the coauthor of thirteen books, including Teens Under the Influence: The Truth About Kids, Alcohol, and Other Drugs – How to Recognize the Problem and What to Do About It with Nicholas Pace, M.D. (Ballantine, 2003); Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption (Viking, 2006) with William Cope Moyers; and the bestselling classics Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism with James Milam (Bantam, 1983) and The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning with Ernest Kurtz (Bantam, 1992). Over 1.5 million copies of her books are currently in print. For the last eight years she has worked with youth and families at the Juvenile Justice Center in Walla Walla, Washington where she lives with her husband, Patrick Spencer, a geology professor. They have three children: Robyn, 26; Alison, 24; and Benjamin, 21.
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My son died in 2005 but his life as we knew it ended in 2003 when he connected with pot the smoking guys on his football team. Everything in Kathleen’s article is spot on. The last person likely to recognize a self medicating teen is one of the parent. One may see it first. The conflict between parents (one sees what's happening, the other denies) is a good sign the child is using. The conflict is a symptom. Parents could best learn by hearing from teens and young adults in recovery. These kids will tell you what you're seeing is what you need to recognize as not normal teen behavior, and it is typical behavior of a teen using a drug.
I especially liked how Kathleen touched on the use of weed brings you into contact with the more profound drug culture. The stakes get higher when the people in the shadows get their hands on your child’s mind.
So much to say.
Hi, my son is smoking more and more and my husband and I are worried about him. We never really had to discipline him because he was a great kid but struggled with anxiety and depression. Now he has found weed and thinks its the answer to his anxiety. He is self medicating but also smoking in excess. He claims he is not and we want to believe him, but he is just lying to us and himself. I'm ready to go to al anon meetings b/c there are no nar anon meetings close by. The worst part is that he doesn't think he is addicted and doesn't want to stop. What is a parent to do in this situation?
The only way out is that he goes to boarding school and can't smoke there. He asks to come home on the weekend, claiming that the school is giving him anxiety. They have really cracked down b/c of the vaping situation and that causes him anxiety too. I feel like it's a vicious circle.
I live in Colorado where sadly everyone here is burying their heads in the sand about what legalizing marijuana has done to our children. My oldest son sounds a lot like your son. We made the mistake of calling the police on him when we found paraphernalia in his room. Things got so much worse after that and he was picked up again by the police. Nothing happened in court and he found that it was only a slap on the wrist to get caught. He was 16 when this started happening. He has since dropped out of school, quit baseball, turned 18 and moved out of the house due to my rules. I took him to the doctor to have them tell me he would be fine and pointing to me saying I was overreacting to the situation. I was telling them my son was failing out of school and that he quit baseball. They were truly no help in Pediatrics.
I am lost to not see him graduate or go to prom this year. I am lost without him around the house, but he had become the angry, hateful child that you described above. I also have a 13 year old in the house and wanted to show both of them consequences for their actions. My stress level became too much and my life was consumed with my oldest son.
I don't know if what I did was wrong or not but there is very little support for these kids and the US needs to wake up to these problems and concerns. All they are worried about is spending the money that the state is making from the legalization. They need more counselors in schools and more addition centers for teens with financial support.
I don't think that is asking to much. I couldn't afford any of the centers we looked into and the success rates were extremely low.
I don't want my youngest to go through the same things but I am so scared that he and so many other will continue to be sucked into this world wind of addiction.
TWG...where to begin. my child is 14 years old and has been looking up to some older friends in the neighborhood. 2 years ago there were a couple girls and a family that moved in a a house 1/4 mile from our house. The young ladies were living with the step mom, her husband, and her as the e was also living in this house. what went to a bunch of teens playing football in the front yard quickly moved to chasing girls. The father figure/guardian was not a standup person and stayed high 24/7. These young men would go down to hang out to be around the girls and thats when the boys starting changing. No longer into sports or doing great with academics which most had bad grades to begin with. 18 months ago his attitude started to change, he didn't want to be around us anymore. we noticed the decline in motivation, his grades were good, nut something seemed out of pace with him. He was once bubbly and love to have family game nights and spend time with us. 13 months ago it really started getting bad, our sweet loving child was turning over to a new page that was full of attitude, not wanting to be at home nut at his friends house. i grades were all bad so we grounded him until they come back up, which they are. at which time we began to let up a small amount, he could now go to a different friend houses that we were comfortable with not the potheads houses. Tonight, he was busted in another lie which almost made my head explode. If he would tell the truth the punishment would be for a couple days or maybe a weekend, but that isn't the case in this scenario. I have a list of friends that are doing it thanks to a nosey neighbor with a security. Now each of them know about what we know, he has been instructed to avoid them no matter what. He is still grounded, lost his phone tonight along with his PS4 controller. As I am looking through his phone i find a couple of these guys that are blatantly post pictures of what has to be felon size bags of weed. Colorado is ok, but this isn't Colorado and he is not of age to purchase if it was. My wife and i are beyond. what to do. Do we alert the authorities, about the bag of weed weed found. Each child is age 16 or above. My heart is broken and my wife hasn't stopped sobbing for hours now due to some things that were said on social media by him. His friends do know that we are aware they are doing it, but if i mention anything to authorities it could put my child in danger which for me is a no go. We really need your help/advise on what to do, he has been clean since before Christmas 2016 as he has been grounded that long. it seems to be running wild throughout the high school. sells being made at lunch time, in the bathrooms, in the cars in the parking lot, and anywhere else you can think of. We are at our wits end. In house rehab is not an option as he is a very sweet kid and that would destroy him and push him farther away. He has one brother that is abusing drugs and refuses help, the other is in college and doing great things, then there is the youngest who has the potential of doing great things if he doesn't throw it all away.
thank you in advance for any help.
Thank you for your question. We appreciate your
interest in our site and in our articles. Here at Empowering Parents it
is our goal to provide a supportive atmosphere in our comments section for
parents who are struggling with the issues presented in our articles. We
publish comments from people of all backgrounds and with varying opinions, but
since we can’t publish every comment, we do limit comments which are religious
in nature or which are criticizing another parent’s choices. We really want to preserve a supportive atmosphere where
parents can learn some new tools and receive help. Thank you for reaching
out for clarification.
Anxiety is up more than 50% in children, than it was one generation ago. I have a granddaughter, only 10, who suffers from severe anxiety. Her teacher said, it is epidemic and she has never seen anything like it before. There is not just one thing that the councilor can contribute her anxiety too, but watching scary movies is one of the contributors One creepy movie can effect a child for months and even years or life. Our kids live in a scary world, if they watch news. Terrorism and shootings dominate the news and shows like Nancy Gracie, showing parents that kill their children. Many of their parents took drugs that can effect the child's chemistry and mental health. The food the kids eat can effect their mental health. They also need more exercise and physical play time, instead of playing video games and watching TV. Pot can relieve anxiety for a short time but like other drugs, it has side effects that can intensify the anxiety over time and for some it immediately causes severe anxiety. The parents and grandparents pot is not the pot of today either. It is much stronger and can be more addictive.
States that have legalized marijuana are having much higher use among teens than ones who have not. SAMSHA surveys report that there is a direct correlation between increased pot use and whether it is legalized or not, even legalization for medical use increases the use among teens. Use by children between 12 - 17 is up more than 50% in states that have legalized its use for recreational use and up about 25% in states that have legalized for medical use. Large corporations pumped millions into states to push legalization and are now taking over the marijuana business. False ads are cropping up everywhere that make claims that legalization has not increased the use among youth, but across the board, real statics show otherwise. Go to SAMSHA.gov, National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2013 and 2014. Colorado had the highest use and Vermont second, followed by Rode Island, Oregon, Washington. All these states have legalized it for recreational use or medical use. Oregon was one of the 1st to legalize for medical use and that increased the use immediately among youth. Oregon in 2014 had the lowest "Great School Ratings" out of the entire United States, only to be taken over by Washington in 2015. Stopping legalization for recreational use is the main thing that can be done to stop the spread of the use of marijuana and we need very regulated guidelines for medical use.
Pot is sold as sweets of all sorts, cotton candy, gummy bears, brownies and cookies. This should be totally illegal. It is telling kids that it must be pretty harmless, but it is not. A study done at UCLA showed that people who smoked pot, as youth, had 50% more bouts of psychosis than those who waited to smoke, until they were adults. If you have a close relative that has schizophrenia, you have one in 14 changes of developing schizophrenia and that increases to one in 7 if you smoke pot, even as an adult. I personally had a friend that smoked pot to relieve anxiety. She was very healthy and did not want to take prescription drugs to relieve her anxiety. She had went though a very stressful relationship breakup. She chose to smoke pot. Only a few years later she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for having severe bout of psychosis and her doctor said it was from smoking pot and if she didn't quite she would have full blown schizophrenia. Marijuana is a very powerful psychosomatic drug and not only does it effect the mind but smoking pot effects your physical health. Marijuana is a drug, like cocaine or opiates and should only be used for medical purposes and usually for short term, otherwise there are heath consequences or side effects.
Please, if you are thinking of legalizing marijuana in your state, do not do it. The consequences are way too high.
Needhope roxanne luke Thank you for your reply. Personally I don't like anti-aniexty meds. I have been given them as a teen and they made me worse so I quit and learned to take on my mental health on my own which generally most people cannot do. Like you said "he is alive" and that is a giant statement in itself.
My daughter was this seemingly perfect child and then out of the blue she takes a whole bottle of Tylenol. Thank god she told someone and went to the hospital and was able to get an antidote and a week stay in mental care. I was devastated. She was the one that had it together and it just freaked out everyone including her brother who is very close to her. After the incident, instead of relaxing (to relieve stress) she did the opposite and powered through the last semester of high school to graduate early (she was in 11th grade and although she loved her classes and teachers, she hated the high school environment and politics). Now she is in college and I still worry that she will try to hurt herself again.
Initially, I didn't put her on meds although they told me to and when she stressed out she would get in her car and drive for hours. The first time it happened said her goodbyes to her friends and that is when I called the police (that was a month after the overdose). At that point I put her on meds (which seems to help her) however, she did the driving thing again 2 months later and I met her half way home (she was 5 1/2 hours away in another state) at a hotel to make sure she was safe. While all this was taking a mental toll on my husband and I, my son was slipping and I was trying to find balance. All the craziness was mentally and physically debilitating. Having my daughter in college has helped some but I still worry although I have let go somewhat. Now I am trying to figure out the right answer for my son. To top it off I am going through midlife crisis, menopause...and trying to figure my own self needs dealing with being a workaholic turned stay at home mom. I have a great life so I hate to complain but I feel fairly lost the last year trying to keep it all together. It is great your son is "alive"that is something we often take for granted. I sometimes look back and i am amazed that I survived being a young adult. It is a tough time for them as well.
Again, Thanks so much for your reply it is good not to feel I am not alone.
your child is using substances is often a frightening experience for parents,
so you are not alone. Some of the steps you can take to address this
issue include limiting the amount of cash you are giving to your son, as well
as limiting the time he is able to spend unsupervised as much as you can.
Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner, creators of our https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/life-over-the-influence/ program, offer more tips and information in their
article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ I
recognize what a troubling situation this must be for you, and I wish you all
the best moving forward. Take care.
Thank you for
reaching out. It can be quite difficult when it feels as though your
family rules are undermined the minute your child walks out the door.
While you cannot control the greater culture or what your child chooses to do
outside your home, you can https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-create-a-culture-of-accountability-in-your-home/ within your home, and set clear rules about
substance use. You might find some additional helpful ideas in our
article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ Please be
sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your
family. Take care.
It’s normal to be
suspicious when your child has broken your trust in a major way, such as by
using substances. It’s also common to have doubts when your child
promises that he will stop smoking, or will start following the rules
again. Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner outline some tips on what
you can do to address his smoking in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ I also
encourage you to start thinking about how your son might be able to earn back
your trust, as discussed in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/risky-teen-behavior-can-you-trust-your-child-again/ Please be sure to
write back and let us know how things are going with your son; take care.
Substance use is a
difficult issue which no parent envisions for their child; you are not
alone. Something I encourage parents to do in this situation is to focus
on your son’s behavior, not his feelings. The truth is, he may not have
an issue with smoking pot, or view it as troublesome in his perspective, and
trying to convince him otherwise may turn out to be pretty frustrating for
you. Instead, I recommend looking at whether he is meeting your expectation
of sobriety, and then using https://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/odd-kids-consequences-that-work-on-oppositional-defiant-rebellious-children/ to hold him accountable if he’s not. You might find more
useful information in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ I
recognize what a challenging situation this must be for you, and I wish you all
the best. Take care.
Thank you for the information. I have gained more knowledge than I was looking for. My 15yr old son started smoking marijuana within the post 6 months. He ran away from home. My sister, my niece & I found him living with a friend who's mother smokes also. He's been home for 1wk and has continued to smoke at least every 2 days but will smoke every day if I allow him to leave the house. I work every day so I can't be home to watch over him 24/7.
I have decided to look into a treatment program for him & I will not put cash in his hands because I believe he uses it to purchase marijuana. My son does not believe that his developing brain is being effected nor does he believe he has an addiction. I will fight for my child to become the individual he was created for and that is not one addicted to drugs!!! I know that he has a purpose and a destiny, he will live a drug free life.
I notice (understandably) that all of the comments on this page originate from parents, most commonly mothers. I am a 27-yr old male who has smoked cannabis/marijuana quite heavily in the past, endured a difficult phase where I kicked my habit, and now live a successful, productive and above all *happy* life, smoking every so often. Maybe it would help to hear "our" side (i.e. young men) of the story, just in case it is of some use to you with your children.
I grew up in a comfortable and very supportive environment in London, UK. My family is middle-class and my parents are a psychologist and a complementary therapist. What a lucky guy to have two parents so well-equipped to guide their children through the gauntlet that is growing up! Unfortunately, it's never that simple and coming-of-age is rarely easy. Having such caring parents perhaps made me a little fragile and so found myself quite anxious in social situations, most commonly before going out. An example could consist of going to have a few drinks with some friends at a bar (you can drink at 18 in the UK), and feeling very tense and worried before going. Most often, I would just text my friends to say that I wouldn't be joining them. Instead, I would have a joint (a marijuana cigarette) by myself and generally be reclusive. That feeling of social anxiety is rife amongst young adults and is a major factor behind people either 'acting out' or hiding away from life's challenges.
I eventually sought help from a local drugs service, having 1-1 counselling sessions for a couple of months and even did a few group workshops. The most important thing I gained from this was that no one uses drugs without having some small 'need' to do so. My need was very common: self-medication for social anxiety and a low sense of self-esteem. I am now incredibly lucky to be able to see through to that side of me - others aren't so lucky.
My message to you all is this - there will be a reason why your children have started smoking cannabis. It may be difficult to accept because I am sure parenting is a deeply personal and defining experience, and seeing your children suffer with some level of sadness or stress may be very hard. But I can only urge you to understand why your kids do what they do. If it's impossible to speak to them directly about their potential problem(s), encourage them (subtly) to find the answers themselves. 'Clean dialogue' about what makes me stressed, anxious or angry really helped me understand why I smoked cannabis and how I could be a happier person.
I wish you all the very best of luck with your children, I am sure you'll find the solution!
Thank you for sharing.....
My son is 18 and a good kid. However he is socially inept. It's not comfortable around people and has anxiety as well as depression. He told me when he smoke cannabis helps him feel normal. But I also know it has changed who he is. He has no motivation no desire to better himself.
Reading what you wrote has helped me better understand what he's going through. And I hope that there is help for him just as you found for yourself.
My 17yr old smokes pot. It used to be that he was too busy with school and working and smoked infrequently, but he's recently decided to quit his job and now has the entire summer to do whatever he wants; his dad and I work full-time.
Now, he's smoking a lot more and staying out until 3 in the morning despite having a curfew of midnight.
He's always been honest with me because I don't lose my mind when I know he's been smoking. His dad, on the other hand, gets really angry; consequently, our son will only talk to me about what's going on and has admitted that he's smoking more, doesn't see a problem with it, and thinks he knows everything there is to know about marijuana.
I can't convince him to stop, and I can't make him stop with threats or punishments because he has told me that he's going to smoke if and when he wants to.
His relationship with his dad is already strained and it seems utterly pointless to go the same route as his dad; at least he's talking to one of us.
So, what do I do?
In short, my kid is willful and determind to keep smoking regardless of what his dad says (mad and threatening) and regardless of the advice I give him (listening, and non-judgemental).
Nothing seems to work!
I'm so worried he's going to get deeper into drugs and try other stuff.
It is easy as a parent to
jump to the future and worry about the choices our kids are making now and what
that could lead to. Try not to go there. No one knows what the future holds. It
is more effective to focus on what you can control right now. You can have
clear rules and limits about pot being in or around your home. You can get rid
of it if you find it and hold your son accountable if he breaks your house
rule. You can stop giving your son spending money if you are doing so. Like Kim
Abraham, LMSW and Marney Studaker-Cordner, LMSW talk about in their article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ you can at least
make it more difficult for your son to buy drugs by not giving him cash. And
the fact that he also does not have a job will make it that much for difficult
to buy the pot. This does not necessarily mean that he will not find a way, but
at least it makes it more difficult. You’re right, getting angry, or trying to convince him as to
why he should not smoke pot, is probably not going to work. Especially for a
willful and determined kid who is convinced it is okay. In all likelihood this
is something that is appealing to your son right now, but your son will grow
and change, and with that, his view on smoking pot is very likely to change as
well. Good luck to you and your family as you continue to deal with this. Take
Lynn4753 I'm so sorry Lynn! I feel your pain. We just kicked my 18 year old son out of the house and it's killing me because he's still my little boy.
1. I want to encourage you that you will both survive this. It may change your relationship, but you will survive.
2. You didn't necessarily do anything wrong. She's practically an adult and more than capable of making her own bad decisions with no input from you.
My son's friends are the kids headed nowhere fast group too. Worse even. He's starting to come around and realizes some of the mistakes.
You need to pray and seek counsel from wise people. Rehab may not work the first time. What will you do? Do it all again because she's your daughter and you want to pull her out of this pit. Even if her friends call you the crazy Mom, there is still some respect down in their hearts that you care enough to be crazy. I imagine some of the parents don't care or have washed their hands of the situation.
There are a lot of good people on here who can help you through this. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! That's important to know.
I’m glad you’re
here reaching out for support. As you can see from the comments on this
article, you are not alone in dealing with this situation which no parent
envisions for their child. It’s normal to feel hurt, scared and
frustrated with what you are experiencing with your daughter right now.
Ultimately, you are the one who can decide what the best next step is for you
and your daughter. You might find some additional helpful information in
our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ Another
resource for you could be the 211 Helpline. 211 is a service which
connects people with local resources in their communities, such as counseling,
substance abuse programs and support groups. You can connect with them by
visiting their website at http://www.211.org or by
calling 1-800-273-6222. I recognize how challenging this situation must
be for you right now, and I wish you and your daughter all the best as you
continue to move forward. Take care.
Thanks for reaching out with your question. I can hear how
concerned you are with your son’s substance use and can appreciate your
approach of looking at the situation from his perspective. Because your son is
18, it may be more difficult and not necessarily helpful to try to send him to
stay with family. If he really wants to smoke pot, he will find a way to do so,
no matter where he is living. Instead, what we would recommend is taking a look
at what you have control over, like the rules and limits around marijuana use
in your home and the money or privileges you provide him with. Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner,
authors of our https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/life-over-the-influence/ program, have a great article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/, that offers
some great tools on addressing substance use with your son. Best of luck to you as you continue to work on
Hi I feel that there is no door out
My daughter is 19 and found out at the beginning of this year of the weed use. I believed she learn cause she board away at college little did I know she had been using it since h.s.
She keeps telling me she knows she have a problem and she do not use it but her constant scream and saying out loud about her use put me at shame cause I live in a two family attach home
Everyone complaints of her screams and already a neighbor threaten to bring the police
She had left that college to come back home but it so unbearable that his dad and sister wants to leave house
She is uncontrollable
I do give her all my support and love but only for the few mins that she lets me get through her
My tone of voice very low
And she holds me and appreciate
But next day she is back again with her screams
I live in fear the police is going to come any minute and take her away
She is looking for a job and gets great response she feels happy but her mood change so rapidly
We don't know how to approach her
Anymore we are afraid to say or do anything
Also there is a neighbor next door who is heavy into weed he was his tracking trainer and she keeps hanging out with him the minute we say don't go she does the opposite
Doesn't go into his house but goes running or so she says..
I don't know what to do where to go
Who to speak to
I never been so lost
We are in nyc
My husband and I recently found out that one of my step daughters friends parents gave her and her friends pot and let them drink vodka. This happened for sure on Halloween and again during Christmas break. We found out because my step daughter got a new phone and didn't delete messages and pictures off the old one till. When we went to sell it we found images and messages talking about them getting pot brownies from one of her friends dads, and we found pictures of her and her friends drinking vodka. We have spoken to our daughter and have restricted her access to the other girl for activities after school. So here a few of my questions.
1. How do I deal with the parents of the other girl that gave my daughter and other kids these drugs and let them drink? One of our biggest concerns (besides the obvious of her doing it in the first place) is the effect of any kind of legal action will have on our daughter and her future.
2. We want to tell the other girls parents but not sure how to do this as we don't know them personally. Our daughter is a Junior in high school, is the captain of the track team and gets good grades. She wants to go to Navy Officers school when she finishes high school, we are concerned that any kind of action will drastically effect her future if we do not do it in the right way.
We are extremely private people and do not like sharing our dirty laundry but this is so overwhelming and we really do not know what to do here concerning the issue of other parents and letting them know. Should we or not if so how do we do this.
What a difficult position to be in as a parent. I can only
imagine how upset you were to find out your stepdaughter was given access to
these substances by her friend’s parents. We’re not really in a position to
advise you on how to handle this situation with the other parents as there may
be legal issues involved. Those are questions best answered by someone familiar
with the laws and policies in your area. It is going to be important to keep in
mind that your stepdaughter made the choice to use these substances. And, while
the blame for providing the alcohol and pot most certainly falls on the adults
in this situation, she is responsible for the choice she made. Truthfully, kids
are influenced everyday by people and things outside of themselves. It’s
essential to talk with your daughter about the choices she has made and problem
solve with her what she can do the next time someone offers her illegal
substances. We have a couple articles I think you might find useful for this
situation: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/does-your-child-have-toxic-friends-6-ways-to-deal-with-the-wrong-crowd/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-teens-parental-authority-vs-peer-pressure/. Good luck to you and your
family moving forward. Take care.
What an awful thing to discover. As I'm sure you already know, it is illegal for adults to do this. What you may not know is that there will most likely be no impact on your daughter. Most police departments have a program of "deferment' where they try everything they can to keep teens out of the system as long as they can; giving them the opportunity to course correct before becoming an adult. While I'm sure the parents believe they are being helpful by giving a "safe" place to do these things, ultimately it sends the wrong message to our teens that this behavior is OK. I personally want my teens to be very uncomfortable participating in such activity because it is dangerous, especially for those without fully developed brains capable of understanding the full consequences of their behavior.
You can easily call the police to ask about what course you can take. They are absolutely your ally in this situation. Let us know what happens. :)
It can be quite scary when you find out that your teen has
smoked pot and may have tried other drugs as well. It can be easy to attribute
the changes in attitude and behavior you are seeing to his possible drug use.
It may be more effective to take each situation separately, by having clear
limits around drug use while also establishing expectations around what
behavior is and is not OK in your home. It sounds like you have already taken
steps towards this by limiting his access to the car if he’s going to drive
while under the influence or allow his friends to smoke pot in the car. Here
are a couple of articles I think might be helpful as well: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-create-a-culture-of-accountability-in-your-home/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/. Hang in there.
I know this is a really tough issue to address. Good luck to you and your
family moving forward. Take care.
hear how much you want to help your son, and I appreciate your reaching out for
help.In addition to the suggestions by
other commenters, you might find some helpful information in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/Take care.
What a tough situation to be in as a parent. From what you
have written, it sounds like you recognize that your son is responsible for his
choices and there may not be much you can do as far as influencing those
choices. It is possible, however, to set limits and boundaries around what
choices you will and will not support. For example, if you don’t support your
son smoking in the house, you can let him know that if he continues to make
that choice, he may need to leave the house for 24-48 hours. If the behavior
continues, he may need to find another place to live. We have several articles
on adult children living at home that you may find helpful. One in particular
you may find helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/rules-boundaries-and-older-children-part-ii-in-response-to-questions-about-older-children-living-at-home/. I hope this helps to answer your question. Be sure
to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.
Sanibel219 Yes, my husband and I have (finally) learned that we each have a perspective that is sound and we need to work together. Hubby is great at boundaries and I am good at "how is this going to make our son feel?"
I find that when I just flat out tell my son.... We are allowed to feel angry and upset when you do these things. If you were in our position you would feel the same way. We want the best for you. That does not involve these behaviors, so let us help you work through this and move past it. We don't want to abandon you, we want to help you, but we are not willing to be abused and stolen from in the process. I learned a lot of the talking points from James in the Total Transformation Program. I loved when he even said you could have your kids listen to the program with you. there's no secrets, there's just a right way to treat people and a wrong way. When we allow the bad behavior without consequences, we train our kids to behave poorly. I especially so did that. I was upfront with our son. Hey, son, I didn't always draw the right boundaries for you and now you think this behavior is ok. It's not ok and if you sit for a moment you know it isn't. Part of growing up is doing the right thing when you don't want to or when there is an easier way around it. Choose this day who you want to be.
I'm such a broken record on these topics.
DeniseR_ParentalSupport Sanibel219 I wholeheartedly support DeniseR's comment.
I think one of the reason things are slightly better for us now is setting those boundaries and being willing to stand by them.
Sanibel219 I'm so sorry you're here! I'm there! It's heartbreaking. My son has destroyed our home multiple times and I have reached times where I was afraid of him and what he would do to me, his sister, our home. He's stolen, hangs out with people who've been to jail. I've had my car broken into and vandalized. It's been 'fun.' I think at some point you have to decide where you're going to draw the line. What is too much for you? We put locks on our bedroom doors, I purchased a safe for my purse. I stopped carrying cash. I PRAYED! I still pray.
Learn what you can about depression. It is overwhelming (I've suffered from it myself). It's not an excuse for poor behavior though. My son was on medication for years and decided one day he wouldn't take it anymore. Pot is all he needs. Our boys spend time with the people they do because they are just like them. That's who they identify with and see as their peers.
It's no magic, but we've worked hard on personal responsibility with our son. Life plan, how to set goals and achieve them, that kind of stuff. For example: you can feel however you feel but at the end of the day, life still happens and you still need to work and provide for yourself; unless your happy being homeless or mooching off others. The hardest part is trying to stay positive. A depressed person won't respond to being put down (even if it's true) all the time. We search for anything to be positive about.
It's also really important that you have support for yourselves!
Hang in there!
Sanibel219 You are not alone! People in our situations just tend mot to share socially because it's humiliating and we feel responsible and other people judge our parenting based on how our children behave and it's icky.
There are groups. I have found a lot of support on here too.
Find your boundaries and give yourself permission to stand your ground. You don't have to get angry, just stay firm!!
Last spring my child had a friend overnight. the next day we found a makeshift pipe in plain sight in our basement - the friend is not one I would have chosen for my 15 yr old but this happened. So we ask what it is - like we don't know - it reeked of pot - and we were told, I DONT KNOW< it's probably - XYZ's . We said, ok, we know you were down here and we know this is the first we've had any indication we needed to be concerned for you. drugs and alcohol do not have a place in our home. Friends who use them are not welcome in our home, especially if they bring them INTO our home.
She says she gets it and we have not heard or seen the friend since. We thought that was the end of it.
Well, yesterday I was putting away some things in her room and one thing lead to another. pick up this, put away that, throw away a bit of garbage. I found a holiday card box I had been looking for the bed and there was a pill container which at one time held pot, a one hit pipe that totally reeked of pot and a pack of cigarettes.
here is my question.
There was also another box with a message to - us - whoever that said this is private, please respect my privacy like I respect yours - stop here - do not open.
I did not open that box - and to be honest, I can't imagine what is in side if the pot pipe was in the unmarked box.
What is the BEST way to confront her? I am sort of paralyzed. I don't want to send this spinning off the wrong direction. I want her to be honest with me - typically she is although sometimes leaves details out but comes to me with most things. do I tell her I found it or just start a dialogue with her regarding drugs and smoking? I can hear it already, you were SNOOPING!! you don't TRUST ME!
she already has anxiety and the accompanying depression that comes with it. I don't want to make it worse, she sees a counselor a few times a month but I can't see her without her there to ask advice.
do I ask my daughter to open the other box in front of me so we can discuss whatever is in side? I'm so blown away! totally out of character for her. Thanks for suggestions,
It’s natural to
feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next when you find pot, cigarettes
and paraphernalia in your child’s bedroom. I also understand wanting to
have a sense of mutual trust and respect in your relationship with your
daughter. I recommend being honest and straightforward with your daughter
about what you found, and your concerns about what that might mean. James Lehman offers more
tips on how to keep your conversation with your daughter on track in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/teens-and-privacy-should-i-spy-on-my-child-plus-the-4-tactics-kids-use-when-they-get-caught/. I understand how difficult this must be for you; take
My son smokes
pot a lot. It makes me tired. He constantly looks me in the eye and promises he'll stop
for sure "this time" but lies and goes behind my back and smokes with
his friends before he gets home. He thinks i don't know and notice this but i
do. He blames his stress of university and stuff on it. But even in his best
moments he goes back to smoking. How can i help him? Some
recommendations? Or should i leave him alone to deal with his problem? Any help
would be highly appreciated
What a tough situation to be in as a parent. It can be
difficult to know how to respond when your adult child continues to make
choices you don’t agree with. It’s probably going to be most productive to
focus on the things you have the most control over, namely the culture of
accountability you create within your home and how you respond to the choices
your son makes. For example, you may not be able to control whether your son
chooses to smoke pot. You can control the rules and limits you put in place
regarding drug use in your home. You can set rules like no drugs, drug use, or
drug paraphernalia is allowed in your home. If your son smokes pot in your home
or brings pot into your home, you can hold him accountable for that by asking
him to leave for 24 hours or more. You might even consider calling the police
if it’s a rule he breaks over and over again. You also have control over the
amount of cash you give him and any other privileges you provide. For instance,
if he continues to smoke pot, you can choose not to give him money or
allow him to drive your car. You may find this article about how to
manage when your child continues to make poor choices helpful: Throwing It All Away: When Good Kids Make Bad Choices. We appreciate you writing in
and sharing your story. Good luck to you and your son moving forward. Take
@hurtingmom Oh my goodness. Your story is a LOT like mine. My daughter is 18, beautiful and smart. She says she started using pot when she was like 12. Now she wakes and bakes and is high all day. Even at work and I guess at school. When she is not holed up in her room with her boyfriend she is out with her friends ( who all use pot and other drugs). I wasn't that concerned until I read this article. She has a dog that she refuses to walk and she will walk right by her bowl without filling with food/water and leave the house not to return until the next day. I like the word accountable instead of responsible and I will be making a list of things that she is accountable for and a list of consequences for not doing so.
I am really sad by this. I blame myself and am so worried about her and her safety.
I hope for the best for you and your son.
It is understandable you are
frustrated by your son’s choice to continue to smoke pot. The truth is, there
is no way to make him stop if he does not want to. What you have control over
is holding him accountable when you know that he has used. That way you are
sending the message that it is not acceptable and his choice has consequences.
Keep in mind that you are not going to be able to punish him into stopping.
Taking everything away or taking away something like Homecoming is just going
to make him angry and resentful and is potentially damaging to your
relationship. Punishing your son is not going to make him stop. Having a set
consequence, like no car privilege for a few days if he has been caught smoking
pot, is a good way to hold him accountable. I strongly suggest not losing sight
of all the positive things going on with your son. You mentioned some pretty
incredible accomplishments and characteristics that are important to remember
when you are feeling unhappy with his choices. My guess is your son is going to
continue to be as successful in college and life as he is now. So try and stay
positive. Your relationship will greatly benefit from that. Thank you for
writing in. Take care.
I recognize how frustrating it can be to continually set
limits and enforce rules, and yet nothing appears to change your son’s pot
smoking. Ultimately, setting limits and rules is what you can control;
it’s up to your son whether he is going to follow them. It can be helpful
to make sure that you are taking care of yourself at this time, whether that is
periodically engaging in a calming activity, or using more structured supports
like a counselor or support group. For assistance locating resources
available in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222. Take care.
The information provided about Marijuana is excellent.
I would add that a common addiction among teens and others are electronic screens, especially video games.
Recommending treatment is a nice idea. However, once the child is a legal adult, (18 or older), treatment is voluntary.
My son completely refuses treatment. Many others are the same. We cannot make them go, period.
Psychologists who have known my son his whole life believe he will commit suicide if I throw him out.
It is a very fine line between enabling him & keeping him alive in hope that he will eventually agree to treatment to address mental
health issues and substance abuse issues.
When will this country learn that both mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment needs to mandatory,
especially for young people not yet 25. Science knows their brains are NOT fully developed, particularly the pre-frontal
cortex which is the part responsible for executive functions such as planning and decision making.
bridgeciaj Laurie Livingston
Good for you for continuing to love your child!
That's the best we can do.
My 15 yr old has been using marijuana for over a year now. He has been caught by me 4 or 5 times. I have tried counciling, got the police involved once, taken things away, tried an MA group, tried talking to him in a calm voice and a raised voice. Now he says he wants to go live with his mother who is 10 hours away who has had many drug issues in the past an possibly still using I don't know. He is depressed and sits in his room alot. Don't know what to do. I told him I cannot allow him to go live with his mother not knowing if she's clean
We have joint custody but have residential rights. What is my legal right. I have been told in the past if I let him go down there by himself it's endangering the welfare of a child. So my daughter (19) goes down there when they visit once a year for about a week. What to do?
bonniewhitsellmfg Cdibs bonnie fantastic that you are in this place. Honestly, it's not always a parenting fail. Individual personalities and choices of the teens has a huge impact. I've always been very involved in my kids lives; to the point that my son at one point told me when he planned to have his first kiss and then when he had it. He still wants to tell me everything, I just don't really want to know ;). He has an open communication opportunity, dinners out, everything and still he is making poor decisions. I don't want parents out there who are doing it all "right" to feel responsible if they don't have the same outcome as you do. :)
[married, mom to 2, 1 teen boy going wayward, 1 teen girl on the right path]
I hear you. Many parents face similar concerns when their
child says he wants to live with the other parent. It may be helpful to touch
base with legal counsel concerning this situation. In some states, a minor does
have some say when determining which parent he lives with. It’s also going to
be productive to focus on the culture of accountability you establish within
your own home as that’s the one aspect of this situation where you are going to
have the most control. For more information on that, you can check out
this article by Megan Devine: How to Create a Culture of Accountability in Your Home. Focusing on where you
have the most control is also going to be the most effective way of addressing
your son’s marijuana use. Truth be told, you’re not going to have much control
over whether or not he smokes marijuana. What you can control however is how
you respond to that choice. You can establish clear limits and rules around
having or using marijuana in your home, you can limit the amount of cash you
give him, and you can limit his activities outside of the home. Kim Abraham and
Marney Studaker-Cordner offer more ways of focusing on what you can control in
their article My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do?. We appreciate
you writing in and sharing your story. Good luck to you and your family moving
forward. Take care.
Cdibs Hi there. Sorry you're going through this!
It sounds like initially this question should be posed to an attorney. If your divorce/custody agreement states you have primary residential custody it would seem to me that would need to be altered in court for you son to legally change residences without your permission. (I am not an attorney.)
If your son is depressed, that would be my primary concern. My son, when struggling with crippling depression went down hill fast. Now that his depression is under better control, while we still have issues with pot, he's not as difficult to be around. I've grown more hopeful of his future.
You may also want to find good adolescent psychiatrist (good would mean someone who does an actual thorough intake appointment of 60 mins or so discussion medical and emotional background to best assess where your son is. This should include your son alone and you as his father. vs. the 10 min, here's a prescription appointments). I would also try to find something he can be excited about doing that motivates him. Driving? Building something? Art? Music? Sports? Anything to get them outside of their own minds.
You might want to find a good support group too. Al-anon or if you prefer something faith based Celebrate Recovery should have an al-anon portion of it too and they are all over.
Hang in there! You are not alone! Many of us are going through this too!
I cannot help with the custody issues. Since your child is under 18, you have the legal right to force him to go to treatment.
I also heard a chaplain speak last week who heads a treatment program. He suggests we try to connect with what is good in the person.
Another adult who took 5 years to get through Step 1 in a 12 step program said he had to rephrase the first step to "I AM" so that he could begin to believe in himself, see himself as a person. I think this approach is worth trying for all of us. We have nothing more to lose.
Our son has continued to spiral out of control. He missed almost every class during his last term of 11th grade but in one that he did attend, he got so upset at another student, who called him a loser and addict, that he beat him up. He's never been in a fight ever. Now, he's been charged with assault and, because he didn't finish his drug rehab from the last time he was arrested, he will be going to court. Of course, we have to pay for a lawyer we can't afford. We had to cancel our vacation to see family we haven't seen in 15 years. There's only a little relief in the fact that now the courts will be monitoring his drug use and truancy issues. I worry a lot that he will not be able to comply and will end up in juvenile lock up. He only has eight months until he will be an adult so it's a last chance to change before this really starts to mess up his future.
Instead of trying to save money to pay his court costs, he is determined to party to the end. He gets into our garage and parties with his friends.. I've begged him to understand that we can't afford all of this and he needs to help. Instead, he just tells me he hates me and I'm the only reason he tried to kill himself. (He knows that's a trigger for me because my sister committed suicide). It's like he has turned into this evil person, I don't even recognize. I am going to start my own counseling and continue to hit the circuit breaker that turns off the electricity to our garage. That seems to be all I have in my pocket right now.
Needhope The hardest thing for me is realizing I have to ultimately let my son face the consequences of his behavior. He will be 18 in March and on his current trajectory he will be homeless. As a Mom, this kills me and yet I realize that may be what he needs to finally grow up and become a man. I pray constantly.
We were able to put our son into a good rehab program for adolescents. It helped us reset things in our lives and gave our son the opportunity to start again. I believe it's the drugs talking when your son behaves that way. They truly change people.
I wish I had some magic for your family. Keep loving him, but don't give in. That's the best I can offer. Keep loving and don't give in.
Hikermom There is help. I called my insurance company directly and asked for help. It seemed easier than trying to sort through hundreds of options online. If you have insurance, maybe that's someplace to start.
Also, Al-Anon is a great place for you to find people who've been there.
I can only offer... find help for yourself too. A support group so you're not alone. Keep loving your boy and don't give in.
Many parents find themselves unsure of where to turn or how
to move forward. Most communities have resources that can offer some support
for families with a loved on who is struggling with substance abuse. The
211 Helpline, a 24 hour nationwide referral service, can give you information
on things such as parent and family support groups, family counselors,
substance abuse counselors, and other types of community outreach programs. You
can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by going
online to 211.org. Other resources that may be able to offer some guidance is
Al Anon, a family support network connected to Alcoholics Anonymous, and Nar
Anon, which is connected to Narcotics Anonymous. Many families have found these
groups to be beneficial and a great help in times of uncertainty. You can find
a list of local meetings at http://www.al-anon.org/home
and http://www.nar-anon.org/find-a-meeting. Know
that you are not alone. Finding people you can talk to who understand first
hand the struggles you face with your son may be very helpful for getting
through these challenges. I appreciate you writing in and hope will check back
if you need any further assistance. Good luck.
I'm so so sorry. I have no answers. I'm in the same boat. We've had some success with our son, but then he'll turn and choose to "do it his way." Then the abuse starts. I worry he will destroy my house again, break things that mean a lot to me, hurt himself.
There are places you can send him. There are programs in some states that have lock down options. If things are that serious, I would honestly start doing that research. There are also groups you can have come take him to those places when the option of willingness isn't available. We were able to convince our son to go, but now that he's home, those negative patterns are coming back. :(
Unfortunately, these kinds of things are the only option left to you if your son has no willingness to change. The only other option you have is giving up your parental rights and making him a ward of the state. If you're on EP, I doubt you are willing to do that. You haven't given up yet. Praying for you.
bridgeciaj I like the idea of holding them accountable. They will either become accountable or the next thing you know they are on the street. With my daughter and her dog she always says to me "can't you take her out"? Well, not anymore! The dog poops in the basement and if she does not clean it up on a daily basis the next step will be to give up the dog.
She either cares enough to come to me for help with her addiction or she will lose it.
She has all of her laundry clogging up my basement. She will take it upstairs or it will be put in plastic garbage bags and left somewhere in the basement to be, potentially, eaten by mice!
I have had it up to here with her. She does not do any chores but complains that her two brothers (12 and 8) don't do enough. Well, they contribute and they play instruments and do homework, fold their clothes and put them away!
I understand now that her anger is due to her addiction!
I love her but now is the time to get tough and to no longer be bowled over by her. She needs some toughness in her life so she knows that it is not my fault. Some of the blame needs to be put on her because now she has a choice in the matter.
Apart from letting him know what I think about pot and how it affects ones health, even debating with him, I don't do anything physically to try and stop my son from using. His dad got mad and tried punishing him and that, of course, backfired and now they are horrible to each other. Of course I want him to stop but there's nothing I can say or do to make him stop so I have to let him make his own choices and face the natural consequences. My husband sees my attitude as permissive but how is yelling and threatening helpful?
Bottom line is there's no way I'm kicking my kid out or threatening him or doing anything that'll push him away from us or stop him from talking to me.
Hiya Dawn I have an 18 year old son who smokes weed he has a job works every day comes home gets changed doesn't have any tea goes out comes back home gone midnight ever night stoned eats what ever food I've got in because he's got the munches take it up to his room and he thinks there's nothing wrong with this its doing mine and my husband head in and there is nothing we can do.i just hope he grows out of it he is a nice lad don't get any trouble frome him but I hate seeing him stoned it breaks my Hart I've tried ignoring it I've sat and talk to him about it nothing work's my husband works away Monday to Friday so I see more
our son knows it up sets us but he's not bothered .....It's so hard watching him and not been able to do anything
junepaddy I'm sorry you're going through this. It IS so frustrating to see our children, whom we've loved and taught and nurtured make decisions like this. Count yourself somewhat fortunate that he's not abusive and that he works. At 18, you certainly have the opportunity to work on transitioning him to living on his own. Being the Mom, I struggle with the idea of "kicking your son out," but you can work on helping him find his own place. You have to do what you are led to do. Set a decent boundary and stick to it. Is it possible the other issue you're dealing with is him growing up and you letting him go. All these issues are rolled up into each other aren't they.
We talk on this thread about getting support for yourself too. I think that's really important. It's no fun going through this and feeling alone. Our friends and other parents don't always understand. You need others who are going through it or have gone through it.
You bring up a valid point: sometimes the person using the
substance isn’t able to see his use as an addiction. It can be tough to change
another person’s view and, even if you were able to, it doesn’t necessarily
mean he would stop smoking. So, we wouldn’t suggest trying to make him
understand your perspective. Instead, focus in developing clear limits around
drug use in your home. It sounds like you developed some limits in the past.
You might consider revisiting those to see if they still apply. You may need to
either re-establish those limits or develop new ones that take into account
your son’s current use. In the article My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do?, Kim Abraham and
Marney Studaker-Cordner offer some other tips for effectively dealing with a
child’s drug and/or alcohol use. It may be helpful to read this before deciding
what steps you can take towards developing an effective response to your son’s
smoking. Keep in mind, you may not be able to control your son’s choice to
smoke, you can . Good luck to you and your family moving forward. I
hope you will continue to check in to let us know how things are going. Take
Don't even know where to start. Our fifteen year old daughter started coming home late from school last winter and then it turned into not coming home at all. We have filed 3 police reports (we could have filed 30); She got caught for shoplifting and was given a "diversion program' but she keeps missing the appointments because she is so high all of the time; She has pretty much failed her entire year ..the worst is when she comes home she has this narcistic attittude like we owe her....We can't handle her at home...she steals thing;, throws things or yells when she doesn't get her way...We have tried everything from counselling, dealing with her schools, the police...We feel like we have no rights because everything is voluntary with them. In other words, they hold all of the power.
Hi... I don't know if I'm allowed to share this info. The advice on Empowering Parents is great, but sometimes we need something more direct.
I was in the same place with my son. We live in CA and there is a law against involuntary admittance to a rehab, so we needed his agreement to go; which we got with some threatening. Other states offer the ability to admit your child without their permission. It's all down to what you can and are willing to do and of course afford.
I so feel you! We were in the same position 2 months ago. Police, stealing, deferment, everything!!
What a drastic turn around your son has made in the last 18
months. I can only imagine how distressing his behavior must be for you. As
Debbie Pincus highlights in her articleThrowing It All Away: When Good Kids Make Bad Choices, watching
a child make poor choices over and over again can be one of the more painful
things for a parent to endure. From what you have written, it sounds like
you have set firm limits in regards to drug use and other inappropriate
activities. It’s unfortunate your son chose to leave instead of following your
rules. Sometimes kids do find avoidance to be easier than following the rules.
Changing your house rules is one option for dealing with this stressful
situation. Keep in mind, however, it will in a sense be condoning the
choices your son is making. While I understand your concern around the possible
negative outcomes of your son’s actions, I’m not sure that removing your house
rules is going to have the outcome you are looking for. Truthfully speaking,
there’s the possibility your son could end up in jail even if he continues to
live at home if he carries on making the choices he’s currently making, so,
letting him do what he wants within your home isn’t going to preclude that
consequence. Having clear limits and boundaries around what you expect will set
clear guidelines your son can choose to follow or not. You, in turn, can decide
whether you want to hold him accountable, and how you might do so. One thing
you may find helpful is finding some support for you and other family members.
Watching a loved one struggle with a substance abuse issue can be difficult.
Having people you can talk with who understand what you are going through may
be helpful. Support groups, such as http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/ or http://www.nar-anon.org/, may
be a good resource. Talking with a substance abuse counselor is another option.
The http://www.211.org/ would be able to offer you
information for these and other services in your area. You can reach the
Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222. Good luck to you and your family moving forward. Take
Many parents are concerned when they discover that a child
has taken a substance which is not medically indicated for them. You are
correct that this warrants a conversation with her which clearly outlines your
expectations for her behavior, your house rules around taking medications, and
how she will be held accountable if she is not following these rules and
expectations. Janet Lehman discusses how to have this type of
conversation in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/how-to-rebuild-trust-after-serious-misbehavior.php In addition, http://www.drugfree.org/ might be a
useful resource to help you script what you want to say to your daughter about
her choices. You can visit their website, or call their Helpline at
1-855-DRUGFREE (378-4373) Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM ET. I understand how
difficult this situation is for you, and I appreciate your reaching out to us
for support. Please be sure to keep us updated on how things are going
for you and your family. Take care.
I have no answers. I need to start there. Each child is different, but there are common issues.
The ole peer pressure is certainly a possibility.
For my son, I had to realize that it wasn't his friends, it was HIM. HE sought out drugs as a solution to crushing depression.
I think it's important to create an environment where she feels SAFE to share without some huge negative consequence.
Not that there should be no consequences for bad behavior, but right now it's more important that you understand why this behavior is going on.
Do you have another friend, aunt, anybody that your daughter feels close to and free to talk with? That's also really important. If your daughter isn't willing to talk to you, sometimes it's possible for her to be open with another adult.
I've said a prayer for your family and pray this is easily resolved. Should there be a bigger issue, know that there IS help and support available for your family! You are NOT alone!
I Know My Son Has Been smoking...
My 15 year old son comes home late and does what he wants. It takes me a week to get him together, then he leaves for a week with his dad. His dad has a problem with pot and uses the medical excuse. my 8 year old knows what pot is, what it looks like because of him, too. I. Not sure what to do next....
It can be so upsetting when there is such a disparity
between the two different households. Ultimately, you’re only going to be able
to control what happens within your home by establishing a culture of
accountability that outlines your house rules and expectations, as well as
possible consequences if those rules are broken. For more information on
establishing a culture of accountability within your home, you may want to
check out this article by Megan Devine: How to Create a Culture of Accountability in Your Home. From what you have
written, it sounds like you may be having conflict with your son around drug
use in your home. Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner, co-creators of our https://store.empoweringparents.com/life-over-the-influence/ program, offer some tips for what you can do in their article
My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do?. I hope this
information is useful for your situation. Be sure to check back if you have any
further questions. Take care.
Hi mommy dearest...I'm so sorry you're going through this!
We ended up putting our son in rehab (where he is right now). It's made a huge difference (though he's not back home yet, and that's the real test).
I believe you need to find professional help. Maybe not rehab, but look for maybe an alaonon group or alateen.
My husband and I are at the point where we aren't interested in opinions or advice from anybody who hadn't gone through this or doesn't have a masters degree in this area. Other people just do not understand.
I'm starting alanon next week.
Perhaps you can convince your ex to join you?
It's one thing to use pot and function in your daily life. It's quite another to be a still developing teen, without full brain function to comprehend consequences and long term effects. Especially if your boy isn't living his life well.
Don't give up. There is help out there.
My seventeen and a half year old son is currently on the high school Principal's
Honor Roll for achieving a 4.0 academic GPA which includes some upper level
courses.This young man is also in absolutely
outstanding physical condition, attending the gym almost daily and he also does
his home calisthenics of several hundred sit-upsMore religiously every day. This is all self-driven motivation, without me
ever having to say a single word.Additionally
my son is confident and proficient in public speaking settings.He gets along well with his buddies and he is
also quite popular and confident with girls. My problem is that yesterday when I arrived
home early, I discovered my son smoking marijuana out back.Apparently this has been going on for years,
and in the mind of my teenager, he should be entitled to continue smoking marijuana,
because he finds nothing wrong with it, and sees no harm.
My counsel on marijuana escalating into harder drugs, fell on the deaf
ears of a cocky teenager, citing that if it has not escalated in the years to
date, that then it is unlikely to escalate in the future. My point on it being illegal brought up the
inconsistency of law across the state line, and the allowed medicinal use in our
state. The point for respecting our
family standards and values; was met with the disdain and belligerence of
having privileges rescinded, along with the threat of withdrawing future college
support for noncompliance. In our hours
of heated discussion, I received no sense of assurance that the pot smoking will
cease and desist. It was quite clear
that the only change might be a higher effort of concealment.
I need empirical evidence to put in front of an intelligent teenager,
which clearly demonstrates the harms of smoking marijuana. Can someone please help?
Reply to Disillusioned Dad, your kid sounds so much like my kid. They're both smart, healthy, doing well in life AND smoking pot. It's extremely difficult to try and persuade your kid to stop taking pot when their behaviors, other than smoking, are not of concern. Add to that the fact they both have obviously researched a ton on the subject themselves and believe they have solid arguments for continuing to use, I can't think of any way to make them stop.
Ultimately, our only hope is they choose to stop on their own.
I understand where you are coming
from. It can be so frustrating when no matter what you do or say, your teen
seems determined to make the same negative choices over an over again. From what you have written, it
sounds like your son is an intelligent young man and it would appear as though
appealing to his sense of intellect to make him understand the dangers of
smoking pot would be an effective way of addressing the problem or making him
care about his choices. Truth be told, it’s
not going to be possible to make him care by showing him empirical evidence on
the dangers on marijuana use on the developing brain. I would venture to guess
your son is probably already well aware of those findings. So, trying to make
him care probably isn’t going to be an effective approach for addressing this
issue. The bottom line is, not only are you not OK with that behavior in your
house, that behavior is not legal forsomeone your son’s age, regardless of
what state you live in. Instead of getting into arguments or debates on the
subject, it would be better to have clear rules around marijuana use in your
home as well as clear consequences if those rules are broken. This may not
necessarily change your son’s mind or cause him to make different choices. It
is however putting more focus on where you have the most control, namely the
expectations within your home and the privileges you choose to provide for your
son. We do have a couple more articles you may find helpful when deciding the
best course of action for your situation: My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do?
& Risky Teen Behavior: Can You Trust Your Child Again?. We
appreciate you writing in and wish you the best of luck moving forward. Be sure
to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.
My son is 20 and I am at a complete loss of what to do. He smokes marijuana everyday several times a day and it has become a habit. In September I sent him to his uncle's to get him away from all his drug using friends.More It lasted 2 months and he has been back since November. Prior to September the drug use was marijuana, alcohol and I believe cocaine. He was clean for the 2 months at his uncle's. Since he has been back I have noticed the mood swings and laziness again. He has been progressively getting back to his old habits. I found out this morning he has been stealing money from me, apparently to buy drugs. He has no job or any money of his home. I took his cell phone and kicked him out. As a mother, and my only child, I have been an emotional wreck. He is an adult and it hurts me too see him going down this road. He has depression, low self esteem and anger issues. He refuses to see a therapist and I don't know how to help him. He claims he smokes marijuana to deal with stress and his crappy life! I don't want to let him back in my home, and at the same time I am having a hard time letting go and worrying about his safety. How do I convince him to get help? There is a girl involved who is worse than him and they are bringing each other down. My husband tell me he isn't allowed back and it is causing issues between us. I am confused and heart broken.
It’s easy to feel hopeless when your adult child continues to
make choices that could lead to negative natural consequences in the future.
Many parents in your position wonder if they are doing the right thing when
they ask their child to leave the home in response to illegal behavior.
Sometimes it can be helpful to look at it from a less emotional perspective.
For example, if it were anyone other than your son who was stealing from you to
buy drugs, how would you respond? If you are like most people, you not only
would have him leave your home, you probably would also call the police and
report the theft. Ultimately, your son is an adult and can smoke pot or do
other illegal activities if he so chooses. You’re really not going to have much
control over that. However, what you do have control over is how you choose to
respond to that behavior. Having him leave your home was an effective way of
responding to the choices your son was making, as distressing as it may have
been to do that. It doesn’t mean you don’t love and care for your son. What it
does mean is that you are not going to condone stealing or drug use in your
home. I can hear the worry and anxiety you are suffering due to this current
situation. It may be helpful to look into some local supports, such as http://al-anon.alateen.org/local-meetings, http://www.nar-anon.org/, or other parent
and family support groups. You’re not alone in this. Many people have found
these services useful, as both a support and a way to gain some perspective on
their specific situation. If you believe this could be of help, the 211
Helpline may be able to give you information for these and other resources in
your community. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling
1-800-273-6222. You can also visit them online at http://www.211.org/. I’m glad you took the time to reach out and share
your story with the Empowering Parents community. We wish you the best of luck
moving forward. Take care.
@Mom who needs help Mom who needs help. Taking items the kids love are ideas some counselors might suggest. I tried that with my son, didn't work. I will tell you what worked with my daughter and her friends. We started a mom's & daughters night out, every week, afterMore some of the girls started getting into trouble. It worked great to find out what was going on in their lives and for them to know where we stood on everything like drugs, alcohol, sex education, abortion, religion. We discussed everything, joked about everything. We new when they had a broken heart or were having a hard time in school. They knew we didn't approve of drugs. It was something that just disappeared out of their lives. You need to get close to your daughter and her friends. Do not alienate her from you. We started by going out to nice restraunts, their choice, so they could dress up. We also, bowled, hiked, worked out a the gym, skied, went to the beach, sometimes dd crafts. Definately, tell them you smoked pot and tell they why you quit.
Read more: “Yes, Your Kid is Smoking Pot” What Every Parent Needs to Know
@Mom who needs help
Has anything you done help, my daughter is also 14 and just did it for the 1st time and I do not know what to do?
My 14 year old daughter just smoked weed for the first time. I found out on a text message of hers but she doesn't know that I can read them, what do I do?
It is never a good feeling to
find that our child has done something that is unsafe or goes against family
values. As she grows and changes throughout adolescence, testing limits and
trying things out with her peers is something that you both will learn to
navigate. You may consider letting her know theMore tools you are using to make
sure she is safe and making good choices. Being upfront about the fact that you
are monitoring her will help her understand that even though she is
moving toward separating from you and becoming her own person, it is still your
job to guide her. http://www.empoweringparents.com/Teens-and-Privacy... by James Lehman, will help you have a
frank conversation about how you obtained this information. This is also a very
good time to have a discussion about what your rules and boundaries are about
drug use. As she moves into a more peer centered social life, knowing where you
stand on the matter will help her stay aware of the choices she makes. Debbie
Pincus shares some excellent insight into this topic in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/Tough-Love-When-G....
Thank you for reaching out. Please keep in touch and let us know how it is
I need help.
Without a huge background story, my 16 year old son fits most of the factors listed in the article. Anxiety, depression, suicide attempt, he was seeing a psychiatrist and will no longer take his medication because "pot is all he needs." He's angry and verbally abusive, hits his sister, tries to physically intimidate others. Out of control.
I don't feel safe with him in the home, but I have only 1 year to legally do something to help break this cycle of behavior.
I need help on finding someplace I can send him. I'm not wild about a military type place, would prefer something that was highly structured and socially accountable vs. just being 'bullied' into right behavior.
Are there any recommendations?
The info online is so scattered and there is no basis for comparison.
Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. I am
sorry you have been facing such troubling behavior and choices from your son.
It’s not uncommon in situations such as you describe for parents to look to
outside resources for help with their son or daughter. It’s a request we often
getMore on both the Parental Support Line and Empowering Parents. While there
aren’t any specific programs we would recommend, there is a resource available
on our http://www.empoweringparents.com/resources.php that may be to answer your questions, the http://www.natsap.org/ (1-928-443-9505 by phone). Another
possible resource for information is the 211 Helpline, a 24 hour national
health and human services referral service. The Helpline can be reached by
calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto 211.org. If you haven’t yet, you
might want to check out our article on teenage boot camps and wilderness
programs: Teenage Boot Camps, Wilderness Programs and Military Schools: Are They Effective?. We appreciate you reaching out to Empowering Parents
and our community for help with such a troubling situation. We wish you the
best of luck moving forward.
I would advise you to make that decision carefully. TTP talks about how it's not the "kids my son is hanging out with" that are the problem. The problem is my son identifies with those kids and seeks them out. Possibly a change of address will help, but heMore may seek out the same type of people in a new location. Plus, with you out of work, would you have the ability to spend enough time supervising your son?
I'm in exactly the same boat except I'm married. We've also discussed moving! It seems like such a clean, fix it all answer. But I'm not convinced.
This article is helpful with one missing section - what if the teen doesn't need to go to rehab? I have suspected that my son may be dabbling with marijuana for a few months now. My husband has been shaking his head and saying "No way". I caught him lastMore night - much to my husband's shock. My son is 15 and sighed and said - "I've been doing this off and on for about a year now." It was late, and we told him to go back to bed, after giving us everything he had (which was only a bong and a lighter and a very small amount of marijuana). So - now what ?! I've been researching all day the negative affects this can have on his developing brain... I don't want to bombard him tonight, but obviously this cannot continue, and I don't want to ground him until he is 50. But, I'm at a loss! Remove him from his school? Move? Forbid him from seeing his friends?? I'm still in shock. My son and I are the same and I can see this turning into a screaming match quickly and I don't want that - won't help either one of us. But limits and boundaries have to be drawn. Obviously no football this year, that is where this all started. I don't know how I can trust him again!
Many parents are both shocked and
saddened when they discover their child has been smoking marijuana. It can be
tough to know what to do or where to turn. Rehab, as you suggested, may not be
a viable solution, especially if the teen or young adult refuses to go. It can
be helpful to also look into substance abuse counselors in your area. While
your son may not be open to meeting or talking with a substance abuse
counselor, he/she may be able to offer you and your family some support and
guidance as you begin to address your son’s drug use. One thing to keep in mind
is while it can be tempting to blame your son’s friends or his team mates for
your son’s drug use, the truth of the matter is, your son is the one who made
the choice to smoke. Shifting the focus to who or what may have influenced him
really isn’t an effective way of addressing the issue; it also allows him to opportunity to shift responsibility
for his choices onto someone else. What can be effective is having very clear
limits and boundaries around what is and is not acceptable within your home,
or, establishing a culture of accountability, as Megan Devine describes in her
article How to Create a Culture of Accountability in Your Home. For
example, perhaps you decide to start doing random room searches or random drug
tests and linking the results of those to your son being able to hang out with
friends or do other activities outside of the home. You might also consider
limiting the cash you give him, as Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner
suggest in their article My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do?.
As for how do you ever trust him again, it’s probably going to be a matter of degrees: allowing your son to earn back freedoms based on his behavior. For more
information on this, you might want to check out this article by Janet Lehman: https://mail.legacypublishingcompany.com/owa/UrlBl.... I
hope this information helps to answer some of your concerns. Be sure to check
back if you have any further questions. Best of luck moving forward.
@Disappointed The only thing I can help you with is the effects on the brain:
Not to mention he isn't even done growing and his brain isn't fully formed until 25.
Absolutely excellent. Thank you very much for a sense-full, caring and very practical article.
You bring up a challenging issue more than a few parents are
facing with the changes in laws around marijuana use. Ultimately, even if your
son was of a legal age to use marijuana, you would still be able to put limits
in place around what is and isn’t acceptable within your home. At 19, he is an
adult and is allowed to make his own choices, even if those choices are against
the law or are choices you don’t necessarily agree with. Keeping the focus more
on your limits and boundaries as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of his
choices is probably going to be more effective. You might consider developing a
Living Agreement with your son where the rules of the house, regarding
substance use and other behaviors, are clearly delineated. We have a couple
articles that discuss Living Agreements and how to develop one with your child.
You can find a link to those articles here: Parenting Your Adult Child: How to Set up a Mutual Living Agreement & Rules, Boundaries and Older Children: Is It Ever Too Late to Set up a Living Agreement?. Remember, your son doesn’t have to like the rules; he just needs to follow them. As far as getting
the help he needs, he is the one who has to make that decision. Sometimes
people don’t change until they are uncomfortable with the way things are now.
Limiting the funds you give him and being consistent with your rules and
expectations may bring about that discomfort. One thing you might consider
doing is looking into a support group such as http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/home or http://www.nar-anon.org/naranon/. Many people have found
support and comfort through these resources. The 211 Helpline would be able to
give you information on these resources. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a
day by calling 1-800-273-6222. We wish you and your family the best of luck
moving forward. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going.