It’s organic. It’s medicinal. It’s not as bad as alcohol. It’s not addictive. I study better high.
These are a few of the arguments we hear routinely from the marijuana “evangelists” who comprise a sizable and growing slice of the teen patients that comprise our clientele. Even a few years ago, kids who smoked a lot of pot could allow for the negative effects of the drug. Today, it’s not a drug, it’s a lifestyle. And this lifestyle can be a flashpoint in families, even when the parents themselves smoked some pot in their own youth and would tolerate mild to moderate recreational marijuana use today.
Just as Sigmund Freud was an early evangelist and self-experimenter with cocaine (uber coca), kids and other evangelists today are pushing the limits ever higher with strains and derivatives of THC. Concentrations of THC in leaf or flower marijuana are approaching 25 percent, while concentrates and other derivatives like wax or dabs is pushing 80 to 90 percent purity. Typically, parents report in their child decreased motivation, lack of ambition, deteriorating executive functioning, increased emotional instability, and a reversal of maturation among other negative effects. And the kids themselves will often report a very similar set of facts but typically attribute none of it to chronic marijuana use. In fact, they often claim that the marijuana is the only thing that keeps them less stressed and calm in the face of their parents’ constant nagging and over-focus on the importance of getting up and going to school, doing homework and other such intrusions into their otherwise “chill” lifestyle. Other parents, these kids claim, are okay with their kids’ pot use so what’s the big deal?
Parents are often seduced by the argument that so many other kids are smoking pot. While true that pot is stronger, the research does not support that it is more common today than 20 years ago. Also more powerful is the devotion that many kids have to the lifestyle and even career ambitions associated with marijuana. The proliferation of websites and social media outlets devoted to THC use has exploded along with the rest of the internet. There are seemingly infinite blogs and websites devoted to the positive qualities of marijuana and how to best cultivate and use it and avoid detection. We have seen a significant rise in those kids who not only claim youthful indulgence, but who additionally claim that this is their career goal. Cultivation and distribution through legal channels entice many kids into believing this is a legitimate alternative to the mainstream path of college and corporate ladder climbing. They are right, unfortunately, that some people are now pursuing this “vocational” path. However, we don’t know which casual marijuana users will become chronic abusers and we don’t know which chronic marijuana abusers will eventually become injection heroin addicts. The problem is that the kids who are making this argument are typically using it to justify and rationalize poor school performance, broken relationships and overall failure to thrive because of their marijuana dependence. And they are supported by a pot culture that endorses their viewpoint and exposes them to even more articulate evangelists for their chosen marijuana lifestyle.
Once a teen has entered the evangelical phase, parents can’t win the argument against their kid’s use of marijuana and should not try. Rather, parents should recognize the fact that they will not win and can rely upon the fact that they are entitled to enforce “stupid” rules with which their children will not agree and not understand. Legalization and the medicinal uses simply confuse the discussion. While there are legitimate uses, the kids we see at our Education and Treatment Consulting firm have often done significant damage to their emotional and social development, executive functioning skills and have done some irreparable damage to their future academic and vocational careers.
Those kids who smoke recreationally but are still developing, maturing and functioning at an age-appropriate level will never become our clients. However, when we do get the clients whose lives are in tatters because of “just marijuana,” the challenge is to get them into therapeutic schools and other programs where they can be clean and clear-headed long enough to be able to step back and finally recognize the destructive effects of their abuse of marijuana and to also recognize the role it had played in covering up other underlying issues such as poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety, etc. The goal in treatment is typically to start to recognize and ultimately work on healthier coping mechanisms and strategies to address some of the underlying concerns.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
What do you tell your children about your own past or current use of Marijuana? Why or why not?
Is there an amount of pot use that you would be okay with? How much, under what circumstances and why?
All of our heroin-addicted clients started with marijuana but not all marijuana addicts become heroin addicts. How can we better predict which pot smokers are more likely to progress to “harder” drugs?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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LOS GATOS TEEN THERAPY CAN HELP!
Would you like additional guidance in this area? Los Gatos Teen Therapy provides individual teen therapy, family therapy, group therapy, parent support counseling, and in-home teen and family coaching 7 days a week, including afternoons, evenings, and weekends. For more information, contact us at 408.389.3538.