My son, K, who is 20, has had two very serious cannabis-induced psychotic breaks in the last year and a half that were absolute hell.
As K was growing up he played soccer, hockey, and tennis, and we all spent time together with family at the lake house every summer. He was never in trouble at school or had any trouble with the law. When he was in the 8th grade he joined the Sheriff’s Cadets program and really seemed to enjoy that. He was actually looking at a possible law enforcement career. He seemed pretty happy.
In High School things seemed to change. He began spending huge amounts of time online playing games. They seemed to suck him into his room and he became isolated. Looking back now, I see that he probably started smoking cannabis around his Sophomore year, and his grades really got bad during his Junior and Senior years.
In his first semester of college, we thought he was a little depressed and maybe had anxiety. Then he totally flunked out of all of his classes. Since he was living in the dorms, we hadn’t realized he was NOT going to class, and smoking heavy amounts of cannabis. He moved back home as he was suspended from college because of grades.
Then he somehow got a medical marijuana card. Things got super weird with him, and we didn’t know why. We were arguing with him all the time regarding the way he was acting. His friends would call us and have to drive him home as he was acting really strangely.
K left our house one night, and we thought he was staying with a friend. The next day, my husband passed him on the street on his way home from work. He was standing in front of the homeless shelter. He came home and told me, and I immediately drove down there and found him. He was completely out of his mind. He was delusional and talking about being sent there by God. He had been walking into businesses acting “weird” and walking into moving traffic. He had 6 interactions with law enforcement in one day.
K thought some of the homeless were his friends, and they eventually stole his car and everything in it. It took over a week of calling the police, but we were finally able to get a hospital to keep him, fearing for his safety. It was extremely hard as he was over the age of 18.
This was the first psychotic break, and we had to involuntarily commit him to the psychiatric hospital for three weeks. The psychiatrist told us it was Cannabis Induced Psychosis, and he should never smoke again or this would probably happen again. We couldn’t believe that cannabis could do this to someone. We began to educate ourselves on this and do what we could to help him through it.
Fast forward eight months. Thinking our son would NEVER smoke cannabis again, the second psychotic break came as a surprise, and it was way worse.
After our older son told us K was smoking again, we told him to either move out or stop smoking. He packed up everything he had in his car (he only had had this car for a couple months after losing his last car), and he left town.
He somehow allowed himself to become acquainted with a 48-year-old guy who had been in prison; a total thief. This man convinced K to drive down to California with him. Our son had enough money from a tax refund and his last check to leave town and head to California. He told us this is where he was on the rare occasions he answered his phone, but he wouldn’t tell us for sure exactly where. From what we understand, he went to Seattle, Portland, and down to California.
We were desperate, and I reported him as a missing person and tracked him on Snapchat. We didn’t know if he was dead or alive. I spoke with law enforcement all through California and informed them of what was going on. Because I had him listed as a missing person, law enforcement would call anytime there was interaction. Since my son was in psychosis, he was very vulnerable and had no idea or insight about people or places.
K was tased at a homeless camp, stayed in ANTIFA homeless camps, slept by a dumpster, and finally, the man he was traveling with stole his car with everything he owned in it.
He would call intermittently but was so delusional he had no idea what was really going on He was arrested in California for stealing a car (he thought it was his car), and spent the night in jail. He finally called but was so delusional we couldn’t have a clear conversation. All I could do was pray law enforcement would get him to a hospital.
Finally, a Sheriff’s deputy called; K was on the side of the road trying to get into a casino. Because they saw he was reported missing, they called me. After pleading and explaining what was going on, he decided to have him involuntarily committed. Thank God. K stayed in a California psychiatric hospital for another three weeks, then my husband and I drove to CA to pick him up and bring him home.
We recently discovered our son had started smoking cannabis again and is/was in psychosis again, but seems to know he has to stop. He is staying in a family member’s garage as we are arguing all the time. We put boundaries up, and are holding firm. NO WEED AT ALL! Because of what happened in California with the car theft charge, he is being held responsible to follow doctor recommendations, taking medication as directed by his doctor, and being drug tested regularly. He has agreed to do what they ask in order to keep from getting a felony conviction.
We know now our son has Cannabis Use Disorder and Cannabis Induced Psychosis and will continue to have psychotic breaks whenever he uses. WHO KNEW? This is the most God-awful thing I, or my family, has EVER gone through.
My husband is an attorney, and I have a bail bond business, and worked in the court system for 14 years. We are not unfamiliar with the criminal world, but we had NO idea this could happen from smoking marijuana. We are still reeling from all of this.
My son is lucky to be alive after his psychotic breaks and their results. We now have insight into what it has done to him and how this is happening all across the country to ALOT of kids. We are, as a family, getting professional help for his psychosis and his addiction to cannabis. My husband and I are taking the NAMI course and going to meetings. We are also changing the dynamics of our house to ensure we have the right boundaries in place so we can help our son.
But the culture needs to be honest as well. Marijuana is NOT what everyone thinks it is. The public is being misled about weed, most likely because of the money others think it can generate for states. States/politicians need to ask themselves, “Is it worth it to allow this to happen to our kids?” Cannabis addiction and psychosis are real, and the potency of cannabis is so flipping out of control. If your family is experiencing what we have, don’t be afraid to ask for help.