Our family is like thousands of others. Our story is not unique. I am just another mother who has witnessed her child fall into a deep hole. This hole has no bias, no prejudice, and no concern for status. It is a non-discriminatory hole. It welcomes all. This hole has a bottom yet it is deeper for some than for others. But regardless of its depth, it is guaranteed to be painful when reached.
That hole is created by the consequences of frequent marijuana use. Once an adolescent makes a decision to experience the fall they may lose their grip, lose their ability to make a choice, and lose themselves to something that is stronger than their will. This hole is paved with addiction and once addicted the way out of the hole is incredibly difficult while the addiction itself eats at their motivation, self-esteem, ability to concentrate, and one’s overall being.
My youngest son started using marijuana on a regular basis in 10th grade. His decline after he started using was fast and furious. He went from a pretty well-adjusted kid who managed to do well at school to a kid who lost all motivation, dwelled on the negative aspects of society, used his friends to get marijuana, lied, cheated, stole, and eventually was asked to leave the alternative boarding school he was attending due to the fact that he just checked out cognitively. It was as if he was vacant. Where had he gone?
In desperation, the following year included two Wilderness Therapy programs, a Residential Treatment Center, and a Step-Down program.
During this time he ran away twice from two different programs. The second time landed him back at home where he is now. He did well in every program, despite his running away. He was well-liked, and we were hopeful that he would come to understand that the marijuana was not helping him. He, on the other hand, was determined to live in his addiction and was quite honest about it. True to his word, as soon as he was able he was back to getting high every day. He has dropped out of High School with no thoughts about the future.
Our son is not a bad kid, in fact, he is quite lovable. But his father and I have had to adjust our hopes and dreams. Instead of looking towaed what could be, what many parents perceive as opportunities for a bright future, we focus on one day at a time. His addiction has a tight grip on his psyche and has left us making decisions we never thought we would have to consider.
As I stated above, our story is not unique! I am on a FaceBook group for parents whose children have fallen into the same hole. I read about our son’s journey played out by other kids over, and over, and over again! It’s often the same: good kids who start to get high and quickly become addicted ultimately affecting the entire family.
My son is what we call “ Neuro-diverse”. He has ADHD and slow processing while being extremely bright. I do believe that the way his brain functions may have something to do with his susceptibility to addiction and would love to see some science behind my theory.
As to the word addiction, some will tell you marijuana is not addictive. To this, I can only recommend you read up on addiction, and how it affects the dopamine in the brain. Read about the frontal cortex, how and when it develops, and how marijuana affects the brain of adolescents. I could go on and on but you would be better served by reading up on it.
I also recommend you visit a few websites to get some information you need to know. One is Marijuana Anonymous, MA, and another is Mar-anon, a group formed to support the family and loved ones affected by another person’s marijuana use. The sheer number of Marijuana Anonymous meetings available is an indication of how marijuana has had such a negative impact on so many. You can find a ton of literature on these sights addressing the science of marijuana and addiction.
I also highly recommend Every Brain Matters. This site provides all kinds of information regarding every aspect of how marijuana affects the users and those who love them as well as our social fabric.
I have heard so many stories of how marijuana use has torn families apart, broken up marriages, and basically bankrupts families as they desperately pursue treatment. It’s not just parents who I witness struggle with their loved ones’ use. I see wives, husbands, sisters, and brothers as well. So many of us are amazed at the casual attitude to something that has such a negative impact on one’s self-esteem, productivity, and health.
Let’s get educated. Let’s stop living in denial and lift each other up. Our best lives are lived when we can address our challenges, find support and love in a community, and be comfortable in our shared humanity.