How do I know if my teen is really addicted to drugs?

Posted on December 1, 2022 View all news

ntro: The Every Brain Matters community understands how difficult and painful it is when you have a child or loved one with destructive behaviors such as using marijuana or any drug. We also know that each family navigates recovery and healing in different ways, applying valuable tools from many types of effective support systems. The information given here is taken from one of these reliable systems.

We are grateful that the Cornerstone Team Counseling community addresses these tough recovery questions and is allowing us to share their insight with you. Since it is beneficial to hear different perspectives, the following answers and opinions are from clinical staff, teens in recovery, and parents and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Every Brain Matters community. We encourage each person to take what they like and make their own decisions that benefit their families.

The Every Brain Matters community also does not recommend specific treatment programs but we are grateful to share the content from the Cornerstone community as a resource.

To learn more, please visit the support and resource page for families and find support meetings here.

To learn more, please visit The Every Brain Matters Support Section or click under the meeting tab to find more information on our support meetings for parents and families.

How do I know if my teen is really addicted to drugs?

Perspective from Clinical Staff: A lot of parents come into the program asking this question. Honestly, I don’t think there is a definite answer to this question. 

What I do know is that there was an incident or continuous destructive behavior that you believed was making your life unmanageable. You saw that behavior destroying your child’s life and you reached a point where you realized it was out of your control and needed help. 

I work with teens who come in “just smoking pot” and teens who are using hard drugs and are fighting for their lives on a daily basis. Regardless, the gifts of recovery are the same.

The love, support, fellowship, and long-term change are the same for a teen who is early in their drug abuse as it is for a teen who went further in their addiction. 

Perspective from Teen: This question comes up a lot for me especially since I got sober when I was 15. And I think that at some point every person in recovery asks themselves “Am I really an addict?”.

For me, recovery is not about figuring out if I’m an addict or not. Recovery is about changing my lifestyle by eliminating ALL the self-destructive behavior from my life so I can show up in my relationships and be a functioning member of society. Drugs and Alcohol prevented me from doing that and, having been in recovery for 7 years, I’ve realized that they no longer serve a place in my life. 

I don’t know if I’ll stay sober for the rest of my life, but what I do know is that recovery gave me the life I have today, and I wouldn’t trade the worst moments in recovery for the best day I had while I was using. 

So, as far as your teen’s involvement in the program, it doesn’t matter if they’re actually addicts. Some kids here have never used drugs in their life, and I’ve seen recovery change their life drastically. The common thread between ALL of us teens and parents is that we all have experienced powerlessness from the unmanageability in our lives due to some type of self-destructive behavior, and when we walked into these rooms we received hope that we could live a life without the chaos. 

Perspective from a Parent: I have learned that I don’t know. Only the addict can decide for him/herself whether they are an addict. However, I can identify behaviors that are signs of a problem/addiction in my child. 

These are the warning signs I saw in my children: 

  • Change in friends
  • Dropping grades and changed attitude toward school
  • Anger and Aggression
  • Disrespect
  • Depression and Isolation
  • Dishonesty
  • Stealing money from me
  • No fear of consequences
  • High-risk behavior
  • Driving under the influence
  • Unmanageability in their life
  • Chaos and fighting in the home
  • Avoiding being at home
  • Legal trouble

I did not need to label my children as addicts to know they were in trouble and needed help. Addict or not, their behavior was unacceptable and my family’s life was unmanageable due to their drug and alcohol use. We all needed help because the disease affects every member of the family, not just the addict/abuser.

Please read the parent story for hope and inspiration.

My Story 

I was raised by two parents who actively used drugs – marijuana and prescription drugs.  My mother suffered from depression, as well as being a hypochondriac. As the oldest of three children,  I found myself playing the role of mother to my two little brothers. My mother would isolate sometimes for weeks at a time, sometimes even longer, “dying” over whatever new “health crisis” she was facing. My brothers and me, we lived in a frightening world where children were compelled to take care of themselves in ways way beyond their ability. I remember, very early in my childhood, feeling like a stranger in a strange land. I often wish someone would rescue me from my troubled home. 

I felt like I needed to escape this dysfunctional family. As a teenager — before I  graduated from high school — I felt like it was imperative that I get out of that household as quickly as possible. My parents wanted to move to a different city when I was sixteen and a  junior in high school. They moved, but I stayed, and I figured out how to work full-time and still graduate from high school. Right after I graduated from high school I got pregnant. Seven months into the pregnancy, my high school sweetheart decided he was too young to be a dad. I  was full of shame. I could not believe someone as smart as me could be in this situation. I decided to make the best of it, and right after I had my oldest son I started college. I made it through two semesters of school and then met my first husband. 

We married shortly after we met and quickly got to business having more children. I had three sons with this man, one of whom was handicapped and passed away at 22 months. The demands of raising four boys under the age of 5 and having a son with severe medical needs were demanding and challenging. However, my relationship with my husband I found taxing and discouraging. He was an alcoholic and drug user. He was also abusive. Both verbally and (on occasion) physically. I had to get my boys out of that home. 

After divorcing my ex-husband, I spent the next year alone. I worked with a therapist who recommended that I attend Al-anon and AA. I wasn’t convinced back then that AA was for me. After all, it had only happened a couple of times that I had been drunk so much that I  blacked out and could not remember when or how I got home. I met my second husband, ironically in a Twelve Step meeting. We were both there to deal with our co-dependency issues.  He was weeks away from being divorced and had five children. It was not six months after his divorce that we got married. He and his wife separated almost a year and a half before we met.  At the time he and I got together, he did not have primary custodial guardianship of his children. His ex-wife had serious mental health issues that would later be diagnosed as  Borderline Personality Disorder. I became convinced, based on the frequently bizarre things happening in his ex-wife’s house, that those children needed to be rescued. In retrospect, a more accurate assessment was that I needed people that needed me, and this was my way of rescuing myself. Don’t get me wrong, those poor children needed help, but the way my husband and I  went about it created more trauma and drama than the serenity that we hoped we could help create. 

My ex-husband was an addict and bipolar, and his ex-wife had BPD (which included acting out with alcohol). Eventually, the volatility of her home led to my husband’s children moving into our house. My boys, when with their dad, were exposed to their father’s alcoholism and drug use. My step-children were exposed to their mother’s. Some even saw several suicide attempts by their mother.

When all our children moved into our home, we thought we finally be able to establish  some “normalcy.” Unfortunately, our household regularly faced smashed windshields, crashed windows, slashed tires, and disgusting graffiti painted on our cars. It was a  nightmare. Their mother started a ploy of psychological warfare designed to try to get the children back. After enduring years of my husband’s ex-wife’s intrusiveness and not finding any support or relief in law enforcement or the court system, my husband and I became angry and hostile towards each other. My husband withdrew from me and the kids by working all the time. I felt alone and resentful for having to deal with the stress of raising eight kids by myself. I started drinking in the evenings to help me relax from the stress. Neither one of us could be there emotionally for our kids. We were both emotionally depleted.  

In 2009 I hit my bottom. Two of our sons were arrested for felony burglary. We were advised by professionals to get one of the son’s mental inpatient treatment (two years later we would find out that he did not have a mental illness, but had been using pot and alcohol since he was 14 years old). I felt shame and guilt, back then all my value was based on how well others around me were doing in their lives. My children were a mess, so it was my fault. I failed as a  parent. Ten days after my son entered treatment, my mother died from an Oxycontin overdose.  Feeling very lost and tired, I too checked myself in PHP treatment at the same facility that my son was going to. That is where I found myself again. I addressed my control issues as well as my drinking.  

I wish I could say that after all that things at home improved but they did not. My relationship with my husband only got more strained. He did not like the new me. He resented my recovery. I tried to talk to him about an easier way of living, and working on our relationship, and that the four teenage boys still living at home were not the ones with the problem; they were reacting to how we were acting and treating each other. He was uninterested and continued to focus on work. 

In 2011, our home life was a mess. My husband and I were living separate lives. I had given up my role of being the authoritarian parent with our four teenage boys. I resented always having to enforce the rules. I thought if I became the permissive parent, my husband would have to be the one to enforce the rules with the boys. Unfortunately, it did not work that way and the boys were spinning more and more out of control. One son was living on the streets with a thirty-year-old woman doing meth. Two of the other boys were skipping school and doing synthetic weed. Our youngest son is autistic, and he was becoming more and more withdrawn, I am sure it was to avoid all the insanity. 

It started to become clear to me that I needed to get help for our sixteen and seventeen-year-old sons for their drug use. One of our sons had a psychotic break before I could put him into rehab. My husband and I admitted him to West Oaks Hospital. My husband was still not convinced that our seventeen-year-old son needed help, at least not until he took him to three different rehabs to be assessed and all three told my husband that our son needed in-patient treatment. We took him to the Odyssey House for 90 days of treatment. My husband and I both had heard about this recovery support group for teens and parents called Cornerstone. Our sixteen-year-old son had stepped down from in-patient treatment to IOP. We were scared and confused as to what to do next so we got in the car with our sixteen-year-old and went to the All-City meet. My husband and I were both shocked that after twelve years we found ourselves back in, essentially, an Al-Anon meeting. 

I felt Cornerstone this type of program model had something more to offer me than an Al-Anon meeting. Since coming out of treatment, I had grown so much as a person, but I felt very isolated and alone. I first fell in love with the parents. I think because, for the first time, I felt unconditional love. I was not sure that Cornerstone was going to be the solution for my family, but I knew it was exactly what  I wanted and needed — someplace where I could be honest and the “real” me. When I went to  AA and Al-anon I still felt restricted on what I could and couldn’t talk about. I felt that few people could really understand what I was struggling with. The parent group in Cornerstone made me feel free to be me. Their hope, strength, and experience allowed me to give myself permission to forgive myself and finally love myself for my warts and all. My husband, in the beginning, did not embrace Cornerstone as I did. Mostly, I believe, because I refused any longer to sit behind closed doors with our family secrets and the miserable shame those secrets kept me bandaged. For the first three months, we drove in separate cars to Climbers meetings because he was so angry with my candor.  

At home, we hardly talked, which was really nothing different than before we found  Cornerstone. I did let my husband know about every event Cornerstone our support group was having, and that I  would be there and hoped he would come. Both boys were out of treatment and actively participating in Cornerstone recovery. I was concerned that our autistic son who now was fourteen and being left home alone too much, and I talked to the counselor about it and he said he would let him come to the satellite. Other kids had siblings involved, so it would not be a problem. 

Within six months things had really changed in our home. My husband and I had somehow gotten close enough to be on the same page and had written “Shots” that applied for all the boys. Everyone living in our home was working in a recovery program, which included going to meetings, having a sponsor, and working the steps. Then without warning, our teens who used left Cornerstone. They both sought refuge with our ex-spouses. I forgot to mention that our four older children did not embrace our new way of living. In fact, they opposed it. They sided with our ex-spouses that we were in a cult. In their opinion, we had overreacted and the boys did not have a drug problem but were just doing what teens do, which is “experimenting”. The boys were not the ones with a problem, we were, they were told. They were encouraging the boys to leave our home and when they did all our children, except for our fourteen-year-old son,  stopped talking to us. 

For me, this was a real test to working recovery. Most people who knew us wondered why we continued to go to Cornerstone meetings. All I can tell you is those meetings, with the love from those parents, are what got me through my pain. During this time, I started hanging out in the afternoon at the Satellite. I fell in love with the kids. My “little girl” who had to grow up too soon,  identified with each one of those kids. She no longer felt alone. The next year we had countless guys’ and girls’ nights and events at our home. I contribute a great deal of my journeys to healing to being given the opportunity to spend time with those teens who were willing to humbly share their stories with me openly and honestly. I could forgive my parents and most importantly forgive myself. For this, I will always be grateful to Cornerstone.  


Glossary of terms:

Addict: An old term used to describe a person with a substance use disorder that is not currently socially accepted anymore.

Al-Anon: A twelve-step organization that provides support and hope for families affected by another person’s marijuana use.

Awakening: A term used after Completion of the 12 steps and the requirements of the Cornerstone community. Like a graduation but it’s viewed as a “spiritual awakening”

Climbers: an interactive educational group for family members to bring issues, questions or concerns, and receive direct feedback from a counselor and other family members. As well as learn tools of recovery to help you and your family. The Every Brain Matters community offers a Climbers meeting every Wednesday.

Destructive Behaviors: Self-destructive behavior is when you do something that’s sure to cause self-harm, whether it’s emotional or physical. Some self-destructive behavior is more obvious, such as: attempting suicide. binge eating. compulsive activities like gambling, using harmful drugs, gaming, or shopping.

IOP (Intensive Outpatient Therapy): treatment programs used to address addictions, depression, eating disorders, or other dependencies that do not require detoxification or round-the-clock supervision.

Mar-Anon Family Groups: A twelve-step organization that provides support and hope for families affected by another person’s marijuana use.

Parent-Driven Recovery: Tools that Work is a must-read for parents of substance-abusing teens. You’ll learn how to maneuver through the chaos to create a harmonious family life. Even if your teen is not ready or willing to change, there is help and hope.

Recovery: A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. A healing process.

Shots: A term used in the recovery community called Couerstone Team Counseling. It’s a customized list of rules and consequences each family makes for their homes. To learn more, attend the Every Brain Matters Climbers meeting on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm Central time. A list of our meetings is at this link.

SO: Stands for Significant Others, a term sometimes used when graduating from an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) after making amends to our “significant others”, or people we have harmed.

0 thoughts on "How do I know if my teen is really addicted to drugs?"

  1. Regina, I am so proud if you. You are keeping lil Briabs memory alive by saving others. Love you, stay strong

  2. Thank you for sharing your Brian with all.
    I hope you find grief healing fir yourself through what you are doing to help others. Wishing you peace.

  3. I am not sure how to say what is in my heart after reading this.
    I am so terribly sorry for the loss of your precious son.
    I am scared for my son who was recently diagnosed.
    I am scared for all the moms out there who are or will deal with CHS.
    Please keep raising awareness.
    You are amazing and are making a difference.
    xo

  4. You are an example to all of us, Regina. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your son with us.

  5. I dont want medical marijuana to be legal anywhere but now more than ever, especially in my city (Pittsburgh, PA)

  6. As the mother of a forever 18 year old because of my child’s marijuana addiction (severe cannabis use disorder was the psychiatrist’s diagnosis), I absolutely believe in the facts and recommendations in this article. This is NOT the same pot I knew of.

  7. I used to think marijuana/cannabis was harmless. I started smoking it in the 1970’s.
    I was wrong. Using the “soft drug” in my 20’s reduced my ambition and created other negative consequences. When I became a parent of a teenager, I knew pot was not healthy but didn’t think it was very serious. My wife and I had a zero tolerance stance, however, I wish we had read the above article back then, to know how to proceed. Most of today’s high THC pot is a “hard drug.” My family’s very sad story is proof of that.

    Thank you, Dr Collier!

  8. Dear Sonia,
    Thank you for sharing your dear son’s story. What a heartwrenching journey for your whole family. What a beautiful son. Such a terrible loss.
    It must not have been easy describing what his last days were like but it’s important for others because most people don’t understand what psychosis is. Your descriptions vividly describe what its like. Hopefully your words can help others to recognize the signs.
    Bless you. So sorry for your loss.

  9. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. I went through my first episode of psychosis. It scared me so much. Your story will help others as they struggle with this. Thank you for sharing. God bless you!🙏

  10. I will pray for you, Sonia, and I hope you find comfort and peace in our Lord.

  11. Sonia I am so sorry for your loss. I know you have had other losses and I am truly sorry

  12. I am deeply sorry for your loss. such an unfortunate loss, Much more research and further investigation and this topic are extremely necessary with a claim that the cannabis itself was the cause of his death. Was he already suffering from some sort of mental disorder? even something as simple as depression? I have so many questions about this topic of “CIP”. Its causing a stir in the cannabis industry with these claims need to be backed up by some sort of research. They don’t give out warning fliers out when you buy a bottle of 99 bananas but now, because of storys like this the industry is forced to now hand out fliers. Just really makes me wonder about this world like are we really analyzing everything rationally. Cannabis is medicine for many people and for most they absolutely could not do without it and when used properly is extremely safe and actuaclly beneficial for the body; but just like prescription drugs and even alcohol are bad for you if abused. I hope we can all look forward and not be so close minded to facts rather then speculation. education is key. God bless.

  13. Dear Rita,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your dear Brian. Thank you for speaking out about this. Too few understand there are any risks to these products. There should be warning labels–both on the products and on billboards. Everyone has a right to know.
    You are helping so many today. A heartfelt thank you to you.
    I send you light as you journey through your grief.

  14. Rita….
    Too many people… it never happened in the 70s from low dose marijuana. Now families are left with a lifetime of pain when today’s cannabis dosages approach 100 times the therapeutic recommendation of marinol
    There are no roadblocks, no guardrails.
    Lets work together on stopping this drug from continuing its march through our young people at the hands of a few evil people.. and make no mistake they are evil.
    I am so so sorry… we all grieve at the loss of every person.

  15. Dear Sonia, I’m sooo sorry for the loss of your beautiful boy💔 All 3 of my daughters went through CIP-each time was worse than the sister before…my last adult daughter is 28, she went through it with mania for 8 very long months..and just like all of the CIP individuals, was able to fool everyone, doctors, nurses, law enforcement etc. She is home, safe, and out of the psychosis state, we’re beyond Thankful to God for bringing her home to us..We have a road ahead of us, she’s very depressed and anxiety ridden due to the destruction she caused over that time period, she also wishes she wasn’t here😭 My Prayer is that one day soon she will realize just how fortunate she is to have made it out alive🙏🏻🙏🏻 My heart hurts for you and all the other parents whose babies can’t come home anymore and my continued Prayers for all is that God Took Your Babies home with him where they’re now safe and away from the enemy🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 Thank You for sharing your beautiful boys story and May God Be With You and Yours Always🙏🏻❤️🙏🏻🙏🏻

  16. Thank you for sharing your story. All the hype before the legalization of marijuana at the states level that marijuana is safe as being “plant-based” and now every dispensary has billboard signs everywhere has done irreparable damage, especially to the young people so much so that changing the users’ mindset is almost impossible.

  17. Thank you for sharing your story. All the hype before the legalization of marijuana at the states level that marijuana is safe as being “plant-based” and now every dispensary has billboard signs everywhere has done irreparable damage, especially to the young people so much so that changing the users’ mindset is almost impossible. Sorry for your loss.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have just begun this journey with my son AND husband. I’m trying to learn everything I can and help educate them as well as others. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.

  19. I’m sorry for your loss. I have been suffering from the same symptoms and going to all possible doctors until one of them asked me if I smoked cannabis and told me about the symptoms of CHS. I was very surprised because cannabis helps me a lot with my psychological disorders of depression and anxiety. I know what to do now

  20. Excellent advice – I wish I had read this article when my sons were in high school. But I’m linking to it on the website of my non-profit, Be the Influence (www.betheinfluence.us) and including it in my “420” newsletter going out today on 4/20/22! Thank you for this resource.

  21. Jesus Christ can rescue you and heal you. He can make you a new person. My husband and I spent 14 years in the New Age psychedelic counterculture in San Francisco in the 60s and 70s. And later, after we became Christians, Richard worked for 30 years in locked psychiatric wards. Some of those voices you’ve heard are undoubtedly demons. Christ is the answer you need. Turn to him. Check out our booklets, “The Cross & the Marijuana Leaf” and “Psychedelic Seduction” at lighthousetrails.com.

  22. Please continue to raise awareness. As I struggle and I know firsthand. We should choose to acknowledge facts and not just pop culture .

  23. This is so heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing Randy’s story. He has so many similarities to others I’ve heard about who suffered with CIP: paranoia with roommates, being asked to leave, convinced MJ was saving him, etc. We are so grateful you are speaking out. Peace and comfort to you and your family.

  24. We have a similar story. We are witnesses to the deterioration of the mind that THC causes. Tragically, our 27 year old son was successful in his suicide atempt in 2013. We believe he had been using marijuana since age 13, as that is when we began noticing negative changes in his personality at that age.
    When he was 17, we put him into residential treatment; however, within 3 weeks of his return home, he began using it again.
    I agree 100% that a big lie about marijuana is being promoted throughout our country. Those states who have legaized its use, will pay a huge price as rhey will lose generations of youth who had once had great potential and thrir mental health cases will soar. I imagine that they already are, but that the staristics are being hidden from the public.

  25. He kept his story real, very helpful to me as a grandmother of two grandchildren addicted to marijuana and suboxone. This story gives me hope! I hope there’s a group in Florida close by.🙏

  26. We are going through the same thing. Our 18 year old is having a psychotic break due to cannabis. It is horrifying. He has had horrible depression for years and every SSRI and SNRI that he has tried, has not worked so when he got his medical marijuana card, we did not push back. Big mistake. This is a horrible drug that many kids cannot handle. Beware and educate your kids as to the dangers of marijuana.

  27. My son also killed himself on 8/13/22. Within a week before he completely changed. We found vaping product partly used that included THC 0, Delta 8 and Delta 10. I completely believe this product caused Psychosis in my son which caused him to kill himself.

  28. Dear God, he was just a baby. I’m so just distraught that Alex paid for his mistakes with his life. This is so incredibly unfair. Thirteen year olds simply do not have — cannot have — the emotional maturity to grasp the potential consequences of using illicit substances. My own son is paying a heavy price for his foray into Delta 8 and God only knows what other substances along the way. He is suffering from psychosis that is not getting better; we fear it has become a chronic condition, schizophrenia. He was a brilliant, talented, happy kid. We as a society cannot afford to lose our kids like this.

  29. Oh Sue I had no idea all of this was happening. . I can’t begin to imagine the pain both of you must have gone through I know there were times I was impressed to pray for you but didn’t know why. Now I wish I had been listening better and praying more. Now no matter what I said, it isn’t enough. Thank you for being strong enough and so grounded in your faith that you have had the courage to write this.
    My heart bleeds for you and I love you very very much. Elaine

  30. Oh Sue, When I read this I couldn’t stop tearing up.
    You and your family went through so much. I tried to put my feet in your shoes and don’t know how you survived, but GOD. What a peace to know that at one time he asked Jesus to come into his life. Now he is free from all the awfulness of drugs and what it can do to a wonderful healthy young man who had so many dreams and plans of college, a degree, a wife, a family, children, grandchildren.
    When I hear what all the drugs are doing to young people, I know many families must be going through the same terrible experience you endured.
    So glad you were blessed with the day you and Spencer said your last last good-bys and the love you shared together.

  31. Thank you for sharing your story Phyllis. I am heart broken to hear about your son. Prayers for you and your family.

  32. My Dear Sweet Sue, God Bless you for wanting to help others by opening up and sharing your experience. It was a long road Spence traveled and he knew you were always there, even though he was often so ugly in his behavior towards you. I too am so glad God gave you that last visit.

  33. This is my story and thank you so much for caring so much too help not only me but for others as well, it’s all good.

  34. This is my double first cousin,we grew up together and we smoked a lot of pot together.I myself often wondered if it wasn’t all im his head.I drove a tractor trailer and Kenny as i call him would often ride along with me.He was sick alot,I felt so bad for him and it was extreamly difficult to watch.He is a tuff ole boy.Ive seen him in a few battles including a few with me.Getting punched in the face didnt even faze him.He was like a brother to me,so yea we had a few run in’s.He dam sure held his own.But this sickness was beating him up bad,it was scary and very difficult to watch.I love my cousin,probably more than he will ever know and im so glad he found the problem.Im proud of Kenny he and me were both headed down the wrong road.He is a beautiful soul and thank the good lord we didnt loose him over something like this.Ive been smoking since i was 9 years old we just grew up in houses were it was as comon as water.I often want to stop smoking myself but i battle anxiety thats pretty extream.Im sorry someone had to pass for my cousin to find what was wrong.I just sit back and wonder how many lifes will be saved because of Brian.May god bless his family and his death might be the reason my beautiful soul cousin lives on.I love you cuz,can’t wait to come catch some more catfish with you.God bless

  35. I’m unsure whether or not you got my last comment as I’m having phone difficulties & a screenshot can’t be sent.
    Please contact me as I’d like to give my observations/input as a retired educator on informational articles and research that I’ve done over the last 40+ yrs. Also, pass this along to the other relevant organizations listed in your ad or that might be interested.

  36. With the mega demand for and supply of Marijuana in the US and Australia these psychosis cases must be occurring daily in our Public Hospital EDs and Psychiatric Units. Can someone please reveal to Every Brain Matters the reason why medical doctors and psychiatrists are not sounding the alarm and taking cannabis prohibitive action modeled on anti-tobacco education warnings.

  37. Hello Dr. Stuyt, I became addicted in my early 20s and suffered a marijuana psychosis at age 25. This was around 1970, when THC was about 3%. I’ve struggled with mental illness ever since, and now some 50-years later, I take 3 antidepressants (two at maximum daily dosage) and see both a therapist and a psychiatrist.

    gfs

  38. Thank you for sharing this all-too-familiar progression with cannabis becoming a gateway to harder drugs, now laced illegally with killer substances, like fentanyl .

    May Catherine rest in peace and her story be a powerful learning for others.

  39. Thank you for sharing this all-too-familiar progression with cannabis becoming a gateway to harder drugs, now laced illegally with killer substances, like fentanyl .

    May Catherine rest in peace and her story be a powerful learning for others.

  40. I think you are missing the point if you think cannabis simply leads to more serious drugs. Cannabis is the destruction drug. It kills the brain and the person as we know them never returns. The damage is done. The idea of calling it the 1st death is brilliant as that is what it is. I understand this journey all too well as my son has experienced the first death and even though he lives on physically he will never be the same. The light in his soul has gone out. There is hardly anyone left. The medical field cannot help as they experiment with different treatment options to no avail and eventually the victims give up on treatment. This is reality and so you go home every day hoping he had the will power to go on to fight another day. The sadness never lifts and hardly anyone understands your pain.

  41. Do not believe that is effective at all. Not just only not particularly effective, but I have seen this in many clients and in a family members. When people self-medicate or use a so-called prescription which is nothing more than a fraudulent voucher per se, they frequently use it to treat depression, anxiety, etc. However, cannabis is known to make these conditions worse and to provoke them. Well most drugs have side effects the side effects of the drug are completely unacceptable and the fact that it’s used recreationally more than proves the point that it would be nearly impossible to sort out a dopamine seeking intoxication as opposed to the remediation for the very conditions that it provokes and aggravates and increases.

  42. My son 17 already has 2 episodes it’s horrible I don’t know what to do, he won’t stop the weed. He acts completely different. It’s really difficult to find help.

    He won’t stop smoking the weed, like he doesn’t understand what happened to him.

  43. Thank You for sharing this story. My daughter was just diagnosed. It was very scary.

  44. This is complete rubbish. Research shows Some studies showed that cannabis products reduced the number and/or intensity of different symptoms, including hyperactivity, attacks of self-mutilation and anger, sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, psychomotor agitation, irritability, aggressiveness perseverance, and depression. Moreover, they found an improvement in cognition, sensory sensitivity, attention, social interaction, and language. The most common adverse effects were sleep disorders, restlessness, nervousness and change in appetite. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34043900/

  45. That baby boy yeah that was me pops I never knew and tried killing itself I never knew you said the same as that thing I did and all those times I tried I couldn’t even get that right but you’re my dad man I’ve been through the same thing man I remember staying up for days smoking methamphetamines smoking Molly snorting coke smoking crack smoking synthetic cannabis overdosing three times and now look man I’m sober a year and 11 months I’m sober yes I smoke marijuana but I also believe marijuana has benefits and disadvantages so I just want you to know I truly thank you man every time you told me that you understood what I was going through you really did I love you man you’re my pops

  46. I am so sorry. This industry is devastating the world with its lies and faulty science, poor quality control and general nonsense. I can’t say what I want to say but it would include a lot of four letter words, and ugly language because I am filled with anger. RAGE, more specifically, at the people who are making tons of money at the expense of sick and hurting people. God Bless you and keep you and I will be praying for your healing.

  47. Juli Shamash – “almost all opioid users, started with marijuana” were is your proof? This is nothing but an opinion Cannabis is NOT a gateway drug, it has been debunked long long ago!

  48. Thank you Rik! What an honest share about your struggles and triumphs. I really appreciate reading about what’s it’s like to use marijuana every day. It gives me a better understanding and compassion towards my qualifier. I am so proud of you for running your Mon MA meetings!!!!!Thank You!

  49. I see you said you child was diagnosed with ADHD.
    Did your child take ADHD medication?
    What Medication was prescribed to them?
    How long did they take the medication prescribed to them by a doctor?

  50. Dear Emma,
    So sorry for your son. This warning was out 9 years ago, and psychiatrists have improved in places like California where the problem is too widespread to ignore. But most of the USA doesn’t understand and children/ parents are not warned. Your story is beautifully written and it goes with this article which is in 2 parts. https://poppot2.wpengine.com/2015/02/01/mental-health-care-fails-addiction-treatment/. We need to bring you on as advocate who can demonstrate the story.

  51. My son who is 40 had 2 episodes back in 2019 due to marijuana and what we now know is cannabis induced psychosis. He knew if he continued, he would lose his wife and 2 kids. So he stopped. That is until July 2023 when him and his wife separated and he got a medical marijuana card and started vaping it. He is so out of touch with reality right now that we can’t get him to listen to us and will not get help. I have reached out to the police to do a wellness check and they go out to his house and say there is nothing they can do, because he had a medical marijuana card and is in his house. His gas has been turned off due to not paying the bill, and he thinks it is because his thermostat is broke. After his daughter went to check on him, she saw where it looked like he had tried to start a fire on their wood kitchen table, but then put out. The police and mental help line people there is nothing they can do unless he is a danger to himself or someone else. If lighting a fire on a wood table isn’t a danger to himself, I don’t know what is. I don’t know where to turn for help or what to do. I am concerned he isn’t eating, sleeping, and has no heat in the house and it is 26 degrees overnight. If anyone has any suggestions or can help, please let me know.

  52. MADE a COUPLE of TWEAKS:

    A friend involved with Every Brain Matters asked me if I’d consider writing a paragraph or two on my experience with a loved one with a Cannabis Use Disorder.

    My loved one is a good friend, who I’ve watched smoke cannabis daily, then stop for a few days or even a week or two, only to fall back into using. They have struggled, and I have struggled. Sometimes, when they haven’t been using, I wish they would use, but then it means interacting with someone who’s in an altered state of mind while I’m not. It’s a roller coaster of emotions ranging from sympathy, anger, frustration, disappointment, concern for their well-being, and fear. It’s a lot, and it can be isolating..very isolating.

    Who do I talk to? Do I talk? What do I say?

    What are some of the things that have really helped and made all the difference? Getting support for myself. In particular, a weekly, Saturday morning support group via Zoom. There we share our experiences; the things which have helped and as importantly, the things which have not.

    There’s a wide range of support available, and I encourage anyone to seek out support and that fits with you. There’s a saying, “Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is optional”. Don’t suffer in silence, and don’t think you’re alone, because you’re not.

    Another helpful saying is, “I didn’t cause the marijuana use, I can’t control the marijuana use, I can’t cure the marijuana use.” It was the beginning of detaching with love from my loved one and taking responsibility for myself, not my loved one’s addiction.

    At the moment, my friend hasn’t used cannabis for a couple of months, and while I’m pleased for them, I’m also cautious and wary. For better or worse, I simply see them as an “untreated addict.”

    Whether my friend/loved one is using marijuana or not, my job is to keep the focus on myself, so I’m able to continue taking loving care of myself, and keep giving myself the support I need and deserve.

    Ana B., Canada

  53. Aubrey
    Excellent presentation of the facts. I have continued to evaluate SAMHSA’s grantmaking guidelines and it allows allocations to non-governmental entities. Secondly, I believe we have a strong case for not allowing funds for prevention to go to States that actively market marijuana, like mine in California.

    I am going to pursue it further. If we can capture part or all of those funds for a valid prevention program, I think we can start the process of effecting a change in drug policy to protect our youth. The existing federal drug policy focused entirely on treatment is a joke.

  54. Hello you sweet mama. You are an amazing and courageous mother for taking the strength needed to post this. I can’t imagine anything worse for a mom, but thank you for sharing and helping and serving. I am actually a 40 year old mother and teacher, and I was using legal cannabis vape pens for insomnia. I was sick for two months before I figured it out from researching on the Internet- the docs couldn’t figure it out. It is hell to go through. We need to fight for more education about how strong these new forms of marijuana are.

  55. Thank you Mr.Hill for sharing your horrifying experience. My daughter had psychosis to a lesser extent and she is now in a recovery program. I am sharing your story with everyone I know who thinks weed is “harmless”. I am absolutely spreading the word about this destructive substance.
    May God bless you and your girlfriend and her mother who are staying by your side. Praying for you and sending blessings and peace.

  56. Yes, You as many other mothers and fathers in this nation are appalled at what is in front of us – the destruction of the brain and well being of our children – The joy of teenage life of our daughters and sons is at risk just because a policy and media is pushing on them weed ” Marijuana and THC ” as a harmless and recreational drug that can be get in easy way, changing the course (for worse) the life of many families and forever. WEED IS WRONG and THC is killing our children. We need to atop this Now.

  57. Javonte,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is a haunting and remarkably similar to those I’ve heard others tell. It means a lot that you’re speaking up. You will help others and prevent needless violence, death and suffering.

  58. The information provided here is relevant to my position as a cancer control specialist, as vaping is a major problem in my area of Kentucky. Suicide is also on the rise as well.

  59. I am experiencing the same thing with my 22 year old son who is complete denial. Please send me some resources who he can talk to. I feel he was totally brainwashed when he was young about THC that it is harmless.

  60. Thank you for so bravely sharing your story, Ethan. God bless you on your journey. Your story is happening to many, many young people. We need them told to help people understand.

  61. Hi There!

    I am so sorry for what you have been through and so glad to hear that your daughter is doing well.. My name is Crissy and I’m the Director of the Parent Action Network. We are an initiative of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and we work directly with parents and families negatively impacted by the legalization of marijuana. We provide education and training in today’s high potency products and give you a voice and prepare you to use your story to encourage policy change at the state , local and federal level. We are currently working very closely with Pennsylvania advocates and legislatures to change policies and hopefully prevent recreational legalization. If you are interested in sharing your story and advocating for change in your own community/state please contact me at [email protected] We also have other advocates in Pa. that we could connect you with. I hope to hear from you. Again I’m so sorry for what you e been through and I admire your willingness to edu are others. Best, Crissy Groenewegen

  62. Ethan, your article is the best firsthand account of what it feels like to be in psychosis that I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing your story and giving hope to the MANY teenagers and young adults who are addicted to marijuana (in all its many forms) and experiencing CIP. This truly is going to be the next epidemic in America and we need to get the word out. You should consider going to speak at assemblies at middle schools and high schools and sharing your story/warning/hope!! I will be forwarding this article to all my friends, thanks again.

  63. I knew from the day I met you how special you were. I think we often define “courage” as something we did in combat…but writing this article is the ultimate courage. You are one of my hero’s brother!
    todd

  64. If you would be interested, Ed Shemelya, National Coordinator and Director of the National Marijuana Initiative, will be special guest speaker Tuesday, March 5, 2024, 1:00 at Wayne County Community College District, 21000 Northline, Taylor, MI 48180.
    Courtesy of AARP, Chapter 4676.

    Mary Sobran
    Program Chair
    734.374.2515

  65. Ed Shemelya will be our guest speaker, Tues, March 5, 2024
    at Wayne County Community College District.

    The National Marijuana Initiative National Coordinator will be AARP’s special guest to dispel misconceptions and raise
    awareness of issues to improve public safety and knowledge
    regarding marijuana.

  66. Thanks for sharing your story. It is really helpful in understanding the progression that follows when your loved ones begin usingTHC. Such a devastating, tragic and exhausting problem that breaks families apart. Very glad to hear about his recovery and I hope we can hear about his full recovery and success story some day.

  67. This story is tragic, but you should have some relief in knowing that Florida passed a law banning Delta-8 THC. We hope the governor will sign the law and it will be banned throughout the country. The 2018 Farm Bill which legalize hemp must be revised.
    (Delta-9 THC is still a problem and vaping has been a great way for youth to hide their THC habit.)
    Your story shows that treatment does not guarantee that recovery can be permanent.

  68. Hi Jennifer, my heart is also broken right now. My 17 year old is in a mental facility as well. This is his 3rd admission since Feb 13. I am also so scared. I’m heartbroken because like you, I can’t comfort him, I can’t hold him. My prayers are with you. I hope god is merciful and heals our babies ❤️ Sending you strength.
    Ginny

  69. Thank you so much for your vulnerability and strength in revealing this very important story . You have suffered greatly but still have great compassion and understanding. I commend you and hope people realize how dangerous marijuana can be.

  70. The ridiculous concept of “Harm Reduction” was conceived of and implemented through the Drug Policy Alliance, financed by George Soros. His motives are not to reduce harm. He is on record in his book The Bubble of American Supremacy stating …. “Prevention is the single most important dimension of the responsibility to protect.,” so he knows what works. He has been in control of drug policy since he put Obama in office and for 16 years, through 3 administrations, there has been no attempt at PREVENTION. He should be held accountable, along with all the politicians he has corrupted, and his assets should be seized as retribution for all of the lives lost and destroyed, and environment harms to the planet.

  71. Dear Paul,
    Thank you for sharing your experience to help others. My thank you also to Kurt for allowing you to share this.
    My heart goes out to both of you as you recognize Kurt as the victim of this drug. We need people like you to help others understand how dangerous THC can be.
    My son died by suicide blaming his severe cannabis use disorder for killing his soul and ruining his brain. From a discussion I once had with him, I believe he feared he could become a danger to others, perhaps leading to his suicide.

    Thank you for helping others.

  72. My daughter has tried to kill me in phycosis from THC and almost has ! If I was an avg 62 year old I would be dead! I have been an athlete all my life so being thrown down stairs and off decks and my head hitting tile I was ok! Strangled beaten the list goes on broken nose jaw on and on! It’s not my. Kid
    I mis my daughter so much😓😓😓🦾👣🙏👣

  73. I’m so sorry for all
    Your family has endured due to this poison it helps to have the terrible unraveling made sense of I wish you had found this group and these resources sooner to support you but it’s never too late to share your family’s tragic story to help others These kids have no idea what can happen to them with marijuana use it’s horrendous unintended consequences on so
    Many levels I hope this article gave you some peace in knowing there are many of us out her that understand what you have and are going through
    May comfort always be with you Sending love to you

  74. Reading about the devastating impact of Delta-8 THC on this family is heart-wrenching and sheds light on the serious consequences of unregulated cannabis products. The personal account shared here emphasizes the urgent need for stricter regulation and awareness of the potential dangers associated with Delta-8. It’s evident that this substance can have severe effects on mental health, leading to psychosis and disrupting lives. The courage to speak out about these experiences is commendable and serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of informed decision-making and responsible consumption. This article has deepened my understanding of the risks posed by Delta-8 THC and underscores the necessity for comprehensive measures to protect individuals and families from such harm.

  75. This heartbreaking account vividly illustrates the devastating impact of delta-8 THC use on individuals and their families. Through the lens of a parent’s anguish and concern for their son’s well-being, the article powerfully conveys the urgency of addressing the risks associated with this substance. It’s a poignant reminder of the importance of informed decision-making, regulation, and education surrounding THC and CBD products. The personal narrative not only raises awareness but also prompts reflection on the need for responsible industry practices and robust safety measures. This story underscores the imperative to prioritize public health and safety over profit margins.

  76. Reading your story was deeply moving and informative. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the struggles your family has faced due to the effects of delta-8 THC on your son’s mental health. Your candid sharing of personal experiences sheds light on the serious risks associated with this substance, highlighting the urgent need for greater awareness and regulation. Your bravery in speaking out serves as a powerful reminder of the devastating impact unchecked substances can have on individuals and families. Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope it inspires others to advocate for safer practices and regulations surrounding THC and CBD products.

  77. So honest and brave. Admirable and strong. You will get there Michael, I love you!! Your cuz, Lori

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