Pubdate: Tue, 26 Dec 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Gary Direnfeld
Page: G11

Family Life


Q: Our 16-year-old son smokes dope daily. We see his grades slipping
from last year. He keeps talking about it being legalized and
therefore not harmful. How do we get him to understand that he still
shouldn't be smoking?

A: How one addresses the issue depends on how one understands the
problem. Regular marijuana use in teens can occur if they become
addicted to the substance or it may be masking an undiagnosed mental
health problem such as depression or anxiety. Or your son may be
otherwise well but enjoying the substance and simply not conforming to
your expectations.

You may require a mental health assessment by your son's doctor or by
an expert through a referral from the doctor. If your son's marijuana
use is a form of self-medicating for an underlying mental health
issue, then that underlying issue should be addressed and treated.

If there is no underlying mental health issue and your son's marijuana
use is recreational yet habitual, then the issue becomes his
noncompliance to your expectations.

Be aware, however, that it is difficult to help teens who use
marijuana recreationally on a daily basis to stop doing so. They arm
themselves with junk science to support their use of the substance and
are often resistant to change.

In such circumstances, many parents are reluctant to resort to
intrusive interventions such as requiring their teen to live elsewhere
and withholding support along while making discontinuation a condition
of returning home. Many parents feel they are held hostage by not
wanting to be too intrusive, yet inadvertently enabling the drug use
as a result.

If this noncompliance has been an ongoing issue and you continue to
have difficulty setting limits and expectations for what happens in
your home, I suggest seeking counselling for yourself.

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MAP posted-by: Matt