#TBT Thoughts on Pot from 2012

Midwestern Mama has been reviewing a series of drafts from four years ago when her son’s addiction was escalating. At the time of this draft, she knew for certain that he was a pot smoker; she suspected it was a lot more than pot, but hard evidence remained elusive.
When it comes to addiction, there are several schools of thought.  Intervene right away  — and keep at it.  Let the addict bottom out.  Raise the bottom.  It all makes sense … with most addictions — eventually, the addict will have enough consequences that they seek or accept help aka treatment.  They truly become ready and willing to change.  And they have to, because recovery is forever, every single day.
But Pot, good old harmless Pot, is something else altogether.  The user — aside from the consequences of laziness of which there are many — can go on for decades until life and all its potential passes by.  All in the vain of self righteousness.
Now for many people, Pot is more or less harmless, but for an addict — someone who has a chemical dependency disease, Pot is insidious.  Unlike hard drugs, users don’t crap their pants, vomit, pass out, rot their teeth, get sores on their body, etc.  Pot users are less likely to commit violent crimes.  They may steal money from a sibling or sell a belonging to support the habit.  They may not live up to their potential, but they get by and often they are generally well liked.
Their friends usually move on, finish school, get jobs, have families, and while they may occasionally smoke for fun, it’s no longer an obsession, a right or a calling.  The addict is left in the dust, alone, miserable and desperate for the next toke. That’s my son – wondering where his high school friends went. Reality, they went to college, graduated and got jobs, even bought homes and started families. 

 

Pot is called a gateway drug, and it’s true that most drug use started with Pot or s similar first high.   But there are also Potheads that never advance and in many ways, I think that may be the saddest aspect of all.  Pot is the anti advancement.  It is the ongoing nothing.  It just is.
Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

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Guest Blogger: What to do if learn your kid is using drugs.

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Today’s guest blogger shares personal experience as a young drug user and how he has used this to help parents talk to their kids. In particular, he addresses marijuana use, which is one of the most popular first drugs for young adults. See what he has to say! MWM

Confronting a child who you believe to be taking drugs can be very difficult to do.

Getting caught by your parents smoking weed is the scariest thing in the world, what’s even worse, is finding out that your children smoke weed.

As a former family/drug counselor and a child of a parent who caught me smoking weed, I would like to inform you on the things I wished my parents would have done differently and what I taught other parents who caught their children smoking weed.

A little self disclosure:

I remember when my mother found my weed stash, she immodestly came out the room crying and screaming. Asking me “what did she do wrong?!” and telling me how I failed.

This was the worst thing she could have done and from my experience as a drug/family counselor, I can promise you there are MUCH better ways to address the issue of smoking weed.

The techniques I used to teach my clients to address their children’s marijuana use and how I personally address clients directly are based on the psychology of Sales and the use of Neural Associative Conditioning.

Let’s start off with applying the psychology of sales to discussing marijuana use with your children.

The most important principle in sales is identifying your prospects objections to the product and answering them before giving your presentation.

What are children’s objections to their parents?

“They just don’t understand”

“They don’t know what they’re talking about”

“They’re crazy! I’m not going to listen to them if they’re always angry and yelling at me!”

“They’re always trying to change them and never let me do what I want”

Don’t view this as your children complaining, rather, use this as useful information that you can use to overcome these objections. Once they are overcome, they will become more perceptive to your suggestions.

Find out what your children’s objections are and find out ways to overcome them. In the following paragraphs, you’ll read some common solutions that usually address most, if not, all of your children’s objections.

 If you find out that your child is smoking weed, the worst thing you can do is immediately judge them and lose control of your emotions.

If you immediately react to the situation, you will lose credibility in your child’s eye and most likely won’t listen to you.

You can’t force them to quit. It may sound counter intuitive, but the truth is that you must allow them to come to the conclusion that smoking weed is bad for THEM. If they feel like you’re trying to force them to decide that weed is bad for them, they may stop for the moment, but they’ll eventually return to smoking weed.

Why is this important? As someone who constantly studies online marketing and psychology, you must allow your prospect think that it was their idea to purchase the item (similar to the movie inception).You’ll lose credibility and in the world of sales nothing loses a customer faster than losing credibility. Having credibility enables your child to listen to you more. Studies have proven that credibility and authority causes people to do things outside of their own morale.

This is done through having them associate pain with smoking weed and pleasure with being sober. This is not something you intellectually convince them of, rather, it’s done through finding ways to allow them to experience and associate pain with smoking. I’ll teach you that towards the end of the article.

Demonstrate to them that you have an open mind to weed and that you are not biased. They must feel and understand that you see both the good and the bad sides of weed. This will give you some form of authority and trust in their eyes and your opinion will have more weight.

Listen. Most parents are so distraught at finding out that their children smoke weed that they don’t’ care about what the child has to say; instead they want the child to listen to them exclusively.

Nothing angers a child more than feeling as though their opinion is not valued. Allow them to speak and explain to you why they smoke without interrupting them. Not that you condone their marijuana use, but that you understand as to why they are smoking weed. For example, if they smoke because they are bored, accept the fact that they use that as their own solution. Don’t condescend them and tell them they are wrong. Simple listen and accept.

Rather than lecturing them and telling them what to do, use the power of stories – particularly stories they can relate to.

For example, rather than telling them, “you can’t smoke weed, it’s not good for you!!” relate to them through telling them a story based on your own personal experience (past drug abuse, or any form of dependence) or through someone else’s account. Why? In sales and even in spiritual scriptures, stories have been used to explain concepts and ideas because the brain finds it more engaging. It’s better than telling them what to do because stories have an emotional element to them.

Make sure that their experience of speaking with you is accompanied with positive emotions, why? Because if they associate pain to opening up with you, their brain will naturally avoid it. So whenever they open up to you, reinforce that behavior through some form of reward. Give them ANY form of reward, but make sure it’s something they truly value it. Like cooking their favorite meal, or genuinely thanking them for opening up.

Most parents indirectly punish the act of opening up because they emotionally react.

Remember what I said earlier, you must remain grounded and centered within yourself. Don’t allow your emotions to get the best of you because it can lead to being a painful experience for your child. Make the experience as comfortable as possible.

How is this achieved? Simple, just ask yourself, “how can I make the experience for my child of opening up about their marijuana use the most pleasurable experience for me and him/her?”

Be proactive about your actions rather than being reactive. If you don’t ask yourself those questions, you’ll never come up with the solution.

OK, now let’s discuss what you must do when discussing with your child their drug use.

The techniques we’ll be using will be based on the pain-pleasure principle, which is what drives human behavior is a desire to avoid pain and gain pleasure.

This is why you must understand their perspective because if they feel like you’re not considering and respecting their reasons for smoking weed, they won’t respect what you say.

Why your children smoke weed:

At the basic level, the reason people get addicted to drugs is because they associate pain to being sober and pleasure to being high.

The brain will begin making the connection that if any pain is felt; weed becomes the easiest and fastest solution.

Remember, the brain is always attempting to conserve energy. Moving forward, the brain will request for weed through cravings at any signs of stress because it learned that smoking weed is the fastest way to avoid pain.

So how are we going to use this to help your child stop smoking weed?

Easy, through linking pleasure to the new behavior and pain to smoking weed.

Okay let’s get to what you must do when speaking to your child about their marijuana use.

What to do before having the discussion:

The best outcome my clients experienced was when they remained centered and the discussion was brought up during a moment when everyone was in a good mood.

Don’t bring up the subject while arguing or when you’re mad because it’s going to create resistance.

The next thing you must do is sit down, get a sheet of paper and say something along the lines of, “before I say this, please understand that I’m not mad, I just want to understand where you’re coming from. I found out that you smoke weed and I just want to talk about it I don’t want to lecture you or tell you what to do, I’m just curious as to what are the reasons for smoking”. Simple as that. You are communicating that you are not trying to change them; instead you are trying to understand them.

Once they agree, sit down with them and explain how you found out and that you were concerned for their well-being. Explain that you did your own research and found out that weed isn’t as bad as you thought, but that it also has its cons and that’s why you want to explore with them their reasons.

Once they feel understood rather than being judged, they’ll be more open to your suggestions.

The questions to ask

Notice how the sequence of the questions are tailored, they begin with asking about the pleasures they receive from smoking weed for a two reasons; they are going to feel understood and heart, and you are going to use their answers and attempt to find alternative activities to fulfill the benefits they think they’re getting.

Step 1: What pleasures and benefits do you get from smoking weed? Remember, even though the behavior is bad, it’s important to find out the benefits so that you can find alternative behaviors that give the same kind of pleasures. In addition, this question throws them off the loop because they expected to begin discussing the negatives.

Step 2: What negative consequences do you experience from smoking weed?

Step 3: What will it cost you if you don’t quit smoking weed right now? Have them write them what it will cost them within the next 5 years if they don’t stop smoking weed. Make sure they cover the emotional, social, financial, romantic, and physical consequences of not smoking.

Step 4: What pleasures will you receive if you stop smoking weed right now?

Don’t just include direct pleasures (i.e. more money, happier family), make sure they write down bilateral pleasures such as being able to travel as a result of having more money, being able to use the time they spend on smoking weed on a skill or a sport.

These questions will accomplish the following:

  1. It will shake the legs of the belief they have that “weed is not that bad”. Belief is what drives our decision making. If you believe that smoking weed is good, you’ll be more prone to smoke. And what’s even worse is that your brain will block out any apposing belief. So it’s important to have them experience the pain of not quitting right now so that they can begin linking pain to smoking weed and thus changing their belief system and eventually their decision to smoke.
  2. You are linking pain to not smoking through focusing on the pleasures of quitting. This is something that your brain naturally blocks out because it has adopted the belief that smoking is pleasurable. The brain needs to conserve energy and conflicting belief system causes inner conflict and thus an expenditure of more energy. This is why it blocks out the pleasures of quitting because it wants to have a congruent belief system.

This is how I taught my clients how to approach their children if they were abusing drugs. When my clients followed these instructions, it rarely ended up in fights or arguments and the children either stopped using their drug of choice and/or improved their communication with their parents which is better than using and not communicating.

A few things to remember:

  • Don’t ignore mental health issues. Approximately two-thirds of teenagers abusing marijuana suffer from some form of mental health related problems (i.e. anxiety, depression, bipolar, AD and etc.). Ensure that your child undergoes a mental health evaluation.
  • Open up about your own drug use in the past. Being dishonest about your past relationship with weed only creates more resistance. Parents attempt to display a perfect and ideal image so that their children’s could emulate them at one point in time. But this results in parents at times contradicting themselves, and thus, losing the trust of their children. Nothing opens up a child then a parent opening up about their own past demons. Demonstrate that you understand them without judging them through disclosing your own battles in the past. This will give them permission to open up to you as well.
  • Last, don’t blame yourself. When you ask them “what did I do wrong?” you are making it about you and you are extenuating that something is wrong with them. They have fragile egos and they’ll attempt to defend themselves through disagreeing with everything that you say to them. In addition, being the victim is never productive, no matter how justify it may be. Blaming yourself will only cause you to lose focus from the most important subject at hand, your child.
  • Fifth, being judgmental. The worst thing you can do is judge your child. It’s one thing to be firm then it’s another thing to be judgmental to the point that your child refuses to listen to you.

About the Guest Blogger:

Alex is a life coach and founder of Your Mindful Blog and Quit Smoking Weed. He uses Mindfulness, Neural Linguistic Programming and Neural Associative Conditioning to develop true self esteem and help people quit smoking weed in under an hour. Prior to blogging , Alex worked as a family/drug counselor in Brooklyn, NY.

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved.

Gateway? You bet.

Many times, as they shrug their shoulders in dismissive way, I hear adults of influence say the following: “At least it’s only marijuana – not hard drugs.” They go on to say they smoked weed in their teens and 20s and turned out OK, or that cannabis is no different from alcohol.

Perhaps this is an attempt to put their past use in perspective. More likely, however, it is a disbelief that there is any real concern – that casual use of marijuana is a problem, that it can be a gateway to other substances, or that regular use can lead to addiction.

Recently, this article ran in the the Boston Globe asking: Can We Please Stop Pretending Marijuana Is Harmless? https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/10/08/can-please-stop-pretending-marijuana-harmless/MneQebFPWg79ifTAXc1PkM/story.html

Believe me, my husband and I have heard all the arguments and been presented with mountains of evidence. Our son was exceptionally passionate in his beliefs. We used to tell him – even though we disagreed – that he should go work for one of the pro-marijuana groups because at least then he’d be putting action toward his beliefs rather than just arguing for his own use. Of course, he never did.

Research tells us that marijuana and alcohol remain the starting point for additional substance use in later years. For most kids (under 18), it stays at an experimentation phase or it may progress to more frequent use but not necessarily to addiction.

For many, it never becomes more than “just “ marijuana or alcohol, and with maturity and adult responsibilities, their use moderates.

But, for one in nine people, marijuana use is problematic. It may show up as missing school or work and not completing assignments. It may show up in apathetic attitudes and the inability to follow through with goals. It may put your kids in situations where other drugs are being sold or used.

Think about this. If your kid is smoking marijuana and driving a car, they are impaired and any passengers are at risk. As the parent, you are liable for this, too. States like Colorado are feeling the effect of impaired driving as more and more motorists are using cannabis products.

From a neuro-science perspective, marijuana is particularly dangerous for developing brains, and it has lasting impact on IQ not to mention mental and emotional health as well as decision making.

Without a doubt, marijuana use clouds their judgement.

Today, kids have far greater access to substances, which means they may not start with the usual suspects of marijuana or alcohol. They may try prescription pills – think pain pills or things like ADHD medication. They may try synthetic drugs like K2/Spice (bath salts) or Molly (MDMA/Ecstasy) or others.

If a kid is susceptible to addiction, particularly if there is a family predisposition or if they are struggling with any mental health symptoms, we need to be particularly vigilant and cognizant of what they are thinking, doing and feeling.

Often teenage emotions can lead to “wanting to escape” or “wanting to fit in.” At first, alcohol or marijuana may ease anxiety or depression; in other words, they self medicate. In time, this stops working and they may progress to other substances.

Sometimes, kids are curious or even bored, and marijuana seems like a safe experiment – until it gets out of control and leads to progressively more dangerous things.

One of the statistics that really sticks with me is that 90 percent of adults with a substance-use disorder (aka addiction) experienced their first substance use under the age of 18 – regardless of whether that was alcohol, marijuana, pills or other drugs. The time to do something about addiction is when they are still kids – our kids. When we still can. When we are still obligated to parent them.

If your kid is using drugs, they are not bad kids and it is not the result of bad parenting.

It’s simply a scary reality that requires unconditional love and a commitment to discovering, understanding and solving the use as well as the underlying situation.

That’s a bold, big undertaking, but as parents we are not alone in this challenge. The most important things we can do is to connect with other parents, to tap professional resources, to learn as much as we can, to take care of ourselves, and to take on this challenge. This is the essence of the Our Young Addicts community, and it is what drives us to participate. Join us and we will help each other.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

#SoberSummer – With School Coming to a Close, Schedules & Mindsets are Soon to Change

It’s almost summer and without the structure of school it may trigger substance use. Join #OYACommunity for tips on a #SoberSummer for our kids.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer. Kids may have a few weeks left in school, but a major shift in mindset and in schedules is about to take place, and it can trigger substance use. Now is the time for parents and other adults of influence to help our kids have a #SoberSummer.

Over the next few weeks, let’s share tips and resources. Check out #OYACommnity on Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog for ideas. One of the many fantastic resources is The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. In addition to the FREE help line for parents (below), the website is full of resources including conversation guides.

If you’re concerned about your child, do not hesitate to call The Parents Toll-Free Helpline – 1-855-DRUGFREE – (1-855-378-4373) Mon.-Fri. – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST. If you are in need of immediate or emergency services, call 911 or a 24-hour crisis hotline.

Our middle kid tells us that his first use was marijuana during the summer between junior and senior years of high school. It was with a kid a year older who lived down the street. Although we had our hunches – Mom Radar as I call it — it wasn’t for about another six months before we definitively discovered his drug use and it was a lot more than pot.

He went from experimenting to abusing to addiction in a relatively short period of time and it has taken years of consequences for him to get on the path to recovery. That is why I advocate becoming aware of the signs of substance use and then taking action.

With summer upon us, let’s join together to make this a #SoberSummer for our kids.

Midwestern Mama

High Hopes for Our 15 Year Old

On her youngest son’s 15th birthday, Midwestern Mama has high hopes that he’ll make positive choices when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

This morning on the radio, my youngest son (15 years old today!) and I heard radio DJs talking about Pot, The Movie. It’s the plight of a Minnesota family who gave their son medical marijuana, and the filmmaker’s support of medicinal and recreational use.

Without hesitation, my son initiated commentary on this highly charged story. He has a soft heart and is understanding of parents who want the best for a sick child who is suffering. He has a hardened soul, however, when it comes to marijuana – its recreational use and likely potential as a gateway drug.

He bases this on what he has learned and witnessed with his older brother who began smoking marijuana during high school at just about the age that he is now. Until nine months ago, my youngest son knew his brother as someone suffering from substance use disorder that included marijuana and a full gamut of street drugs including addiction to heroin.

His brother’s drug use was a rapid foray into full-on destruction, and for a little brother it was a reality show, a nightmare, and a life lesson with lasting impact. He’s confident he will choose a different path, and we have high hopes for that as well. Without a doubt, he knows the series of events that can happen when drugs are part of one’s life and he knows the consequences that occur. These have firmly established his own perceptions and opinions.

Today as we celebrate his 15th birthday, he is applauding his brother’s nine months of sobriety and commitment to recovery. It is the best present of all!

Midwestern Mama