Chill Out Mom & Dad... It's Only POT!

Chill Out Mom & Dad... It's Only POT!

As I was talking to my son Brandon's girlfriend today I realized I ask her quite frequently "is this what is really going on out there?" Even though I am a therapist who sees a great number of adolescent girls for various issues and keep current with the latest research, culture news, and internet social web sites--well, to be honest, sometimes it all seems too much for even me to believe. Moms, dads, grandma's, and grandpa's what I am finding out is that sex, drugs, and inappropriate internet use is the juggernaut in lives far to young to know how to deal with these life altering choices. Elizabeth has been my outside voice many times confirming" yes indeed Dee, all that you are hearing inside your office really is going on out there". So, as we spoke this morning an idea was born and we have decided to share it with you. Elizabeth is young, intelligent, and very well plugged in to what is happening in the youth culture right now.

POTHEAD
Not a label to be proud of, but it seems that more and more often kids are wearing it like a medal of honor. In junior high, I saw very few people trying pot, in fact, most of us only heard of it through the D.A.R.E. program when we were in 6th grade. We also knew that it was something very popular in the hay days of the "hippies", but that's about all. In high school, we always knew which kids did drugs. They hung out just off the property of the school in the east parking lot. They were forever labeled, "The Easties". In college, kids had zero supervision and pot, in some cases, turned into coke. A very good friend of mine worked so hard all day long throughout college, and then at night, blew all his money on pot. I couldn't feel sorry for him when he didn't have the cash to see a movie. These days, pot is glorified by television and movies on a far too constant basis. Movies like Pineapple Express, which is named after a type of pot,&nb sp;was one of the top grossing films of 2008. I'm not gonna lie either, that movie was hilarious, but not something I would want my 14 year old cousin to see. This generation of 30 and under truly believes that pot is not even really a drug. I have been to parties where a joint is passed along as if it were a regular cigarette. I have seen tents used as giant bowls. I have heard bragging about the amount of pot that is smoked in one day. Although we were all taught that marijuana is a drug, plenty of people treat it as if it were just another cocktail. For some reason there doesn't seem to be the same weight of consequence given to smoking weed, as there is for driving drunk. Even though, having a drink over 21 is legal, but smoking pot at any age is illegal. Come on! If you are in your late 20's, and you're still smoking pot, and bragging about it, how can you not think it's a drug. Clearly these "adults" are either in serious denial or they are just plain stupid. Maybe they should stop killing brain cells.
-Elizabeth Whittemore

The closest I came to marijuana was in the late 1970's as a twenty something dating another twenty something who smoked a lot of it. He had only two major goals which were to retire and to have a huge pot farm hidden inside his little house. I hated everything about pot but loved everything about him. So, I would listen and watch for hours as he drew up floor plans and talked about how much money he was going to make with this fail safe plan. I really did think he was crazy and that his pot farm was a ridiculous idea but, well, you know what they say about love.

I stayed with my little pot farm planner for awhile but my good sense prevailed and I left him. He never followed through on the farm, or college, or much of anything. And the last I heard he was still smoking pot. When I share this story with my young clients they laugh because they all know how stupid growing a pot farm inside a house is but none of them know how stupid smoking pot really is. If you think a child of yours may be a pot head here is some important information to be considered.

Research out of The University of Cincinnati states "chronic, heavy marijuana use during adolescence-a critical period of ongoing brain developmemt-is associated with poorer performance on thinking tasks, verbal memory and planning ability". Dr. Lisdahl Medina, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of psychology further states "adolescence is a critical time of brain development and that the findings are yet another warning for adolescents who experiment with drug use". She says more study is needed to see if the thinking abilities of adolescent marijuana users improve following longer periods of abstinence from the drug".

This research supports my belief that early teen use of marijuana is extremely dangerous to the young, still forming, brain. And unfortunately, that young brain is also more vulnerable to addiction.
Young teens cannot comprehend consequences so they cannot intuit how "just one hit" could turn into a serious addiction.

If you think your young teen is into pot (approximately 30.2 % of young teens are given, offered, or sold drugs in high school and middle school) don't hesitate to take action. Talk to them, test them if necessary (you can buy a drug test kit at any pharmacy), and get them into addiction therapy if the problem is determined to be serious. And please do not believe them if they look at you with a blank stare trying to trivialize with "chill dudes-it's no big deal-only a little pot". It IS a big deal.

Elizabeth and I welcome your comments and stories.


Here are some warning signs that may indicate your teen is using pot

The come home smelling like:
Pot (a musty, woody odor)
Clove Cigarettes are often used to cover up the smell of pot
Mint Mouthwash
Excessive Cologne or Perfume

They come home looking like:

Eyes are red with dilated pupils


They come home acting like:

Giggling
Lack of eye contact
Eating large amounts of food
Running right to their room to avoid you

When they are not home you find things in their room like:

Rolling papers
Little baggies
Lots of eye drops
Any type of hand-blown pipe/ bubbler contraption


Deedra Hunter is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has also published a book called; Winning Custody: A Woman’s Guide to Retaining Custody of Her Children. She has been a mental health professional for over 20 years and specializes in the counseling and treatment of eating disorders. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida International University, and her Master’s degree in Counseling from St. Thomas University. She also holds a Certificate in Chemical Dependency from University of Miami’s School of Continuing Education

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