New here, would like to introduce myself

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by shannonontheprairie, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    Good evening, all. I am a married mother of two sons and mother-in-law to one daughter. Hubs and I have been married since I was 18 and he was 20, and our kids came along right away. We now find ourselves at 41 and 43 facing an empty nest! Of course our kids are grown (and one is married) but the parenting doesn't stop. All of them still live here, at least until DS1 finishes school this semester and he and wife move on to the career world. It makes for interesting dynamics in the house, sometimes lively and entertaining, sometimes heart-breakingly torturous.

    I never dreamed I would have to join a site like this regarding my younger son, who has always been our golden child, our compliant one. I am still not sure we are in 'the danger zone' so-to-speak, but what do I know? We also find ourselves facing some issues and are not sure where to turn or what to do, if anything.

    DS2 turned 19 last October. He has always been a highly-social, compliant and obedient child. He is talented academically, musically and athletically. (Verifiable facts, by the way, not just a mama's word. ;o) ) He graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA and wanted to go out of state to university but we were not prepared to send him as a freshman. He earned a scholarship to the local community college that he was proud of earning, and buckled down to his work. He also got his first two real jobs, a position at Taco Bell and as a lifeguard for a local rec center. He realized pretty quickly that two jobs and school was too much and went solely with the lifeguarding position. He works there about 25 hours a week while going to school and maintaining decent grades (or so we assume. He tells us he is doing well enough, he has always been honest before.) He is highly social, and we know, on a superficial level, his core group of friends. He plays in a band when he has the chance, has some chores here at home, is respectful and polite. He is also a very private person, and always has been. It doesn't mean he never opens up, but if you pry too hard with him he tightens down. Older son is such that was he is thinking is coming out his mouth, so this is a very different kid for us to navigate!

    Last week my husband caught him smoking pot. Not in the act, but afterwards when he was exhibiting all the classic signs. There were a bunch of kids over at that time, he knocked on his door and let himself in. Shortly afterward he called DS2 upstairs, sat him down and asked him point-blank if he was smoking. After a little dithering around he came clean and admitted it. That also means that they were smoking here at the house, outside the basement door. Said he did it only occasionally, had "done his research" regarding the effects, and made an academic decision to smoke. He also said that he was not doing anything any harder than pot, nor was he drinking. Hubs told him we did not approve and that he was not to smoke in the house, at all, and neither were his friends. (Ironically (or not??) the friends have hardly been around since that talk.) He seemed to be contrite, got more diligent about keeping his room clean and getting his chores done.

    Tonight DS1 came in the house and told us he found weed and some paraphernalia stashed under the seat of the car DS2 drives. He was looking for a video game. He was quite distressed about it, told us. He also told me a little while later that DS2 has told him he had tried pot, but he didn't say anything because he didn't want to betray trust and didn't see it being a problem with DS2. We had not previously told him of our knowing of DS2's pot use.

    Now I am upset again. I know he knows the risks academically, but doesn't really understand the far-reaching potential consequences of the risks he is taking. I am upset that he is keeping illegal substances in our car (technically ours, but he is the only one who drives it and is financially responsible for maintenance and gas.) My heart wants to go easy on him, but my head clearly knows he must suffer any consequences he encounters.

    I don't know how much of a problem we have, where to lay down the boundaries, how to respond to what we know. We hardly pay for anything for him anymore; his meals at home, the electricity and water he uses, his books. He even pays his own portion of the cellphone bill. We calculated how much gas he uses to get back and forth to school, and we give him that much in cash, exactly. Sometimes we buy him some new shoes.

    I am currently in counselling for extended family issues and recovery from a bout of depression, and I brought up the subject with the counsellor (who is also an addictions counsellor.) Of course she didn't tell me what to do, that is not her job. She did say that it was her understanding and education that pot-smokers were not so often alcohol-consumers, as well. She also pointed out that THC lasts in the blood much longer than most people know, and that the long-lasting effects of the increased dopamine levels affect learning. She disagreed that it was as much a gateway drug as I believed.

    Now I need help, advice, perspective, encouragement. Who wants to give it a go?

    Eternally grateful,
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi Shannon. I have no experience parenting a child who uses drugs but I wanted to welcome you and let you know that there are some amazing folks here who can probably give you some perspective. I would be worried to and though I dont know about the drug issue, I would be inclined to say sorry no more car. At least for a month. If it is IN there I would be worried about his driving impaired too.
  3. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    Thank you so much for the welcome, buddy! The car is going to be a real sticking point for me, since we live in a very rural area and work and school are several miles away. He has also been very, very diligent with getting to school and work. I am still trying to reconcile that with the 'consequences' concept. Certainly I am not trying to make excuses, but these are things we have to consider.
  4. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Shannon and welcome to the CD board.

    It's hard to tell how much a problem your son has. Many college age kids can smoke pot occasionally and do not become addicted to drugs. Your son seems to be high functioning (holding down a job and going to college) so I find it hard to believe he is deeply into subtance abuse. However, I would certainly draw a line in the sand that he can not smoke in the house nor have any drugs/paraphernalia in a car owned by you.

    I'm not sure if I understand what your counselor was saying. Did she say that pot smokers usually are not drinkers and that pot is not a gateway drug? If so, that is exactly the opposite of my experience. My difficult child drank, smoked pot, and moved on to prescription pill abuse.

    Others will be by to welcome you to the board and I'm sure they will have advice and support. Keep posting!

  5. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    Hi, Kathy, and thank you very much for your welcome. Yes, I believe that is what she was saying. It made no sense to me, and what you said is more in line of my personal understanding. I freely admit to being pretty ignorant on the subject, however. I think I will ask for clarification on that subject at my next appointment.
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Shannon and welcome. I would disagree with this counselor based on my experience. My difficult child began smoking pot and drinking at age 14 and it continued all through high school and escalated. At the worst point she was drinking a case a night and smoking all the time. She ended up in a substance abuse treatment center for 60 days and then an outpatient program. She relapsed several times and went to a sober house for 8 months. I thought she was doing well in the AA program but I have reason to believe she is drinking again and thinks she can drink responsibly.

    While my daughter was smoking pot and drinking she was also experimenting with other drugs and I strongly believe if she had not gone into rehab when she did she would have gone to heroin because the peole she was hanging with are doing it and it is a very popular drug of choice around here right now.

    I know a lot of people claim pot is not a gateway drug but I will tell you all of the kids difficult child knew who smoked pot were also doing harder drugs.

    I don't want to alarm you and it may be that your son was just experimenting and it will not lead to anything, but you are right to address it now.

  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Would your therapist/counselor admit to you if she used pot? It could be what is coloring her views.
  8. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    Thank you so much, Nancy, for your welcome and for your candor. I agree we must address it. But what, exactly, does that mean? A stern talking-to? A suggestion for counselling? Random room and car searches? Actually, I think I will be doing a thorough search of his room. He has a very private room and half-bath in the basement, and if I find anything he is moving upstairs. I guess that would be a good place to start. I am a little afraid of making too big a deal out of it if it is only occasional and recreational. I would hate to push him into worse.

    She told me, and I quote: "I might be the last American to never have tried pot." I didn't think to tell her that I had never, either. Not that it matters. She IS also an addictions counsellor, FWIW.
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think your plan to check his room and if you find anything have him move upstairs is a great start. If you find more serious drugs I think having him see a counselor so they can assess is warranted. If you only find pot I agree with not scaring him off but having a serious talk with him to see what he us thinking. And I would not permit any drug at all in the house.

  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I am similar to you... I have never smoked pot though I have been around it. Never have tried any drugs and really have never been all out drunk even. but I have lived around addiction and have been part of family meetings. It is interesting to me when I hear about addiction counselors who have not been there, I know there are some, especially doctors, but it seems more common (again in my not so experienced world) that many are in recovery themselves so they really get it.

    I wonder what people who have lived this will say, can you push someone into a worse addiction just by asking them about it or confronting them? I guess I can imagine that a kid would act out but is an addict an addict? Can you really make them more of an addict? Every family member in my life who uses drugs has started out saying they only do pot. The youngest right now is 16, he started when his dad was in jail for drugs and other issues. (his mom, my cousin died from cancer about 7 years ago so we have cared for them--my sisters and I). It is heart breaking. So sorry you are faced with this, I would be worried and confused too.
  11. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes, I would definitely start with a thorough search of his room. He has lost his right to privacy by having drugs in your car and smoking pot on your property. I agree with Nancy. If you find any signs of drug use, he loses his private room and bath and has to move upstairs where you can keep a better eye on things.

    I totally understand the problem with taking away his access to his car. Where I live, there is very little public transportation. I would have a heart to heart talk at this point and explain that you are worried about his drug use even if he is a casual user. I would explain the liability issues that he would cause if he had an accident with your car while drunk or high.

    If you find that the drug use is worse than you realize or if it continues, you will have to take action. Plan ahead so you will know what to do if the need arises an you can be proactive instead of reactive. Can your counselor recommend a good counselor that could work with your son and address the pot use?

    I know how hard and scary this is for you.


  12. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    I am sorry for what you have been through. Alcoholism is rampant on my mother's side, but I have not had to deal with it directly. Even when my mom relapsed I was already out of the house. Sounds like you have been through the wringer with your DS, too.

    I don't think we can really push him into anything worse, but I do feel like we could easily push him away at a time when I feel he needs to stay close.
  13. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    Thank you, thank you! These steps are logical and scaled to what I *know* the severity is. I am sure my counsellor could recommend someone. She's pretty awesome! I am not in panic mode, but I am certainly on high alert now. Dang, he is just such a cool kid....why would he even go down this road to begin with?
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Precisely because he's a "cool" kid.
    Peer pressure is incredible... good or bad, it's huge.
  15. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    Frankly, I was always concerned about him regarding this exact thing. His brother is so fiercely independent, very against-the-grain...but this one? He always did like to fit in. When he was in high school I would ask him if he ever felt pressured to try alcohol or drugs, and he told me he said he would just say "Nah, I'm not into that." If that is true, then I wonder what changed his mind. Guess I'll have to ask.
  16. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Welcome Shannon,

    I have several thoughts on this... and unfortunately I have experience in this as my son is 20 and does have a serious drug problem, mostly pot I think but one who will try anything to get high... and who is now in rehab.

    I think pot (and cigarettes) are gateway drugs in that you will find most serious drug users started with cigarettes and pot. However there are plenty of kids who smoke pot that never go on to harder drugs... so just because a kid smokes pot now and then does not mean they will become a drug addict.

    I think your son has a lot going in his favor. First it sounds like you have a good relationship with him, that he basically respects you and listens to you. Secondly your son is doing well in life, in school and his job. So if he is smoking pot it is not negatively affecting his life much at this point.

    So I think you need to do what you can to keep your good relationship with your son. Do what you can to strengthen that relationship. That ultimately is what will help him in the long run. You cannot control whether he smokes pot or not, and it is helpful to realize that now before trying to go down that road which doesn't work. Believe me I have tried that.

    I agree that it is important to set some boundaries which it sounds like you are doing. Defintiely no pot or pot smoking in or around your house or your car. That is putting you at risk and that is unacceptable and you do not want to take that risk or have him put you at risk.

    I think it would be reasonable, given your relationship to have a discussion with him about your concerns. I think I would keep it at that for now.

    I probably would search his room to make sure there is not a bigger issue going on.

    Then I would watch his behavor and pay attention... so if his grades drop, if he loses his job, if he starts sleeping at odd hours, if he starts smelling weird (including weird body odor), if he gets volatile emotionally, or gets more of a temper or much more irritable then pay attention to that... as those are all signs of more serious drug use. And if he starts having a lot of extra unexplained money. If you start catching him in major major lies.

    If none of those things happen or start happening, then I would hold back because it probably is minor recreational use... which I understand you don't approve of but is pretty common in that age group and something you cannot control.

    Hope this helps... I know it is a worry.

  17. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi Shannon,
    Don't you wish you could just close your eyes and make it go away?! Ugh, I feel for you. We have a lot of son has always been very private, intelligent, could debate like Socrates, and also said he made academic decision to use pot (once he was caught, that is). For some reason, he acted like it was a "natural" substance, trying to convince us that there was nothing wrong - it was benign. Since 9th grade, he also had his own living area in the basement with a separate entrance, and he was an excellent student and held a responsible job. Unfortunately, I'm talking in the past tense. Also, I did know most of his friends and many of them were polite and were at my house almost all the time and ate dinner here frequently. Unfortunately, what was going on in my basement was not cool. The extreme politeness was just a cover to keep me placated while they were partying, eating my food and using my car with paraphernalia in it. If you have a dropped ceiling, you may want to check under the tiles - that's where we found some stuff later on. The you-know-what hit the fan, and his behavior became difficult and guarded, and I'm quite certain he moved on to stronger stuff. He lost my trust, and once we started checking his phone texts, and perusing his Facebook, well, the person we thought was our son was leading a double life. Never in my life would I have believed he would behave like this. Plus, I was a stay at home mom, and I was utterly played.
    He became an adept liar, his grades tanked, and he quit his job. Our relationship suffered greatly. I cannot figure out how a so-called smart kid with everything going for him would put a thief in his mouth to steal his brains. It's unfathomable. What's worse is he defends it. However, for my son, this started at the end of 9th grade...your son is older, and he is almost fully self-supporting.
    He is an adult in your home, and breakiing the law, and your home rules and car rules is concerning. Don't overreact, but you have the right to have a drug free home and car.
  18. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    toughlovin and calamity jane, thanks for weighing in. Somehow my anxiety is both heightened and relieved! I am trying not to panic; that won't do anyone any good. He left for work about a half-hour ago, so i am going downstairs. Praying for wisdom and discernment at this point.
  19. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good luck Shannon. Of course I'm hoping you don't find anything.

  20. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    Did an extremely thorough search of his room and bathroom this morning after he left for work. I did not turn up any harder drugs, or even any drugs at all. I did find two empty vodka bottles stashed behind some stuff in his closet. There is nothing (thank God!) in the ceiling tiles. The vodka bottles will warrant some discussion, for sure.

    I think there are no harder drugs in the house. This relieves me greatly. There still remains the conversation about the vodka and the paraphernalia in the car. Should be interesting.