does pot use require treatment program?

My 18 year old difficult child is using pot regularly. (at least 5 days a week) He is BiPolar (BP) and refusing medications. He has a history of heavy drug use (pot,lsd,pcp,alcohol,whatever). He is currently only doing pot and has been off the "hard" stuff for over 2 years. He is doing some huffing, but just a parties and such. Do you think this kid needs a full treatment program to get clean from the pot? :confused:

The Leslie

New Member
when ant went to narc anon and also to gateway rehab, they said pot was a drug and using it was drug abuse, and it needed to be addressed. however, if your son doesnt want to go thru rehab, it wont work. ant quit it after two weeks. the normal prgram is 6 weeks.


New Member

I guess I'd give you a very different answer today than I would have a few years ago. When my son was "only doing pot", I didn't even realize it. I thought he was MAYBE experimenting a bit - but nothing other than that. Boy, was I wrong. He was getting high almost every day. He was only a freshman in high school, and he began missing school constantly because he had no energy to even get out of bed. It was a combination of the marijuana and the depression. As I mentioned to DDD in her post - one feeds off the other. We opted to have our son enter a residential program back then for 4 months. We had to keep him safe. He was getting high all the time and running away. However, the facility he was in really didn't offer any real substance abuse counseling. When he got out, he stayed clean for a while, but fell into the drug trap within a year.

As Ant's mom said - they have to want help. This past summer, my son escalated from the pot smoking to crack cocaine. At that point, there is no looking back. He needed help immediately - or he was going to die or end up in prison.

As I said, a few years ago, I probably would have told you that your son probably could control the marijuana smoking. Now I know better - at least in my son's case. Of course, my son has obsessive compulsive disorder, so perhaps he gets more obsessed than others, but smoking marijuana daily is definitely a drug program any way you slice it. I definitely think your son needs treatment - whether it be intensive outpatient or inpatient. However, if he's not ready to admit he has a problem and needs help, no treatment in the world will stop him from getting high.

It's never easy to get someone to admit that they have a problem. So, be prepared -

Good luck to you and your son. Keep us posted.



New Member
"He is doing some huffing, but just at parties and such."

This statement from your post scares the heck out of me. Please read the links below to see how extremely dangerous huffing is. It doesn't matter if it is occasional huffing---even one time can kill you.

    • "Huffing," or inhaling volatile substances, is becoming increasingly popular among children, especially among 12- to 14-year-olds (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 1998;152(8):781--786).
    • Huffing can kill the very first time children experiment with it.
    • Alarmingly, about 20% of eighth-graders report having done it (International Journal of Addiction, 1993;28:1613--1621).
    • Besides sudden cardiac arrest (the most common cause of death from inhalants), huffing can kill quickly in a number of other ways. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, and other traumatic injuries are common and horrible. Others die from suffocation, burns, suicide (from the depression that can follow the high), and from choking--on their own vomit.
    • About 22% of those who die from huffing do so the first time they try it (Human Toxicology, 1989;8:261--269).
    • When huffing doesn't kill quickly, it damages the body each time--especially the brain. Huffing can cause memory loss, impaired concentration, hearing loss, loss of coordination, and permanent brain damage. Chronic use can cause permanent heart, lung, liver, and kidney damage as well.
    • Solvents (found in glues, paints, and polishes), fuels (such as butane), nitrites (found in deodorizers), and almost any kind of aerosol spray can be responsible.
    • Most huffing takes place with friends (although kids who sniff correction fluid in class when their teachers turn away are not uncommon). Be observant of your child and his or her friends.
    • Inhalants gradually leave the body for 2 weeks following huffing--mostly through exhaling. The characteristic odor is the biggest clue. Be on the lookout for breath or clothing that smells like chemicals. Look for clothing stains. Watch for spots or sores around the mouth.
    • Nausea, lack of appetite, weight loss, nervousness, restlessness, and outbursts of anger can all be signs of inhalant abuse. A drunk, dazed, or glassy-eyed appearance might mean your child is abusing inhalants right now.
    • If you suspect or discover that you child is huffing, get professional help. Treating inhalant abuse is very difficult and requires expert intervention. Withdrawal symptoms may last for weeks. The relapse rate without a long-term (2-year) program is very high.
    • Preventing huffing is far better than trying to treat an inhalant addiction. Talking with your child about it is more powerful than anything else (NIDA Research Monograph, 1988;85:8--29).
    • Start talking with your child about it now. Although huffing peaks between the ages of 12 and 15 years, it often starts "innocently" in children only 6 to 8 years old (Pediatrics, 1996;97:3).
    • Literally thousands of easily available substances can be inhaled, so you can't keep your child away from them. You can, however, educate and inspire.

I would definitely talk to a psychiatrist about your son's past and current drug problems. I'm not sure how dangerous pot really is...but I can tell you that when my difficult child was smoking it it only created more chaos in our home. Pot is not the same pot that was around in the 60's and 70's. Much of it is laced with all kinds of other things. I would take this very seriously.



New Member
Isn't this what is called self medicating? I don't have any experience with illegal drugs but so many teens with b/p self medicate with drugs or alcohol that it must be filling a need in them.
If they took their b/p medications would the desire/addiction to illegal drugs stop? I don't know. Just wondering out loud.


New Member
Self-medicating is very very common for BiPolar (BP) and for ADHD. As an experienced and well
read Mom of ADHD kids I can attest to the fact that the legal medications often are not effective for teens. So, just when the
kids are facing that mega challenge that all
kids face, their medications don't do the trick and
substances do. Sad to say..compliance is not easy to come by even with easy child teens. With
disordered kids it must be darn rare for the kid to "want" any help getting rid of the very thing that makes them feel good! DDD

My son is comming to visit me in 3 weeks. (long story, but he lives with his adoptive parents, we have recently reconnected) He is coming to visit, but his mother is hoping he will open up to me while he is here. We have really been building a great relationship during this last year. I think I will have a very good oportunity to infulence him, but how would you suggest I help him best. What makes a kid want help? I know any treatment program is useless unless he accepts that there is a problem.His mother has counselors lined up for when he gets back from here, just in case he decides he wants help while he is with me.

I realize that the huffing is EXTREEMLY dangerous, but like you all know too well, they know it is dangerous too but don't care. They know how to do it safely. (yeah right!) They are invincible! Weren't we all! Now we hang on by our finger tips and pray that someone will catch us when we fall.

[ 05-16-2002: Message edited by: wahllymom ]


New Member
How long will the visit be?

You have several younger children. What activities do you have planned to keep difficult child under your thumb, so to speak, so that he can't make connections while he is there? At least the party-huffing might go down.

Now that we know the additional info....

I think you need to get some activities planned like I said above.

I think you should remove and lock up ANYTHING in your home that could be huffed. The last thing you need is for him to do that in your home and possibly in front of the rest of the kids.

I think you should remove and lock up any and all alcohol for the duration of his stay also. If he can't find his drugs of choice, he might try to get into your liquor cabinet instead.

Medications, including over the counter medications, should be locked up for the same reason as the alcohol. (there are a couple of threads in the archives that might be of interest to you...General has one and this forum has a post in its archives that might be of interest)

I am hoping that with the removal of anything that might tempt him, he will be free of anything in his system and you will be free to have some non-confrontational conversations.

The only other option, in my humble opinion, is to not let him visit until he is attending a program and is clean and sober and "safe" to be around your other kids.

I know that my difficult child would like to meet his biomom. This is wonderful that you will have some time together. You are not only healing both of your wounds, you are giving his adoptive parents some respite. I am hoping that you will have a wonderful and restorative time together.


I hadn't thought about locking other "stuff" up, so thanks for the heads up. Fortunately, we do not drink alcohol, so there is none in the house, and we live in a "dry" county. The closest alcohol is 50 miles away. I will lock up the RX drugs in the house, I hadn't thought of that.

Excuse my ignorance, but what types of household products should I lock away? I don't even know what's "good" to huff.

He will be here for 11 days, and should experience some withdrawl symptoms. I'm sure. He usually starts with the headaches and stomach aches after 4-5 clean days. He dosen't seem to be worried about it though, because he said when he was here before (for 5 days last summer) that it was "so wonderfully relaxing" that he didn't need anything. No stress from fighting with his parents I guess.

This has all been some education. He was really good with my other kids last summer, and his mother seems to think he will be alright while he's here. She taught him very well. He's a good house guest. As long as the sobering up goes OK, he should behave. He did try and go clean a few months ago and made it about 8 days, but he was still in "his" environment and fighting with his family, so he gave up.


New Member
"The action is known as huffing, and the inhalants are usually common household products. Teenagers interviewed for the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse said they inhale glue, shoe polish and paint thinners most often. Other inhalants include gasoline, lighter fluid, nail polish remover, typewriter correction fluid and spray paint, USA Today reported.

I got that from the second link I listed earlier.

"Inhalants may be sniffed directly from an open container or “huffed” from a rag soaked in the substance and held to the face. Alternatively, the open container or soaked rag can be placed in a bag where the vapors can concentrate before being inhaled. Although inhalant abusers may prefer one particular substance because of odor or taste, a variety of substances may be used because of their similar effects, availability and cost."

"CAUTION: Kids these days will find an ordinary house-hold product in your home and sniff, huff, or inhale the contents to create a high for themselves. Students are even doing this in class with correctional fluid. One in every five 8th graders admits to have tried inhalants. Some examples of inhalants include nitrous oxide, gasoline, whipped cream, nail polish remover, model airplane glue, white out, and many other products. There are different effects as a result of each product used."

Any and all aerosol containers are potential things to use as an inhalant.

Hope this helps. I would suggest reading the links that I have provided in this reply and my earlier one. I took a cursory look but I'm sure that each site has its own links to other info.


thank you for all the support and information. The links were very helpful. You provide a truely important service. Thanks :laugh:


New Member
I know several people, both teens and adults who self-medicate with pot. I'm sure this won't be a real popular statement, but for seems to work. The adults I know have regular lives, aren't chemical drug users...don't get 'stoned,' etc. It's much the same as popping a valium every day.

I would be concerned with teens who are also have behavior issues. They don't have the self-control and maturity to not move onto harder drugs.

As has been said, if they don't have the interest in rehab, you're wasting your time unless you can commit them for a LONG period of time.

Huffing is a different story. Even one time can kill them. I wish I had taped a story of a neighbor of our when we lived in CA. Two neighbor boys, 12 & 14, both died at the same time huffing spray paint. Very sad. This is deadly stuff.


Thank you Deb for the reply. I know it isn't too popular an opinion. I know he is using the pot to self medicate. He has told me time and time again that he was getting "all stressed out" over whatever and then he smoked his pot and things seem better. I hate to say it but his perspective does seem better right after he smokes.
I wish he didn't need any of this stuff, but he has had so many negative reactions to the RX medications that I think he feels more comfortable with the illegal stuff. Are there any mood stabilizers that don't make your stomach hurt or don't zone you out so bad? Maybe if the side effects of the RX medications weren't so bad for him ,he would be more willing to skip the illegal drugs. Just like you said he dosen't have the maturity to stop at the pot. It is such a social scene with the drugs. It is such a draw for a young person.


New Member
I want to reply to your post but am not exactly sure what I want to say.

My daughter Angela went from alcohol to pot onto harder drugs--PCP, LSD, crystal meth, (can't remember others). Short-term drug rehab did nothing to change her. Counseling did nothing. AA and NA meetings (when she actually went to them) did nothing.

You asked what makes a kid WANT help? No one can MAKE a kid want help (believe me, I've been there tried that). They have to come to want it themselves. Some need to hit rock bottom until they realize they want out and have to climb up out of it. Some mature and move on.

Angela matured and moved on, although I do think there is still some drug usage by her husband and her. But she is 22 and signed up to return to college in fall.

At 18 and 19, she was not ready or wanting these things. Now she is.

Good luck to you,


New Member
Hi, let me speak from my own experience. Twenty years ago, I smoked pot every day. It was hard to quit. The huffing scares me. The next time he does it, it could be lethal. Please try to get him help ASAP. God Bless you.

do these kids sniff permanent markers? my son has had 3 markers in his room and got upset when i took them said he needed to mark his c/ds. however, he took one to camp and he did not need it at all. :confused:


New Member
I don't know wincha but at this rate nothing would surprise me. If they are going to sniff white out, why not permanent markers?