Marijuana, the New Beer?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by California Tom, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. California Tom

    California Tom New Member

    I have a son who just turned 18. He lives at home, maintains about a 2.8 GPA at a private high school (Catholic), played water polo for three years and is generally a good kid: tutors, drives a car that he half-paid for, does chores around the house, drives his brother to school. He has (knock on wood) never been arrested and is on track to attend a decent college (given his GPA), with four apps already out.

    Our one, and only, issue (aside from better grades) is pot. Two years ago, we discovered him in the backyard smoking with a friend. He apologized profusely. I destroyed his pipe and made him give me his 'stash,' which I flushed down the toilet. We had a few more incidents since then, always with the same end - apologies, confiscation and often grounding/losing phone privileges for a week or two.

    The inherent problem, though, is he sees nothing wrong with pot use. He calls it the new beer, and always said he only smokes a little once or twice a month.

    He turned 18 in October. Now, he informs me he is an adult and won't stop smoking pot. He promised to never smoke before driving, but "it relaxes me and everyone does it." I smelled it a few times and he admitted smoking in his room. I said that is completely verboten. I also told him I don't want to search his room because as an adult I want to respect his privacy, but I don't want the illegal substance in his room. He argued there's nowhere else to keep it, and besides he smokes a little every day.

    Last night it was raining. Marijuana smell from his room. "It's raining," he said. I blew up. I said not only has he completely disregarded my admonition to never, ever, smoke in the house, but it was so strong I feared his little brothers might catch a whiff of it. I said I am imposing a $20 fine that will go up by $10 each time I smell it in the house (in return for various chores, he gets an allowance of $100 per month) and gave him until 8 tonight to get rid of his stash.

    Big resistance. Went through the whole "18 talk:" He says "I am 18 and can make my own decisions." I said, "You still live under my roof, so my rules." At loggerheads. Key issue is he sees pot as no more threatening than an occasional beer, while I see it as a destructive "stupid" drug that demotivates him and can cause lasting damage to his mind. Plus, it is illegal. But I don't see any resolution unless/until he realizes it's bad for him and wants to stop.

    Where do we go from here????
  2. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Tom and welcome to the SA forum. It does sound like your son is crossing the line into substance abuse. The red flag to me is:
    That is not the same thing as an occasional beer. Combined with the fact that he is willing to smoke pot in your house knowing that is breaking the rules means he needs it more than he is willing to admit.

    The bottom line, though, is that while he is 18 and a legal adult, he doesn't get to bring illegal substances into your home or smoke in the house where there are younger children. Now what you can do at this point is the problem. Since he is still in high school, I'm not sure if there is much you can do until he goes off to college or graduates and goes off to live on his own. You said he drives his brother to school. Whose car is it? Do you pay for the car insurance? Who pays for his phone?

    Letting him drive your car when you know he is smoking pot is dangerous. Can you take away his keys? Refuse to pay for the car insurance? Letting him know that there will be consequences for his actions might be all you can do at this point. I'm not sure if a rehab would take him at this point. I remember taking my daughter to an intensive outpatient treatment center for teens and being told she didn't qualify because she wasn't a "heavy enough" user.

    I wonder what that doctor would say if I told him that she had overdosed on heroin ten years later.

    I'm sure others will come in with advice based on their experiences. Keep posting . . . the support you will find here is amazing. We have all lived with loved ones with substance abuse issues.

  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Is he planning on living in a dorm at college? If he gets caught with pot, or buying it, smoking it in his room, etc., he will be severely sanctioned.

    There are mixed messages about pot now, with so many states decriminalizing/legalizing it, that it's confusing. I think most young people who have a predilection for pot do see it as harmless - just like a beer now and again. Look at Miley Cyrus...she lit up a joint on stage at an awards show, and the crowd went wild. It's almost impossible to fight the tide of public opinion now, but believe me, colleges will not be lenient - he may be expelled and he may turn up back at your house in exactly the same predicament.

    You have younger kids at home whom you do not wish to be negatively influenced. You're in a tough predicament because if you overly exercise the "my house, my rules" philosophy, you will paint yourself into a corner and your son knows you will not throw him out, so he's clever enough to exploit this opportunity. Being frank with him and following through on your expectations is key. Carefully decide what you will and will not accept, tell your son what you have decided, the consequences, etc., and be prepared to stick to it. You don't want to be a hard a**, but you also don't have to financially support him at this point if he is defiant. Don't fall for the don't want to "control" everything he does, but you also don't have to turn a blind eye and tacitly support it have younger kids at home. Parenting is not for sissies, that's for sure!
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Smoking cigarettes is 100% legal, although not harmless, and I don't allow anyone to smoke cigarettes in my house, child or adult. Why? I don't want the fumes in my house. You can take a similar stance with your son and stick to it. I'd throw out any pot I saw in his room. Unless he is 100% self-sufficient, he can't do whatever he wants to do. The point is, he can be 35 but if he lives in your house he still has to either follow your house rules or move out a nd become financially independent. And everyone doesn't do it. A lot of people do, but not the "everyone" that our kids like to put in their corner. Not everyone drinks, not everyone uses pot. It is a choice. And not everything that is legal is harmless. Cigarettes and alcohol are two examples. Using anything every day is not good. If he did it twice a month, I'd say he was a recreational user. But if somebody drinks every day, they are probably somebody with a problem. Ditto for pot.
  5. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    The 100 you pay him is being used to buy an illegal substance. This illegal substance can get your house taken away from you. Your younger kids could be removed from your custody ( kid tells his teacher). You could be charged for allowing it in your house. Substance abuser can catch a felony case and it won't matter that he goes to college he will be screwed. Your son does not work because he could not pass a drug test.

    I would cut off the money and access to a vehicle , that's what he uses to go buy the drugs and to transport the drugs along with your younger children. Drug abusers do not get privacy. Drug abusers get conditions of continuing residency...... drug counseling, drug testing, drug searches, loss of privileges....
  6. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh boy, I missed the fact that you give him $100 a month. You are in effect buying him the pot. If he is not working, he is using the money you supply him to buy the drugs.

    I would stop giving him the money here and now. Tell him flat out that you will not buy his drugs for him. I would also suspend driving privileges and certainly not let him transport younger siblings.

    He may be right that you can't stop him from smoking pot but in return you do not have to fund his druggie lifestyle. If he wants to drive and smoke pot, let him work to support that lifestyle. When he gets angry (and he will get angry), tell him adults pay their own way and since he is telling you that he needs to treated as an adult now, you are merely abiding by his wishes.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I felt the same way you did about pot when my then 18 year old was smoking it every day. In fact she got suspended from college for smoking pot and drinking in her dorm. I kept saying "it's illegal" and besides that I hated the smell and it impaired her thinking and judgement and I was terrified she would drive under the influence. She ended up losing several jobs because she could not function after smoking it.

    Almost five years later I still hate it and would never allow anyone in my house to smoke cigarettes let alone pot, but she no longer lives here and I see every day more states moving toward legalizing pot, even Dr Gupta is now in favor of it. That doesn't make it OK for me but I know that soon it will probably be legal most everywhere. For my daughter it led to excessive drinking and experimenting with other drugs and a downward spiral. I believe it very well can be a gateway drug for those who eventually become addicts, but there are many people who smoke pot and never become addicts or have any serious problems with it.

    It is your home and you have a right to make the rules. It sounds like your son is doing well in school and may not ever abuse pot but it is still illegal and it can lead to other problems, especially at such a vulnerable age. I don't know what to suggest, I am in a quandry with the legalization part of this whole thing. If they make it legal all our arguments are gone, and yet I know if I had it to do all over again I would still try to stop my daugher from smoking it. That didn't stop her however, and it may not stop your son, but you can tell him that until he has his own place he needs to abide by your rules. The college tuition is a problem though. If he gets into trouble I would most definitely not pay for college.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  8. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I have a couple of thoughts that might feel contradictory. The first is do what you can to strengthen your relationship with your son. If he is willing, spend time with him, talk about other topics other than pot. I would stop trying to convince him of the dangers of pot or use. It's an argument you can't win. Many folks see pot like alcohol and many people can use it casually with no ill affects just like alcohol and others end up with a serious substance abuse just like alcohol.and boundaries. Like others have said any consequences you give you need to be able to carry out. The two obvious limits are use of the car and money. I thinking not allowing use of the car because you can't trust him not to drive high... And not giving him cash because there is no reason for you to pay for his drug use. He won't like the limit which is why it may feel contradictory to my first point.... But honestly think about what you are comfortable doing for him and don't do nothing that makes you feel uncomfortable or that you feel will enable his drug use.

    My other thought is to set some serious limits l
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I missed the $100 a month also, I would stop that immediately. You are buying his pot.
  10. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Sorry for my message getting messed up a bit.... Typing on my iPad mini when I am out is not always easy...

    Anyway the 2nd paragraph was supposed to say set limits and boundaries..

  11. comatheart

    comatheart Active Member

    6-12 months ago if you had asked me my view on marijuana it would be COMPLETELY different than it is today. My eyes have been blown wide open to the danger of this drug to those susceptible to addiction. My 17 yr old son is in treatment right now, his drug of choice was marijuana. I've learned since he went into treatment that he started smoking it years ago. We had no idea! Soon, it wasn't enough and he started drinking and taking/stealing prescription drugs. It became daily and necessary. It didn't matter what the consequences were, he continued to do it. (This should have been our red flag that it had crossed over into addiction) Finally, it got to the point that he tried to commit suicide when we confiscated his pipe again (We had taken it away a couple days prior and he dug through the trash and stole it back) It was just a matter of time and opportunity before my son was doing heroin or meth. We have no doubt about that. We're hoping to have gotten him the help that he needed soon enough to avoid going down that road.

    We were slapped real quick with reality and now that he's where he needs to be and we can look back and realize how blind we had been.

    Your house, your rules. I especially like how others pointed out the legal consequences for YOU if the police were to become involved. If I were you, I'd take him for a drug/alcohol assessment ASAP. They will drug test him and evaluate him. Results will let you know exactly where you stand and whether treatment is necessary at this time. This could be much deeper than you even realize. Especially if he's taking such huge risks by smoking it in your house. I definitely see red flags. You are in a difficult place since he is 18, but there is help out there if he needs it.
  12. Scott_G

    Scott_G Member

    I would agree that marijuana is no more harmful than beer. Millions of people enjoy it responsibly with no issues. However, to say that drugs or alcohol are harm-LESS, is just foolish. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol is like playing a game of Russian roulette. I have done my share of drinking and still continue to enjoy drinking in moderation. I also minored in better living through chemistry in college and well into my late 20's. I turned out okay, but along the way I knew many people who didn't. I had a friend in high school who at the age of 18 was already exhibiting the symptoms of being an alcoholic. I had a roommate in college who was an alcoholic. I eventually had to move out because he was like living with Jekyl and Hyde. Sober he was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back, but when he started drinking, you better watch out. Once he started drinking he didn't stop until he passed out or there was no more booze. His behavior under the influence was terrible. He lost his license due to a serious car accident when he was drunk. He said he had absolutely no recollection of the incident. Apparently he got into a fight with the cops too. He said the last thing he remembered was leaving the bar, then waking up in a jail cell looking like he had taken a good beating. He was a big guy and when he got drunk, he would try to pick fights with random people. I also knew a guy in college who got seriously addicted to cocaine and ended up dropping out of school. Don't know what ever happened to him because we lost contatct soon after that. So while many people can use drugs and alcohol recreationally with no consequences, there is a dark side for sure. In my case, for the most part I was a clean cut kid in high school, but when I got to college, drugs where everywhere. During freshman orientation I had only been on campus for a few hours and I was already getting high with some guys I just met. Maybe the fact that I didn't really start smoking until I was already an adult helped me turn out okay and not lead me down the road to harder drugs like my son who at 14 claimed it was just pot, and at 31 is now a heroin addict. I do think that children should not be using drugs and alcohol. it can severely hurt their development at a critical time in their lives.

    As to your son, well I will simply jump on the bandwagon and put in another vote for "My house, my rules" It's funny, but a lot of 18, 19, and 20 somethings go around crying about how they are adults when they have zero clue what it means to be an adult. The reality of life is that there is really no such thing as freedom. In fact when you get older you realize that even though your parents told you where you could and couldn't go as a kid, what time to go to bed, what time to be home, what you can eat, what you can and can't have, etc, that childhood is the most free time of your life. With freedom-adult freedom, comes responsibility. In no time in your life (unless you are independently wealthy or homeless) are you simply free to do whatever you please whenever you please. I can do whatever I want in my house, but I have to go to work every day at a job I hate because I need money. I can't spend all my money on drugs and alcohol because I have to pay a mortgage along with many other bills. Even in my free time, I can't simply party all the time because I have other responsibilites. When I got out on my own I learned that all this freedom from my parents that I wanted had a hefty price tag. So your son thinks he's an adult? Well young adults who don't live with mommy and daddy typically have to rent an apartment. To do this they have to pay a security deposit and sign a lease. The lease clearly spells out the rules that the landlord expects the tenant to follow, and if the tenant breaks the rules, the landlord will evict them. If your son wants to be treated like an adult, make him sign a "lease" Write down the rules you expect him to live by and also be very clear about the consequences of not following the rules. If he doesn't like the rules, he is 18 and certainly has the option of getting his own place. If he is getting financial support from you, you should also be clear about the stipulations of continuing that support. Doing this is important too because depending on where you live, if push comes to shove, you legally might not be able to put him out on the street. In some states, even if the person is not paying rent, and even if the person is related to you, if you allow them to live on your propery they have established residency and they now enjoy all the legal rights afforded to tenants, meaning if you decide you want him to leave, you may legally be forced to give him 30 days notice, and if he still refuses to leave, you may need to go to court and go through the eviction process. Spelling out the rules and the consequences should make this all easier.
  13. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Hello. I'm new here and hopefully my (extremely long) first post will be up soon. But I had to say I'm so TIRED of pot and all the publicity about pot. My son is the cause of this, as that post will show. I've heard it all..."It's no worse than beer, it's no different than cigarettes." My husband and I both smoke cigarettes - we want to quit, but the stress caused by my son has made that completely impossible. Upon being asked why what I was doing was okay but pot wasn't, (when during a fight with son I went outside for a cigarette to calm down - we don't smoke in the house) I responded: I know cigarettes are a crutch and acknowlege that it is an addiction and we may need help to quit. (Differnce #1) I also know cigarettes are legal and pot is not, at least not where I live. (Difference #2) and finally, I could chain smoke a pack of cigarettes and, other than feeling a little sick, I could go back into my office and do my work, whereas smoking a single joint and you can't function like that. (Difference #3). Smoking a joint is not like drinking a beer - it's like drinking a six-pack. Someone who has one beer 3 or 4 times a week is probably just fine. Someone who gets drunk 3 or 4 times a week has a problem. That's the difference.
  14. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    A lot of good comments here. Yes pot can be very dangerous to those who are susceptible to addiction and I am quite certain my daughter would have been on heroin shortly if we had not interrupted that use by forcing her into rehab. The people she was hanging with and the trouble she was getting into would never have come to an end any other way. Those who say pot is not a gateway drug just don't understand addiction. Like alcohol, many people can drink moderately, even have some periods in their lives where they may drink too much, but they never become addicted and for the most part they realize the negative consequences it is causing and they moderate their use or cut it out all together. I have a relative who didn't like the way he acted or felt when he drank. He was a very responsible person with a good job, wonderful family and we never saw him out of control, but one day he just stopped drinking and hasn;t had a drop in 20 years. Sadly drugs cause much more harm very quickly.