It’s just marijuana. The problem with denial

“It’s just marijuana. It’s not like he’s doing heroin or meth.”

“I can’t worry about pot and drinking? We all did it in high school.”

“We didn’t want him to get arrested so we let him smoke marijuana at home. It’s a harmless drug.”

“His anxiety is so bad, we let him smoke marijuana.”

“My son is not smoking marijuana. His grades are perfect and he’s just not the type.”

I have heard parents say all of the above statements, dismissing marijuana as harmless. But today’s pot is far stronger than the seventies pot and as an illegal drug for those under 18, there is no regulation as to what’s in it. And while addiction experts rarely agree on everything, they do agree that substances are not good for the developing brains of teens and young adults.

Giving your underage child permission to use substances means you run almost double the risk of their becoming addicted since they are more vulnerable to substance use disorder during their brain development years. Pot also lowers inhibitions for kids to try other substances. And worst of all, studies show it triggers psychosis and schizophrenia (permanent changes).

That’s dangerous in a culture where drug use for dealing with emotional and physical pain is so normalized.

Add to that equation, the caffeine, stimulants, and other energy drinks that often keep kids up longer, increasing their risk for overuse and overdose of other substances. While I believe marijuana should be decriminalized for those over 21 which means eliminating criminal penalties for or removing legal restrictions against possession, that doesn’t mean I think it’s harmless.

It was a gateway drug for my son and it is for a lot of kids struggling with trauma, problems at home mental illness. Those with a family history of addiction have an even higher risk of early addiction. All of this increases a child’s suicide risk.

Mobile phones allow kids to live secret lives parents know nothing about. And while parents can’t necessarily stop drug abuse, it’s a good idea to make it more difficult with home and phone restrictions and having a conversation to let teens know where they stand.

Denial that “It’s not my kid,” or denial about the seriousness of the substance to the brains of our children puts them at risk for relationship problems, prison, and early death.

People don’t start with heroin. They graduate to more concentrated forms of marijuana and other hard drugs. Which means we can’t dismiss marijuana as harmless.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

6 thoughts on “It’s just marijuana. The problem with denial”

  1. You are spot on! I concur with every single thing you mentioned! As a former detox and juvie nurse, I have never had a patient with substance use disorder who didn’t start with marijuana at an early age.

      1. It typically starts with what you have in your home which is why alcohol and cigarettes are the primary gateway drugs. Some do start with marijuana. It’s the normalization of it all that makes them think it’s nothing. None of them are good for a developing brain.

  2. You are 100% correct. If I hadn’t been so woefully naive, I could have seen it and would have attepted to thwart it. My son DID graduate to pills and a few other substances, with ugly results. His argument was always, “alcohol is way worse”. I don’t drink but his father does. So I not only lost battles, I lost the war. My FA supprt group helped. I have made a reluctant peace with his choices, but the sadness and regret roll in like a fog nearly every day.

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