Our Empathic Nature

The Altruistic Side of Evolutionary Psychology

How to Get Off Marijuana

How to get off marijuana and deal with the depression that follows: Steps to take that will make it easier. Read More

marijuana addiction

my son has been smoking this for quite a number of years, his friends do it so its a keep in the group ,cool thing to do.
as a concerned mum i want to help him get off it but he refuses to let me in
. is there any sort of step by step guide, training , of such to get off this he can follow
from a heart renched mum watching him crumble away

to Leanne

If only there was a guidebook: "How to Help Your Adult Child Whose Using Drugs" for parents, friends, partners, other loved ones...a step by step training as you mention. But there isn't. There is an amazing program, "Al-Anon" which is for loved ones of addicts and alcoholics --and it's great, it tells you over and over to stop focusing on the addict and instead focus on yourself. While that is good advice for everyone, there is the parent's sense of responsibility to at least be aware of the condition their children are in, no matter how old they are. Many say this is an "overly-enmeshed" mother or father but I don't quite agree with that perspective. Parents (often but not always the mother) don't want to spend all their time worrying --they do it when something is really wrong, when their child --young or adult-- is sick. So your concern and heart break is quite normal, it's signaling you that you son is in trouble. That said, there is probably little you can do with him directly but have faith in him that he will pull through this. Obviously you've been a concerned and involved parent, you've loved him and somehow int he end, that means more than you can imagine.

While I'm saying I don't think there is anything you can do directly with your son, there are a few things you can do for yourself and your household. First, if anyone is "using" any mind altering substances in your household (and that includes alcohol) tell them to stop, not to do it in your home. This brings a very powerful message to adult children. Second, go to Al-Anon and really do your own program. If anyone tells you you're "worrying to much" ignore him or her. Find a sponsor who has gone through this with her children. You have to worry, its normal. But when a parent goes into Al-Anon something amazing happens in the whole family --its like bringing the message of recovery to every family member. It has some kind of domino effect and i've seen this so often. Your son will see you change, however that goes --maybe less anxiety, maybe you'll get less depressed and worried, but working a program changes people, it just works. I think this is by far the most powerful thing you can do. Try it and see what happens --its free, it definitely can't harm you, and if you live in a community where there are no Al-Anon meetings, they now have them and lots of them online.

I hope this helps you at least a little. You can of course also seek out a counselor or psychotherapist who knows something about drugs, if that interests you although it can be quite costly. And there is nothing like hearing the stories from people who have gone what you're going through. This is really how AA and NA work as well. So these are my suggestions --there is no guide book, every person, every "case" and every addict is different, so how you do this is going to be specific to you, but try to get to Al-anon and talk to people, and see what happens!

It's tough

First, I would like to say thank you so much to Dr. O'Connor for writing articles about marijuana addiction. I've spent the past year trying to quit after smoking daily for 14 years. Which has seen me relapse twice.

Next, to Leanne, I think the best avenue is to be supportive and offer help. Maybe take your son to AA or MA meetings, to see a professional, or just talk to a former addict. I can speak from experience that ignoring the problem is a terrible thing to do. When my mother found me smoking weed back when I was a teenager, she did not offer help, in fact she kicked me out the house. Even after making amends she still ignored my drug problem like the rest of my family. If I would have received counseling or therapy or analysis for depression, things may have been different.

Sometimes people are wary of letting other people take control of their lives. One of the main reasons I liked smoking was because it let be choose how I felt instead of any circumstances outside of myself. So it's important for you to show your son that he is the one who makes the active decision to quit and that you will be supportive but not intrusive.


Hi David: Thanks for your response to me and to Leanne. As you'll see from my reply above, I suggest that rather than Leanne try to take her son to a meeting, she get into Al-Anon herself --I have seen this be the most effective thing a parent or partner or other loved one can do. It is so hard to stop smoking marijuana --Its far more addictive than people realize, and the tricky thing is that some people can really smoke once in a while and then leave it alone for a long time, whereas other people can't do that, they become addicted. I think you are right that Leanne's son would not like her to tell him what to do, but by her going into recovery in Al-Anon, she is sending a powerful message. If your family had done that, you wouldn't have felt so alone with your marijuana addiction. You show enormous strength in how you've been hanging in there while struggling with this drug. I am sure you know to go to AA and/or NA yourself, there is nothing more helpful really. And know that marijuana withdrawal has physical symptoms --they seem all emotional, but really they are physical and represent neurological changes. For example when recovering addict had a huge craving for their drug --well it turns out that their body temperature has just dropped, right before or as the craving comes on. The person is not aware of it, but that's how physical this disease of addiction really is. Keep on keeping on, I know how hard it is to get off and stay off marijuana --but it sound like you are really doing it!


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Lynn E. O’Connor, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, Professor at the Wright Institute, Berkeley CA, and Director of the Emotion, Personality, and Altruism Research Group. more...

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