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Addicts Are Often the Last to See the “Problem”

answered 01:59 AM EST, Tue May 15, 2012
RobinW RobinW Firestone
My friend has been smoking pot for many years, her family and marriage are falling apart and now she thinks everyone is against her and she feels alone. She recently started sharing her pot with her teenage son. How do I schedule an intervention properly? Several people in her family deny that she has a problem, I think they are in denial about it altogether. How do I help? The husband has cried out for help.

Delisted Expert Says...

Your friend could be heavily reliant or dependent on marijuana. Marijuana is often considered a natural and “harmless” plant comparable to tobacco. In my years of providing substance abuse treatment, I can report that marijuana is a highly effective drug which wipes out the user’s feelings and can affect his/her best thinking. Marijuana is a mild hallucinogen and has similar disinhibiting and depressant properties of alcohol. For more information about marijuana, go to these websites:

www.acde.org/common/Marijana.htm
www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/pdf/marijuana_myths_facts.pdf

These are the known dangers of marijuana use:

  • Impaired perception
  • Diminished short-term memory
  • Reduces learning abilities
  • Loss of concentration and coordination
  • Impaired judgment
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • Loss of motivation
  • Diminished inhibitions
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Damage to the respiratory, reproductive, and immune systems
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Psychological dependency

With most substance abuse, significant relationships are affected and often disrupted. Depression, anxiety, and social isolation are common for marijuana users/abusers as they rely more on their use of marijuana rather than their relations with people. In this isolation, the users/abusers do find others who will accept them along with their drug use. For these reasons and more, it is not surprising that your friend’s son is smoking marijuana with his mother. 

The way to help your friend would be for you to talk with her husband and other supportive family members for the purpose of arranging an assessment with a substance abuse professional and/or arrange an intervention for treatment. Planning an intervention would require the identification and participation of any family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, professionals and any others who have a deep concern and knowledge of your friend’s substance abuse and deteriorating behaviors. These individuals would have to agree that your friend has a substance abuse problem, have evidence that her substance abuse has been harmful, and would be willing to ask your friend to go into treatment. Some treatment centers will provide a free assessment of your friend’s substance abuse problem and could offer intervention services, at no or some cost. In some cases, families turn to private professional interventionist(s) to plan and execute the intervention. If your friend’s husband wants to direct an intervention himself, here are some resources: 

http://www.drug-rehabilitation.org/intervention.php
http://www.intervention.com/faqfintv.html
http://www.arctreatment.com/blog-addiction-los-angeles-drug-rehab/how-to-conduct-an-intervention/

The remaining concern I have is for your friend’s son. With his mother modeling the use/abuse of marijuana and providing him with the drug, this son could have devastating effects on the major areas of his life. Without knowing the age of her son, this mother could be contributing to the delinquency of a minor, if he is a minor. This mother could be reported and charged if anyone reported this. Both mother and son could face legal problems for use of an illicit drug, i.e., marijuana, if this was ever brought to the attention of the local authorities. Please do not rule the son’s need for a substance abuse assessment and/or treatment as well. His welfare should be considered as well.

I hope you find this response helpful to your question. If I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

All the best,

John W. O’Neal, Ed.S., MSW, MA, LPC, NCC

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Page last updated May 15, 2012

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