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Pot Use and Launching A Loved One Into Adulthood


Allies member Easy commiserates with another member about their Loved Ones saying one thing and doing another… Lack of motivation and testing the limits at home can push the envelope as family members look at what they will and won’t support in a Loved One’s transition from teenager to adulthood.

This sounds so familiar! My 17 year old son uses weed and nicotine every afternoon and night after school. He will SAY so may things, good things that make us feel hopeful, (I'm going to apply at DD for a job, I want to join this sports team, etc.) but not follow through, because really, the only thing he wants to do after school is to hang out with friends, play video games and get high. I am so grateful that he has figured out to wait until after school to smoke, and also grateful that he goes to high school, but what to do about acquisition of independence skills? He will be a senior next year… Read the full comment here.

In the moment you said out loud that you love your son less when he smokes. He was taken aback. For a split second, your son felt your that your love for him was conditional. He may have never before considered that this could be so.

How wonderfully jarring. (Across from my keyboard, I can see this without huge emotion and more strategically  – I do like the idea of jarring him even just momentarily).

In a redo, I might suggest you make the distinction between unconditionally loving your son, and not loving his drug use. “I hate your drug use; I’m at war with it.”

You have an opportunity to clarify your statement. “You know when I said I love you less I was wrong, I love you 100% forever, it’s the pot I hate unconditionally (or your relationship with the pot that I hate, etc). I am here when you are ready to do something about the pot use, in the mean time, please continue to smoke outside. I don’t want my trust in you to evaporate because I suspect you are smoking in your room.”

Pot really does dash motivation. Do I go do X or do I sit here and enjoy my free-wheeling mind? I’m sure many family members on this site will nod their heads in recognition of how this can play out with their Loved Ones.

I wouldn’t get too caught up trying to figure out whether the Jule is loaded with nicotine or pot. To know this you’d have to work backwards, getting the Jule to a store and asking. You’d be finding out whether he used in some recent past, which isn’t as helpful from a CRAFT perspective. It would end up being a waste of your valuable energy.

I’d rather you look at your son and his actions right now. Continue to work with your awareness in the moment: is my son high or not? And respond accordingly. Keep up the good work using these CRAFT skills, making the shifts in your behavior when you see him being high vs. not being high.

You’re at a point where many parents find themselves, when your child is on the launching pad to adulthood but the drug use is preventing a full takeoff. It’s a period loaded with what if’s, predictions of failure and danger for the future – yours as well has his.

Learning Module 7 does a good job of showing us how we can distort our own thinking, heavily weighing it towards the negative, and a future that hasn’t yet happened. Pull in the mind. Keep up your moment to moment assessment of your son. Keep rewarding him when he looks straight.

You can start formulating a plan for transitioning your son out of the house. What would it look like incrementally… would there be help from you financially or otherwise? Give him some time periods to help anchor the strategy. Everyone should be clear that there is a time when the comforts of your home come to an end, including the free food, cable, not needing to pull one’s own weight with a job, etc. This discussion helps shine a light on all that he does enjoy at home now. Putting this on the table – and emphasizing a partnership in the process, as opposed to a power play – helps you both see what can be packaged into a plan for independence at the end of high school.

It’s interesting how many perspectives can be used to look at any one situation. In some ways, his transparency with you regarding his use – you both know that’s what he’s going outside to do – can be seen as a positive. Reverting to secrecy can so fundamentally erode the trust in any relationship. Of course it’s also problematic, and you have the clarity to see connections between his use and his lack of motivation… He isn’t ready to acknowledge that connection yet. Of course that’s frustrating.

Most teenagers are yearning in some way to assert their independence and test the waters of adulthood. This is a journey that can last for years. We all know this is a transformation that doesn’t happen overnight. But right now, there are still plenty of positives to emphasize and celebrate, however small they may be. It’s easy to take things for granted, especially in the heat of the moment. But make sure to remind yourself of the small wins and the big picture of your situation when you can. The less antagonistic your exchanges are in general, the greater the chance that he will be open to communicating with you about the big things when he’s ready to go there. Keep making that bridge strong, and practicing CRAFT in the moment. Thank you for sharing this with us. We have so much to learn from each other.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Yes, we have so much to learn from each other. I relate so much with your post, Easy, the age, the drug, the attitude. Thank you for writing in so I could read this great response.

    The response reminds me to stay focused on the positive while maintaining my boundaries. It’s so easy to get sucked in and focus on the negative,because of our disappointment, frustration and hurt. I’m trying really hard to set aside these feelings and focus on the positives with my son. Although he uses daily, too, there are chunks of time during the day when I know he’s not high, so I try to take advantage of this and have positive interactions with him. I find that I also recognize his good qualities much more, which can be overshadowed by my disdain for his SUD. Seeing his good qualities reminds me that he’s still in there.

    This isn’t easy, especially when I discover he’s used or going out to use, but I’m learning to give myself space and time to feel and process the sense of hurt and disappointment so that I can regroup and step in, when appropriate, in an authentic and sincere way. Sometimes this takes longer than other times, but it does feel liberating to release control over something I now realize I have no control over, and subsequently my sense of despair no longer consumes me.

    We want so much for our sons, and Emily’s reminder that our son’s are still young and have much to learn reminds me to be patient. So, I stay hopeful that my son will figure it out one day and I am anxiously awaiting for the day that he does.

    Thank you AIR for providing this platform for us to share and learn from each other. Hang in there Easy.