Pot: A Rite of Passage or A Port of Passage?

I awakened to a news report that marijuana usage is up by 80% in the United States–most of the increase is by teenage boys.

Close up shot of some high quality marijuana.

Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The report went on to say that parents are “looking the other way.”  The young users see their forage into the experimental world as less risky than using alcohol.

With the usage of marijuana in early, formative years, there is a much higher probability of increased drug use in later years, according to the research.

Survey: U.S. sees uptick in youth pot usage (washingtontimes.com)

This is what I know from my years of working with all ages of kids.

  1. The younger the child that uses mind seducing drugs (including alcohol), the higher the risk for continued practice of using drugs to eliminate or get relief from the reality of feelings and actions.  Here’s a story of a child who I worked with years ago:  I met and worked with “L” when he was 12 years old.  He had been using alcohol since he was 10.  With parental knowledge.  By 12, he was increasing his alcohol usage and had started to experiment with other drugs.  His goal was to alleviate feelings of inadequacy in every realm of his life.  It was easier to escape into the world of drugs than to learn how to cope with emotional stressers.  L was an alcoholic.  L was on his way to quickly go beyond the usage of pot to greater impacting drugs.  L saw his world from a very different perspective than most adults would ever guess, as he seemed “cool” and “charming.”
  2. Almost every kid I ever worked with, who had a drug issue, had started out by sipping alcohol, with parental knowledge.  As they matured into adolescents and wanted to retain their status within their peer group, they began to use easily obtained pot.  By the time I saw the kid, grades, friends, motivation, emotionality, perception of reality were all severely impacted.  Typically the adolescent had “given up” trying to find that within themselves that wanted to succeed in an culturally approved manner.  These kids often had an increased determination to “fight” to continue to cocoon themselves away from the “real world.”
  3. I don’t work with adults, other than to work with parents on behalf of their children, so I don’t have stories to tell about adults who started using as children.  What I do know, from my personal life, is that I’ve known adults who learned at an early age how to numb their feelings with drugs–gradually pulling themselves into a world that can not be faced in reality, but related to through a haze of drugs (remember alcohol is a part of the drug world).
  4. Our drug-related US culture encourages people to use both legal and illegal drugs.  (A baby is born every hour in the US addicted to opiates.  We are learning and practicing how to dull our pain, both physical and emotional with drugs.)

As parents, we must realize that drug usage is often not a Rite of Passage, but rather a Port of Passage.    We must mentor with our own actions and use our parental loving care and authority to teach our kids how to face the emotional realities of life without the use of numbing drugs.

Be gentle with yourself and your children.

 

 

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6 Responses to Pot: A Rite of Passage or A Port of Passage?

  1. I started drinking at 12 (tried it earlier than that), pot at 14 and struggled with addiction most of my life. Please encourage children to accept and deal with their feelings. Using drugs as an escape from reality, from what I felt really set me down a painful and harrowing path. I tell my 15 year old constantly that pot is a gateway drug and should not be treated lightly. Luckily he has not tried it and has me as an example of why to never use it.

    • dearfriends says:

      Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your own journey with us. Your honesty is so appreciated. And yes, please, help our children cope with feelings in a healthy way–not hiding or running away from them. All the best, Barb

  2. irishsignora says:

    I love this post. Before I retired to raise a family, I was a teacher for children with emotional and behavioral disorders, and I may have given myself whiplash nodding agreement with you. There’s a reason my husband and I have chosen to be the freaky people in our (Irish on my side, Italian on his side) families who will not allow our children to have the wee nip of beer or wine, or the alcohol-steeped fruit from a cocktail. You pretty much nailed that reason. Peace be with you! — Kelly

    • dearfriends says:

      Thank you for visiting. I believe that we need to teach our children about how to respect the use of alcohol. I knew of a family who denied all alcohol to their children. When their oldest child left to attend college, she wanted to “fit in” and so agreed to try some alcohol. She had been taught to completely abstain, for fear of becoming an “addict.” Tragically she had not been taught that a one time over-indulgence of experimentation could bring about death. We need to teach our children the encompassing issues of using alcohol and other drugs. We also need to continue this conversation as they mature, teaching them more about drug usage, our own fears, and YES about how to cope with FEELINGS in a healthy way. So glad you wrote and gave us additional thoughts on the “why’s” of parenting around alcohol and other drugs. Barb

      • irishsignora says:

        I actually agree that, as children mature, they need to be taught how to enjoy alcohol responsibly; that said, since our eldest is not yet five, we don’t think ours are quite mature enough yet 😉

      • dearfriends says:

        One of my favorite parenting axioms is “we are always on stage.” Meaning that little eyes take in a lot of information about their worlds, to the tenth power when it comes to watching parents. Even when we don’t know we are teaching, little eyes are learning. So while I agree that a conversation directly with a five year old might have higher expectations than she can developmentally understand, your conversations and actions around alcohols/drugs will sift in and make a great impression. Thanks for visiting and commenting–our collective conversations build and enhance community. Barb

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