EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 10, 2013

'Mary Jane is a difficult friend'

Dear Doctor,

We have a son who argues with us that pot is not addictive. He says it adds to his life and does him no harm. Since both my husband and I smoked some when we were younger, we are not sure what to say.


Dear Mom,

You are asking two questions. First, you want to know about the addictive aspects of pot. Second, you are asking what to do about your son.

In my opinion pot can be very addictive. Some say it is “psychologically” very addictive but not “physiologically.” This differentiation holds little comfort for me.

There are four groups of pot smokers. The first is the experimenter. They try it a few times and probably like it but make a decision to leave it alone. Second, there are the intermittent users, those who smoke, often more socially, from time to time. They usually abandon pot as a part of their life once the school years are completed. These two groups comprise the majority of smokers. Third, there are the devoted pot smokers. They cannot imagine life without it. They use it to cope with anxiety and stress. Some use it throughout life. Finally, there is the small but worrisome minority who use pot as an introduction to more serious drug use.

The problem is prediction. Who knows what group a young person may be in? Therefore, it seems to me a parent has a tough job. Keep talking, not editorializing and preaching. Make it clear you find the habit destructive. Do not enable. Granted you may not be able to keep your youngster from pot, but you can neither encourage or support it.

Things to watch for are simple: Kid lose the edge. In work, school, sports, and friends. There are clear changes. Everything will become focused on what I call the ““pot freedom torch.” Get help. It does not always work, but try. Mary Jane is a difficult friend to have.

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, you can e-mail Dr. Larsen at lrryllrsn@CS.com.

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