If Someone You Know Has a Problem With Marijuana

Reviewed Nov 28, 2016

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Summary

  • Tell him you care about him.
  • Do not preach.
  • Be a good role model.
  • Help him find healthy, positive ways to spend his time.

You and your friend go way back. Over the years, you two have been through thick and thin together. But, recently, he has changed. He no longer wants to go out and do things with you, but just stays home, smoking pot, watching television or playing video games. Long ago, you shared laughs and a few dreams, but today, you are lucky if he ever responds to your calls or emails. It’s as if he were drifting through life on a small life raft. Fortunately, for him, his parents support him.

It could be worse. Your friend might be using pot with other drugs, or drinking alcohol at the same time. Once a real go-getter, he no longer seems interested in anything but getting high.

You think your friend has a serious problem, but do not know how to help, or if you should.

Marijuana use disorder is not life-threatening, but life-limiting. Your friend may be throwing away the best years of his life. He may also be putting himself at risk for serious medical conditions, such as lung cancer, serious mental illness or injury from an accident he has while high.

Your friend needs two kinds of help:

  1. The assurance that you care about and support him
  2. The help with a drug problem that only a professional can give

You may not be able to cure him, but you might be able to move him in the direction of getting the help he needs.

What to do and say

Here are ways you can help your friend—before, during or after he is in a treatment program:

  1. Don’t moralize. He probably never intended to turn over his life and dreams to pot. If he inherited a genetic vulnerability to addiction, he had little control over getting addicted.
  2. Be a role model. Let him see what a healthy, well-balanced life looks like and how good it can be to be sober.
  3. Don’t enable his drug use or tempt him with other substances. Do not offer her a beer in place of a joint.
  4. Listen to him. Don’t preach, but let him do most of the talking.
  5. Do not tell him jokes about getting high. Avoid movies and music that glorify substance use or abuse.
  6. Know that he may need medical help.
  7. Follow good hygiene, sleep and nutrition practices. He will notice.
  8. Get him into healthy surroundings. Don’t meet your friend in a bar or any place where people drink or use drugs. Go to a park, movie theater, beach or a family restaurant, instead.
  9. Let your friend talk, and talk and talk.
  10. Don’t ask too many questions or analyze the situation.
  11. Stress that a drug problem is nothing to be ashamed of.
  12. Help him ask for help. Offer to find places to get help, such as support groups, local helplines and treatment programs. Offer to go with your friend on the first visit, if he likes.
  13. Be positive. There are millions of people who have overcome problems with drugs.
  14. Remind him that he is not alone, and may have more people who love him than he realizes
  15. Help him find joy and build self-esteem in places and situations that do not involve drugs or alcohol.
  16. Ask, what can I do for you as a friend? You might want to develop a crisis plan and discuss it together. Tell him you will check in on him every now and then.
By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Jenny Karstad, MA, LADC, LCMHC, clinical supervisor, Brattleboro Retreat Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Center, Brattleboro, VT; Joseph Lee, MD, psychiatrist, medical director for youth services and national advocate for adolescent addiction and mental health issues, Hazelden Addiction Treatment Centers, Minneapolis, MN; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, clinical director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare Centers, Danville, CA; Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs, Long Beach, CA
Reviewed by Arkady Bilenko, MD, Vice President, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Tell him you care about him.
  • Do not preach.
  • Be a good role model.
  • Help him find healthy, positive ways to spend his time.

You and your friend go way back. Over the years, you two have been through thick and thin together. But, recently, he has changed. He no longer wants to go out and do things with you, but just stays home, smoking pot, watching television or playing video games. Long ago, you shared laughs and a few dreams, but today, you are lucky if he ever responds to your calls or emails. It’s as if he were drifting through life on a small life raft. Fortunately, for him, his parents support him.

It could be worse. Your friend might be using pot with other drugs, or drinking alcohol at the same time. Once a real go-getter, he no longer seems interested in anything but getting high.

You think your friend has a serious problem, but do not know how to help, or if you should.

Marijuana use disorder is not life-threatening, but life-limiting. Your friend may be throwing away the best years of his life. He may also be putting himself at risk for serious medical conditions, such as lung cancer, serious mental illness or injury from an accident he has while high.

Your friend needs two kinds of help:

  1. The assurance that you care about and support him
  2. The help with a drug problem that only a professional can give

You may not be able to cure him, but you might be able to move him in the direction of getting the help he needs.

What to do and say

Here are ways you can help your friend—before, during or after he is in a treatment program:

  1. Don’t moralize. He probably never intended to turn over his life and dreams to pot. If he inherited a genetic vulnerability to addiction, he had little control over getting addicted.
  2. Be a role model. Let him see what a healthy, well-balanced life looks like and how good it can be to be sober.
  3. Don’t enable his drug use or tempt him with other substances. Do not offer her a beer in place of a joint.
  4. Listen to him. Don’t preach, but let him do most of the talking.
  5. Do not tell him jokes about getting high. Avoid movies and music that glorify substance use or abuse.
  6. Know that he may need medical help.
  7. Follow good hygiene, sleep and nutrition practices. He will notice.
  8. Get him into healthy surroundings. Don’t meet your friend in a bar or any place where people drink or use drugs. Go to a park, movie theater, beach or a family restaurant, instead.
  9. Let your friend talk, and talk and talk.
  10. Don’t ask too many questions or analyze the situation.
  11. Stress that a drug problem is nothing to be ashamed of.
  12. Help him ask for help. Offer to find places to get help, such as support groups, local helplines and treatment programs. Offer to go with your friend on the first visit, if he likes.
  13. Be positive. There are millions of people who have overcome problems with drugs.
  14. Remind him that he is not alone, and may have more people who love him than he realizes
  15. Help him find joy and build self-esteem in places and situations that do not involve drugs or alcohol.
  16. Ask, what can I do for you as a friend? You might want to develop a crisis plan and discuss it together. Tell him you will check in on him every now and then.
By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Jenny Karstad, MA, LADC, LCMHC, clinical supervisor, Brattleboro Retreat Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Center, Brattleboro, VT; Joseph Lee, MD, psychiatrist, medical director for youth services and national advocate for adolescent addiction and mental health issues, Hazelden Addiction Treatment Centers, Minneapolis, MN; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, clinical director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare Centers, Danville, CA; Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs, Long Beach, CA
Reviewed by Arkady Bilenko, MD, Vice President, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Tell him you care about him.
  • Do not preach.
  • Be a good role model.
  • Help him find healthy, positive ways to spend his time.

You and your friend go way back. Over the years, you two have been through thick and thin together. But, recently, he has changed. He no longer wants to go out and do things with you, but just stays home, smoking pot, watching television or playing video games. Long ago, you shared laughs and a few dreams, but today, you are lucky if he ever responds to your calls or emails. It’s as if he were drifting through life on a small life raft. Fortunately, for him, his parents support him.

It could be worse. Your friend might be using pot with other drugs, or drinking alcohol at the same time. Once a real go-getter, he no longer seems interested in anything but getting high.

You think your friend has a serious problem, but do not know how to help, or if you should.

Marijuana use disorder is not life-threatening, but life-limiting. Your friend may be throwing away the best years of his life. He may also be putting himself at risk for serious medical conditions, such as lung cancer, serious mental illness or injury from an accident he has while high.

Your friend needs two kinds of help:

  1. The assurance that you care about and support him
  2. The help with a drug problem that only a professional can give

You may not be able to cure him, but you might be able to move him in the direction of getting the help he needs.

What to do and say

Here are ways you can help your friend—before, during or after he is in a treatment program:

  1. Don’t moralize. He probably never intended to turn over his life and dreams to pot. If he inherited a genetic vulnerability to addiction, he had little control over getting addicted.
  2. Be a role model. Let him see what a healthy, well-balanced life looks like and how good it can be to be sober.
  3. Don’t enable his drug use or tempt him with other substances. Do not offer her a beer in place of a joint.
  4. Listen to him. Don’t preach, but let him do most of the talking.
  5. Do not tell him jokes about getting high. Avoid movies and music that glorify substance use or abuse.
  6. Know that he may need medical help.
  7. Follow good hygiene, sleep and nutrition practices. He will notice.
  8. Get him into healthy surroundings. Don’t meet your friend in a bar or any place where people drink or use drugs. Go to a park, movie theater, beach or a family restaurant, instead.
  9. Let your friend talk, and talk and talk.
  10. Don’t ask too many questions or analyze the situation.
  11. Stress that a drug problem is nothing to be ashamed of.
  12. Help him ask for help. Offer to find places to get help, such as support groups, local helplines and treatment programs. Offer to go with your friend on the first visit, if he likes.
  13. Be positive. There are millions of people who have overcome problems with drugs.
  14. Remind him that he is not alone, and may have more people who love him than he realizes
  15. Help him find joy and build self-esteem in places and situations that do not involve drugs or alcohol.
  16. Ask, what can I do for you as a friend? You might want to develop a crisis plan and discuss it together. Tell him you will check in on him every now and then.
By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Jenny Karstad, MA, LADC, LCMHC, clinical supervisor, Brattleboro Retreat Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Center, Brattleboro, VT; Joseph Lee, MD, psychiatrist, medical director for youth services and national advocate for adolescent addiction and mental health issues, Hazelden Addiction Treatment Centers, Minneapolis, MN; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, clinical director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare Centers, Danville, CA; Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs, Long Beach, CA
Reviewed by Arkady Bilenko, MD, Vice President, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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