Our 25 year old son is essentially lost to us right now. He has been down a long dark road that started in early high school when he began to use marijuana. He has continued to use it, but has progressed to abusing alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs of all kinds, and has had a screen addiction for years as well.
He is bright, funny, sweet, musically talented and highly intelligent. He was brought up in a loving healthy home in which we shared values of love, service to others, and a deep faith. He had plans to pursue a medical career in order to do something significant towards helping others and make a real difference. He graduated from high school only due to a lot of support, encouragement, and push from his family and committed educators at his school,( despite the fact that his standardized test scores were the highest in his class.)
He planned to go to a good college but withdrew before classes started that fall. He later made another attempt at college but quickly flunked out.
He moved into his own apartment, was working, and the substance abuse accelerated. We counseled and encouraged him to make better choices and when he refused, we just hoped and prayed that with experience and maturity, he would grow out of this phase.
We were totally shocked and unprepared when he had a complete psychotic break over 3 years ago. He spent a month in a psychiatric hospital and came out with a diagnosis of bipolar 1 and psychosis. Since then he has vacillated between manic episodes where he has done crazy and sometimes harmful things to himself and others, and deep depression. He has been suicidal several times. He has had numerous hospitalizations, been to many treatment facilities, and run through many physicians, counselors and other mental health professionals, all of whom he has rejected as not helpful. At this time he is in a psychotic state much of the time, believes that he does not need help, and often does not allow us to be involved in his life much. He seems like a different person.
He is now in such a compromised state that he can no longer drive a car or hold a job. Our hearts are broken to see him so disturbed and so unreachable. Most of our conversations with him these days are not based in reality, yet as much as he needs help, hospitals will only keep him involuntarily when he is a danger to himself or others.
He has admitted that marijuana causes him to be “lazy and unmotivated”, which we could clearly see happening, but none of us had any idea it could cause phychosis! We also didn’t know that the THC levels in marijuana are now so much higher than they once were until we were educated by friends who have experienced this with their loved ones. We have read Tell Your Children : The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence by Alex Berenson, and numerous articles and online resources, and our eyes are now opened to this painful reality. We’ve learned much that we wish we knew then and have to fight frustration and anger at the massive and misguided push to legalize, and even more so, to elevate the use of marijuana as a benign and helpful substance.