Jahnu P. — May 18, 2021

We are a first generation immigrant family. We migrated to America for a brighter future for our children. We worked tirelessly so we could afford to move to a town with top notch public schools. It was all going according to plan until our eldest son got to high school. We notice his grades starting slipping. His attitude towards the family also started to change. Since he was our oldest child, we attribute the change to normal teenage behavior. However, by 11th grade, it had become obvious there was something very abnormal happening. He started to threaten to kill people. He started getting violent and destroying things around the house. Additionally, he’d find the smallest of reasons to skip school. As a family, we had placed the highest priority on education. I started to look all around for the answers. I reached out to friends and family, his school guidance counselor. Through the process, I learned how kids are innocently roped into drugs by consuming what appears to candies, but laced with marijuana. My son has always been a very unassuming child. He tries hard to fit in. We suspect this path led him down to vaping. Our fears were confirmed when we found vaping pens and cartridges hidden in his backpack. When confronted, he would always make excuses that it did not belong to him. The harder we tried to separate him from hanging around with his friends and vaping marijuana, the more he started to rebel. We tried to control his afterschool activity, but he always figured out a way to stay after school for one reason or another. Several times after an argument, he’d leave the house in winter without proper clothing. He was willing to freeze to death but not give in. At that point, we had to ease up. We started to seek professional help. We got him to accompany us a few times but then subsequently refused to go. It’s hard to force a 17 year old to do something against his will. We continue to preach about the dangers of marijuana use/vaping. The damage that is already done is hard to reverse. He continues to struggle along in academics and life in general. Our childhood dreams of him have been shattered. Additionally, this has caused severe distress within the family. My wife has developed anxiety as a result of this experience. This was a wake up call for us. We are immigrant, well educated, middle class, strict hindu, vegetarian, non alcohol consuming, never exposed to any type of drug use family. There are no stereotypes or bounds, this can happen to anybody.

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