Kevin — September 8, 2022

Hi Laura.
My name is Kevin O’Bannon and I ran across your story on The Addiction Podcast – Point of No Return.  I was searching for something to set my mind at ease.  Let me tell you my story, if that’s okay.  My wife and I have a 17-year old son that is in a residential treatment center in Utah.  He has been in treatment (wilderness programs & residential treatment) in Utah since October of last year.  When he was in 8th grade (at the age of 14), he was suspended from school for 2 weeks due to getting caught with a dab pin. This was in February of 2020, right before Spring Break and right before the pandemic shut down the schools.  Since then, marijuana has been his drug of choice and it got so bad that before he left, he was heavily using marijuana pretty much every day for 3-4 months.  He would get so desperate that if he was out of marijuana, he would steal extra Adderall from our pantry and binge on Adderall so he at least had something to ease his marijuana withdrawals.  He also tried opioids a couple of times. He was going to a drug counselor ever since he got suspended from school and finally the counselor recommended inpatient treatment.  This is when we hired an educational consultant and they recommended a wilderness program in Utah.

The reason I was searching for something to ease my mind is that my wife and I have been constantly second guessing ourselves about if we are doing to right thing.  Because of the fact that other teens are in these treatment programs for more “serious” drugs and behaviors.  Sometimes we thing are we making too big of a deal about marijuana, because of the false notion that marijuana isn’t that big of a deal.  It’s also tough because I feel like some people judge us and think we are going overboard.  We’ve heard, “So he’s in Utah because of marijuana?”.  My wife even had  some of her friends even try to convince her that we are making too big of a deal about it and that all kids experiment with it.  What I am learning, thanks to my research (including your resources), is that these views are out of ignorance because people don’t know the facts.  So I just really want to say a big “Thank you” for helping me to feel so much more at peace with our son being away from home for this long.  I am really at peace because I know that he isn’t using and his brain is healing.   I am in the process of listening to your book on Audible.  I also think that I have found a really big purpose in my life, and that is to educate others about the dangers of this drug.  I haven’t figured out how to do this yet, so if you have any suggestions, I would love them.  I know that Missouri is close to voting on legalizing marijuana, and there is a lawsuit to knock it off the ballot.  Protect Our Kids PAC (out of Colorado) is helping to support this lawsuit.  I plan on figuring out how I can help.  I will definitely be writing my politicians on this.

Anyway,  I believe that this is such a huge issue and it’s the future mental health of our youth.  And that’s why I am so grateful that you are doing what you are doing.

Thank you!
Kevin

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