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My 23 Year Old Son Has Brought Pot Into Our Home - What to do?

My 23 year old son has brought pot into our home when he knows that I am not in agreement and has previously agreed not to do so:

Here is a summary of the specifics:

1. We live on the East Coast. About three years ago he was dismissed with medical leave from a school on the West Coast for a problem with alcohol. I suspect, but am not sure, that he began experimenting with pot at that time.

2. He came home and attended an outpatient alcohol rehab program. It was part of the requirements to being readmitted to his school.

3. He resented having to attend and contended that he did not/does not have a problem. He did, however, complete rehab.

4. With the exception of one relapse early on, it looked as though there was no problem.

5. He decided not to return to school on the West Coast, enrolled in community college, dropped out, started his own business, and then re-enrolled.

6. We(his parents) agreed he could stay at home rent free as long as he either worked or went to school and stayed clean and sober.

7. He has had intermittent issues with anger and has recently begun counseling to deal with it.

8. I am a minister. The church I pastor agreed to let him use space for his personal training business. In January he was caught with pot and alcohol in a backpack that he left in the restroom while conducting a class.

9. The elders met and decided that his business would have to be evicted from the building. They met with him and communicated the news. He did not take it well and has remained resentful and says that they have been over-reactive and judgemental.

10.He defends the use of pot saying that it is less addictive than alcohol, and that he only occasionally has used and that it has more positive benefits than negative effects.

11. I have told him that I do not agree, but regardless, it is illegal and is not to be brought into my home or transported in my vehicles.

12. He agreed. I have asked him at least twice since then if he was staying away from weed and especially keeping it out of my home. He assured me he was.

13. Two days ago I returned to the house early after a doctor's appt. and thought I smelled something strange. No one was home.

14. I decided to check his room and in his closet in a humidor were two jars with marijuana.

15. I have informed my wife but we have not yet confronted him. We want to respond, not just react, so we decided to take a few days to formulate our response and confront him this weekend.

16. He will be offended and angry that I went into his room and went through his stuff. He made a big deal out of violation of personal property when his back pack was opened at church.

17. He has been accepted into a college in Texas and will be leaving in early August.

18. I do not want to hurt his chances to go there. Quite bluntly, I want him out of our basement and on his own.

19. I feel much more strongly about the use of pot than his mom and this has made me more hesitant to act in the past. However, this time, from our conversations so far, I think we are on the same page.

20. Here are some things I have suggested, though she is yet to "sign off" on them. She says she needs time to think it through.

a. In January we expressed disappointment in his bad choices and "talked this through" with him. He initially agreed to go counseling and then backed down. He is now going to counseling, though he has switched counselors because the first one was a pastor and seemed to him to have a "condemning attitude toward what he did in January". I helped him find another counselor who seems valid, though I have no clue about his views on pot use nor do I know what my son is telling him.

b. Based on the above, I think there needs to consequences to his deception and disrespect by bringing pot into my home after agreeing not to. I am not sure of those consequences yet. I have thought about imposing a financial fine on him ... not sure.

c. I also feel that he needs to understand that his "get out of jail free" card was used with us in January. In addition to consequences for this violation of trust, if he decides to deceive/violate trust again he will be immediately evicted from the house. I will give him a nominal amount of money for meals and one night's lodging, I will also buy him a bus ticket if he wants to leave town. That's it. He is free to visit his mom and I as long as he not he is not drunk or high. He cannot ask for any more help because I do not want to continue to enable his behavior.

d. If he stays clean and makes it to college in Texas he is to understand that if he gets expelled, arrested, etc. I will not bail him out. He will have to figure it out. He will always be loved by me. He will not be financially supported by me if he makes choices that are bad and harmful.

Finally, perhaps I am a deceived parent. I have been watching him closely since January and saw no signs of struggling or addiction until now. Now I am left to wonder if he is using recreationally and occasionally or if the pot has come to mean so much to him that he is crafty at hiding his addiction and willing to lie to, disrespect and deceive his own parents and others in order to have it around.

I do not want to be in denial. I also do not want to overreact. I know he will argue about pot's addictive qualities, and harmfulness. He will also make an issue out of me violating his privacy (something I have not done before now).

I do not want to be distracted by that. Pot is illegal. He broke the rule he agreed to. He must face consequences for doing so. Beyond that how can I know if he is addicted and how can I help him as a 23 year old if he refuses to admit that using pot has become a problem for him?

I have attempted to respect him as an adult by not arguing with him on his views on pot and legalization. I have asked him to respect me as an adult by realizing it is still an illegal substance and has no place in my home.

Until now I thought this was working. I now feel disrespected and betrayed and am beginning to wonder if his problem runs deeper than I/we have detected and that he is willing to admit. Sorry for the long email, but PLEASE HELP!!! Answer

This is less about whether marijuana is good or bad, and more about your son's behavior in choosing not to abide by the ground rules you have set, which you have every right to do since it is your home.

Many people use marijuana successfully and it never becomes a problem, and it certainly is a lot less damaging and dangerous than alcohol. However to think it entirely harmless is also not true, and some users do become addicted and their personalities are radically altered from overuse, and can lead to personality disorders like schizophrenia.

But you're never going to convince someone that is pro marijuana that they shouldn't be using it because the general perception is just too great that its a harmless, non-addictive drug ... especially in relation to really dangerous, damaging and highly addictive substances like alcohol, heroin, cocaine etc.

The issue here is about boundaries. You have every right to set certain boundaries for your son while he's leaving at home ... and if one of those is not to have pot on the premises at all, then you're entitled to do so and its for your son to respect that.

And since your son did break his promise and cross that boundary, then yes there should be consequences enforced, and its up to you and your wife to decide what you think is appropriate. The fact that you're giving it a few days to mull over is also a good idea so you don't let your emotions get the better of you.

What is boils down to is that your son is an adult and you have no control over the choices he makes, so if he wants to smoke pot he's going to. You simply can't stop him. And the only reason he'll ever want to quit is because he wants to, whatever the reason (good or bad).

Remember he's also only 23, and while that's not a justification, a lot of kids in their teens and early 20's go through a phase where they experiment with things like pot, while they're trying to figure their lives out and who they really are.

So hopefully once your son goes to college, hopefully meets a girl, and eventually starts working, that direction and extra responsibility will replace his need to smoke. So while it's important you be clear on your views and feelings, don't alienate him entirely either because you'd be surprised how many young adults go through similar phases and turn into successful, responsible people.

That requires a level of trust on your part. Yes it may turn into a serious problem, but you have no control over whether that happens or not, because there is nothing you can do to stop your son smoking. But if he knows you believe in him, love him and will be there for him no matter what, he'll hopefully come to you should things start becoming a problem for him, so that he can get professional help.

Boundaries with consequences are good. Not enabling his behavior is too. But it's often not so much the specifics of what we do, but how we do it. So all your suggestions are sound, but you want to make sure you communicate them from a place of love, because that's how your message will get through and hit home hardest.

I know a lot of people who at 23 resembled your son. Confused, lost, angry ... doing things they shouldn't be doing like abusing drugs and alcohol. 10 years later they're well-rounded, happy, successful individuals.

So while you shouldn't compromise on your views or feel you have to change your rules, give your son the space to figure out his life for himself, and make mistakes, so he can learn from those. Hopefully if he falls hard enough a few times, he'll come to realise for himself he needs to change. Good Luck and Take Care.

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