Addicted to My Cure: Outpatient Impatience

“I’ve been clean for 33 days.  This is my first intensive outpatient counseling session.”

There has been talk of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in my home state for some time.  Adults, aged 21 and over, will be able to grow, purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana if this were to become a reality. According to various media reports, legalizing marijuana could bring in anywhere from $300 to $700 million dollars in revenue for the state annually.

From just weed.

What would the state even use it for? On the education of our youngsters?  What about substance abuse prevention and treatment for the opioid crisis? Ironic if you actually take one second to think about it.

On the other hand, legalizing this drug comes with so many perks for so many people. Finally, the cure will be legal. Purchasing dime bags from the local neighborhood drug dealers would be a thing of the past for so many. The legalization of marijuana would enable any adult to freely walk into any medical dispensary, purchase a medically induced strain of their finest cheeba, and not have to worry about extra "add-ins", or if they just dropped a twenty on a dime bag of snicklefritz.  Although I’m sure the term “dime bag” would be frowned upon in this new world of freedom.

I’m getting ahead of myself just thinking about the abundance of terminology modifications. The sheer thought of it turns my overactive frown upside-down.

But then something brings me back down from my non marijuana induced high.

My kid was just released from an inpatient substance abuse center for abusing cannabis. The facility, which he called home for over 30 days, is located about an hour and a half away from our home.  An hour and a half away from his parents.  An hour and a half away from me, his “Mommy”. An hour and a half away from his siblings, his school, his grandparents, his shoes, his phone, his room, his life.  An hour and a half away with only one visitation per week and only one five minute phone call a night.

An hour and a half away is too fucking far.

Before he was admitted, his habits included leaving the house every day at 7am for an early morning wake and bake session. And trust me, school days were no exception.  If we were lucky he would come home right after school, but then leave again before bedtime and well, you get the idea.  If he was awake, chances are he was getting high.  If he was asleep, chances are it was because he was too high.

It became worse when stealing money and selling items that didn’t belong to him in order to get high became routine.

You would think the kid was on crack cocaine, or heroin, or pain killers even.

Not a chance. It was just weed.

It was just weed.

And it all happened so damn fast too. Took only weeks to get to this point.

He was the one who suggested rehab, not us, not his parents.  I didn't even know kids were shipped off to rehab for having an addiction to weed.

But marijuana is not an addictive drug and nobody really needs it.

Just ask his “Mommy”.

Good thing I'm not an addict. I can stop at any time.  I guess the only question is, do I have to stop smoking now that my son is considered an addict?  It makes me a terrible mother for even asking the question.

Anger issues, failing in school, hanging out with a bad crowd, a sleeping disorder, potential learning disabilities, nagging parents, rules, responsibilities, no coping skills, etc., etc., etc.  I can go on and on for the reasons he started abusing.  Funny thing is I can also go on and on for the reasons I started usingStress, anxiety, depression, back pain, headaches, mood disorder, because sometimes when I'm done washing the dishes and putting the kids to sleep and cleaning up the house I just want to sit down and watch a damn movie and munch on some delicious guacamole and chips without whining about my aching back.

Sounds like I’m blaming him for ruining everything for me, I know. I know how I sound when I say it out loud. I know the thoughts running through my mind on a constant basis.

We’re to blame for sure. Letting him hang out with those kids. Putting him in that damn school. Not catching his learning issue earlier. Moving into this shitty neighborhood. Not setting firm discipline tactics.  Not following through on punishments.  Who the hell knows.  Maybe it was all to blame.  I’m tired of driving myself crazy over it.

I honestly can’t tell what’s harder, the choices we have to make as adults, or the guilt we feel after we’ve made them.

Putting the blame directly on him didn't get me anywhere either. I blamed him for getting addicted to a drug that’s not meant to be addictive.  “You can stop at any time”, I would tell him.  “There are no side effects when you stop”, I would say.  But that’s not what the counselor said last night at our family group outpatient session.  Apparently stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, mood swings, fatigue, and irritability are all withdrawal symptoms of cannabis.  Déjà vu this list sounds painstakingly familiar to me.

I felt guilty the entire time sitting next to my son wondering why he had to endure 9 hours a week of group sessions when I’m guilty of doing the same damn thing.  Looking around the room at the other parents and their kids I felt like screaming, “Get the fuck over it! It’s only WEED!”

It’s only weed.

Even my insurance company didn’t approve the inpatient treatment. The representative stated “We’re just worried that he will be around other children with much worse addictions.  The exposure to harder drugs can be dangerous.  I’m sorry, but cannabis is not on our list of approved reasons to receive inpatient services”. He was stealing, so we worked it out and the substance abuse center gave us a discount on his stay.

And I didn’t take one puff the entire time he was away. In fact, I’m still impatiently waiting for my Mommy of the Year award.

But I do feel like smoking even more so now that I’m required to sit for three hours each week and listen to other parents and kids tell their stories of weed woe. The anxiety and impatience I feel at these meetings is groundbreaking.  I'm screaming at everyone in my head while the others around the circle shout out ways to curb the urge to abuse as the counselor writes them on the white board.  "Exercise!", one parent suggests.  "Running!", another one raising her hand offers.  "We're not in school and exercise and running fall in the same fucking category", my mind screams. I shout out "smoking cigarettes", but the counselor neglects to jot it down on the board. One addiction to cure the other, I guess.  On break I see one of the other parents step outside and light up.  I can’t help but smile at the bullshit.

My back hurts from sitting in the same chair for so long.

And I’m stressed about having to come back next week.

And it’s so late that it’s dark outside already.

And it’s just weed.

It’s just weed.

Have I mentioned that my son was sent away for 30 days for abusing a drug that will probably be legal in my state any day now?

It should’ve been me in that facility.

But I’m an adult, remember?  I can stop at any time.

But I don’t want to.

Because legal or not, marijuana is a mind altering substance providing instant gratification to those who use and abuse it.  Plain and simple

I learned that little tidbit at counseling last night.

But it's my cure.

“I’ve been clean for 33 days. This is my first intensive outpatient counseling session.”

After my son said his line, it was my turn to say mine.

“My name is 'Mommy', and I’m here with my son.”

Thank you for reading.
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  • This is so very powerful. It hits me right in the chest for reasons I won't share here. But thank you for sharing these words and your world.

  • In reply to Kerri K. Morris:

    Thank you for taking the time to read, Kerri.

  • Very powerful post, poignant and honest. I wish you and your son so much luck and love.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thank you so much for reading and your kind words, Kathy.

  • I guess I'm a little confused. Do you really not think marijuana is addictive? That's what I thought for years as I smoked it -- but little did I know that I was self-medicating manic-depression, and eventually that "medicine" ceased working.

    While I don't believe that pot is a gateway drug to heroin or anything, it definitely affects the lives of those using it, often to their detriment, which they don't figure out until they stop.

    I'm just confused by the message of this post -- I can't tell if you're secretly believing that your son shouldn't be addicted to something like this, or you're conflicted because you're currently using it, or ...??

    "It's just weed." Eh, not really.

  • Hi Jocelyn - Let me start off by thanking you for reading the post. I do appreciate you taking time in your day to do so and to respond. I’ll try my best to address your first question you seemed to be confused about. Yes, I honestly didn’t think marijuana was an addictive drug. Being a user for almost 8 years and never developing a dependency for it must’ve shifted my mindset into thinking what I was doing had no adverse effect on me whatsoever. Rules have always been set in place for me while being a smoker which included 1. No smoking during the week. 2. No smoking and driving and 3. Never leaving our stash or lighters in the house. I guess I have always envisioned being addicted to something as having this constant “need” for it and this wasn’t and still isn’t the case for me, nor have I ever encountered anyone with this issue. Mainly because the only person I’ve ever smoked with was and has been my husband. So, if I’ve been sheltered from this fact that apparently is known by everyone except for me, then I must’ve missed that memo. Also, addressing your second question...there is no message I’m trying to convey with this post. I wrote it mainly because I wanted to and it’s been on my mind for quite some time. Call it a case of just needing to get something off my chest. Until this was an issue in my family, I didn’t realize an issue existed at all, anywhere or with anyone. I didn’t realize the damage it was capable of causing. So, when I downplayed the thought that “It’s just weed” in my post, that was me, realizing that it’s not just weed. And even though it took some time to realize it, I know that to be true. Every day we’re learning and I’m no exception. Again, thank you for your comment and have a wonderful day.

  • A heart-breaking story. Based on my researches for the official website I'd state opioid addiction is incredibly difficult to overcome. Alcohol addiction is even harder. Alcohol is one of the few "drugs" for which withdrawal can itself kill you. If Kelly's sister had a degree of alcohol misuse that was sufficient to cause liver cirrhosis then saving her was always going to be beyond challenging.

    I believe that people with opioid addiction most need to get control of their lives back. I also believe that opioid replacement therapy (such as buprenorphine) gives them the best chance to achieve stability and they can gradually wean the drug from there. Even if they never wean the replacement drug, they are on much safer more stable ground and can live an otherwise normal life.

    One last point is that opioids can cause fatalities even in the correct prescribed dose. The current public focus on opioid use is entirely appropriate.

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