Thursday, March 15, 2012


Today, I attended a conference that focused on the damage drugs and alcohol can do to the adolescent brain. Most people in the audience were not worried about the effects of marijuana; they were focused on alcohol and 'hard' drugs. In fact, some even defended the position the MA DCF has taken - that removal of children for parental abuse of marijuana is not going to happen.

Yet, these attendees learned today that marijuana may not be a 'gateway' in the traditional sense, but it is harmful nevertheless. It takes approximately 18-24 months for a person to stop depending upon marijuana after discontinuing abuse through harm reduction. And in fact, withdrawal really happens; including mood swings, depression and irritability during protracted withdrawal.

The adolescent brain is not fully formed and smoking marijuana at a young age impedes the user's ability to hold memories and interpret cognitions properly. Smoking causes cognitive distortions.

Developmentally , using drugs and alcohol does not allow the user to progress from adolescence to adulthood emotionally. They get stuck - something we refer to as arrested development.

Most young people begin smoking cannabis around 11 or 12 years old. Research demonstrates that if a 'father figure' is smoking in the home when a child is 6 years old, the child will most likely grow up smoking marijuana as well within 5 or 6years. That makes me wonder whose idea it was at DCF to decide not to consider marijuana as a serious issue.

Smoking marijuana is a serious issue. It is not the cannabis of the 1960's; but cannabis that is ten times stronger. It is not a joke, or a casual source of entertainment. It is a substitute for skills we have not taught our young people. Skills that will help them manage their lives in a more balanced way.


liza said...

i think that the parents can do whatever they want when they no longer have minors in the household but when they are solely responsible for the health, safety and well-being of their children, then it really becomes a matter of 'who is parenting that child' safely when parents are making marijuana a routine part of their life-style. a parent needs to be present 100% of the time--physically and mentally. if that parent is having problems coping and must rely on substances to get through their daily living, then that is a red flag that they need help. the state's turning their head and closing their eyes--essentially enabling the afflicted parent. no one wants the state or government in their business but when a child's well-being is at stake, there should be accountability somewhere. if the state can throw a parent in jail for their child's truancy and yet show no concern when the child is being raised in a household where narcotics are 'the norm'...there is something seriously wrong.

Dr. Alicen said...

Dear Liza,
What a well-written comment. This is quite a dilemma for all of us.

I agree that adults who want to smoke or drink alcohol on a weekend when no children are in the household are free to do so. It is legal in some states and adults have a right to make choices in their lives.

But your point is extremely well stated. Relying on substances while parenting is unacceptable. Parents who smoke while their children are in bed are not fully present. When they smoke during the day they do not engage with their children and in fact, they neglect them.

We need to take a hard look at substance abuse and parenting. Children must be protected, nourished and cared for if they are to grow up to be productive members of society.

massmedsmokah said...

What about when its for medical use, never in front of the child and not smoked but used as a liquid at bedtime only to help sleep through chronic pain?

massmedsmokah said...

Tincture, which is the liquid I speak of doesn't have nearly the same type of effect, it helps with pain and a mild drowsyness, less than an ambian?

massmedsmokah said...

I know this has not had any negative effects on the care of my child, I am able to wake easily when needed and it allows me to participate in more activities the following morning/day because I got a good nights sleep and far less pain that day from the one nightly dose. My son has and will continue to be clueless on this topic....its medicine not street drugs.

massmedsmokah said...

I in no way condone any substance abuse in any home, may have irreparable damages on children of almost any age :O

massmedsmokah said...

Most important its not (like opoid overdose) the leading cause of death this year in men 22-40...btw. that is what almost all Drs. Prescribe when dealing with chronic, lifelong pain. I think that hemp is a far safer alternative and is far less "hard" drug than any pain killer, the most addictive of all.

Common sense said...

Yea but taking prescription pain killers in front of your kids are just fine, and when he's twelve and doing heroine that's ok right? So you are saying that others in class are wrong? That mj is more harmful than alcohol or close? Do people black out or die from withdrawals? Do they shake or scratch themselves? Seriously it's the individual. I used to be a pot head before the army, went on to be very successful member of society. I had great grades and didn't get drunk and in trouble like some of my peers. If we are going to discuss drugs and risks I would say Mary Jane is at the very very bottom compared to nicotine alcohol and especially prescription pain pills.

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