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Cyber-powered norms about pot pose new addiction risks for youth

“Sobriety is not the same thing as wellness, and addiction is about avoidance pain and emotional trauma.” - Jon Daily, LCSW, CADCII, Recover Happens
Joanna Jullien

Last Thursday afternoon, the Coalition for Placer Youth hosted an educational event at the Rocklin Police Department for educators, law enforcement and parent leaders about youth issues and trends in drug culture exposing a huge disconnect between modern youth issues and parents.

The featured speaker was Jon Daily, LCSW,CADCII, Clinical Director of Recovery Happens, an adolescent addiction intervention and recovery center in Fair Oaks and Davis.

(Check out Jon Daily’s book, Adolescent and Young Adult Addiction.)

Daily opened his talk with Monitoring The Future research, which reported that since 2010 marijuana has been steadily increasing as the preferred drug used by high school youth (28% of 10th graders and 36% of 12th graders having used in the last year). By the same token, Daily stressed that alcohol is still the number one substance that is killing kids.

“Check your own bias,” he challenged the audience, “If you get a call about your child using marijuana, alcohol or heroin, which one will cause you to take action and pay attention?”

According to Daily, it is this bias that somehow the substance or drug of choice is the reason for alarm is folly.

Daily wants parents to know that kids get hooked on being intoxicated, not to the specific drug. Even if marijuana is not chemically “addictive” in the same way as heroin, it can encourage the start of a pathological relationship with intoxication that could eventually lead to heroin. And according to Daily the marijuana potency and means of use (through vapor pens) today deliver serious doses that can actually cause a psychotic break for the adolescent.

(Fox News Video about kids getting high using vapor pens in the classroom)

“If you simply remove the drug, say marijuana, by say drug testing for it, the person will search for another substance to get high; they might change to alcohol,” Daily said. He also indicated the search for that high can take different forms of behavior including gambling, video games, internet porn, excessive time on social media/texting, workaholism, eating disorders and cutting.

One of the primary cyber safety concerns for youth is being disconnected from genuine relationships at home and in their peer communities – which Daily stresses is the heart of the matter.

According to him, the primary youth issues of our day is the feeling of not being connected, or “felt”, combined with access to very potent pot (much higher THC levels) can lead to serious mental health issues. “Sobriety is not the same thing as wellness, and addiction is about avoidance pain and emotional trauma,” he said. “The work of the parent is to be connected to your internal world, so you can connect to your child about their internal world.”

To learn more about counseling and therapy for adolescent drug addiction intervention and recovery, go to:

Parent Resources

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