Jonah was 15 years old and addicted to nicotine and pot. His use of tobacco started around age 11 and then he started smoking pot around age 13. His older brother had introduced him to smoking and he had managed to hide his use of both substances from his parents until a few weeks before they brought him in for an assessment.
Jonah’s mom explained that Jonah’s grades had been poor for the past couple of years and that his moods were erratic and sometimes explosive. “Now it all makes more sense,” she said, “knowing that he’s been using drugs.” Jonah was not happy about being caught or being brought in for treatment. “I don’t know why I have to come here. There’s nothing wrong with me,” he said.
Upon further questioning, Jonah revealed that he often felt sad “for no reason” and that smoking both nicotine and cannabis helped improve his mood. It took a while, but eventually I was able to convince Jonah that his self medication might be doing more harm than good. He reluctantly agreed to enroll in an intensive outpatient program that met for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, designed to help teens stop using substances. After completing 3 months of intensive outpatient therapy, Jonah was finally able to stop using tobacco and cannabis. Eventually, he was diagnosed with depression and ADD after he had been clean from substance use for 6 months and we medicated him properly for these conditions.
Jonah is now in his second year of university and is doing very well. He doesn’t smoke or drink alcohol and will be the first to tell you that his life is exceptionally enjoyable. He’s studying to be an addiction counselor so he can dedicate his life to helping others who struggle, the way he did.
Facts About Substance Abuse Disorders
- Children and teens who use alcohol and drugs are more likely to have a substance use disorder as adults.
- There is a clear link between depression and substance abuse.
- Teen substance abuse includes using legal medications without a prescription.