Drug addiction is notoriously difficult to treat. It’s a frustrating problem for the person trying to get help, and for the professionals trying to provide that help. Twelve step programs are generally the most accepted, along with intensive rehab and inpatient treatment.
The only thing that we know really doesn’t work is being featured on a VH1 reality show. Who knew?
I shouldn’t have to worry all that much about this. I’m not a drug counselor. I don’t work in drug treatment. In the world of prevention, families with drug problems or mental health issues are supposed to be sent to “intensive preventive.” This involves more frequent home visits, and a case worker in addition to a social worker, to provide the level of care the families need.
Surprise surprise, funding is short. Meaning we are increasingly getting sent cases that are not strictly appropriate for our services.
I guess they try to keep the really, really intense cases where they belong. For the most part, we don’t get clients who use hard drugs. Crack is not a big part of my professional life. (Or my personal life, don’t worry.) But, it would seem, marijuana follows me everywhere I go. (At work, I mean. Settle down.)
Drug tests are a regular part of an ACS investigation. I’m not usually one to get all up in arms about such things, but it is a bit odd. Especially when the reason a case was called in has nothing to do with drug use. A parent using excessive corporal punishment, or a case of inadequate guardianship could be influenced by drug use, but it seems wrong to jump to conclusions and imply that parents have to go along with a drug test, when they actually have the right to refuse.
Not surprisingly, considering how drug tests work (marijuana stays in a person’s system for up to thirty days, cocaine for about forty eight hours) test frequently come up positive for marijuana. And I’m frequently asked to deal with this.
A drug problem is difficult to treat when the person in question admits that they have a problem and need help. When the person in question does not admit this, and says that they just smoke weed every so often, to relax, to have a good time, to celebrate a special event, it’s an uphill battle.
When the worker assigned to provide help, and convince this person that there is, in fact, a problem, does not believe that there’s a problem? We’re beyond uphill battle. It’s uphill, wearing roller skates and ankle weights, being chased back down by a pack of wolves.
Most people who get busted for marijuana use, whether they be parents or teens, admit to using it occasionally. Sometimes I suspect that it’s more often. There was one teenage boy I worked with who I don’t think I ever saw not high. He had gone beyond the fun, let’s-watch-Adult-Swim-and-eat-Cheetos high to the this-is-just-who-I-am high. I thought he had a problem, and that he needed help.
But most of the positive screenings we get a report on are low levels. People admit to smoking because it was someone’s birthday, or smoking once a month.
They admit that to me, anyway. In court, and to ACS, they usually admit to having been in a smoky room. Or they admit to eating a poppy seed bagel, because a lot of people saw that one episode of Seinfeld and got a little confused.
It’s so strange to me that so many workers, social workers, protective workers, judges, and lawyers, will act like a positive marijuana test is the end of the world. I don’t think it’s a good thing. But it’s so easy to pick up on, and so easy to say it needs to be addressed, that I think it clouds our judgment.
Sometimes I feel like I’m being sucked back into the 1950s and Reefer Madness. “She’s been smoking marijuana, SJ. What if she leaves her kids unsupervised because she goes out to buy more? What if she gets stoned and ignores them? They could get hurt!”
These things could happen. They could also happen if a parent went out for a pack of cigarettes, or a Mountain Dew. She could ignore her kids for lots of reasons. Good book, Halo tournament, a few beers…I have one client whose use of pills concerns me greatly. But my worries aren’t heard by the court, because she has a valid prescription.
How many adults have never smoked weed, not even once? Most people I know at least went through a phase where it was a bit of a regular thing. Some of us even inherited our parents’ old Cheech and Chong albums. (I’ll be honest, they really hold up.)
I’m not saying that it’s the best way to deal with one’s stress. It’s not the most effective coping strategy, nor is it the most mature method of dealing with one’s problems. We all know that people going through hard, stressful times ought to let the tension out by talking with a trusted loved one, exercising, writing a sad poem in their journals…you know, like we all do.
Yes, excessive marijuana usage concerns me. If someone can’t put the pipe down long enough to let a CPS worker complete a home visit, then I’m concerned about what’s going on. But if the children are taken care of, and this is the only concern? It seems like we’re looking for and creating problems.
And I don’t think we need to be doing that just yet.