Streams

From Marijuana to the Medicine Cabinet: A Boy Who Couldn't Stop

One Montclair Family Warns Marijuana Addiction is Real

Friday, May 10, 2013

WNYC

Jake’s life started out just right. He lived in a nice house on a nice block of the sophisticated New Jersey town of Montclair. His dad worked for the NFL, his mom a couple days a week in finance.  As long as Jake and his older brother did well, their parents weren’t overly concerned about a little partying here or there. 

“I started smoking pot when I was 13,” his mom admitted, thinking back to her own casual attitude toward marijuana growing up in Vermont in the 1970s. “Kind of liked it,” she said, “It was something that was fun to do.” But it was nothing that took over her life, she explained. And a generation later, she said it was the same for her oldest son, Ben, growing up in Montclair.Jake and family at table

“At least in our town, smoking pot is a right of passage,” Ben said. “Not everyone does it everyday or even every weekend, but people do it.”

The Town of Montclair was the first in New Jersey to welcome a medical marijuana dispensary last year. The State’s medical marijuana regulations are among the strictest in the country: there’s high security and the place looks like a doctor’s office, not a head shop. Joseph Stevens, one of Greenleaf Compassion Center’s founders, says he thinks their sober operation will make marijuana seem less casual to kids.

“They can associate marijuana with an illness instead of recreational use,” he said, “It’s no longer behind the scenes and cool to use marijuana.”

But from where Montclair High School’s head student counselor sits, the presence of medical marijuana in this town is just another in a slew of signals that marijuana is good not bad. 

“You know with all of the glorification of legalization, with the decriminalization, especially in Montclair now with the medical marijuana Greenleaf opening up,” Andrew Evangelista said, “I think kids think that marijuana is like a miracle drug.” 

Over the past five years, surveys have shown that marijuana use by teens is on the rise. Fewer and fewer teens see using it as risky, despite studies that point to potential links between adolescent marijuana use and lower IQs or increased risk of mental illness. In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says as many as one out of six adolescent marijuana users will become dependent (more than the one in ten adult users expected to meet the same criteria for marijuana dependence).

As legislators debate an ever-increasing number of proposals to legalize marijuana, Jake's parents say they feel more concerned about that trend - and the casual attitudes in general - than they would have imagined five years ago.

Back then, Jake's mom remembers, she and her husband didn’t condone their kids using marijuana, but they resisted making too big a deal of it.

“We sort of accepted that as life in the suburbs,” she said. That strategy worked fine for the older son, Ben. But not for Jake.

In Middle School, by all accounts, Jake was both incredibly successful and incredibly stressed out. He was popular, got A’s, and was a soccer star. But he says his mind was always racing.

“My mom and dad always said to me, even at a very young age, ‘You can't beat yourself up, Jake. It’s not healthy,’” he said. When, as a high school freshman, he got bumped off the varsity soccer team, he says life felt futile to him. “If I couldn’t be the best then what was the point?” he remembered feeling.

“I have this internal ass-kicking machine where I can’t let myself just be okay,” he said.

So the first time he got high, he said, “I felt this, like, unbelievable relief just from the world. I was on another planet and it was the most amazing thing to me. I didn't have to deal with reality.”

By the end of his Freshman year of high school, he was smoking every weekend. Sophomore year, every day. His parents were worried. But friends told them to let Jake be. After all, he was still excelling at school and in sports.

There’s plenty of evidence people can do that while stoned – especially if they're smoking weed all the time. Columbia University researcher Carl Hart studies how people behave on drugs and his data suggests that for people who smoke marijuana seven times a week, there is little change in the abilities they display.

“When they’re intoxicated, you don’t see many changes in their cognitive functioning,” he said. They’re slower, but equally capable.

“If you use it a lot you become tolerant to the disruptive effects,” he said.

Jake says he played sports, did his homework and took tests while high. During his sophomore year, his parents knew he was smoking. They argued with him. And he fought back.

“If you can think of the worst thing you can call your mother and just insert that,” he said, “I was so awful.”

Jake's mom says when they took him to therapists and doctors, they were encouraged to chill out. Both she and Jake remember a pediatrician asking her, “What do you want from this kid?” He was getting good grades, he got 1400s on his SATs, he was on varsity teams.

“His pitch was that we were trying to make him into his brother,” she said, “It was about us, that was the problem.” And she says that played with her head. “Maybe it was us,” she remembers thinking.

“I was very convincing,” Jake recalled, “I could put on this adult face and act like I was a grown up and talk to people and make it seem like things were all right.”

John Mariani studies and treats addicts. He’s directs Columbia University’s Substance Treatment and Research Service. And he says people can absolutely become addicted to weed. But sometimes it's harder to recognize.

“For people with alcohol, cocaine, opioid dependence, lots of bad stuff is happening to them that they don't want to have happen,” he said. They may be getting arrested or they may have an overdose, for example. Mariani says marijuana dependence is different. “Often patients will have a philosophy that, ‘This is something I choose to do. It's something I enjoy. It's something I benefit from.’ And to some degree, that might be true," he said.

In some ways, Jake’s family was suffering more than he was. His brother Ben remembers a house with no energy, no love, no feelings of happiness, and a younger brother whose relentless pursuit of marijuana was painful to watch.

“The lengths my brother went to that I personally witnessed were pretty out there. It wasn’t normal behavior,” he said.

Jake speaks candidly about it now: he says he would steal money from his mom’s purse. At first, he says she didn’t notice. When she figured it out and started hiding her purse, Jake started lifting his dad’s NFL memorabilia.

“My dad worked at the NFL for 30 years, and he had a lot of stuff that was worth some money,” Jake said. “I would give it to my friend to sell on eBay. And I probably sold $1,000, $2,000 worth of merchandise on eBay to buy drugs. 

“I kept trying to chase that first high, that first feeling of euphoria that I got when I smoked,” Jake explained. “I think I started doing it so much that the effects stopped being so potent,” he said. 

That’s how addiction works, Dr. Mariani said, explaining the science behind marijuana addiction. “If you expose your brain to any chemical regularly, over time neuro-adaptive changes take place,” he said.

The cannabinoids in Marijuana are similar to a chemical our brains normally produce on their own, called endocannabinoids. They’re thought to help regulate mood, sleep and appetite. If you smoke pot all the time, the plant becomes your supply of cannabinoids and your brain stops producing its own.

“You might have an individual who's using marijuana regularly who starts to feel a little bit irritable after they haven't smoked for a while,” Mariani said, “Then they smoke, and their experience of that can be that, ‘I'm feeling better from smoking,’ but really what they're doing is treating withdrawal. No one knows why some people become addicted and some don’t. It’s thought to be a mixture of nature and nurture."

In retrospect, Jake and his parents both say he’s what people call "wired" for addiction – and marijuana was the drug that hooked him because it was easy to get and easy to keep up. But while his parents were still trying to understand what had happened – Jake started looking for other highs, too.

“I smoked pot every day. That was a given,” Jake said, “But it was like I knew that wasn't enough.” He would go to his parents’ medicine cabinet and search for pills that could have a euphoric effect. “And maybe if I snort it, it'll be even more powerful," he said.

Jake says his parents didn’t know the extent of his drug use. But by his senior year, they did fully understand he was an addict.

“One night we confronted him and said, ‘We cannot live like this, you have to get help,’” she said. “Gene said you cannot stay in this house,” she said, and Jake left the house without a phone.

“For me personally it was like hell, it was like being in hell that night,” she said, working to hold back tears. “I couldn’t call him and say come back we’ll work this out,” she said.

Jake called her the next morning.

“We went home and I just started crying and crying,” Jake recalled. His mom cried with  him. And he remembers saying, “Mom, I think I need help.” Jake’s parents began looking for treatment centers.

Jake and mom at MichiganJake was lucky in so many ways. He had two concerned parents who could afford to send him to several top-notch rehab programs away from home. While there, he applied to college, and was accepted at several top schools. On paper, the consequences he suffered didn’t add up to a lot. But if his parents hadn’t intervened when they did – they say they’re sure something catastrophic would have happened. That’s why they decided to speak publicly about it.

Last Spring, Jake’s parents told their story on a panel at Montclair High School aiming to warn about the risks of marijuana.

Some local news covered the event and, in comments, one reader called it fear-mongering. Another said, when young people say the risks of marijuana are minimal, they’re 100% correct. A hot debate about legalization followed. And that conversation, John Mariani says, tends to blur the issue for people struggling with addiction. 

“Especially younger patients will come in and it's almost like a political debate about whether people should be allowed to smoke or not,” Mariani said. “That's not the issue. It's not whether the right answer for society is for it to be legal or not, but what is the answer for you as an individual? Let’s look at the facts in your life.”

Jake says he thinks marijuana should be legalized. His parents say it shouldn’t. But they all agree that using it at a young age was a disaster for Jake.

“I have this thing about me, and I think it's this predisposition to be addictive,” he said, sitting in a very spare room at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he's a sophomore now. “If I was never exposed to marijuana, I would have been able to hold off my addictive tendencies a lot longer,” he said, “I think marijuana expedited my addictive personality.”

Jake’s mom says she lived it first-hand. “I saw my son become someone I didn’t know,” she said.

Jake’s struggle is not over. His parents say they chose the University of Michigan because it was one of very few colleges that had an on-campus recovery program. But on a dark day near the end of his Freshman year, Jake says he felt overwhelmed with disappointment. With 10 months clean, he says he drove to Detroit with a friend, scored some heroin and took what he thought was enough to kill himself.

“The next thing I know, it was 14 hours later, puke everywhere, a big bruise on my face, not really knowing what happened,” he said, “And the first thing I think about is, why am I still here?”

Jake says he learns from his mistakes. He’s still at Michigan and he’s been clean for months. He’s trying to remain part of typical student life while not participating in one of the most typical parts. Jake says every once in awhile, he’s thought, “‘Oh, I can just smoke a joint or have a drink.’”

In that initial moment, he says, using can feel great. “And then it stops being fun because I can’t stop. I don’t know how to stop,” he said.

To argue about whether marijuana should be legalized, you have to debate global politics, criminal justice, health, medicine, addiction, and more. And one can probably use Jake’s story to come down on any side. Jake’s parents know the statistics: that addiction rates are lower for marijuana than for most other drugs – including alcohol and cigarettes.

But as marijuana becomes increasingly accepted, they want people to recognize that addiction is a real possibility. And look out for the signs.

To protect their privacy, WNYC agreed to identify Jake and his family members by their first names.

 

Editors:

Karen Frillmann

Tags:

More in:

The Morning Brief

Enter your email address and we’ll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Comments [43]

richard duke from usa

BUY WEED NOW.Call or text us (214-838-0923)….....josephtakoh@gmail.com We supply high quality medicinal marijuana and other best strains of kush for sale at moderate prices. Girl Scout Cookies Blueberry Yum Yum OG Kush Sour OG Kush Northern Lights #5 Purple Kush Ballsack Mango Kush Kandy Kush Soul Assassin OG Sandman, ReCon, Blue Dream, Snow Wreck, Pineapple Express, Purple Kush, Big King Bud, *Green Crack: Grade: AA *sour Diesel ::Grade: A+ Top Shelf *Grand Daddy Purple ::::Grade: A *Sensi Star x ak47 :Grade: AAA *Afghan Kush :Grade: A *Northe Lights #5 Grade: A+ *Lemon drop:::Grade: A+ *Purple Kush:::::Grade:A+ Top Shelf *OG Kush ::::Grade:A++ Top Shelf *purple-urkle::Grade: A- Plus Many More! We deliver “high grade”, low prices Call or text us (214-838-0923)OR EMAIL...josephtakoh@gmail.com

Apr. 21 2014 10:31 AM
blazin all the dayz from north pole

I Smoke every day im 10 years old and have a libz. I like weeeeed because it cures my cancer. Thats right im going through kimo therpy you bitch and it hurts like you couldnt believe i will eat smoke and inject marijuana every hour usally injecting a lethal does to kill 5 elephant potamises sooo you can eat my short because there made out of he,p and i specificly put thc and cbd in them so you can exprience the wonderfull cure mary jane does you sack of potatoes and im about to inject a lethal does and kill me of marijuana.

Feb. 28 2014 04:04 PM
Nicole from NYC

Every story, every child, every journey is different. Shame on those who posted abusive comments and assume to know so much about a young man that you have read a few hundred words about. I feel sorry for you, because you also clearly have your own demons that you are working out if a story of recovery and one that is meant to inform creates a forum for a discussion of classism and "walk a mile in my shoes". Jake was a child when he started his dark journey and he has emerged as a man for being able to walk away from something that kills people and ruins families daily.
Mentally and emotionally strong people do not resent the success of others. Does the fact that Jake's parents were in a position to send him to a good facility to be "pampered" make their pain and anguish any less real? Does the fact that they live in a "sophisticated New Jersey suburb" make a mother's terror in not knowing where her son is for a night more palatable? People only know the world that they grew up in, and many that commented here for one reason or another are unable to relate to this family's circumstances, so do everyone, including yourself, a favor and refrain from judging their circumstances against your own and instead look at the MESSAGE that is trying to be sent here: our children are being exposed to drugs and becoming addicts entirely too young. This article and story are a call to action.
Unfortunately, this will probably fall on deaf ears of stubbornness. However, Jake, I applaud you and your family for your journey and I am impressed with your recovery and family's dedication to you.

Jan. 24 2014 12:57 PM
Frank from Houston

Its because that your kid is a fucking Dope Pheen, and since hes so rich he doesn't feel like spending your money would of affected you at all so he felt the urge to buy more because nothing was stopping him from it, a lot of us weed smokers are moderate about how much we smoke cause we know how much we have. you son had no limit to buying or owning it. saving some of our weed for later on that day or so.

Aug. 08 2013 05:37 PM
ggb from THE JUNGLE MAN THE JUNGLE

Jake obviously has a genetic predisposition to drug addiction, illustrated best by his lack of control cover his "racing thoughts" and his drug intake, once he starts. However, the "core" problem is not the drug itself but his inability to stop thinking. He is among the 15% or so of society with the personality of a tiger, trying to function in a world designed for the 85% with a domestic cow personality. He does not suffer from the "disease of addiction", ADHD or any other "disorder", he just has not yet come to terms with his "difference" and why the cow social system doesn't fit him. Remove Jake from the CITY of cows to a job where he can be outside in a natural tiger environment, away from crowds of people (tigers hate crowds) and watch Jake EXCELL instead of struggle to just survive. Jake's internal ass kicker has been trying to tell him this for quite some time. JAKE, listen to the asskicker, you are not a cow you are a tiger, create an environment and job that fits your high strung tiger personality, where you can be outside often and away from crowds and social drama (a tiger does not do social drama, we just want to bite their heads off, literally!). JAKE, listen to this old Tiger, NEVER let the cows drag you down. They CAN NEVER "know" or understand you, HANG WITH YOUR OWN KIND! GGB, President of Clean & Sober Tiger Society.

Jun. 13 2013 01:54 PM
jf from reality

cannabis cures cancer. Look it up

Jun. 12 2013 11:34 AM
mook

“I have this thing about me, and I think it's this predisposition to be addictive,” he said, sitting in a very spare room at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he's a sophomore now. “If I was never exposed to marijuana, I would have been able to hold off my addictive tendencies a lot longer,” he said, “I think marijuana expedited my addictive personality

so u said u wasn't blaming marijuana? lol...so if I go into the office and I see a doctor he tells me im crazy..so now I can blame everything I do on crazy??...you were in your little upper-class rehab while they pampered you and said awwwww jake...you were addicted...you have an addictive personality....then u ran with it....you blamed everything and anything.n that's the moral of the story here...you retract in the comments about how you didn't blame marijuana but you did...so the moral of your lame story wasn't to tell people about addiction its how a rich kid deals with his problems he blamed them on a disease..nobody goes from smoking marijuana to doin heroin....sorry it doesn't pop in my mind or thousands of others...your addiction is you not caring about yourself and then making a story to "tell" people that could get "addicted" hahahaha

Jun. 03 2013 09:55 PM
Mook from space

Jake, your story is pathetic, a rich kid livin in some fantasy world find someone else to point the finger at, not MARIJUANA, cause all you rich kids are the same, wanna be the bad boy, think hes the coolest kid throwin all your money around partyin it up, but when shit hits the fan..MOM DAD it was the DRUGGGGS, when in reality it was your actions, your willpower, I smoked marijuana since I was 14, I didn't steal from my moms purse, I didn't pawn my dad shit or sell it on ebay....and I didn't go do heroin, but u really wouldn't know what addiction is, cause your mommy and daddy took you to upper-class treatment centers how nice, too bad u couldn't understand what addiction is by going to some shithole rehab and having your body hurt for week, im sick of little teenage BOYS putting the blame on everything else but themselves...especially rich kids who don't get to see what the darkside of shit and run a mock n write a story starting with marijuana lead me into the darkness..be a big boy take up for your actions n take the golden spoon out your mouth cause your lookin like douche

Jun. 03 2013 09:41 PM

I'm confused by comments like the most recent one that tell me I need to take responsibility for my actions. You're right Mr. Elvis. A many people have used marijuana with impunity and my hat goes off to them. Unfortunately I am not one of those people. For me, marijuana was something that facilitate poor decision-making and immoral action. It then led me to become curious about other drugs which only led to further bad action, and the cycle perpetuated itself. But I no longer use drugs and alcohol... And I part of my recovery from my experiences is owning up to y mistakes and taking action to make the best 'living' amends that I can. Idk why all of you people who are so quick to jump on my case assume that I take zero responsibility for my actions. One hundred percent of you people so zero percent about me.

You're absolutely right to say that I searched for a high because I didn't like something about myself. I used for this reason and this reason only. And that escape became so powerful that I continued to seek it and only became further entrenched in a cycle of bad action. But like I said, I'm doing my best to correct my mistakes and I continue to learn and grow.

But I do think it is important to understand the volumes of scientific research that has been done to prove the existence of addiction, a disease that I suffer from and look to treat with right action, on a daily basis. I in no way blame marijuana for my behavior, I blame myself and the fact that I have a predisposition to addiction. I had power over the fact that I first picked up pot, but unfortunately lost the power of choice when my disease progressed and I no longer had control. I am extremely disheartened by all the people who commented and seem to have no grasp on the disease model of addiction. Frankly it angers me. But I hope you all know that one way i take responsibility for my actions is my showing forgiveness, the same forgiveness that was shown to me when I began to walk a righteous path. It is for that forgiveness I am so very grateful, and so all of you indignant and misinformed naysayers of me and my past behavior can see the truth about addiction, and no longer feel the need to shoot down people like me, who choose to put themselves out there to help others who are suffering from the same disease.

May. 31 2013 11:51 PM
BrianElvis from NYC

Jake, take responsibility for your poor choices & egotistical attitude of blame on a plant. Your search for a greater high is a weakness tied to you. Others have shown with success to treat this plant with respect. You, sir, did not.

May. 29 2013 01:55 AM
Kate from New York

Anything can be addictive if not used in moderation and with self-control. A child cannot exercise that kind of judgment. That is why drugs --like weed-- should be legalized and regulated.

I see it as a failure of the parents to impose basic structure in the child's social life. Clearly this kid was a white, privileged, middle class child. His life is 'stressful?' Gimme a break. I grew up in a neighborhood where you could get shot walking home. We had crack addicts and gangs everywhere. If his biggest problem is being dropped from his sports team...I have little sympathy. Part of being an adult is learning to deal with stress and reality. IF you can't do either you won't be able to function. SO clearly there is more going on here than a kid smoking a few joints.

May. 17 2013 02:07 PM
Robert from NYC

This is one of the worst handling of this subject I've heard anywhere. It leaves you thinking "are they trying to convince us all that marijuana is plain and simply addictive and evil?" as the old films from the 50s used to teach. I can't remember the titles of these films but they were the most fear creating propaganda against weed. Where are the stories about the garbage the pharmacos are pushing on us as "treatments" for disease and conditions that are far worse to our wellbeing than marijuana can ever be; meds for depression that can cause one to commit suicide? Statins that cause crippling muscle cramps and permanent damage? Just listen to the commercials for these poisons that are not only legal but advertise on TV!!

May. 15 2013 08:34 AM
jf from the truth

Cannabis oil cures cancer. Look it up. There is a very real Holocaust going on in america. -Where the government in destroying millions of lives exponentially deteriorating the social fabric. Using a not only harmless but HEALTHY PANACEA/ miracle drug as an excuse to destroy families, murder people, give record profits to private prison corporations, and enslave black people again. An enslave a nation of free thinkers. All for pharmaceutical, and petrochemical profits. Corporate armageddon is real.

May. 15 2013 08:24 AM
nick from Michigan

For everyone who commented on this your all complete idiots, if you haven't experienced addiction you are in no place to state your opinion. Marijuana is a gateway drug and that's a fact jake your story is so inspiring and will help so many people. Im sure your parents are very proud of you.

May. 14 2013 12:22 AM
Naira from NYC

Even though it is a fact that marijuana can be addictive but so can alcohol and even eating way too much sugar can destroy your life. I am just saying that because of this story it does not mean marijuana should not belegalized. I think if it was legal it would be less attractive for kids because forbidden fruit is always sweater.

May. 13 2013 02:05 PM
Brenda from New York City

The idea that people in the medical field referenced someone's SAT scores as an indication of good health is so troubling. Habitual drug use (of any kind) is an issue, particularly in a child. More often than not, a person is self-medicating an underlying mental health issue. For example, a child with anxiety can feel 'normal' when using a sedating drug. By referencing grades (or proficiency at standardized tests) these professionals are only reinforcing that the external is what matters most.
www.HereSheIsBoys.com

May. 13 2013 08:10 AM
Shawn from Philadelphia

first week off pot in 5 years smoked all through out high school. I read the comments people are posting and its clear who supports pot and who doesn't, but the people supporting pot have it all wrong in this situation. This isn't factual for everyone but it is factual for a bunch of people. So before you go rambling with CAPS and dive into the same response every pot head has when someone talks bad about pot remember this, you are not Jake and you may not have this problem but that doesn't mean it isn't real. This is coming from someone whose smoked pot everyday for 5/6 years

So for the pot heads reading this article and possibly this response I say this, If your getting mad over someones personal story of problems with marijuana then you also probably have a problem because someone who isn't addicted wouldn't be so defensive over someones random story unless your in denial. I also say if you can't go a day without smoking and be in a good mood then you also have a problem (the truth is denied a lot of the times, remember that)

One final thing you can talk about how pot is a medicine, pot is natural, etc but the fact is your using something to put excessive chemicals in your body to create a state of mind and THAT IS NOT NATURAL so in the end being high is just a hollow happiness with no purpose, its fun but if its your habit its a waste of money and a waste of your time.

May. 12 2013 11:55 PM
APRIL from Manhattan

CAPS = BAD EYES. TWO OF OUR WORST DRUGS ARE LEGAL. CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL. PROHIBITION DIDN'T WORK OUT. NOR IS THE DRUG WAR. PEOPLE ARE KILLED TO IMPORT MARIJUANA AND COCAINE. WE SEND MEXICO GUNS, THEY SEND US DRUGS, THOUGH WHERE WE LEGALIZE POT THERE IS NO VIOLENCE. WE GROW ABOUT HALF OF OURS ANYWAY. IT'S OK FOR BILL MAHER TO TALK ON AIR ABOUT POT, BUT A BLACK OR LATINO KID IS ARRESTED AND THROWN INTO OUR PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, WHICH, AS A PRIVATIZED PROFIT MAKING INSTITUTION, NEEDS BODIES TO FILL THOSE PRISONS. THE CURRENT SYSTEM DOESN'T WORK. PERIOD. MY MOTHER DIED OF LIVER DISEASE BROUGHT ON BY ALCOHOLISM AND CHAIN SMOKING SHE'D BEEN A CREATIVE PERSON, AN ACTRESS, WROTE FOR THE FEDERAL WRITER'S PROJECT, THEN MARRIED HAD TWO KIDS, AND GAVE UP. I WAS ANGRY THEN BUT NOW FORGIVE HER. I SMOKED THREE PACKS OF GAULOISES IN FRANCE, BUT GAVE THEM UP EASILY AFTER COUGHING UP BLOOD. MY FATHER AND BROTHER WERE THE SAME, COULD TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. A FRIEND WHO'S BEEN ON NICORETTE FOR YEARS SAYS NO ONE'S RESEARCHING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PEOPLE WHO CAN EASILY GIVE UP CIGARETTES AND THOSE WHO GET ADDICTED EASILY. I YELL AT YOUNG PEOPLE SMOKING CIGARETTES TO STOP. POT IS SIMILAR TO CIGARETTES IN THAT THE SMOKE MAY HURT YOUR LUNGS, THOUGH I UNDERSTAND THERE ARE NEW SAFER WAYS TO SMOKE OR EAT IT. DOING IT EVERY DAY ISN'T A GOOD IDEA. BUT A FRIEND WHO HAS FOR YEARS IS EXTREMELY ACTIVE. WALKS FOUR MILES A DAY AT A SLOW PACE. GOES TO MEETINGS ON ENDING WORLD HUNGER AT OXFAM CANADA. AND PLAYS FOUR INSTRUMENTS EVERY DAY. WE SHOULD STUDY OTHER COUNTRIES WHERE ALL DRUGS ARE LEGAL BUT REGULATED, AS AUSTRIA AND THE UK DOES AT LEAST SOME. I KNEW FROM AGE FIFTEEN I'D NEVER BE AN ALCOHOLIC. FORGET TO DRINK THE OBLIGATORY GLASS OF RED WINE FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. A SOUTHERN BAPTIST FRIEND IN APPALACHIA BLEW MY MIND, AS DID THE DALAI LAMA, BOTH SAID ONE GLASS OF WINE IS GOOD FOR YOU. MY APPALACHIAN FRIENDS AGREE WITH OBAMA'S POLICIES BUT, THE ELDER AT LEAST, IS A VALUES VOTER. I.E. AGAINST ABORTION. WHICH TRUMPS ALL. LOOKED AT ASHE CO ON ONE OF BILL MOYER'S MAPS, WHICH ARE SO ILLUMINATING. NO GUN DEATHS IN ASHE CO. MOST OF THE REST OF N.C., YES, LIKE HERE. ODD LACK OF KILLINGS IN THAT CONSERVATIVE BELT GOING UP THROUGH THE WEST EAST OF CALIFORNIA. NORTH END. LEGALIZE MARIJUANA. PROVIDE DRUG COUNSELING. PROHIBITION HAS NEVER WORKED AND NEVER WILL.

May. 12 2013 09:33 PM
Patrick from THE DEUCE

This isn't a political story. It's someone's account of what actually occurred to him. Mad love for Jake. Keep keeping on.

May. 12 2013 01:21 PM
k webster from nyc

Many of us find ourselves hunting for ways to not notice how lost this society has become. Instead of facing it squarely we develop a preoccupation with trying to "feel good" -or not feel anything. Our children are openly prescribed legalized drugs by adults and pressured into non-legal ones by peers. All in order to fit into this madness we've allowed to happen: over testing, whittled down safety nets, win-at-all-cost culture, meaningless work or work that does damage. And all of that sits on top of different hurts for different people. The real wonder is why more young people aren't going off the rails.

I wonder what would happen if we refused our favorite escapes from bad feelings, had enough support to face them down - cry them out like this family seemed to do?

As to enhancing reality with mind altering substances (of any sort) ... if we could be fully aware of this world, it would astonish beyond anything a drug could imagine. Everything else is counterfeit. This boy's fight to stay alive (in every sense of the word) trumps all arguments.

Good luck Jake. You can win - yours is a fight worth fighting. There are lots of people out here who are working their butts off for a better world, stick around to find out?

May. 12 2013 10:40 AM
Roy C from NJ

Jake, I hope you're doing well. I appreciate your candid truth about your experience!

May. 12 2013 02:17 AM
gibbs a williams ph.d from New York City

As a psychoanalyst with decades of experience treating substance abusers I find this article one of the most objective and balanced accounts on the subject I have ever read. Any substance - not only pot - can be abused. The core issue is what predisposes one to move from use to abuse? A careful reading of Jake's comments supplies the answer. He talks about being stressed out, his "mind always racing" - when not high experiencing 'the futility of life' preferring euphoria rather than having to face "reality". My experience strongly suggests that abuse happens to those who have bought the propaganda shoved in our faces from the many drug companies who would have us believe the nonsense that anxiety, depression, frustration, and stress are due to chemical imbalances thus the best way to treat this disorder - according to them - is to pop a pill. Instead of going to a doctor who often prescribes legal drugs many lie Jake are using illegal drugs (pot, heroin, uppers etc.)for the same purposen - to experience a steady euphoric high overriding the less sizzling so called array of 'negative' feelings. The core feelings most disliked by substance abuser are anxiety, depression, frustration, and stress. Additional feelings that substance abusers complain about incude boredom, futility, emptiness, alienation, ambivalence,not knowing, passivity, negative inertia, helpessness, hopelessness, fatigue among others. The truth is that the quartet of feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration, and stress (plus the rest of the list and even more) are not pathological states to be avoided and or masked , rather they are normal and inevitable responses to realistic life limitations to be actively confronted and mastered. The key to successful mastery of these unpleasant feelings is learning to bear increasing dosages. See attitudeshifting.com

May. 11 2013 11:53 PM
Sean from Los Angeles

I have a story very similar to Jake's, although I wasn't nearly as high an achiever.

Jake, if you're listening, I have 28 years of sobriety. I had a really hard time the first few years of sobriety. I got clean at 15, and it was tough, but I did make it and have had a great life. I still need meetings, and that's fine with me. We were both blessed with a chance at recovery at an early age. Please put your sobriety first. Don't worry about missing parties or impressing fellow students, just keep making meetings and let yourself grow into the nice life that's waiting for you if you don't pick up.

May. 11 2013 10:49 AM
JT33

Many of these comments are extremely shallow and show little understanding of the disease model of addiction.

Chas Holman - I'm not quite sure how old you are, but in case you've been in a cave for the last 50 years, this is the age of R&D; volumes of research regarding the existence of addiction as a disease, and the predisposition of some to become addicted, has been recorded. Jake is an addict. In his active addiction, he was a sick person, not a bad one. So for you to chalk him up as a "bad egg" and his parents as "neglectful" is extremely uninformed. You, my friend, are the prime example of the ignorance in society that propels the stigma attached to addiction. We need not shun these people, but engage in understanding the disease that ails them.

That is NOT to say addicts should not own up to their actions and behaviors. In active addiction, people do some really nasty things, as shown by Jake's story above. To recover, addicts need to own up to their mistakes and work to correct them, but the process of recovery only becomes more difficult when people like chas pegged addicts as bad people, unworthy of a second chance. To me, it seems like Jake has begun to trudge the road of recovery and own up to his faults, and if he manages to keep his disease under wraps, his past selfish and untrustworthy behavior, will by no means be an indicator of how he will carry himself in the future.

May. 11 2013 01:45 AM
Patrick from Madison, NJ

I've been a frequent user for nearly 30 years and undeniably addicted - I found myself, sometimes squeamishly, nodding along with Jake's description. I'm also a happy husband, father, and successful professional in my 40s. I'd wager it'd have been booze if I didn't find pot first, and a lot worse off I'd be!

May. 10 2013 11:06 PM
ML83 from Ann Arbor

For most addicts, the substance of abuse is irrelevant and it's capacity for producing dependence is secondary. Easy access to drugs, IMO, will accelerate the disease state of addicts. I don't believe it will turn many non-addicts into addicts. Jake's a great kid (I know Jake, personally as a friend). He, like many in recovery, owns responsibility for his addiction and behavior while also acknowledging how circumstances influenced both.

Knowing jake (or anyone in recovery for that matter) and contrasting that image with his past behavior is a testament to the power of psychological and physical addiction. Perhaps this article hits the wrong message but a discussion of mechanisms to mitigate the individual and societal pact if addiction needs to take place.

May. 10 2013 10:30 PM
Zachary

I think all of those commenting need to look at things a tad more objectively, and not see every article that discusses a negatives associated with weed as some attempt to take their joint away.

It's a also a bit ridiculous that most people are labeling a sophomore in college a "bad bay/bad person", get off your high horse and act like adults who have made mistakes yourself.

For some people, the feeling of being high can be addictive, and can be something that a user feels they need to have over a period of time. They might in fact move from marijuana to other drugs, or associate with people who smoke and use other substances, making them more likely to try something else.

It's ironic that everyone who claims the "big bad government wants us to think marijuana is evil" are most commonly the same crowd who advocate that marijuana the purest form of good. Issues have nuance and to reduce them to nothing but good or evil is intellectually dishonest.

May. 10 2013 08:24 PM
jf from TRUTHLAND

Exercise is addictive too, and marijuana cures and prevents cancer!
huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/marijuana-and-cancer_n_1898208.html
http://www.trueactivist.com/there-is-no-mistaking-the-evidence-cannabis-cures-cancer/
CANNABIS UNLIKE OTHER MEDICINES/SUPPLEMENTS TREATS ALL OF THESE ILLNESSES:
Agoraphobia
AIDS Related Illness
Alcoholism
Arthritis
Asthma
(ADD/ADHD)
Autism/Aspergers
Autoimmune Disease
Back Pain
Bipolar Disorder
Brain Tumor, Malignant
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Pain
Chronic renal failure
Cocaine Dependence
Colitis
Conjunctivitis
Constipation
Crohn's Disease
Cystic Fibrosis
Damage to Spinal Cord Nervous Tissue
Darier's Disease
Degenerative Arthritis
Degenerative Arthropathy
Delirium Tremens
Dermatomyositis
Diabetes, Adult Onset
Diabetes, Insulin Dependent
Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic Peripheral Vascular Disease
Diarrhea
Dysthymic Disorder
Eczema
Emphysema
Endometriosis
Epididymitis
Epilepsy
Fibromyalgia
Glaucoma
Glioblastoma Multiforme
Graves Disease
Headaches, Cluster
Headaches, Migraine
Headaches, Tension
Hemophilia A
Hepatitis C
Hereditary Spinal Ataxia
HIV/AIDS
Hospice Patients
Huntington's Disease
Hypertension
Hypertension
Hyperventilation
Hypoglycemia
Impotence
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Insomnia
Intractable Pain
Lipomatosis
Lou Gehrig's Disease
Lyme Disease
Lymphoma (Learn more)
Major Depression
Malignant Melanoma
Mania (Learn more)
Melorheostosis
Meniere's Disease
Motion Sickness
Mucopolysaccharidosis
Multiple Sclerosis
Muscle Spasms
Muscular Dystrophy
Myeloid Leukemia
Nail-Patella Syndrome
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Opiate Dependence
Parkinson's Disease
Peripheral Neuropathy
Persistent Insomnia
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Premenstrual Syndrome
Prostatitis
Psoriasis
Pulmonary Fibrosis
Quadriplegia
Radiation Therapy
Raynaud's Disease
Reiter's Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rosacea
Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizophrenia
Scoliosis
Seizures
Senile Dementia
Sinusitis
Skeletal Muscular Spasticity
Sleep Apnea
Sleep Disorders
Spasticity
Spinal Stenosis
Sturge-Weber Syndrome
Stuttering
Tardive Dyskinesia
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
Tenosynovitis
Terminal Illness
Thyroiditis
Tic Douloureux
Tietze's Syndrome
Tinnitus
Tobacco Dependence
Tourette's Syndrome
Trichotillomania
Viral Hepatitis
Wasting Syndrome
Whiplash

May. 10 2013 08:21 PM
Sean from Maplewood

This story is ridiculous. Jake is an addict with problems with himself and his family. You positioned this story as marihuana being a gateway drug that led ultimately to heroin. Of course, you never once explored what alcohol Jake consumed before ever trying marijuana. did you ask about his caffeine or tobacco habits? And the "expert" you interviewed conflated "dependence" with "addiction." A very poorly reported story without much critical thinking involved.

I hope Jake can get things worked out in his life. Anyone who drives to Detroit to buy as much heroin as he can has a real problem and is a completely unsuitable subject for a story about how the legalization of marihuana is influencing what kids think about it. And by the way, Jake's problems obviously happened during a time when there wasn't legal medical MJ in NJ.

I suggest the reporter do a story about the wide range of very successful people in NYC who smoke MJ regularly and have no problems.

May. 10 2013 08:00 PM
rh from nyc area

I would welcome more stories by NPR and the main-stream media on how marijuana and other illegal drugs work, in addition how legal drugs like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine work. I feel that all of those people invoking "Hitler" as some commented below have absolutely NO idea that there are pharmacological reasons for both the positive and negative side effects of these drugs, even if some topics are still being studied. We don't allow child porn in the US, and it's not because we are a fascist state. We don't allow people to marry more than one person. We don't allow children to drive cars. We don't allow people to go out in public with no clothes on. If placing strict limits on a drug that can hurt some people is their idea of fascism, go live somewhere that lets you do whatever you want, as long as you have the money.

May. 10 2013 06:03 PM
rh from nyc area

Why is it so difficult to understand that marijuana is addictive for some, does cause schizophrenic/psychotic behavior for some, and does leave to harder drugs for some?

Everybody goes ballistic when Vioxx *may* cause a very very small number of people to have an increased risk of heart attack, they want it off the market. Yet marijuana, which does seem to be "good" for some people, make them and others ignore the negative side effects.

The story is about marijuana; it is about a drug that works on the endogenous cannabinoid system (read about it if you haven't heard about it) and that has different effects in different people. Why don't we have it as a prescription drug that treats depression and stress? That is controlled and given in a limited quantity one patient at a time? It is a drug, and maybe it is a mild one, but so are many prescription drugs. The reason they are prescription, and that marijuana should be (even for depression or stress, even for 16 - 20 year olds), is that the people who need it AND do well on it should get it. And the people who do not do well on it are under a doctor's care and can look for other options.

Coincident to this story, my teenaged son went to a soccer tryout with a top three team in the tri-state area. The team looked good, he did well and was asked back for another session. But the whole team was talking about where to score weed and when they smoked last and would smoke again (usually the same day). He has made a decision that he's not going to pursue marijuana as a way out of stress. I think it is telling that a caller to an earlier talk show mentioned that marijuana was the one drug that he had to get professional help to give up. You feel like you don't have any problems, but really your problems are still there, but aren't getting solved.

I don't feel that the marijuana question will ever be solved logically. I can't just buy Percocet on the street, but it is legal if you have a problem. Why can't marijuana be legal, if you have a problem? And getting doctor's care while you are on it is key.

As for going to school and working while on marijuana, it should be the same as Percocet: no driving and care taken when making decisions etc.

May. 10 2013 05:56 PM
Xtina

This series has to be the most annoying thing I've ever heard on the radio. Two minutes of content stretched out into over 10 minutes. This laconic snail's pace sounds like everyone involved in making this felt compelled to 'test' sample the subject.

CAN'T STAND LISTENING!!!!

May. 10 2013 05:52 PM
Ben from NJ

So Jake was able to become addicted to weed at such a young age because drug dealers don't check ID's like a liquor store... sounds like a solid argument for legalization.

May. 10 2013 05:00 PM
Patrick

To all the people commenting that this is just a bad kid using weed as an excuse for bad behavior or "I smoke weed and don't have a problem so what is this kid complaining about"...everyone is different. Marijuana isn't 100% harmless or 100% harmful. Some people will be able to use it without any adverse effects and others won't. It's that simple. Do I think it should be legalized? Absolutely. Do I think some people will abuse it? Absolutely. Alcohol is a legal drug that most people can use without adverse effects, however a relatively small percentage of people are unable to use it without crossing over into abuse. Why is that so hard to understand when it comes to weed?

May. 10 2013 03:29 PM
Eledryth from 07112

But if the boy had been drinking beers with his buddies that would have gotten him a pat on the back no doubt. Because liquor is legal! Marijuana doesn't LEAD to harder drugs. Anything can lead to harder drugs. If the boy had a problem, it would have come out somehow else, with or without drugs.

May. 10 2013 03:01 PM
Mariel from NY,NY

This is a case study of one person's psycho-social makeup, it's not about marijuana.

May. 10 2013 02:24 PM
Miles Monroe

Reefer Madness - Assassin of Youth, the 2013 edition.

When all else fails, and you can't get your way, just scream "SAVE THE CHILDREN !!!" as loud and shrill as you can, because that trumps all science, logic, or evidence.

But hey, if it worked for Hitler, it ought to work for all the vested interests trying to hold on to cannabis prohibition too ...

May. 10 2013 01:53 PM
bobby day from alabama

giving any druga toteens sniffin gas firearms etc. what about responsible adults and patients?

May. 10 2013 01:33 PM
Jim

Wow, this article is a joke. The worst thing I'll do on weed is over eat!

May. 10 2013 01:20 PM
Ezra from nyc

Wake up America! The legalization of marijuana has nothing to do with whether or not it is addictive or harmful and everything to do with the enormous profits corporate America stands to make when it is legalized.

May. 10 2013 12:35 PM
chas holman from USA

Reading the story, it sounds like a generically neglectful family is trying to blame grass for their son being not only a bad egg, but a thief.

When I was a kid smoking grass I would of NEVER dreamed of taking money out of my mothers purse.. this isn't about marijuana, this is about Jake being an all around bad boy who has found opportunity under the spotlight to steal and manipulate situations, then later go back and blame anything but his self for those actions.

I'm old, I've seen a lot of nonsense in my life, and this reefer madness is just another way to excuse bad eggs from bad behavior. Jake wasn't addicted to grass and his 'gateway' were parents who placed him in social situations that he wasn't mature enough to handle without more guidance.

May. 10 2013 11:24 AM
Z from New York

When we talk about gun control to stop gun violence people want to say the problem isn't guns, it's misuse of guns. When we talk about mass violence, we say that you can't stop a crazy person from doing something crazy. Yet when we talk about drugs, the problem is always drugs, never misuse of drugs. Everything can be addictive, substances or behaviors. Coffee is massively addictive. Cigarettes are addictive. Booze is addictive. The Internet is addictive. Sun is addictive. Sex is addictive. Food is addictive. Reading is addictive, tv is addictive, socializing is addictive, working is addictive, religion is addictive, cats and dogs and fish are addictive. Treat the addiction. Supply side doesn't work.

May. 10 2013 10:54 AM
Akinyele Brandley from Japan

The stuff is just bad for everyone!!

May. 10 2013 10:51 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Sponsored

Latest Newscast

 

 

Support

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public

Feeds

Supported by