Early in my career when I was working half-time on a psychiatric inpatient unit in a general hospital and half-time in an outpatient clinic in a rural community mental health center, I had the opportunity to work with a young adult male about aged 20 years. He was a college student at the time and was admitted to the psychiatric unit with psychosis. Up until that time he had been the typical college student – enjoying life with a new found independence, taking core classes, and engaging in the social activities of the day.
Unfortunately for him, part of his social activities included alcohol and drug involvement. After partying and smoking marijuana – just once – he began to develop psychotic features and ended up in the psychiatric unit with hallucinations. I remember him as being quite fearful (who wouldn’t be?) and confused as to what had happened to his life. His supportive parents were beside themselves and felt a tremendous amount of guilt over their son. It was painful to watch a family being destroyed due to the experimentation of marijuana. There was no way to guarantee that he would ever be free of the psychosis and it was an eye-opening experience for a new psychologist in her first job after graduate school. I am happy to report that he eventually “recovered” and was able to go forward in his life but I have often wondered what his life has truly been like since.
I recognize there continues to be the ongoing debate about the effects of marijuana. Our course entitled: Marijuana: Harmful or Harmless? factually examines this drug. Rarely does a day go by in counseling that I don’t have a debate about this particular chemical. What I know for sure is this: it is still illegal and nobody “needs” this drug. I am sure there will be many people who will debate this issue with me and I welcome any and all responses. The more debates we can have the better we will understand the issue.
“Unrest of spirit is a mark of life; one problem after another presents itself and in the solving of them we can find our greatest pleasure.”
– Karl Menninger