A while ago, I was having a conversation with someone who was referred to me by his mother. She said he was smoking too much Marijuana and was worried about his health so she wanted me to try and see if I could help him to start thinking about quitting.
It took a lot of tossing and evasive maneuvers from him but he eventually agreed to the meeting.
I tried to explain his mother’s concerns to him; how she was worried and why it will be helpful for him to start thinking about quitting. His response to me was, ‘It is true that I smoke a lot of Marijuana but I do not do it to commit any crimes. I only smoke it because it is something I like. I am not a bad guy’.
I did not know what perceptions or feelings his mother and others may have expressed to him about people who use marijuana but I could deduce from his response that, it was all negative.
This position taken by others towards him probably made him feel like, he had to continue using the drug to prove to them that, he could smoke and still not become a criminal. So I tried to help him see another reason why his mother was concerned about his drug use by looking at two dangerous consequences of continuous Marijuana use.
1. Do you know that continuous Marijuana use can lead to severe health consequences?
‘Extensive research has shown that Marijuana use can cause damage to the heart, lungs and mental health. It can also cause accidents on the road while you are driving by slowing your reaction time, impairing your coordination and distorting your perception’.
‘Since you use and drive, your Marijuana use does not concern only you but all other road users. You could hurt other people even when you do not intend to’.
2. Do you know that Marijuana use is illegal in Ghana?
‘According to the laws of Ghana, anytime you buy, possess or use any Marijuana product, you are breaking the law. So in the process of gaining access to, preparing and using the drug even once, you would have broken the law several times, which could land you in jail for at least ten years’.
‘You just told me that you do not engage in any criminal activity when you use the drug, but criminal activity is not limited to violent crimes like murder or armed robbery, it is any act which is against the laws of our country’, I said.
I continued to help him understand that, his mother is not interested in making him feel like a bad guy, she just loves him so much, she does not want to loose him to ill health or the criminal justice system. She just wants him to live a healthy and full life without any health or legal obstacles.
If you know anyone struggling with drug use, approach them from a place of love instead of condemnation. That is more likely to yield better results.
By the way, the guy agreed to go into treatment, and is taking it a day at a time.