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Does Marijuana Use Contribute to Failure to Launch?

The following information provides an overview of how marijuana use can contribute to the Failure to Launch phenomenon in young people, particularly with young males. Marijuana use in teens can exacerbate mental health struggles, disrupt the normal and healthy developing brain which can increase risk for abuse, addiction and cognitive issues.

What is Failure to Launch?

Failure to launch is a syndrome or set of conditions rather than a specific disorder or a psychiatric illness. Mental health professionals have seen it emerge over the past decade at an increasing rate. It tends to occur most commonly in late adolescent males though it can also affect females.

It is defined by an inability to move through the transition into adulthood, usually occurring after high school during the “college years”. The individual appears stuck in a post-childhood, pre-adult stage. He or she cannot or is unable to move towards greater independence and self-realization. Finding counseling for young adults and treatment for failure to launch can be necessary for moving forward. Sandstone Care has locations in Colorado, Virginia, and Maryland to help you and your loved one get back on track.

Typical Signs & Symptoms of Failure to Launch

Some common symptoms and signs of failure to launch are:

  • Dropped out of school or decline in school performance
  • Returned home after an attempt(s) to live independently were unsuccessful
  • Unemployed, underemployed or only minimally employed
  • Provides little contribution to family or interpersonal relationships financially or emotionally
  • Withdrawn or absent – secludes himself in his room or simply goes out and “parties”
  • May misuse substances, particularly marijuana (is my child addicted)
  • Lacks motivation, direction or purpose – has no clear plan forward
  • Lacks emotional range or expression – struggles to express wants, needs or fears
  • No desire for greater independence or responsibilities
  • Something clearly is not working but difficult to say specifically what “It” is

Failure to Launch is Not a Simple Issue to Properly Address

As every parent knows, no child grows up without periods of difficulty or struggle, however, failure to launch occurs at a time when the struggles of adolescence are expected to be a thing of the past. It is a syndrome that has become increasingly and alarmingly regular. The idea of a twenty year old who has dropped out of college, moved back home to reside in his parents’ basement and play video games is one many people may feel uncomfortably familiar with.

However, the individual is likely struggling with psychological issues such as anxiety or depression and may need significant help in order to move forward. Marijuana and other substance abuse can play a major role in failure to launch and counseling for marijuana addiction and failure to launch may be necessary.

Marijuana Addiction & Failure to Launch

It is unsurprising that deep problems such as self image, fear of failure, or avoidance usually play a major role in why a kid ceases to move forward. Oftentimes, they turn to marijuana use to escape or mask these psychological struggles and eliminate the tension that stagnation can cause. Marijuana can become a sort of silent enabler for these individuals. Getting high can help them feel less immediate anxiety and become an excuse to do nothing and make no changes.

Overtime, marijuana use can develop into a dependence and become an addiction that causes further decline. Long term marijuana use, particularly in adolescence, can have severe effect and lead to changes in brain development. It can increase lack of motivation, anxiety, stunt emotional growth and contribute to issues at school. Those that are struggling with failure to launch and become addicted to the drug may need specific marijuana addiction counseling as part of treatment.

Marijuana's Contribution to Staying "Stuck"

Marijuana can become the helping hand that holds a person back; making it easier to hole up in a room, easier to avoid thinking about the future, easier to stay unmotivated (Marijuana info page LHG). The drug’s immediate effects cause a decrease in motivation, critical thinking and anxiety. Marijuana also tends to increase long term chronic anxiety, which means when high it seems there are no worries, but as that fades anxiety spikes get worse.

This cycle of anxiety only increases with usage. While a decrease in some anxiety may seem like a positive, having the right balance of anxiety and motivation are key factors in finding the drive or ambition to grow up and take chances. Becoming an adult, in the sense of taking on responsibilities, having a fully realized sense of self, finding resiliency during times of difficulty, means having the right balance of confidence and anxiety. A drug that kills motivation and helps with stagnation can be disastrous to someone already struggling with these pieces.

Failure to Launch Treatment Options

For parents, it can be difficult to know how to parent and handle their legally adult child who is unable to take care of themselves or move forward. It is important for parents to not enable their child while still finding compassion for the deeper underlying issues. Finding help and support during this period can begin the process of moving beyond the stagnation. For young adults struggling with marijuana or substance abuse in addition to failure to launch, is it necessary to get them involved with drug treatment programs.

Failing to get appropriate treatment for addiction will only leave someone vulnerable to continued decline at a later time. Finding marijuana addiction counseling for young adults is important for full recovery. As a marijuana and substance abuse treatment center tailored for young adults struggling with failure to launch, we are available for you and your family.

Our Virtual IOP program offers the same programming we offer in person, all online - ideal for those who live too far to drive in, have transportation issues, or health concerns that make in-person treatment challenging.

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