- Brian Foley
How to save your child from THC vape addiction and prosecution
If you are part of a group, church, youth facility, or other civic organization that is concerned with the well being of children contact my office 936-596-0407 so that we can coordinate a presentation on the consequences of THC use and criminal prosecution. Criminal prosecution for THC typically ranges from a State Jail Felony with a punishment range of up to 2 years in a state jail facility to a third degree felony with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.
When a young person is arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance THC in the Woodlands, Conroe, or Houston the parents are often the first ones to call me. We focus on what has already happened and my job is to review the evidence and find a way to reclaim the life and potential of the child. But if we get the case dismissed how do we prevent a second case from happening? What do we do next? What can you do as the parent to help prevent this from happening?
Brian Foley - Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney
I am a criminal defense attorney and I frequently represent young people accused of possession of a controlled substance in penalty group 2 for Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. 17-20 year old people are using vape devices with THC at record levels. The National Institute on Drug Abuse's studies as recently as 2020 showed a surge in teen vaping but found that it was leveling off. https://nida.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/2020/12/study-surge-of-teen-vaping-levels-off-but-remains-high-as-of-early-2020
In my opinion this leveling off is not because of any particular effort on the part of government, prosecutors, public awareness campaigns, or otherwise. I believe that around 2020 vaping reached what I would call a saturation level. Meaning that it has become so prevalent and accepted that regulation has had no meaningful effect. In my opinion at this point the only curb to THC use through vaping for high school and college aged individuals is personal preference and availability. So how do you save your child from THC Vape addiction?
First lets understand why kids do it in the first place.
Drug use among teens almost always occurs for the first time in social settings among friends. This means at parties, after school, before school, skipped classes, sporting event trips, any time your child can be alone with their peers. If you were able to drink alcohol with friends as a teen think about the times you were able to do so. That is when vaping is happening now.
Teens use mind altering substances because they are looking for acceptance socially, or to help cope with other struggles that they are facing. If your child has a debilitating disease, depression, or has recently experienced trauma in some form they are at an increased risk at social withdrawal and drug use.
Other Risk Factors for Teen THC VAPE use include:
Older family members that use THC vape or other drugs,
The existence of depression or other mental health issue, including anxiety, bi-polar disorder,
Anti-social behavior or getting into fights,
Prior survivors of child sexual abuse or physical abuse or other traumatic events like car wrecks and suicide attempts,
Low self-esteem, unusual weight gain, or feelings of social rejection.
Reading these factors you can see that almost every teen at risk. Affluent neighborhoods, highly rated high schools and middle schools are not immune from these same concerns. Any teen could be at risk for using, becoming addicted, and being criminally prosecuted for THC possession.
I think the formula for saving your child has three parts.
Idle hands are the devil's workshop. This excerpt from the Bible in Proverbs 16:27 means that if you don't stay busy and focused on a goal you are more likely to end up getting in trouble or having negative consequences enter your life. This is especially true for teens. If your teen has hours of free time every day they are likely to try to fill that time in a way that provides them with a drug one way or the other. Either dopamine that your brain provides naturally through exercise, artistic pursuits, and positive relationships with others or maybe from controlled substances.
If your teen is not involved in after school activities which are productive, creative, or require physical labor or exercise then they are much more likely to fall into a social situation with no particular goal or purpose. This idling pattern after school creates opportunities for the first time use and repeated use.
Now I am not saying that if your child is on the football team they won't be offered a vape. It just happens in a different way. Being on the football team or basketball or golf team requires time. Time and energy spent in pursuit of something. It can decrease the time available for that friend, friend's older brother, or parent to provide your child with an illegal substance. Sports and other school sanctioned actives are generally monitored by a responsible adult so that you do not have to be a helicopter parent 24 hours a day.
Involvement in this context isn't just for your teen it is also meant for you. If you are not involved, in your child's life and activities you will not be familiar with their friends. Parents who are not familiar with their children's friends miss warning signs like depression, trauma, lack of involvement and thus miss risk factors for their own child's exposure to dangerous drugs.
A child who feels comfortable communicating with his parents or another responsible adult is much less likely to be arrested for any offense and much less likely to be arrested for a THC vape pen. If you don't already have time that you regularly share with your child in order to talk about what is happening in their life you need to build time to do it. You can't finish reading this article and barge into their room to discuss the consequences of THC use. If you don't talk on the way to school or at dinner find an activity or chore that you can make them do with you. If this is new they're going to hate you for it. But eventually you're going to build in time to speak with them.
When a child is experiencing a risk factor that can make them turn to drugs these conversations will help you recognize when it is coming. There is no substitute for talking with your child on a regular basis. For parents with teens you know how hard this can be. Try to establish these routines when your children are younger. Not everyone can talk over a prepared meal at dinner ever night. So you have to find the will power to build in an event or chore into you and your child's schedule.
Finally the last resort that any parent has to try to protect their child is to remove them from the situation and friends that are contributing to the problem. If your child is getting access to these drugs at school you may need to remove them from that school. If your child has already been arrested for THC and you are worried they are unable to stop using the substance then they are going to be headed to jail. In Montgomery County, Texas and for kids in the Woodlands who are charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 2 THC they are going to be drug tested by the felony court in charge of their case. If they test positive for THC and their levels continue to rise during the period of bond supervision then they will spend at least 2 weeks in jail while awaiting a new bond to be set by the trial judge.
It is critically important to be able to remove a child who is unable to manage their impulses or avoid friendships which have lead to police interaction. A change of location and a fresh start can allow for the implementation of new habits, behaviors, and understanding in the child. Removal is traumatic, but is in many cases the only option left available.
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