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Parenting young adult friendships: Riddled with complications

Published: July 11, 2012 | Last Updated: October 28, 2012 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
It’s tricky for parents when young adults get involved in destructive friendships.


Hi Irene,

My daughter is a 21-year-old completing her third year in college. She has anxiety and depression, for which she has taken medication over the last three years but she doesn’t take it as consistently as she should.

The first year was an adjustment moving to a large city away from home, the second year she was starting to settle in and join a sorority and was making friends and doing fairly well in school. The third year she meets a friend and we are seeing a total change in her.

She is morphing into this girl, she has lost her drive and failed this last year, we know she is smoking pot with this friend constantly and now she wants to relocate schools and move in with this girl. This girl is a very smart girl at the top of her class with honors but the excessive smoking weed is taking my daughter down fast!!

We have talked to her about all the changes she has made and question her about her failing grades and she swears she has given more effort this year than any other year towards her grades but we know what is really going on. I’m very concerned and scared about her future at this point.

I don’t want her to move with this girl but my daughter is 21 and adamant about making this change. I feel like we need to do an  intervention to break her away from this friend. The girl seems like a good girl except for the excessive week smoking. Obviously, she can do that and still get top grades, and was recently accepted into a major university into a very limited program, but as for my daughter—She has become very absent-minded, has no drive, and just wants to sleep and be on the computer doing mindless  activities and plan about the next time she is going to be spending with this girl.

We have even discussed a sexual attraction that she might have with her but I really don’t think that is it. My daughter is very obsessed with this girl and I don’t know if I let her go and let her make her own mistakes or if I throw in the towel and tell her NO, you’re not going or I’m not going to be there for you in any way!

I don’t think there are signs of any other drug use except for the pot. I feel like the medication she is on for depression and anxiety is being counter-active with this chronic pot smoking and I’m sure she isn’t being honest with her doctor about the smoking. What I want to do is make her move home, get her into counseling and drug test her for her pot smoking! Am I on the right track with this thinking? Please advise.

A Worried Mother


Dear Worried Mother,

I do not provide any medical or clinical advice on this site. If you suspect that your daughter, who was previously diagnosed with  anxiety and depression, is—smoking pot pretty regularly, not taking prescribed psychiatric medications, has had sudden behavioral changes, and is having trouble keeping up at school—you need to speak to a mental health or substance abuse professional who can evaluate the situation and help you develop an appropriate plan of action.

Your daughter’s lethargy, lack of initiative, and inability to focus may stem from her emotional problems, her excessive use of marijuana, or some combination of the two. She may be using marijuana to self-medicate, in an effort to allay persistent symptoms of anxiety and depression. Also complicating the picture: It’s hard to know whether the prescribed medications she takes are making any difference because she isn’t taking them consistently.

The dilemma you are facing isn’t uncommon. Although it’s always hard to parent, it’s even harder to parent an adult child who is struggling to become independent. And denial, one of the hallmarks of addiction, is very difficult to overcome.

Clearly, this is much more than a friendship problem, per se. I would strongly urge you to talk through the situation with a professional, either her therapist or someone else of your choosing, to provide you with the support and guidance your family needs at this juncture. You may also want to check out the resources for parents at The Partnership at DrugFree.org.

Warm regards, Irene

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Category: Young adult friendships

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Good advice, Irene! This is such a loaded topic, and such a difficult age for so many young adults.

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