DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve noticed my son, who is home from college, is smoking marijuana quite often now that we are in quarantine. I can smell it on him. While I don’t have an issue with marijuana on occasion, I am worried that this is a coping mechanism for his feelings of anxiety about the future and isolation from his friends. How do I talk to him without being accusatory? -- Too Much Pot
DEAR TOO MUCH POT: Medical professionals have indicated that the rates of drug and alcohol use and abuse are up during this period of quarantine during the pandemic. Coping with the fear and anxiety of a health crisis coupled with an economic crisis can be difficult for everyone, young and old.
It is likely that your son’s excessive smoking is a coping mechanism. And you are right, he is likely to be defensive. So how can you address it? Talk to your son about how he’s feeling and what he’s looking forward to doing in the coming days and weeks. Rather than focusing on his smoking, get him to think about the future. What did he like to do before that was a hobby or area of interest? Encourage him to spend some time each day doing that. Invite him to take walks with you in the neighborhood and to talk about whatever is on his mind. Whenever you can engage him, be mindful not to be an inquisitor. Also, tell him stories about yourself and your dreams for the future.
When you feel that your rapport is strong, point out that you are concerned that he may be smoking too much. Suggest that he watch his consumption during this challenging time. If you have done anything in excess -- from eating too much, drinking heavily or even sleeping too much -- tell him that you are checking yourself, too, and you recommend that he do the same.
For more coping mechanisms and support for drug or alcohol abuse, go to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.