Dear Doctor,

My 18-year-old son is a user of marijuana — every day, all day. He also is vaping flavored stuff. He was in a psychiatric hospital twice during his last year of high school. He is coughing terribly and won’t go to the doctors or talk to his therapist. He is argumentative about everything. He won’t clean his room, and he won’t do his laundry. I am so stressed out every day. I just don’t know what, if anything, I can do to help him. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

End of Rope

Dear End of Rope,

You do need help. Your situation is parenting an entitled, addicted and probably depressed young man.

If you continue to accept his unacceptable behavior, you will be encouraging a co-dependent relationship. By doing nothing, you are making his dependence and bad behavior more intractable.

You need help and not that of a passive, well-meaning psychotherapist. My suggestion would be for you to seek referrals in your community for a drug counseling service. I suspect there may be more drugging happening than you know. The real help will be in the form of direct intervention. You need a “boots-on-the-ground” kind of counseling and support regimen.

The goals need to be thought out. First, being employed strikes me as essential. He is out of high school and of age to work. An active helper can work with you on this objective. He needs to stop using substances. They are not helping his depression.

I also suspect he hates his own behavior and knows he needs help. Your goal will be to set limits, offer support without encouraging co-dependence and work on the task of his eventual management of his life.

Nothing will happen without action. Arguing will not help. The road ahead is tough, but you need to be active. Do not wait any longer.

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at


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