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Then suddenly he went right off the rails: Mothers’ stories of adolescent cannabis use

posted 18/12/2014


Debra JacksonSchool of Nursing, Family and Community Health College of Social and Health SciencesUniversity of Western Sydney
 , Research Degrees (M(Hons) and PhD) (Associate Professor Co-ordinator) &Judie Mannix (Lecturer)


Adolescent drug use provides challenges for parents, health professionals and the wider community. Of those adolescents who use drugs, cannabis is often the drug of choice. A number of adolescents will develop problems associated with cannabis use, and the burden of managing these problems will fall on the family, particularly the mother. This paper explores adolescent cannabis use from the perspective of mothers of affected young people. Twelve women took part in conversational style audio-taped interviews. Stories were extracted from the resulting narratives and were analysed guided by the work of Anderson and Jack (1991). Detailed findings are grouped under the themes: First awareness: ‘I couldn’t deny it was happening’; Constant vigilance: ‘I watched his every move’; Cannabis and family life: ‘I’d start to shake when he walked into the house’; Disrupted lives: ‘I was terrified he’d go to prison’; Shifting aspirations: ‘just staying alive’; and, Maintaining a loving relationship: ‘always told him I loved him’. Implications for nursing practice are drawn from the findings.

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