General Question

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

Should I tell my therapist that I smoke pot?

Asked by toomuchcoffee911 (6912 points ) June 3rd, 2012

I’m bipolar and I’ve only smoked for a few months. I’m under 18 so would my therapist have to tell my parents?

I don’t need a lecture about the dangers of drugs, but thanks.

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23 Answers

thesparrow's avatar

He/she probably won’t, and it’d be fine to tell her/him. Unless you planned to murder someone, a therapist isn’t allowed to tell your parents anything. And smoking pot amongst teenagers is quite common; it’s likely they smoked at your age, too. I told my doctor I smoked pot.

zenvelo's avatar

Yes, you should tell your therapist. He or she would not have to tell your parents, in fact that would be a violation of the therapist’s confidentiality. If you don’t trust your therapist, that’s an issue you should raise with the therapist. You could even frame it as, “for instance, if I tell you I smoke weed would you tell my parents?”

augustlan's avatar

I’m almost certain that would be privileged information, and the therapist wouldn’t be allowed to tell your parents. It’s definitely something the therapist should be told, but I’d take @zenvelo‘s advice, and approach it as a hypothetical, first.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Actually, I’m not 100% sure that’s privileged info. The laws for minors are different (and are often even different at different ages – what goes for a 14 year old might not for a 16 or 17 year old), especially regarding what they can and cannot tell your parents. Definitely check on that first.

jca's avatar

You might want to ask a general question of the therapist, like “Can you please explain to me what you are obligated to tell my parents about that we discuss? Is everything we discuss confidential? Are you obligated to tell my parents anything at all? Can you please clarify your obligation to my parents?” Something along those lines.

ohmyword's avatar

Do as you wish… but I would tell my therapist, to allow them to know the whole situation and provide the best treatment.

filmfann's avatar

Tell your therapist. If you want therapy to work, you should tell them anything you feel is important.

bolwerk's avatar

I agree with @Aethelflaed about privilege. That can probably depend on your state’s law. Check it out before listening to us.

But generally, I think if it’s relevant to your therapy, it might just be better to tell him. It’s not a very dangerous drug, but it does have risks in relation to certain conditions. If you have a family history of schizophrenia, for instance, you might consider abstaining. Unless your parents are especially draconian, the risk of them finding out could be lower than some other risk you aren’t yet aware of.

Hopefully this isn’t approaching lecture territory, but I have had experiences with at least two stalkers whose conditions were almost certainly exacerbated by excessive marijuana use. While I don’t like telling people what to do, I also don’t like that many people present marijuana as virtually risk-free.

zenvelo's avatar

I checked with a friend who is a clinical psychologist, she states, “Considering California laws about juvenile client privacy, smoking pot is not considered a reason to break confidentiality. Every state is different though.

rooeytoo's avatar

One of the stupidest things you can do in this world is to lie or not be completely honest with your shrink. It just isn’t going to work that way.

The absolute stupidest thing you can do in this world is to lie to yourself. That is even worse than lying to your shrink.

bolwerk's avatar

@rooeytoo: but if his pot smoking isn’t relevant to his therapy, the nature of which he didn’t quite specify, he doesn’t necessarily need to tell the shrink. Given that he is self-described as bipolar, it might be prudent in this case, but it’s not fair to call him a liar when he’s withholding information that potentially affects his privacy, and perhaps his physical safety if it gets out.

Either way, lying can be avoided by not bringing it up.

woodcutter's avatar

Don’t do it, is my first reaction, unless there my be a reaction to any scripts they might get you started on. It could open up an ugly can of worms. Anyway if this therapist is any good they’ll figure it out but I wouldn’t volunteer that information yet, being you are still legally a minor. It’s that damn legality mess.

rooeytoo's avatar

@bolwerk – I should have said not being completely honest and open with your shrink instead of lying. Semantics I think but there you are.

I stand by my statement. Apparently this is in this person’s mind or they woudn’t have asked the question in the first place. Therefore withholding this information is going to be problematic. And I think if you want to improve and heal, then you better be honest with your shrink and yourself.

And if you are on meds for the bipolar condition, I would say it is even more important to avoid a conflict with the prescribed drugs or the possible deleterious effects from using other mind altering substances besides the ones prescribed.

skfinkel's avatar

The people I know who have smoked pot regularly and daily since their teens have had a hard time getting their lives together. It might not be the pot that has caused this confusion, but rather the reasons that they are smoking pot in the first place. In any case, try and figure out your life and your problems in a forthright way with your therapist. Maybe you will be able to get yourself helped and won’t need to use pot.

bolwerk's avatar

@woodcutter: I took his “therapist” to be a psychologist, not a psychiatrist.

@rooeytoo: He should not disclose if he’s going to be put at risk for abuse by his parents or prosecution.. I tend to think he should disclose if it’s in confidence, but if it’s not confidential he may need to be more careful.

@toomuchcoffee911: Third consideration: if you are deaing with a psychiatrist, and your therapy is somehow going back to a legal matter, it might not be a bad idea to consult a lawyer either, if you have the option.

woodcutter's avatar

@bolwerk Yes I now but there may be other kinds of mental health professionals involved who do write scripts. Its that minors on dope thing. The parents are bound to find out, hopefully the dope isn’t a regular heavy usage thing and cessation will occur before the cat is let out of the bag. Young people on drugs is a bad deal, bad, bad ,bad.

rooeytoo's avatar

@bolwerk – well if he wants to get well mentally then he needs to be honest, end of story. That is the way I see it. Lying to your shrink or yourself of omitting relevant facts to your shrink (and drug or alcohol use is certainly relevant) is stupid. YOu are without a doubt hurting your chances of recovery. In the case of his parents becoming aware, I guess it is a calculated risk, that is wellness vs. secrecy. And it is often said, you are only as sick as your secrets.

iBite's avatar

As suggested be sure to ask your therapist what they have to divulge by law before revealing anything and take the answer into consideration.

My advice though might be contrary to what you want to hear. I think you need to explore why you are smoking, when you are smoking, how much you are smoking and if it is filling the need you are using it for.

All the above is best discussed with your therapist. So even at the risk of having your parents find out (and they might be surprisingly supportive) so I suggest you do bring it up in therapy.

For many users pot relieves pain and other symptoms of illness, both mental and physical. However, if it is used as a bandaid or for a mental escape it will delay your healing and, excuse the expression, castrate the therapy. On the other hand, if it is helpful you may even garner a prescription for it.

Keep us updated on what you decide and just remember that you are worth what ever it takes to heal.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

Thank you everyone! I’ll definitely go for the hypothetical question.
Just to clear a few things up: I see psychologist and a psychiatrist, I think pot is fun but I’ve only been doing it for 2 months, and I don’t believe I use it as a bandaid.

Bill1939's avatar

As @jca suggested, “ask a general question of the therapist, like ‘Can you please explain to me what you are obligated to tell my parents about that we discuss?’” Likely the answer will be that what you tell the therapist will be kept confidential. If so, you should definitely share everything with your therapist.

FluffyChicken's avatar

Yes, please do.

josie's avatar

If you don’t tell them everything they need to know, how can they help you?
Would you lie to or conceal the truth from a physician who was trying to make a diagnosis and treatment plan on you behalf if you were dangerously ill?
I am always curious about people who seek the help of a professional, and yet refuse to cooperate in that professionals attempts to be helpful.
Why spend your money (or possibly somebody else’s money) on a therapist and not give them a chance to do their job.

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