Bipolar Disorder or Cannabis-induced Psychosis? Many Cannot Afford the Answer

My son started using his junior year in high school when he was 15. He was young for his grade. By the time he went off to a UC campus, he was smoking daily. This highly academic student began to lose the ability to focus, and his anxiety got out of control. We had our first indication of psychosis on Mother’s Day 2020 when he was home during the lockdown. We took him to the ER and he was diagnosed with “cannabis use disorder.” I did not understand at the time that this meant ‘your son is addicted.’ He got into an outpatient program through his UC campus and after a brief stint at sobriety, he relapsed.

He subsequently had 5 more hospitalizations within a brief 3-month period. Luckily, we got him into an inpatient rehab program for dual diagnosis since the medical community cannot untangle true underlying mental illness from Cannabis-Induced Psychosis (CIP) until the patient is 6 months sober. He was there for 2 months.

He’s now been sober for 8 months. His bipolar diagnosis has been revised to CIP.  He attends Marijuana Anonymous regularly and is in therapy. He is ready to return to university this fall. BUT my God, this could have easily been a different ending. It still could be. Sobriety is something my son will have to remain actively committed to for the rest of his life.

How many families can’t afford this intensive care?

I don’t know when we will be free from worry. We’re so grateful for the progress our son has made in his recovery and to have had the financial ability to get our son in an inpatient recovery program, but we live in a constant state of fear that he will relapse and die. Every day we live with this fear. 

Too many families cannot afford a “good outcome.” Our son’s recovery to date has cost us over $60,000 in out-of-pocket charges, after what little medical insurance covered. How many families can’t get their children the intensive care required for Cannabis-Induced Psychosis?   How many are stuck in a mental health nightmare they can’t get out of?

This is an anonymous submission by a concerned parent. Do you have a story to share? Please contact us.