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Could My Son Have OCD?

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Q. My 21 year old son has been artistic as well as athletic and out going his entire life. He is very also very intelligent. He won many awards in high school for athletics, academics and for his quality of character. In the fall after graduating from high school, he had his wisdom teeth removed and hasn’t been the same since. I’m not suggesting that the surgery had anything to do with his problems. It is only a time reference. He started smoking marijuana and behaving very different. He abandoned both of his best friends from the first grade. He and his sister, who is only one year older, were so close growing up. He started becoming distant to her as well as everyone else. He taught himself to play classical guitar, auditioned and entered a private college as music major on an academic scholarship. He never went to one class and dropped out. He stopped taking showers and eating normally. He has been arrested several times for misdemeanor charges and completed an intense, court ordered, 3-1/2 month in house rehab for marijuana addiction. His therapist told us that he had never counseled a young man so tough to crack. We attended family therapy sessions along with him to try to get at the heart of the problem. The only thing that really came out was that his father has always been a little hard on him growing up. He has been home from rehab one year and has gradually gotten worse. He pawned his precious guitars but still files his long fingernails into the shape used for proper classical guitar playing. He only has one friend whom we believe gives him the weed. He doesn’t work or go to school. He lives with us at home. He is not outwardly disrespectful but will barely speak to anyone. He stays in his room playing video games and recently stopped going out with his one friend. I suspect he has also started using ecstasy. He has a history of depression although he still denies that he was ever depressed. He has seen several Psychiatrists and therapists over the last four years. He would never take his meds. No childhood trauma of any kind was uncovered. No one seems to know what to do. He says he wants a job and a future. It’s as if he is chained to something that won’t let him move. We can and would “kick him out” if we knew that he simply had a drug problem. It seems so much more complicated that that. We don’t know how to help him.

Could My Son Have OCD?

Answered by on -


You asked if your son was suffering with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). There is nothing in your letter to suggest that he is suffering with this disorder. It is difficult to know what he is suffering with. He does display symptoms of a host of possible disorders such as major depressive disorder and/or a drug-induced psychotic related disorder, among others. From a short letter, however, it is nearly impossible to know what has happened to your son.

His problems could have been brought on by his drug use. Marijuana is a hallucinogenic drug and has been associated with the onset of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. Marijuana is a very powerful drug, more powerful than many people think.

It is also possible that there was something else that may have occurred, maybe an event that the family missed or does not know about that has brought on his behavior. It is extremely difficult, and this is what seems to be at the heart of your question, to decipher whether his current behavior is a result of his use of drugs. It is likely that his drug use was a factor in the development of his problems but whether his problem was definitely brought on by his drug use is something you may never know for sure. What is clear is that he does seem to be truly suffering from legitimate mental health issues, in addition to his drug use.

His current use of ecstasy will undoubtedly exacerbate the situation. It is unhealthy to allow him to use drugs in your home or to let him live there while you know he is using drugs. What you can do is to require that he seek treatment for his mental health problems and his drug problems to be allowed to live in your home. Before you make any decisions regarding your son, however, I strongly advise you to consult a therapist or a family therapist for help and guidance regarding this situation. It would be wise and appropriate to contact a mental health professional to help you and your family regarding this complicated situation. Take care.

Could My Son Have OCD?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Could My Son Have OCD?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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