Lack of parental supervision and/or exposure to marijuana use in the home
Exposure to peer pressure or a social environment where there is drug use
Easy access to marijuana
Belief that there are little or no risks associated with marijuana use
Lack of knowledge about marijuana and its effects
Past or present use of other substances, including alcohol
NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, p22
Changes in behavior, such as carelessness with grooming, mood changes and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends
Changes in academic performance, skipping school, getting in trouble at school
Seems unusually giggly and/or uncoordinated
Very red, bloodshot eyes or frequently using eye drops
Having a hard time remembering things that just happened
Drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers (perhaps claiming they belong to a friend, if confronted)
Strange-smelling clothes or bedroom
Using incense and other deodorizers
Clothing, jewelry or posters that promote drug use
Unexplained lack of money or a surplus of cash on hand
WHAT YOU CAN DO
HAVE THE CONVERSATION
As some children begin experiments with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana as young as age 10, it is important to start the conversation early and continue throughout the teen years. Communicate your values and message clearly. Share your concern for their health and safety.
SET A GOOD EXAMPLE
They watch what you do.
HAVE A CLEAR MESSAGE
Substance use is not a rite of passage, and not all kids experiment with drugs or alcohol. Teens who use substances have more problems with school, the law, their health and forming healthy relationships. Let them know there are consequences to substance use – both in terms of their health and for breaking your rules.
USE TEACHABLE MOMENTS AND NORMALIZE THE DISCUSSION
Use that time in the car or when there’s a story about substance abuse in the news to have the discussion.
RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS OF DRUG USE
Significant changes in a teen’s personality, motivation, sleep and grooming habits, appearance and friend group can signal a problem. Missing money or items that disappear from the home may mean something’s going on. Drug paraphernalia that teens try to explain away as belonging to a friend are a red flag. Don’t be afraid to confront your child.
GET HELP AT THE FIRST SIGN OF TROUBLE
Parents often underestimate the seriousness of drug use, especially with alcohol and marijuana. Seek out a professional and ask for help. Reach out to a guidance counselor or call a nearby counselling center to access prevention education and intervention services for an evaluation. Your child’s future depends on it.
Rosecrance; Teens & Weed: Still a Big Deal, A Parent’s Guide to Talking with a Teenager About Marijuana
DID YOU KNOW?
MARIJUANA CAN BE ADDICTIVE
Research suggests 30 percent of users may develop some form of problem use, which can lead to dependence and addiction. People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely than adults to develop a problem.
NIDA; Marijuana, 2016
MARIJUANA POTENCY HAS INCREASED
In the early 1990s, average THC content was roughly 3.7 percent for marijuana; in 2016, it was 13.18 percent. Average marijuana extract contains 50 percent to 80 percent THC.
NIDA; Marijuana, 2017
PERCEPTION OF HARM
Nearly 70 percent of high school seniors do not view regular marijuana smoking as harmful, while 22.5 percent of high school seniors report using marijuana in the past 30 days.
2016 Monitoring the Future
MARIJUANA IS ASSOCIATED WITH SCHOOL FAILURE
Marijuana has negative effects on attention, motivation, memory and learning that can persist after the drug’s immediate effects wear off – especially in regular users. Compared with their non-smoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.
NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, p7
MARIJUANA IS UNSAFE IF YOU ARE BEHIND THE WHEEL
Marijuana compromises judgement and affects many other skills required for safe driving: alterness, concentration, coordination and reaction time. Marijuana is the most commonly identified illegal drug in fatal accidents, showing up in the bloodstream of about 14 percent of drivers, sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs. By itself, marijuana is believed to roughly double a driver’s chance of being in an accident.
NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, p6
MARIJUANA AFFECTS MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Marijuana use can be especially toxic to a teenager’s developing brain. It can lead to impaired short-term memory, perception, judgment and motor skills. Regular marijuana use has been associated with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and personality disturbances.
NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, p19, 20
TALKING TO YOUR KIDS
Conversations can be a powerful tool parents use to connect with and protect their children. When tackling a tough topic such as marijuana, figuring out what to say can be challenging. Here are some sample conversations that may be helpful.
Teens May Say
"You’re just saying it’s bad for me because you don’t want me to smoke pot."
"You’re right. I don’t want you smoking pot or making other choices that have a negative impact on your future. Your brain is still developing, and smoking pot changes your brain in a bad way. These changes can lower your IQ and change your ability to remember information. Substance use any kind of means you’re more likely to have emotion problems – including depression and anxiety."
Teens May Say
"Pot isn’t even addictive."
"People who want to keep smoking always say that, but research shows marijuana is addictive. Smoking pot changes the brain – just like other drugs. I’ll be you know kids who obsess about how and when they’re going to get high again. Some will steal money or do other things they aren’t proud of to get money for it. They might blow off things they used to care about, including school. That’s addictive behavior."
Teens May Say
"I’m just trying it out, like everybody else my age. It’s not like I’m going to smoke weed forever."
"Not everybody’s doing it. Do you know that the earlier you start smoking pot, the more likely you are to get addicted? The consequences can be deep and long-term. Many studies show that pot smokers don’t do as well in life as other people. They get worse grades and drop out of school more often; fewer pot smokers go to college."
Teens May Say
"Smoking a little pot doesn’t mean I’ll end up using heroin."
"I hope not! But smoking pot, especially as a teenager, means you are many more times likely to use other drugs. It’s just a fact. The more a person gets into smoking pot, the more likely it is they’re hanging out with people who also do other drugs. Almost all of the teenagers who go through treatment start out using some combination of nicotine, alcohol and marijuana."
Teens May Say
"I’ll bet you smoked pot when you were my age! What’s the difference?"