How Can I Talk to My Teen About Marijuana Use?

Smoking and marijuana use are common ways to pass the time for many people. However, these activities seem exceptionally common among youth today. Many teens use these substances to act out or rebel against parental authority. Others may be trying to cope with a deeper issue or think using marijuana is “fun” or “cool.” 

Whatever the case, you may struggle to find the words to express to your teen the risks and dangers of using marijuana. Those feelings are entirely normal. Substance use is not easy to discuss with a child at any age. However, with the proper tools, education, and resources, you can grow more confident about bringing up the topic with your teen to help them stay informed and safe. 

Why Do Teenagers Turn to Substance and Marijuana Use?

Recreational substance use is not new to our society. Millions of people engage in this behavior every day. For some, substance use is confined to alcohol consumption. That may include taking shots on a Friday night out on the town or drinking wine at a weekly Saturday dinner party. Everywhere we turn — parties, events, and family gatherings — alcohol may be present because it is a significant part of the culture.

However, many people are more experimental in their engagement with substances. Some argue that recreational drug use is just as pervasive in society as social or prescribed use. For example, think about the 70s and 80s when using marijuana or cocaine recreationally got increasingly normalized. These are generalizations but are shockingly accurate for many. The most evident difference between then and now is that we know the dangers of recreational drug and alcohol use. 

Despite knowing the risks of substance use, many teenagers still actively engage in it. As a parent, ask yourself why that is. The answers are not as complex as you may think. Teenagers turn to substance use for a few main reasons. 

The “Cool” Factor

Drinking and smoking weed is something for teens to do at parties. It can be a way to rebel against their parents. Peer pressure also plays a significant role in the decision to drink or smoke. Many teenagers give in as a way to make friends, avoid ridicule, and fit in. 

Lack of Coping Skills

Most teens have not developed healthy coping skills yet. The teenage years are hard. Amidst puberty, adulthood approaching, and fighting for status or independence, teenagers experience many complex emotions. Without healthy coping tools, they may turn to alcohol or weed to blow off steam. 

Self-Medicating Mental Distress

A teen may use substances to cope with a mental health condition. Youth nowadays experience anxiety and depression more than ever before. Without fully developed brains with the ability to be entirely rational, substance use can seem like the best choice to achieve an immediate but temporary release. 

What Is Marijuana?

Aside from alcohol, marijuana seems to be one of the most common substances teenagers use. Marijuana comes from a plant that can be smoked or consumed and causes a chemical change in your brain, mood, and consciousness. It contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component that creates a euphoric high. 

The impact of marijuana varies from person to person. However, the desirable effects include: 

  • Help to cope with stress
  • Improved sleep 
  • Lowered inhibitions, sometimes making people feel more sociable 
  • Pain relief 
  • Eased symptoms of other conditions 

Despite the potential benefits, there are many potential risks to consider. 

Is Marijuana Addictive?

A common misconception is that marijuana is not addictive. However, that is not always the case. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana “can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder.” They indicate that 30% of individuals who use marijuana may struggle with problem use. Furthermore, people who start “before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.”

While 30% may not seem like a lot, beginning marijuana use as a teenager increases the chances of becoming addicted significantly. If your teenager uses marijuana frequently, they may experience irritability, mood swings, physical discomfort, and trouble sleeping after ceasing use. Their dependence on marijuana may impact their ability to function at school or interfere with other aspects of their lives, especially if it goes untreated. 

How Can You Talk to Your Teenager About Marijuana Use?

Before talking to your teenager about marijuana, you must recognize the signs that they are using. These signs include: 

  • Bloodshot eyes 
  • Any strange smell on their clothes or in their rooms 
  • Unusual laughing
  • Impaired coordination
  • Lack of money or constantly asking for money  
  • Impaired cognitive function or memory loss 

If your suspicions are confirmed, talk to your child about the dangers of marijuana use. Consider using the following tips from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 

  • Check-in on the well-being of your child 
  • Speak to them during informal times, such as in the car or during dinner 
  • Clearly express your expectations about marijuana and drug use 
  • Prioritize spending time together through social involvement and extracurricular activities 
  • Always speak with love, empathy, and compassion, and let them know you care and are there for them

If your teen develops marijuana use disorder, treatment is available. Consider a treatment program for your child today. 

Aside from alcohol, marijuana has become one of the most recreationally used substances in the United States. Many use it to reduce stress, manage mental health conditions, or experience its euphoric effects. A common misconception is that marijuana is not addictive, but 30% of people who use marijuana develop a marijuana use disorder. Additionally, marijuana use before age 18 can significantly increase the chances of becoming dependent as an adult. Speaking with your teenager about marijuana use is challenging but vital for their current and long-term safety. For help talking to your teenager today, call NorthStar Transitions at (303) 558-6400. We can help you start the conversation and get them treatment. 

Search Blog Posts
Back to blog
Call 866-407-2240
Verify Insurance