- 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
- 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)
- Strangely 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
Prevention: What you can do
Have the conversationAs 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. Make sure you are up to date on the risks and legal ramifications of youth marijuana use. Share your concern for their health and safety.
Set a good exampleThey watch what you do.
Have a clear messageSubstance 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 discussionUse 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 useSignificant 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 friends are a red flag. Don’t be afraid to confront your child.
Get help at the first sign of troubleParents 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 counseling 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. NIDA 2017
Did you know?
Marijuana can be addictiveRecreational marijuana use is illegal for anyone under the age of 21. 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 problem use. NIDA; Marijuana, July 2018
Marijuana potency has increasedIn the early 1990s, average THC content was roughly 3.7 percent for marijuana; in 2016, it was 13.18 percent. Marijuana concentrates contain up to 90% pure THC. Youth often consume these concentrates in electronic vaping devices. NIDA; Marijuana, 2017
Perception of harmIn Oakland County only 45% of high school students report thinking that smoking marijuana once or twice a week to be of moderate or great risk. 17.8% of high school students report using marijuana in the past 30 days. 2018 Oakland County MiPHY
Marijuana is associated with school failureMarijuana 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 wheelMarijuana compromises judgement and affects many other skills required for safe driving: alertness, concentration, coordination and reaction time. NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, p6
Marijuana affects mental and emotional developmentMarijuana use can be especially toxic to a developing teenager’s 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 can use to connect with and protect kids. 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: Michigan has medical marijuana, so if doctors can prescribe weed, it can’t hurt me
Parent Response: Doctors prescribe it for serious medical conditions, but that doesn’t make it “good” for you. All drugs have side effects, and all drugs can be harmful if abused, even those that are prescribed by doctors. Besides, it’s not legal for you. You have to break the law to get it.
Teens May Say: Marijuana is legal in Michigan now, so why shouldn’t I try it?
Parent Response: Recreational marijuana use is legal for people who are 21 or older. I don’t want you using marijuana or making other choices that have a negative impact on your future. I’m also concerned about marijuana concentrates because they can cause paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks and hallucinations. Your brain is still developing, and using marijuana changes your brain in harmful ways. These changes can lower your IQ and change your ability to remember information.
Teens May Say: Pot isn’t even addictive.
Parent Response: 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.
Parent Response: Not everybody’s doing it. Do you know that the earlier you start using marijuana, the more likely you are to get addicted? The consequences can be deep and long-term. Many studies show that marijuana users 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: I’ll bet you smoked pot when you were my age! What’s the difference?
Parent Response: There is a difference. Marijuana has changed. It’s much stronger than it used to be and way more addictive. My job is to protect and teach you. I can tell you that my life is no better I smoked pot. I admit to making some poor decisions when I was your age, but I made some good ones too. One of them was moving beyond that risky behavior. I hope you will let me help you make good decisions for your health and safety and your future.
OR I didn’t smoke marijuana because i was afraid of where it could lead, and I didn’t want to risk getting in trouble with police, school oor my parents. And, I didn’t want to risk getting addicted. I do know that today’s marijuana is far more potent than it was back then, and many other drugs are more available to kids today. As your parent, I want to help you make good decisions.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kidsdrugfree.org
Oakland Community Health Network(248) 858-1210 oaklandchn.org
Mental Health and Substance Use Access Services(248) 464-6363 non-emergency
Common GroundResource & Crisis Helpline
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)drugabuse.gov
Talk Sooner: Helping Parents Prevent Youth Substance AbuseTalk Sooner
NIDA for Teensteens.drugabuse.gov
Project SAM: Smart Approaches to Marijuanalearnaboutsam.org
Myths & Facts
- Marijuana is not addictive.Recent research has shown that regular marijuana use can lead to dependence. Marijuana use has been shown to be three times more likely to lead to depedence among adolescents than among adults.
- Marijuana helps treat cancer and other diseases.Research shows that marijuana, as a smoked product, has never proven to be medically beneficial. In fact, it is much more likely to harm one’s health. The adverse effects of marijuana smoke on the respiratory system would offset any possible benefit.
- There’s not much parents can do to stop their kids from experimenting with marijuana.Kids who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents or caregivers are less likely to use drugs than kids who do not. Open communication between parents and children gives young people confidence and helps them make healthy choices.
- The government sends innocent people to prison for casual marijuana use.In most states, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense, and some states have downgraded simple possession of marijuana to a civil offense, like a traffic violation.