• 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.
• Lake 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 into 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 or jewelry or posters that promote drug use.
• Unexplained lack of money or a surplus of cash on hand.
NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, pg. 22
What You Can Do/Prevention
Have the conversation
As some children begin experimenting 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.
Have a clear message
Substance us 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.
Set a good example
They watch what you do.
Recognize 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 is 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 or 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 or 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.
Long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction. It is estimated that 17 percent of teen users will become dependent on it. THC in marijuana has increased from an average of 1 percent (1970) to 30 percent (2013). (NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, pg. 6)
Marijuana is unsafe if you are behind the wheel.
Marijuana compromises judgment and affects many other skills required for safe driving; alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana is the most commonly identified illegal drug in fatal accidents. By itself, marijuana is believed to roughly double a driver’s chance of being in an accident. (NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, pg. 6)
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. 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, pg. 7)
Teen marijuana use has increased over the past 5 years.
This increased use parallels a softening of perceptions about marijuana’s risks. The lower the perceived risk, the higher the use rate. (NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, pg.10-11)
Marijuana use can send you to the emergency room.
In 2011, marijuana was reported in over 455,000 emergency department visits in the United States. Over 13 percent of those visits involved people between the ages of 12 and 17. (NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, pg.15)
Marijuana affects mental and emotional development.
Marijuana 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 disorders. (NIDA; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, pg. 19-20)
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, if can’t hurt me.
Parent response: Doctors recommend 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: You’re just saying it’s bad for me because you don’t want me to smoke pot.
Parent response: 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 of any kind means you’re more likely to have emotional problems – including depression and anxiety.
Teens may say: Pot isn’t even addictive.
Parent response: People who want to keep smoking always say that, but research show 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 don’t 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. In fact, most don’t. Do you know that the earlier you start smoking pot, the more likely you are to get addicted? 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 pot doesn’t mean I’ll end up using heroin.
Parent response: 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 started out using some combination of nicotine, alcohol and marijuana.
Teens may say: I’ll bet you smoked pot when you were my age!
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 because 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 or 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.
Source: Rosencrance: Teens & Weed: Still a Big Deal, A Parent’s Guide to Talking with a Teenager About Marijuana
Oakland County PACE (Prior Authorization and Central Evaluation)
Oakland County Health Division provides screening, authorization and coordination of services for alcohol and drug treatment services for Oakland County residents with Medicaid or no insurance, as well as education, awareness and training about substance abuse issues.
If after hours, call Common Ground at 248-456-0909 or toll-free 800-231-1127.
Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority (OCCMHA)
Resource and Crisis Helpline (800) 231-1127 www.occmha.org
National Institue on Drug Use (NIDA)
NIDA for Teens
Project SAM: Smart Approaches to Marijuana
DEA Drug Prevention Publications
Preventing Marijuana Use Among Youth & Young Adults
For more publications by the DEA see DEA Drug Prevention Publications