MARIJUANA & UNDERAGED USE
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
MYTH: 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 dependence among adolescents than among adults.
MYTH: 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.
MYTH: 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.
MYTH: 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.
Myths & Facts
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
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. 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 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 friends 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 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