As if raising teenagers couldn’t get more complicated, now parents have the added stress of marijuana and its tolerance. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Alaska, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have laws that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. In other states, only the use of medical marijuana has been approved.
Years ago, things were simpler for the parents of teens. Marijuana was illegal, and that was that. But now parents must deal with the growing acceptance that our country has for marijuana and try to explain why the drug is dangerous. Kids don’t think like adults, and anytime a substance is legal, it has a more innocent image. Cannabis is no exception.
Isn’t Some Experimentation Normal?
Marijuana is one drug that many teens do experiment with at some point in their lives. Many try the drug once or a few times, and it never leads to anything more. Though parents encourage their teens not to try drugs, many do realize that some experimentation is a normal part of growing older.
Thankfully, the recreational use of cannabis has been illegal until recently, so this has made it less attractive. Most teens don’t want to be addicted or get into trouble for using the drug. Being caught could lead to unfavorable consequences such as being kicked off a sports team or dropped from a college scholarship.
Blurring the lines for teens and parents is the growing tolerance of marijuana. You’ve probably heard many statements in defense of the drug: No one has ever died from marijuana. Marijuana is a safe drug. Marijuana has health benefits. Marijuana is safer than alcohol and cigarettes, and they’re legal.
To adults, these comments may not have much bearing, but they do have influence for teens. If they believe that cannabis is not dangerous, then what is the harm in trying it? And what happens when, as a parent, you discover that your teen is using marijuana? What are you to do?
When You Find Out Your Teen is Smoking Pot
When you learn that your teen has smoked or is smoking pot, they may immediately argue that the drug is “safe” and legal in some states, perhaps even their own. You may feel like your hands are tied. When you look for support for addiction, people may not take you seriously. They may assume that true addiction only involves harsh drugs like crystal meth and heroin – not cannabis. But you know your child best, and you don’t want to turn the other cheek and make light of something that can become very serious one day.
What we at The River Source recommend is looking at the situation as a whole. In some cases, teens do use marijuana for a short time, and it is a passing phase. They become curious and want to explore their boundaries and feel grown up. But this does not mean that they will develop an addiction. At this point, we recommend establishing firm boundaries and rules that limits further use of the drug.
However, marijuana is addictive, and it this initial experimentation can turn into a habit. When you find that your teen is using marijuana regularly, it’s time to act.
Benefits of Early Intervention
Early intervention provides the following benefits:
- Shorter period of treatment needed
- Less intensive treatment required
- Avoid other hard drugs like cocaine or heroin
- Avoid accidents and other reckless behavior
- Avoid unprotected sex
Though many argue that marijuana isn’t really a gateway drug, we believe that it’s a stepping stone. Marijuana is an easy and available drug to experiment with, and if it grabs a hold of your teen, they will find it difficult to stop there. They will likely go on to experiment with other drugs to achieve new and different highs, and then you will have a much more involved and serious drug abuse problem.
Additionally, if your teen is already using marijuana to cope with the stress of school or self-esteem issues, it’s better to intervene now. You can get your child support and psychological help to deal with these deep rooted issues so that they don’t feel a need to use substances to cope. It’s common for people with substance abuse to have a co-occurring condition such as anxiety or depression, and these often develop during adolescence.
Signs Your Teen Needs Early Intervention
Here are a few signs your teen’s use of marijuana has gone too far:
- Poor academic performance
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- New circle of friends
- Decreased emotional and mental state
- Inability to connect with family members
- Lying, cheating or stealing
- Criminal behavior
Contact The River Source to learn more about your options for treating a marijuana addiction and stopping the cycle of abuse.