How to Talk to Teens About Weed in 2017

More and more, we hear from parents who are struggling with what messages to give their teens about marijuana.
Many misconceptions exist around marijuana. With many states debating the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use, the messages can be mixed. Teens often argue that marijuana is natural and therefore non-addictive and harmless.

Parents sometimes struggle with knowing how to discuss this topic with their teens, because they may believe marijuana it is not as dangerous as other drugs, or that they themselves had used it when they were younger.

It is important to consider the following facts about marijuana use and teens:

  • Since the adolescent brain is still developing, regular or heavy marijuana use can lead to decreased problem solving, memory loss, lack of attention, and impaired coordination.
  • Use of 4 times per week or more can lead to significant decreases in IQ, and these changes can be permanent.
  • Teens who abuse marijuana are more likely to have lower school performance and a higher risk of dropping out.
    1 in 6 teens who use marijuana will develop an addiction to marijuana.
  • Marijuana use has been linked to a multitude of mental health concerns.
  • The “grass” or “weed” parents may have experimented with in the ’70s cannot be considered the same substance teens are using today… Concentrations of THC have increased 300% in the past thirty years!

While marijuana may be more socially acceptable than ever, it is still a high risk behavior, especially for teenagers.

When discussing marijuana use with teenagers, parents need to be very clear about the expectation to abstain from marijuana and other drug use. Explain to your teen the harmful health and developmental effects as well as acknowledging other risks, including criminal justice involvement.

I advise parents to watch for signs of substance use, including spending time with substance using peers, changes in social behavior, such as going out more or withdrawing from peers, spending money without having anything to show for it, and any incidents of appearing to be under the influence.
If you suspect your teen is using marijuana or other substances, please reach out for further guidance on how to address your concerns and assess the level of use.
The sooner you address the issue, the more likely you are to protect your teen.

Here’s to your Well Being,

– Jessica Mangels, LCSW, LCADC
Licensed Therapist &
Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Counselor