More young people are using marijuana than ever before. In fact, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that more than 21 percent of high school seniors have used marijuana over the last month. Even worse, nearly 6 percent of the teens reported daily use.
So, what’s causing the massive spike in underage pot smokers and what can parents do to keep them sober?
Pinpointing the Problem
As it turns out, there is no one significant incident we can point to and blame for the spike in weed-smoking teenagers. In truth, the blame can be equally shared among a number of situational incidents.
One of the largest problems, however, is a growing trend in the way our nation’s young adults view pot. Most fail to recognize the negative issues or dangers associated with the use of marijuana. Need some statistics to back that theory up? Well, how about this one: Nearly 64 percent of all high school seniors share the belief that regular marijuana use poses no great risk at all.
Of course, there are plenty of negative consequences associated with smoking marijuana, some of which include declines in attention, memory and learning abilities. Chronic smokers who use high doses of marijuana can also experience psychosis or panic attacks. And those who suffer from schizophrenia or other mental illnesses often find that smoking pot actually makes the symptoms of these disorders worse.
Starting an Honest Conversation with Teens
If you’re concerned your child might be using marijuana, it’s time to take action. Don’t wait around to see what happens or hold your tongue out of fear. Your teen needs guidance; as a parent, it’s your job to provide them with support and wisdom.
If you’re ready to talk with your teen about the dangers of weed and establish an open the line of communication, keep the following five tips in mind:
- Make Honesty a Priority – Many teens aren’t open with their parents about their marijuana use for fear of being punished. Let them know they can be honest about their past drug use, (if any) and that no repercussions will come from it.
- Be Open About Your Own Drug Use – Most people have tried pot at least once in their lifetime. Being open about your own use can make this talk feel more like a conversation and less like a lecture. If you’ve never smoked pot, tell them about your experiences with peer pressure around drugs.
- Present the Facts – Give your child information about the dangers of marijuana and why it’s addictive. You can also present studies that show pot use being associated with school failure and impaired driving abilities, among other issues.
- Pick a Good Time – Don’t bring this up in the middle of a separate dispute or argument. Wait for a calm moment when your child is in good spirits to have the conversation. You can also wait for a relevant moment, such as catching the smell of marijuana on a walk or drive.
- Try to Understand – If your child admits to marijuana use, learn why they feel it’s necessary? Are they experiencing issues at school? Using it to manage depression? In most cases, drug use is simply masking a deeper issue.
Doing Whatever’s Necessary
As a parent, it’s your job to protect your children from harm and ensure he or she has the necessary tools to make smart and informed decisions. And sometimes that means taking drastic action to protect your teen from setting out on the path toward addiction.
If you think that your teen has developed a marijuana addiction, you are in a position to take necessary action. As a parent, you can legally force a child under the age of 18 to attend inpatient addiction treatment. Of course, forced rehab should be considered a last-resort option when all other methods have been exhausted. And though you may be labeled “the bad guy” for a little while, your teenager will be alive and well…and that’s what matters.
For now, however, all you need to do is start with a conversation. It could prove be to highly beneficial not only for them, but also for you.
Additional Reading: Talking to Your Kids about Drinking? 7 Valuable Conversation Tips
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