I've Caught My Teenager Smoking Weed, Now What?
What a nightmare it is for parents to catch their teens doing drugs. However, there's just something about marijuana which leads some people (especially teens) to believe that it is a milder, more benign, less dangerous drug to indulge in.
In fact, it's this misconception that has led to marijuana being one of the most used and abused drugs in the US among adults and young people (a close runner up is prescription drugs).
This graph from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that marijuana, by far, is the most preferred drugs among 12th graders in a survey conducted in 2009.
Marijuana (also called pot, weed, and over 100 other street names) was first cultivated as a medicinal, psychoactive drug as early as the 3rd millenium BCE. The active mind-altering ingredient of pot is called THC. Its strength can be determined by many factors such as the type of cannabis plant used, soil type, climate, and others.
Cultivation of the cannabis plant these days have become so sophisticated that the level of THC in modern day pot is not the same anymore as it was thousands of years ago.
The more popular administration of marijuana is by smoking in rolled cigarette joints. These joints usually contain a seedless form of marijuana called "sinsemilla"; and the THC content is usually between 7-25%. Some types of administration of marijuana contains more potent THC levels, five to ten times higher than sinsemilla.
Teens smoking pot may feel some form of pleasurable high because marijuana has a hallucinogenic effect. Like alcohol, it also has disinhibiting properties which can be felt within a few minutes of smoking it.
Tolerance may build up over time and the effects of smoking pot may vary, but the most common effects include diminished short-term memory, perception distortion, loss of inhibition (making a person highly suggestible), increased heart rate, dreamy state of relaxation, paranoia, impairment of hand-eye coordination and balance, and hallucinations.
While the effects of marijuana peaks after 10 to 30 minutes of using it, its drug component lingers and accumulates. The THC content of marijuana can be retained in the body, being a fat-soluble substance.
It can accumulate n the liver, lungs, and other fatty tissues of the internal organs. For many users, the memory impairment lasts long after drug use and may cause damage to the part of the brain that is essential to retaining memory and learning.
Long-term use of marijuana also puts a person at risk of respiratory diseases such as bronchial asthma, lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, and others.
Young people are bombarded by suggestions from different media that smoking weed is not just harmless, it's also cool. How can parents compete with the influence of media and their teens' social circles?
There are people who have successfully lobbied to make the medical use of marijuana legal in some states, although its illicit use is still illegal. Whether or not you believe it is healthy for teens, the fact still remains that it is illegal to use it, and there are reasons why the legal use of marijuana (and even the possession of the plant itself) is highly regulated.
It sounds horrible, but if teens want to smoke pot, they will find a way to do it even if you tell them not to. How then do you approach teen marijuana use? Here are a few suggestions:
Clarify your stance against drugs - Teens must know that you are against drug use, and that includes marijuana. Make it part of your house rules and include the consequences of using or being found in possession of any kind of drugs.
Educate yourself and your teens - A lot of information about marijuana can be readily available to teens if they choose to research it. It's important that you learn more about this drug and its effect especially on the still developing brain of teens. Look at information together, if possible so that you can learn more about it together and so that you can understand the draw of marijuana to young people.
Talk about non-health risks - Teens often don't appreciate health risks because mortality isn't one of their concerns yet. They are just starting out in life and may be shortsighted about the long-term effects of drug use. Some of the non-health risks that they may appreciate include the effects of marijuana on their appearance.
Teen marijuana use can cause the skin to prematurely wrinkle, making teens look older than they actually are. Like smoking, marijuana also causes halitosis (bad breath) and causes teeth to look yellow. It also causes temporary erectile dysfunction as well as delays puberty for teenage boys.
Catching Your Teen in the Act
It's very difficult for parents to deal with catching teens in the act of doing drugs. If you catch your teen smoking pot, calmly take the drugs away and tell them that you will talk to them in a few hours. It's by no means an easy thing to do, but lashing out at your teen while they are high does not always produce good results.
Shouting at them will only put them in a defensive position; they can shut you out or act rebelliously. You'll want them to be in a clear state of mind when you talk to them about the consequence of what they did.
If your teen is struggling with marijuana addiction, trying out a residential boarding school may be helpful. It takes your teen away from an environment where he/she can score a joint easily.