Regardless of how you may personally feel about the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana use, there is no arguing the fact that its increased availability and acceptability can make it appealing enough to many individuals, including teenagers, that they decide to give it a try. According to a survey by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than twenty-one percent of all high school seniors admitted to using marijuana within the thirty days prior to being surveyed. Furthermore, nearly six percent of teenagers surveyed admitted to daily use of marijuana. Since mimicry and a desire to “fit in” are among the top reasons a teenager may consider using marijuana, it’s important for parents to take action to prevent and resolve their teenager’s marijuana use. But how can you go about this so that they actually listen?
Talking to Your Teen About Marijuana
In order to have a successful conversation with your teenager about marijuana use, you first need to understand what they may think about this drug substance. The fact is that since marijuana is legal and acceptable to use, either medically or recreationally, in many states, few teenagers truly recognize the very real dangers associated with its use. Surveys have indicated that nearly sixty-four percent of all high school seniors feel that regular marijuana use is entirely harmless and risk-free. In actuality, however, marijuana use can lead to a decline in one’s attention, memory and learning abilities. Chronic marijuana smokers also sometimes experience psychosis or panic attacks. This is information your teenager may not have; information he needs to hear from you. However, the way in which you tell them this can definitely affect whether they actually accept the information, so here are four important tips to follow:
1. Be completely open and honest with them and encourage them to do the same. When you sit down with them, you can let your teenager know that you want to talk with them about marijuana because you want to make sure they completely understand the truth about this drug substance. It’s important that you come off as a friend to your teenager–someone who it is safe to talk openly and honestly with. If they feel that there will be repercussions and punishment as a result of being open and honest, they may refuse to admit that they are considering or even participating in marijuana use. They need to feel that they won’t be talked down to, but will have a friend to confide in.
2. Present them with the facts. It can be very helpful to have the real facts about marijuana to show your teenager so that they don’t feel like they just have to take your word for it. Show them the dangers of marijuana use, why it’s addictive, and how many individuals have experienced it as a “gateway drug” that leads to more dangerous drug use. Present them with information from real studies that outline the link between marijuana use and failures in school, impaired driving abilities and more.
3. Make this discussion separate from others. Don’t just bring up marijuana in the middle of a different discussion, especially if that discussion is argumentative. It’s easy to see how trying to do so will set the discussion up for failure, as your teenager is already feeling defensive and upset. Instead, wait until a time when they are in good spirits and obviously receptive to talking with you.
4. Listen and try to understand their point of view. No one likes being lectured at, especially teenagers who are trying to figure out how to grow into adults and take on the world. A talk about marijuana should be relaxed enough that both you and your teenager have an opportunity to listen and be heard. If your teenager admits to marijuana use, you can gain a lot of trust by acknowledging them and then asking them pointed questions–like why they turned to marijuana use in the first place, why they feel it’s necessary to continue to use marijuana, what they feel occurs as a result of marijuana use and more–and then listening and understanding what they have to say.
Even if you feel completely certain that your teenager is sober and will forever remain so, it’s very important to take the time to sit down with them and discuss marijuana. It is an unfortunate fact that many parents are completely oblivious to and therefore shocked when they discover their teenager’s drug use problems, and they often feel helpless to do anything about them. Whether your teenager is currently sober, considering marijuana use or struggling with addiction, the worst thing you can do is nothing at all. Reach out and talk with them–you may very well help to protect or restore their health and safety by doing so.