As more states pass reforms legalizing marijuana for those 21 and over, it presents a challenge for parents to explain the harmful effects of the drug to their children. This is because the once-banished drug has been becoming more normalized in American culture. While it remains illegal for teens, the reality is that more teens are willing to try marijuana than any other drug or substance.
Marijuana is a serious drug that can interfere and impair judgment, leading to making life decisions that have significant consequences. However, many parents find it difficult to talk with their children and express the dangers of marijuana use while others celebrate the drug’s legalization. While there are benefits, frequent recreational use could lead to addictive and impulsive tendencies. Parents should be as educated about marijuana as possible to talk to their children and prepare for a world where marijuana is legal and accepted.
Look for Opportunities to Initiate Conversation
It can be difficult talking with a teenager or child about subjects with conflicting beliefs about the issue. This accounts for the praise as much as the doubt and fear that surrounds marijuana. While it isn’t a very easy topic to approach, it’s essential to find ways to open the dialogue. This could be when driving by a dispensary or seeing a character on television smoking. You might ask your child what they know about marijuana or what do they think of it being legalized. The idea is to keep the conversation open and casual, without calling attention to your concerns or making a bigger deal out of things than you need to. Age 10 is considered an appropriate age to begin the conversation; however, it’s never too early to start the conversation if a younger child inquires.
Environment to Encourage Conversation
Instead of making things awkward with your child by designating time to give them the talk about weed or pot, you want them to feel comfortable so they can speak openly. Simply put, you want to have a conversation, not give a lecture. Ask questions and reserve your opinions about the matter – let your child do the talking. Remember, you want to know what they understand about the drug, not lecture on how you feel about it. This takes being engaged and listening. Sometimes the best way to communicate is by listening. Always make it a topic that can be discussed. You can use the growing legalization and normalization of marijuana use to keep the topic something that your child will feel comfortable talking about and continuing the conversation.
Always let your child know that they can call you if they are in a situation where they have used marijuana. This is not permission for them to use, but rather an understanding that they can trust you will help them if they do. If you have tried or use marijuana, be honest about it. Let them know your reasons and experiences with it and why these reasons may be wrong or right, as well as why you have not become addicted to the drug. Or if you have become addicted, let them know what you would want to change about that situation. Finally, try to get help to show your child how serious you are.
Stick With the Facts
If you are uncertain about marijuana research, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides the latest information on the drug and its multiple uses. It also explores the negative aspects of the drug and provides statistics. Whenever presenting the facts, remember to be objective. Begin with the basic facts: marijuana affects the brain and brain development, causing interruptions with learning, memory, and sleep patterns. Marijuana can also increase depression, anxiety, panic, and paranoia. It can also permanently decrease IQ.
Apart from the effects marijuana can have on the brain and interfering with how a person can manage emotions, marijuana is addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms after chronic use. Alternatively, marijuana may help with medical conditions; however, much more research is needed to establish a link and why there is a relationship. If the subject of medical marijuana should arise, describe it like most other medications in how it is prescribed for specific reasons and for a certain period of time.
If Your Child Begins Using
Studies show that most teens feel more comfortable with trying marijuana than any other drug. Understand that your teen or their friends might become the advocate to get high. Instead of punishing them, try to understand why. Is it peer pressure? Pressure and stress at home? Depression? There is usually an underlying cause for teens to try using any drug. If you discover the underlying cause, try to find out if they are trying to remedy their problems by using marijuana.
If you don’t know if they are using but suspect that they might be, there are signs to look for: Have their relationships with you or their friends changed? Do they have extreme mood swings that are out of the norm for them? Have their grades changed? Are they hanging around a different crowd? These could be indicators that they may be using marijuana, and you may need to intervene before it leads to something more serious, like injury or addiction.
If you believe that your child has a serious problem with marijuana or other substances, you should call their doctor or a treatment center like True Recovery that specializes in opening up communication lines between a parent and their child to find the best treatment options for the situation. Addiction disorders run in almost every family. This is a frightening thought, but one that must be faced and dealt with proactively. While you cannot keep your child from interacting with the world, you can instill in them trust and good information. If you feel like you have lost trust and communication with your child, it is time to consult a professional who can help. At True Recovery, we treat patients and families of all ages experiencing hardships surrounding drugs and alcohol. We approach the parent and child’s needs, providing care, comfort, and security to turn things around. Never wait until it is too late. To learn more, call (866) 399-6528.