Recreational marijuana use is legal in 23 states and is available to purchase in some capacity in another 23 states. Marijuana use is at an all-time high and has particularly impacted teenagers and young adults over the last few decades. In fact, adolescent marijuana abuse has increased by around 250% since the year 2000. While smoking weed is less dangerous than most other drugs, the drastic changes in marijuana availability and consumption have raised new questions about cannabis use in young adults.
This article aims to help parents discern whether their son’s marijuana use is problematic or dangerous, and discusses modern concerns related to smoking marijuana, marijuana dependence, substance abuse issues, negative consequences of marijuana use, and potential solutions to these problems.
The Changing Landscape of Marijuana Use Among Adolescents
Young people today are navigating a drastically different marijuana market than teenagers just 20 years ago. Marijuana is legal for adults to purchase in almost half of the country, and even in areas where it remains illegal, obtaining weed from local dealers has become relatively effortless. The potency of cannabis has skyrocketed, with extracts, resins, and tinctures hitting THC levels of 99%.
The introduction of extracts, resins, and tinctures has led to THC levels reaching an alarming 99%. Among these potent products, “dabbing” has emerged as a popular method of consumption, where concentrated cannabis oils are heated to extremely high temperatures and inhaled. The use of “dab pens” has also gained popularity, allowing adolescents to discreetly consume potent marijuana extracts.
The combination of legalized markets, increased accessibility, and highly potent products poses significant challenges for parents, educators, and policymakers in safeguarding young individuals from potential risks associated with marijuana use.
The Importance of Avoiding Marijuana Use as a Teen
Marijuana is not physiologically addictive, it’s a significantly less toxic substance than cigarettes and alcohol, and it’s nearly impossible to overdose on. It’s easy to see why both parents may not be incredibly concerned if their child wants to smoke pot every now and then. But, despite marijuana’s relatively safe side effect profile, cannabis use still comes with a range of potential risks and negative consequences that can significantly impact your child’s overall well-being, development, and future prospects.
Marijuana Use Impacts Brain Development
Because the brain continues to grow and mature well into a person’s 20s, marijuana use during this critical phase can interfere with the developing brain. The parts of the brain specifically responsible for decision-making, impulse control, and executive functions may be particularly impacted, potentially leading to long-term cognitive impairments and affecting educational and career opportunities.
Marijuana Use Impacts Mental Health
Many teens and young adults start smoking marijuana to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression. Aside from the fraught consequences of using drugs to self-medicate an underlying mental health issue, evidence suggests that regular marijuana use, especially at a young age, may increase the risk of developing mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and even psychosis. Those with a genetic predisposition to these conditions may be particularly vulnerable.
Marijuana Use Impacts Physical Health
Smoking marijuana can have adverse effects on lung health, similar to smoking tobacco. It can lead to chronic bronchitis, respiratory issues, and compromised lung function. by exposing users to harmful toxins and carcinogens. Additionally, marijuana can have a profound effect on a person’s gastrointestinal system. The phenomenon known as the “munchies” is a widely recognized effect of marijuana use, and while this side effect might be amusing in pop culture, it often leads to digestive issues, overeating, and weight gain.
Marijuana Use Impacts Educational Achievement
Regular marijuana use has been linked to reduced academic performance. It can hinder concentration, memory, and learning, making it harder for young people to excel in school and reach their full potential.
Marijuana Use May Come With Legal Consequences
Marijuana is still partially illegal in 27 states. Even in areas where marijuana has been legalized, there are often age restrictions in place. Teens and young adults who use marijuana illegally could face legal consequences that may impact their records and future opportunities.
Marijuana is Addictive
Despite many objections to this claim, marijuana can be addictive, especially for young people. Although it is not physiologically addictive like alcohol or opioids, marijuana can be extremely psychologically addictive. When a person stops smoking marijuana after a long period of use, they will likely experience many of the same withdrawal symptoms that are associated with other drugs.
Marijuana Use May Promote Isolation
Excessive marijuana use can lead to social isolation, as it may alter one’s motivation to engage in social activities and hobbies. This isolation can hinder social skills development and limit positive peer interactions. The isolation that often follows regular marijuana use can exacerbate mental health issues and can ultimately result in a vicious cycle of loneliness and anxiety.
Even though marijuana is relatively safer than other drugs, avoiding smoking marijuana is crucial for teens and young adults to protect their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as their future prospects. If your son is smoking weed, encouraging responsible decision-making, promoting open communication, and providing accurate information about the potential risks associated with marijuana use are essential steps in promoting informed choices that contribute to his overall success and health.
Educating Young People About The Risks Of Smoking Pot At An Early Age
Awareness forms the first line of defense against substance abuse among our youth population. Comprehensive education about potential health risks associated with smoking pot should be delivered without resorting to fear-based tactics, which may prove counterproductive by creating intrigue instead of deterring interest.
This approach involves explaining facts clearly so they understand what they’re getting themselves into before lighting up that joint out of curiosity or peer pressure, rather than any desire for self-destruction or rebellion against authority figures.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)
A condition that’s becoming increasingly common among young weed smokers is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome or CHS. It’s characterized by cyclic episodes of debilitating nausea and vomiting which ultimately require complete abstinence from cannabis for resolution.
This syndrome was first identified in 2004 and has been increasingly diagnosed as more states legalize recreational marijuana use and marijuana products become more potent. You can find additional information about CHS at the Cedars-Sinai website.
An even graver consequence of chronic cannabis usage could be Cannabis-Induced Psychosis (CIP). In such cases, individuals experience temporary psychotic reactions following heavy consumption – symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, or disorganized thoughts which usually resolve within days or weeks after discontinuing drug use.
Identifying Signs of Problematic Marijuana Use in Your Child
Marijuana use among young people often leaves a trail that can tell you whether your child has smoked pot recently. Correctly identifying signs of any marijuana use is important, so that you can address their drug use before it becomes out of control.
Changes in Behavior and Mood
One of the first signs of problematic marijuana use is a significant shift in your son’s behavior and mood. Look for increased irritability, anxiety, or social withdrawal. Changes in mood and demeanor, along with a loss of interest in hobbies or social activities, could signal a potential issue.
While not always definitive, there might be physical changes associated with marijuana use. Bloodshot eyes, frequent use of eye drops, and an unusual smell on clothing or breath could be indicative of recent marijuana consumption.
A Decline in Academic or Occupational Performance
If your son’s grades are dropping or he is consistently missing work or school, it could be related to his marijuana use. Struggling with schoolwork, missing classes, or a lack of motivation, especially if your child has historically been a good student, can all be indicative of problematic drug use.
Pay attention to your child’s social circle. Are they spending time with new friends? Are they older than his age group? Do they have a reputation for exhibiting risky behaviors? A change in peer group might indicate exposure to marijuana or other substances.
Is your son spending more time alone, in his room, or out of the house? An alteration in your child’s routine, such as staying out late or avoiding family gatherings, could be an indication of substance use. Additionally, strained relationships with family members, friends, or teachers might arise as your child prioritizes their drug use over other aspects of life.
Remember, while these signs can be indicative of problematic marijuana use, they are not definitive proof. Communication is key. Approach your child with empathy, openness, and non-judgmental concern. Establishing a safe space for conversation can encourage them to share their experiences and challenges honestly.
Addressing Your Child’s Marijuana Use
Initiating a conversation with your son about his marijuana use might feel stressful or challenging, but it’s crucial to recognize that this discussion is essential for his safety, well-being, and future. While the topic might be uncomfortable, the way you respond as a parent will shape how your son perceives his problem. Overreact or dismiss their struggle, and they might retreat further into substance abuse; too much leniency could inadvertently enable them. As long as your conversation stems from a place of care and concern, not punishment, you will be able to effectively demonstrate your concerns for his health and growth.
Stay Calm and Non-Judgmental
Before starting this conversation, find a comfortable and private setting where you can have an uninterrupted conversation. Choose a time when both of you are relatively relaxed and not distracted by other commitments and approach the conversation with a calm and non-judgmental attitude. It’s best to avoid using accusatory language or expressing anger. Your goal is to create an environment where your son feels safe to share his thoughts and experiences.
Share Your Concerns
Start by expressing your genuine concern for his well-being. Let him know that you’ve noticed certain changes or behaviors that have raised questions for you. Provide accurate and relevant information about marijuana, its effects, and potential risks. Talk about the potential consequences of marijuana use, both short-term and long-term, and apply them to his life.
Set Boundaries and Consequences
If you’re uncomfortable with his marijuana use, set clear and reasonable boundaries. Collaborate on establishing rules that align with your family values and his well-being. Don’t be afraid to follow up on them and enforce rules. For instance, if kids’ grades slip because they’re spending more time smoking pot instead of studying, establishing study hours or limiting social activities could serve as suitable consequences.
Seeking Treatment for Your Child
If you believe your son may have an issue with smoking weed, it may be time to seek professional assistance. As mentioned earlier, smoking marijuana on a regular basis is often a sign of an underlying mental health issue. Consider seeking support from a family therapist or rehab program before he engages in further drug abuse or riskier behaviors.
If your son has been struggling with behavioral challenges alongside marijuana use, exploring options such as a sober living facility could provide the structure and support he needs to navigate this phase of his life. Sober living homes like New Life House offer structure, sobriety, and the opportunity to connect with peers facing similar struggles.
New Life House focuses on personal growth and sobriety, empowering young men to break free from unhealthy patterns and develop life skills that foster long-term success. If you’re seeking a solution that combines guidance, community, and a chance for positive change, consider looking into how a sober living facility like New Life House could benefit your son’s journey toward a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Last Updated on February 22, 2024