Is Your Teen Smoking Pot? Here’s 5 Next Steps to Take

If you suspect that your teen may be smoking marijuana, here’s a few steps you should take to make sure that s/he does not face the consequences of becoming a chronic user.

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Nearly 6% of American High School Seniors Use Pot Daily

The discovery that your teenager is smoking pot can be upsetting. Whether you caught them in the act or they admitted it to you, the next steps that you take are critical for their long-term health and happiness. While teens have often been known to engage in rebellious acts over the years, those who experiment with marijuana frequently discover that they cannot stop as easily as they thought.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, nearly six percent of high school seniors admitting to using marijuana on a daily basis, and forty-five percent claimed that they had tried it in the past year.

If you suspect that your teen may be smoking marijuana, here’s a few steps you should take to make sure that he or she does not face the consequences of becoming a chronic user.

1. Confirm Your Suspicions

Your first step is to find out for sure if your teen is actually using marijuana. Here are some signs that might suggest your teen is smoking pot:

  •  You find paraphernalia or smelled marijuana smoke on your teen
  •  Your  teen is hanging out with known users of the drug
  •  Your teen wears clothing or listens to music that glorifies pot
  •  Your teen exhibits signs of being under the influence, such as having memory lapses or   difficulty   holding a clear conversation

If you suspect that your teen is using marijuana, you can confirm your suspicions by simply asking them if they are smoking or ingesting pot. Keep in mind, however, that your teen may lie if they believe that telling the truth will get them in trouble. In these instances, you may need to seek further proof of their marijuana use by having them take a drug test at home or in a professional setting.

2. Open Up a Dialogue

Ideally, you have been talking to your teen about drugs for several years. Now, you need to open up a deeper conversation about marijuana use. Begin by picking a time when you know that your teen is comfortable and open to talking. Try to avoid times when you are rushed, such as on the way to school since this conversation could turn into one that is more complex than you expected. You can also use techniques such as asking open-ended questions to make sure that this feels like a conversation and less like a lecture. Remember that your goal is to get your teen to open up about their marijuana use so that you can begin to work together on finding a solution to help them stop.

3. Talk About the Risks for Teens

One of the reasons for the increasing rates of teen marijuana use is that it is no longer depicted as dangerous in the media. Teens who read about the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes may begin to think that using the drug is low risk. While marijuana may be legal in certain states, the truth is that it is still illegal for teenagers to use. Marijuana also affects teenagers differently than it does adults, and your kid needs to know the facts.

Gather some information about the risks of using marijuana for teens before you sit down with your child to talk about their use. For instance, you may put together a few facts about how marijuana affects the developing brain. Your teen may be surprised to discover that doing pot in their teen years could affect their ability to think and rationalize properly as adults.

In addition the physical risks of marijuana use, your teen is also placing themselves in a risky situation. For example, your teen could face stiff fines and jail time if they are caught with marijuana in their possession. Chronic use may also be causing your teen to struggle in school, or they may have been kicked off of their sports team.

4. Check for Other Forms of Drug Abuse

Marijuana is often considered a gateway drug because kids who try it may be tempted to experiment with stronger substances to achieve different effects. Certain drugs, such as PCP, can also be mixed with marijuana to make the high more intense. If you know that your teen is smoking pot, then you should find out if there are other forms of substance abuse in your child’s history. While you can ask them if they are using other drugs, you may need to seek a professional evaluation if they are not forthcoming. Keep in mind that teens often mix pot with alcohol, which can lead to coexisting addictions that must be treated at the same time.

5. Treat Any Underlying Causes

Teens do drugs for a variety of reasons. While some teens may use marijuana once out of curiosity or due to peer pressure, those who use it more often are likely trying to mask other issues.

For example, your teen may feel like using weed helps them to overcome their social anxiety. They may enjoy how it makes them feel cool or helps them to fit into a specific social group. Keep in mind that marijuana is not just used by kids who tend to get in trouble. Athletes, gifted students and popular kids are all vulnerable to falling prey to marijuana addiction, especially if they feel like it helps them to be a part of a group.

Your teen may also use marijuana to deal with serious mental health issues, and this is more common if they have never been diagnosed. Teens with anxiety may feel as though the pot helps them to stay calm, and kids with ADHD may like how they think it helps them to stay focused. While you may know that marijuana does more harm than good for these conditions, your teen may need to work with a professional counselor to learn how to cope with their mental health issues in healthier ways.


Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is an addictive substance that has negative effects on a teenager’s health. When you suspect that your teen is smoking pot, be sure to take immediate action. With lots of talking and professional counseling, your teen can learn to live a happy life without relying upon substances to feel better.

About the author
Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY17766), a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist and a Certified Youth Residential Treatment Administrator. Dr. Nalin is the Founder and Clinical Director of Paradigm Malibu and Paradigm San Francisco Adolescent Treatment Centers. He has been responsible for the direct care of young people at multiple institutions of learning including; The Los Angeles Unified School District, the University of California at San Diego, Santa Monica College, and Pacific University. He was instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.
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