Aleteia

My teen is smoking weed. What should I do?

marijuana
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Reacting intelligently and thoughtfully is the best approach to take.

Your teenager’s behavior has changed. He seems to have less initiative, less ambition. His head is in the clouds and he’s unmotivated about sports and studies. His group of friends has also changed and his grades have taken a nosedive. Sometimes his eyes are red. It’s possible he’s smoking cannabis. If you’re sure of it, this mini survival guide can help you manage the situtation.

Find the right words (without shouting)

The first ground rule: don’t give way to panic or aggression. Try to understand what the attraction is for your child. Is he smoking to gain acceptance from his friends?  Does he think it will calm his nerves? Is he seeking to feel more confident? Maybe he’s trying to escape difficulties in his relationship with family or friends, or he’s seeking to break the rules or experience new sensations. Try to establish how much he’s using: is it rarely or often? Your response should be as proportionate as possible.

Take the initiative to have a talk. Express what you’re observing and your concerns. If your teenager tells you that a joint from time to time makes him feel less inhibited, tell him the best way to be cool is to be true to oneself. Sports are a good way of relaxing, too. If he thinks it can solve a problem or soothe a sorrow, try to help him resolve it by listening to him and offering support.

In many places, cannabis is illegal. Even in states where recreational marijuana use is legal, there are still age limits for purchases, and penalties for driving under the influence. Tell him clearly that you refuse to have illegal substances in the house. A reminder of the law can have a particularly tonic effect!

Make sure you are aware of how your teen is using allowance money or salary from a job. Be sure to support your teen with quality time, preparing meals together and including him in the life of family and friends.

Help your teenager understand what makes him happy

You can help your teenager learn to better know himself, to work out what gives him pleasure, what calms him and helps him grow. He must know how to put his thoughts and feelings into words. Encourage him to pursue his dreams and open up to others. If he’s truly not feeling right, if his substance abuse is masking depression, a lack of well-being, or some serious fragility, make an appointment to see a doctor and/or therapist.

But the most effective thing to do right away is to regularly spend time doing things with your teenager. It’s helpful for a father to get involved — going out for a meal, attending sports events together, doing leisure activities, etc.

Finally, help your child develop his interior and spiritual life, through groups or events at your parish, or activities that help teens to grow in their faith. By exploring this deeper dimension of life, your teen can help discover ways to deal with the issues he faces in life.

Diane Gautret-Willard