How to Help Teenagers Stop Smoking Pot

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It's definitely on the list of parental nightmares - you find out your teenage son or daughter has been smoking pot. For many adults, talking to kids about drug use can be a scary thing. However, this is a health issue, and you have to work with your teen to help them stop. If you're lucky, it may be that she's only tried it once or twice, which will make things easier. On the downside, if she's smoking pot regularly, you may have your work cut out for you. The key here is to make her want to stop smoking it.

Find out why your teenager is smoking it. There are some kids who smoke it only on a recreational basis - after all, pot is easy to obtain and it's cheap. Your son or daughter may have been at a party, someone pulled out a joint, and he decided to join in. In that case, the use is simply because of opportunity; it's more of a social activity than anything else. However, if your teen is smoking pot because it makes him feel better about himself or as a coping strategy, you'll need to get more involved. In this case, family therapy is worth looking into, because the teen's marijuana use can be a symptom of a greater problem.

Remind your teen that pot is illegal. Don't be fooled into thinking only "bad kids" smoke pot -- the jocks and honor students do it too, so be sure to point out that an arrest record will affect her for a long time to come. While it doesn’t work on all kids, there are plenty of teens out there who know that one drug bust can ruin their chances for college scholarships. Not only that, many schools have athletic eligibility requirements, and a student who is caught smoking marijuana can kiss her high school sports career goodbye.

Discuss health risks with your teen. While there is still some question about the addictive properties of marijuana, scientists do know that smoking one joint can do as much damage to the lungs as four regular cigarettes. Pulmonary problems can develop, and people have even gotten lung cancer from smoking pot. In addition to being bad for the lungs, smoking pot can cloud your judgment and affect your ability to make good decisions.

Make it clear that you don't approve. This is very important. If your teen is smoking pot, and that's against the rules of the household, there need to be consequences. Don't yell and scream; approach this calmly and confidently. Many parents find that the most effective way to deal with pot use is to simply start revoking privileges. The best one to begin with is the driver's license. Take away your child's driver's license, and tell him, "I'm sorry, I can't let you drive because smoking pot can delay your reaction time, and this is a safety issue." In other cases, limiting the teen's access to outside activities may be effective. Forbidding her to go to parties can help curb her smoking pot, simply because she won't be around the friends that are smoking pot with her.

Consider professional help. If you've tried talking to your teen, reasoning with him, and removing privileges, and he is still getting high, you need to get intervention. Start with your family physician, and ask for assistance. Let your doctor know that your child needs help. In some cases, an outpatient treatment program may be recommended.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fortunately, the majority of teens who smoke pot do not go on to harder drugs. However, if you begin to notice personality changes or hostile behavior, get medical intervention for your teen immediately. There are companies that will perform drug testing on your teen at parents' request. If you think this is necessary, ask your doctor for a list of local laboratories that perform this service.

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