Teen drug use is a constant worry for the 21st century parent. These substances roam the halls of schools and appear in harmless looking forms such as brownies. Knowing the effects a drug such as marijuana can have on your child will allow you to pick out the warning signs. Never underestimate the power of talking to your child before they encounter an issue. You have the knowledge and years under your belt to express to them what a drug dealer will look and sound like. Tell them how that substance will affect their life. Express the negative impacts you have experienced or witnessed.
What Is Marijuana?
Often called the gateway drug, marijuana is a blend of leaves, seeds, and stems from the cannabis sativa plant. The active chemical in this drug is THC (delta9-tetahydrocannabinol). Four hundred other chemicals hide among those leaves and many of them adversely affect the health of humans. The amount of THC directly correlates to the effectiveness of the “high” or euphoria felt when marijuana is used. THC levels have risen since the 1970s to dangerous levels in 2010. Keep an ear open for terms like pot, herb, Mary Jane, reefer, or ganja. All of them are synonyms for marijuana, and none can be trusted.
Why Teens Do It
The lure of marijuana is in the lie that it is harmless. Everyone does marijuana, so how can it be bad? This is the kind of thought process that results in many teens’ mistakes. Seeing a friend smoke a joint, loose marijuana rolled into a cigarette, or hearing about a celebrity doing drugs may lead them down the same road. Peer pressure is powerful even if that pressure is imaginary. Knowing the kinds of friends and entertainment choices your teen is making will help to keep you abreast of the situation. If marijuana does rear its ugly head, be up front with your teen. Ask them if they have done it, and make it clear that you are worried about their health, not looking to get them in trouble. The action of getting high may be second to the rush of knowing that they got away with it.
The symptoms to look out for are rather obvious with marijuana. An active, healthy teenager will become lethargic, lack coordination skills, and have blood shot eyes. Decision making skills will also be impaired. All of these symptoms could manifest in a sudden drop in grades or disinterest in activities they enjoyed previously. Besides the short-term problems, marijuana affects memory and the ability to learn. Watching for these symptoms will allow for early intervention.
Pay attention to the habits of your child as they grow into a teenager. This is a time of extreme changes, whether drug use is present or not. The knowledge of previous behaviors will equip any parent to spot drug use in their teen. Most importantly, a solid relationship with a young child will translate into the teen years. Using that trust and openness to discuss drug use early on is crucial to the success of any teenager.