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Statistically speaking, marijuana is the most used illegal drug; it is stated that 69 million Americans have used it at least one time

What are the effects of smoking marijuana?

Among teenagers between the ages of twelve and seventeen state that the age in which a child first tries marijuana is at age fourteen.  It is very easy to obtain or grow for themselves and is affordable.  It is a very popular drug among teenagers and adults alike. 

In a survey of teenagers from eighth grade through twelfth grade stated that 23% of the eighth graders had used marijuana at least one time and those teens from tenth grade through twelfth grade stated that 21% of those teens were actively using the drug.  Further studies have shown that the use of marijuana as well as other drugs is most prevalent in the later part of their teenage years and usually declines by the end of their twenties.  

Marijuana is so popular because it’s a downer and gives the user a mellow, peaceful feeling.  Depending upon the type of marijuana it is, the high can last from 30 minutes to 3 hours or more.  The user will also have what is called “cotton mouth”; their throat and mouth get very dry.  Other effects include, bad coordination and an unbalanced feeling, slower reflex times, a loss of short term memory, and often the heart rate will increase. 

Although the effects of using marijuana wear off within three hours the long term effects tend to hang on for a while.  The drug, THC, which is what gives the user their high, will adhere to the fat in the body, as well as in the liver and lungs.  It can be found in drug tests up to 4 weeks after the individual has used it. 

How does marijuana affect the mind of a child or teenager?

Because we don’t reach maturity in our cognitive growth until mid-twenty’s, smoking marijuana as a teenager will stunt that growth and cause the individual to not mature to his or her full potential.  Research has shown that it inhibits the person from being able to retain information.  Individuals who are moderate to heavy users find it difficult to focus or maintain attention for long periods of time. 
If you have noticed that your child’s grades have dropped and he or she seems disconnected to their normal self, you might want to do a search of their room to see if you can find any evidence of marijuana use.  Paraphernalia most commonly used when smoking marijuana is:

  • Cigarette rolling papers
  • Pipes
  • Aluminum cans
  • Cigar wrappers
  • Water pipes

These are items you should look for in your child’s room or trash.  You should also take note that if your child has a disposable lighter and he or she doesn’t smoke cigarettes, this would be another indication that something might be going on.

How do I help my child quit?

  1. You make the rules of the house so enforce them. You have to make it very clear that this kind of behavior is not tolerable in your house and the consequences will be harsh if he or she is caught using again.  Make sure they understand this and after they say they understand it, don’t back down. 
  2. Find out who their friends are and forbid them to see those friends if that is who he or she is using with.  Know where your child is and take the time to make sure they are where they said they would be. 
  3. Buy a home drug test, which you can get at any pharmacy.  Display the box and let your child know that at any given moment you will ask for a urine sample.  If he or she has been caught in the past, make sure that they understand that if the test comes up positive they will suffer the consequences of that.  Remember, the drug THC can stay in the body fat for quite a while, so even if your child hasn’t used that day or even that week, the test will still pick up the chemical in their urines.  If and when you get a urine sample, be present while they are collecting the sample; they may try to dilute it with water, which will cause the test to be negative.

What consequences could I use?

What teenagers hate most is being denied their independence; grounding them for a month from seeing their friends, playing sports or any after-school activity is a good start for a first offense.  I would buy the home drug test kit after the first offense and explain that you will test them but they won’t know when.  If you see them acting strangely such as being lethargic and just not acting right, that’s when I would spring the test on them.

For the second offense you have to get tougher; simple grounding isn’t enough, although they probably hated you the entire month they were grounded, it’s still not strong enough of a punishment to make them not use again.  You will have to get tough and be strong because they will rebel against you just for spite.  After the second offense you should seek professional counseling and make your child go through with it.  He or she should also, once again, be grounded for at least two months without seeing friends, playing sports, or playing video games.  Take away the things that he or she enjoys most.  They will most certainly hate you for this, but it is for their own good. 

Third offense is the hard one; this is when you have to possibly bring in the authorities and let them deal with it.  That is a drastic measure and should only be used in the worst case scenario. You may want to also think about a rehab center to help deal with the problem.  If it has gone this far, into a third offense, nothing you do or how harshly you punish them is going to stop them from using.

Sad but true fact

Teenagers care less about what their parents say or think than what their peers say or think about them.  You can warn them, threaten them, ground them for months at a time, but they will still go with the crowd over what you say.  You just have to be strong and enforce the rules and by all means, use the home drug test; it’s the only real way you’ll know for sure that your child is not still using.