Posted , updated Feb 17, 2006.
Second to alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug. Marijuana, also called pot, reefer, grass, weed, dope, ganja, maryjane, and sinsemilla, looks like dried parsley with stems and/or seeds. It can be smoked or eaten. Paraphernalia includes rolling papers and pipes. Pot increases the heart rate, causes bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and throat, increases the appetite, reduces short term memory, alters one’s sense of time, and reduces one’s concentration, coordination, and motivation.
Many parents are unaware of what their child is doing. Recent studies show that 44 percent of teens have tried pot, even though only 21 percent of parents think it is possible their child might have tried it. Seventy-one percent of teens say they have friends who use pot, even though only 45 percent of parents think their son or daughter might have friends who smoke pot. Although one-third of parents believe their teen thinks pot is harmful, only 18 percent of teens actually do.
Teenagers use substances for the same reasons as adults do, to relieve stress, relax, have fun, because everybody else is doing it, and because being high often feels good. Teens often say, “I would like to try pot just once to see what it is like,” “Everyone tries drugs sometimes,” and “Smoking marijuana is okay sometimes.” Teens are most likely to smoke pot on the weekends, with friends, and at parties.
Even though drugs are illegal, nearly half of 8th graders and 75 percent of 10th graders say pot is easy to find. While drug use among teens has decreased slightly, it is still a problem.
Recognize that your child is being exposed to drugs. Five times as many parents believe child drug use is a national problem than believe drug use is a problem in their child’s school. Drug use is lower among kids who learn about the risks at home. The number one risk kids associate with drug use is “My parents would feel really bad if they found out I was using drugs.”
Telling your teenager to just say no isn’t going to be enough to prevent him from trying pot at a party when all his friends are getting high. Practice how to say no in different situations with your teen. Give your teenager options for saying no and let him choose which he feels the most comfortable using.
If you suspect your teen has a problem with drugs, you can contact your physician, school counselor, an independent drug counselor, or the resources listed below to get help for your teen and your family.
University of Minnesota Extension Service www.extension.umn.edu/info-u www.parenting.umn.edu
UM Children, Youth & Family Consortium www.cyfc.umn.edu
Schaefer, C. E., & DiGeronimo, T. F. (1999). How to talk to teens about really important things. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Steinberg, L., & Levine,A. (1997). You and your adolescent: A parent’s guide for ages 10-20. New York: Harper Perennial.
Marijuana Anonymous 1-800-766-6779
The Facts About Marijuana http://www.marijuana-info.org
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information 1-800-729-6686 http://www.health.org
Partnerships for a Drug-Free America http://www.drugfreeamerica.org
National Institute on Drug Abuse http://www.nida.nih.gov
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