Smoking pot is very common among teenagers, and increasingly kids as young as eleven or twelve are starting to experiment with the drug.
Given that cannabis use is relatively common among adults, and that the stigma attached to low rates of recreational use is declining, a lot of kids (and even some parents) think that this is not a big deal. However, for many reasons, parents of teenagers who smoke pot are right to be concerned.
First of all, while low levels of recreational use by adults can sometimes be tolerated, the research shows that pot and similar drugs have a very different impact on the adolescent brain, which is still developing. Use of pot in teenagers is associated with the development of a range of mental disorders, both in the teenage years and in later life.
Secondly, while smoking pot has never been a healthy habit, it is much worse nowadays because the strains that are on the market are much stronger than those that were available years ago. Adults in their forties and fifties might remember having the occasional toke when they were at university and think that it is not that big a deal—but the strains that are available to their children on the streets today are over twice as strong.
Thirdly, while pot is not addictive per se, persistent use can certainly lead to a psychological addiction over time, and the individual may find themselves craving access to the drug and even engaging in stealing in order to obtain the funds they need to purchase it.
Fourthly, if your child is buying illegal drugs (regardless of what you think of the debate about the legalisation of cannabis) they are breaking the law. If they get caught, there could be a permanent record on their file. If they are dealing with criminals and unsavoury elements of society, they could find themselves in a difficult or violent situation that might spiral out of control.
Fifthly, if your child is apprehended at school or by the police with more than a minimal quantity of the drug, they could be accused of intent to supply, which could lead to serious criminal charges.
For all of these reasons, and more, it is important to take care of this situation as soon as it arises. Young people who are smoking pot often disassociate from former friendship groups and make new friends, get lower marks in school, and start to display behaviours that they have never shown before. If you suspect that your child is smoking pot, the odds are reasonably high that they are. It is a good idea to arrange for them to have a chat with your GP, or with a doctor with experience in dealing with adolescents, who can offer advice, refer them to counselling, and arrange for drug testing if this is deemed necessary.
While you will probably be angry with your child if you find out that they are using drugs, it is important to make sure that they know that, despite your feelings, you love them very much and just want the best for them. The process of coming through this situation may not be easy, but if you can work together, your relationship as parent and child will be stronger, and they will be able to leave this unfortunate phase in their lives behind them.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.
You may also wish to consider reading about child therapy, where we offer therapy for children and adolescents who are going through a difficult time or struggling with certain issues.