What Your Teenager Needs to Know About Marijuana

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Research is showing that marijuana is one of the commonly used drugs around the world [1]. There is a common misunderstanding that marijuana isn’t harmful or addictive. This belief is one reason that teenagers are more likely to start using this drug.

Providing teens with information about marijuana can help them make a more informed decision about whether they want to use it or not. Here are some things that are important for your teenager to know about marijuana:

You Can Become Addicted to Marijuana

Many people think that marijuana isn’t addictive. However, this isn’t true [2]. Sometimes people think that addiction is just if someone becomes physically dependent on a substance.

However, addiction is more complex than just physical dependence [3]. Addiction usually has an emotional piece to it.

This means that addiction can be traced back to emotional pain of some kind [3]. Someone may use marijuana to try and deal with an emotional issue, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma.

Someone is considered to be addicted to a drug if they have a hard time controlling their use, despite the consequences. These consequences may include impairment in school, work, or in relationships.

While everyone is vulnerable to addiction, people who begin using pot before turning 18 are at a significantly higher risk of becoming addicted [2].

Driving While Under the Influence isn’t Safe

Teen struggling with addiction to marijuanaMarijuana is shown to impact someone’s ability to drive safely. This is because this drug can affect someone’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time [2].

This is extra concerning for teenagers because of where they are at developmentally. The teenage brain is still developing the ability to make decisions based on logic rather than impulse.

This means that teens are already more likely to make decisions while driving that can be dangerous compared to older, more experienced drivers. Teens driving while under the influence of marijuana is especially risky because of the phase of their development.

Negative Impact on School

Marijuana is shown to cause memory, learning, and concentration issues [2]. This directly impacts someone’s ability to do well in school, as these effects can last for significant amounts of time.

While this is dependent on how much weed someone is using, it is an important thing to be aware of. You may be wondering how to communicate these things to your teenager.

It can be difficult for parents to have conversations about topics like these with teens. You can do some things to set you and your teen up for a successful conversation about marijuana.

One thing is to approach the conversation from a place of curiosity. Sometimes adults lecture teens about these topics. However, this isn’t really the most effective way. Asking your teen what they think or know about marijuana can open up the conversation.

This can also give you insight into where your teen is at in terms of their understanding of this substance. It is also important to remain calm throughout conversations like these.

It makes sense that a parent would be anxious or angry thinking about their child using drugs. However, you want your teen to feel safe enough to talk with you. Staying calm can help your kid feel like they can speak about these difficult topics with you.

You want your kid to be able to do this because if they do start using drugs, it will be helpful if they can talk to you about it. This can make it easier to support them and get them treatment if needed. This also helps create more trust, which will benefit your relationship with your kid throughout their life.


[1] McCabe, S.E., Arterberry, B.J., Dickinson, K., Evans-Polce, R.J., Ford, J.A., Ryan, J.E., Schepis, T.S (2020). Assessment of changes in alcohol and marijuana abstinence, co-use, and use disorders among US young adults from 2002 to 2018. Jama Pediatrics.

[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, June 17). Some things to think about. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/some-things-to-think-about

[3] Maté, G. (2008). In the realm of hungry ghosts. North Atlantic Books.

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on January 20, 2021
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 20, 2021
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.