What Parents Should Know About Marijuana Use

Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States. Over 30 percent of high school seniors have tried marijuana at least once and nearly 50 percent of teens report that it would be easy for them to get marijuana if they wanted some. Marijuana use impairs memory, decision making and puts teens more at risk for depression, anxiety disorders and risky behavior. By learning what parents should know about marijuana use — including the signs, dangers and facts — you can help prevent marijuana use in your teen.

What are some signs my child is using marijuana?

* Red, bloodshot eyes
* Odor on clothes and in the bedroom
* Use of incense and other deodorizers to mask the odor
* Signs of smoking paraphernalia, such as pipes and rolling papers
* Difficulty remembering things that just happened
* Difficulty thinking
* Silly, giggly behavior for no apparent reason
* Impaired coordination
* Increased appetite
* Paranoia
* Anxiety
* Poor grooming habits
* Depression
* Fatigue
* Changes in sleeping patterns
* Changes in friends
* Poor performance in school
* Increased absenteeism or truancy
* Loss of interest in favorite activities

How is marijuana used?

Marijuana appears as dried out and shredded parts of flowers, stems, seed and leaves. It can appear as green or brown and the smoke has a distinctive and pungent odor. Marijuana is usually smoked in a joint (cigarette) or in a pipe (sometimes called a “bong”), but it can also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea.

What are some street names for marijuana?

* Weed
* Pot
* Reefer
* Grass
* Dope
* Ganja
* Mary Jane
* Hash
* Herb
* Aunt Mary
* Skunk
* Boom
* Chronic
* Blunt

What are some of the dangers of marijuana use?

Marijuana damages short-term memory and long-term abuse can lead to problems with learning and memory later in life. Marijuana use has also been linked to changes in the reproductive organs, respiratory damage and cancer. Chronic marijuana use has been shown to increase rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideas, and schizophrenia.

Despite popular opinion among abusers, long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction. Long-term abusers report withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, drug craving and decreased appetite. Marijuana is also often a gateway drug for alcohol and other illegal drugs.

What are some facts and statistics on teens and marijuana use?

* In 2007, 10.9 percent of 8th graders, 23.9 percent of 10th graders and 32.4 percent of 12th graders tried marijuana at least once. (MTF, 2008)
* 25 million Americans over the age of 12 abused marijuana at least once in the previous year. (NSDUH, 2006)
* 4 to 14 percent of drivers who are injured or died in traffic accidents test positive for THC.
* Teens that use drugs are five times more likely to have sex than teens who do not use drugs.
* Teens that use marijuana weekly double their risk of depression and anxiety.
* In 2006, about half of teens reported that it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” for them to obtain marijuana if they wanted some. (SAMHSA)
* Around one quarter reported it would be easy to get cocaine (25.9 percent).

What can I do to prevent marijuana use in my teen?

* Be alert about warning signs.

* Discuss the dangers of marijuana with your child. According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, teens are 50 percent less likely to use drugs if they learn the risks of drug use from their parents.

* Monitor your teen’s whereabouts and get to know their friends and their friends’ parents.

* Take action if you see any signs of abuse or sense that something is wrong. Don’t wait or the abuse could turn into an addiction.

How do I choose a teen drug rehab?

There are many different types of teen drug rehabs out there. When deciding on a rehab, you should focus on which types of treatment they offer, staff credentials, if they have the proper licensing, what types of aftercare programs they offer to prevent relapse. You’ll want to decide if your teen needs residential or out-patient rehab, assisted detox, or treatment for a dual diagnosis of a co-occurring disorder. Talking to a medical doctor about your teen’s symptoms can help you determine which type of treatment you should seek.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.