Once you do know for sure that your teen son or daughter is experimenting with marijuana, you have to take steps to ensure that they stop their harmful drug taking, and take steps quickly to make sure that the problem doesn’t get worse.
But What Can You Do?
Firstly, take it seriously but don’t panic.
Even if your teen is using heavily, when you get emotional and when you lose your objectivity, you reduce your ability to affect change and you reduce the chances that your teen will listen to what you say. You may be furious, but you need to act concerned and in control.
Addictions professionals generally recommend that when dealing with drug use, you start with the least intrusive method and move upwards if that doesn’t work. If you catch your teen experimenting with marijuana, it's not necessarily the time to send them to drug rehab. That may come later, but only as a last resort.
Start within the Family
Start first in the family, if that doesn’t work, get some professional outside assistance on an outpatient basis, and if that doesn't work, consider inpatient treatment.
You do have to act and in some cases, when you can see that the problem has become severe and is having harmful consequences, you may want to disregard the above stages of intervention and move directly to professionals help.
For most teens though, you have a good chance to affect change dealing with the situation within the family.
In the Family
You need to start with a real communication of your concerns for their health and well being, and before you start talking, you’d better get informed. Your teen likely has a pretty good body of knowledge about the drug…and probably knows more than you do about it. What they know may not be accurate, but if they think it is and you can’t contradict them accurately and reasonably, your words aren’t likely to have much impact.
Get Educated Before You Talk to Your Teen!
Get educated as to the real risks…and no scaremongering either! You'll lose all credibility if you blow the risks out of proportion, and since the real damages done by marijuana are legitimate and serious, you have no need to lessen your credibility with half truths your teen will very likely spot from a mile away.
Explain the risks, explain your concerns, and explain the family policy on drug use once again. Explain how things are going to change because of their drug use (drug tests, curfews?) and explain clearly and rationally what the consequences for further experimentation or use are. Be prepared to follow through in full with any promised disciplinary consequences.
Keep Your Cool and They'll Listen
By talking rationally and with concern your teen is far more likely to listen to what you say, and less likely to react defensively or in anger. Be prepared to reward your teen for an improvement in behaviors. It can be tough to rest the pulls to abuse, especially when friends are all "doing it" and if they can stay off marijuana, they deserve credit and reward for doing so.
If it becomes apparent that drug use continues after your attempts to keep things in the family, it's time to enlist professional help.
Find an experienced family or teen therapist with knowledge of addiction issues, and get your marijuana smoking teen participating in some drug counseling. If use has not yet become addiction, brief professional interventions can have a very significant bettering influence on behaviors, and a few sessions of individual and whole family counseling can leave all involved better empower to deal appropriately with the situation.
Counseling can be expensive, but it's far less costly than inpatient care, and if it can better the situation, it is definitely money well spent.
In addition to individual counseling, you may want to get your teen participating in group support therapy and in teen specific NA or MA
Getting your teen into rehab should be a last resort, but when it's obviously needed you need to act with confidence and strength to get your teen into a program that's going to make a difference. If nothing else you try seems to have much influence, you can’t expect the problem to go away on its own, and you need to take serious steps to protect your teen.
Teen Drug Rehab
Teen specific drug rehab offers your child the most intense therapies, a necessary and enforced period of sobriety away from access to marijuana and enough time for them to gain a little self awareness and control over their drug seeking behaviors.
You need to stay actively involved in the process for the best chance of success though. Teens are little removed from the kids they recently were, and although they can act tough, they still need the support and love from mom and dad when going through challenging phases of life. Involved parental participation and loving support throughout the rehab process has been proven to exert the single greatest influence over the likelihood of eventual rehab success.
Don’t Panic, Do Act
You must take serious action when you find your teen experimenting with marijuana, but for the best chance of success you need to stay in control, get educated and take the steps that are going to work. Have the courage to do what's needed, even when it gets difficult. Teens are still little more than children, and although they need and deserve some additional freedoms, they require our protection and support from life's challenges and pitfalls.
Very few parents ever look back regretfully from an overreaction to the threat of drug use, but far too many parents, whose kids get trapped in the web of addiction, wish that they had acted before things got bad, and while they still had a real chance to make a difference.
Your kids may now resent your actions to protect them, but they'll thank you for it later.
Page last updated Aug 05, 2010