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Is your teen smoking marijuana, how can parents know? Here are 15 warning signs to look out for.

You may catch them in the act, you may get a call from the school, the police or be dealing with a positive drug; and then although your worst suspicions are confirmed, at least you know the truth and at least you know for sure what you are dealing with.

Arguably worse is merely suspecting drug use. Not knowing for sure, and feeling powerless to act, to make things better or to get help, always uncertain about whether you are acting appropriately.

Here are some of the signs of drug, use. Signs that don’t necessarily mean marijuana use for certain, but signs that should cause you concern, and may require you to investigate more formally.

15 Signs of Marijuana Use

  1. Visine. If you find a bottle of eye drops while doing the laundry, you have real cause for concern. Healthy teens don’t often need eye strain medication, red eyed marijuana smokers concealing use do.
  2. Rolling papers, pipes, a bong, roach clips etc. Drug paraphernalia is a pretty good indicator of a problem, and once teens acquire drug taking accessories, you can be sure they’ve passed the initial experimentation stage of use. They are not holding these things for friends.
  3. Incense. A lot of teens will develop an interest in cloying and perfuming incense as they attempt to cover up the smell of marijuana smoke. Incense in the bedroom or a smell on the clothes can be a warning sign of drug use.
  4. Mouth wash, air fresheners etc. Like incense, if your teen suddenly develops a concern with scent masking agents, you might want to wonder why all of a sudden this is so.
  5. Small burns on the thumb and forefinger; a characteristic injury caused by smoking a joint down to the very end. Nothing else causes this type of burn injury.
  6. Marijuana stickers or posters. A lot of teens like to advertise their usage and do so through stickers, pins on school bags and books, or through posters in the bedroom. A marijuana poster above the bed is a pretty good signs of an unhealthy interest in the drug. The code 420 always refers to marijuana smoking, and you can often see 420 stickers on teen school bags.
  7. Seemingly talking in code or in a secretive manner with friends while you are in earshot.
  8. A sudden change in friends, especially if long lasting good friends seem discarded for a new group of seemingly less savory friends.
  9. A sudden need for more money without much to show for it (a marijuana habit can get expensive).
  10. Signs of depression or isolation from the family. Teens do crave independence and autonomy, and will go through some phases of change, but an unusual demand for isolation in the bedroom and a refusal to participate in family activities may be a cause for concern.
  11. A sudden drop in academic performance. When your previously A and B teen becomes a C and D teen, something is going on.
  12. Your teen no longer participates in activities they used to find very enjoyable and rewarding. Suddenly abandoning sports, music or clubs without replacing these activities with anything other than "hanging out with friends" is not a good sign.
  13. Appearing stoned, an obvious one, but a lot of parents tend to explain away odd behaviors with wishful thinking. If your teen seems confused, slow and lethargic, they may be high.
  14. A sudden willingness to take the dog for a late night walk may be an excuse to get out of the house to smoke a joint.
  15. They don't seem motivated to accomplish any worthwhile goals. Normal healthy teens will have interests, passions and desires to accomplish. These desires may not be academic, and they may not be interests that you approve of, but most teens have interests and activities. If your teen doesn’t seem to have any, they may be smoking marijuana.

Obviously, unless you catch them in the act it's hard to be sure (unless you catch them with paraphernalia…that's a real giveaway) but the more worrisome changes in behavior and activities that you see, the more concerned you need to get.

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Page last updated Aug 06, 2012

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