Today, widespread marijuana use has become an unfortunate fact of life. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have legalized its use, and 20 others—including Florida—have approved it for medical use. Celebrities like Bill Maher, Willie Nelson, and Woody Harrelson brag about their constant use of the drug.
So it will come as no surprise that many young people are using it, despite the best efforts of organizations such as Informed Families. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that about 10 percent of 8th graders, 26 percent of 10th graders, and 37 percent of 12th graders reported using marijuana in the last year. And 71 percent of high school seniors say they do not view regular marijuana smoking as very harmful.
Take a Breath
So what do you do if you catch your child using marijuana? First of all, it’s important not to overreact, which can make them more defiant and less inclined to confide in you. So try to keep your cool and talk to someone if you need to to work out your wholly understandable feelings of disappointment, anger, fear, and so on.
Then talk to your child calmly. Try to find out why they’re using marijuana: Is it boredom, peer pressure, curiosity, or stress at school? Realize they may not know or be able to articulate their reasons.
Then tell them again why you don’t want them using marijuana (or any other illicit drug). If you need facts to help back you up, you can find them here.
Lay Out Ground Rules
Tell your child what the consequences will be if they continue to break the family rules. Make it clear that drug use will not be tolerated.
Again, marijuana use is so widespread that many have the idea that it’s harmless. If you’re having trouble making your child see the dangers involved, or if they continue to use it, it may be time to have them assessed by a professional who can support you.
Because this is a tricky conversation to have, the non-profit Partnership to End Addiction has created a detailed guide on what to say—and not to say—when talking to your child about marijuana use.