How to discourage teen marijuana use

Posted by: Christopher December 27, 2019

How to Discourage Teen Marijuana Use? Views on marijuana are slowly but surely changing, with the increasing use of the substance for medical purposes and growing efforts to decriminalize recreational usage. However, social acceptance or legalization do not automatically make a substance safe, and marijuana carries a wide range of health risks, especially for teens who are still growing physically and emotionally.

Also, despite changes in laws, it is still illegal for a teen to possess or use marijuana recreationally in every U.S. state. Whether you’re trying to prevent a teen from trying marijuana, or working to help him or her quit using, approach the situation with compassion, persistence, and ample information on the risks of marijuana use. Start the conversation sooner rather than later. As with most potentially awkward conversation topics you need to broach at some point with your child — alcohol, tobacco, sex, etc. — it is best to initiate the discussion earlier than you think is necessary. While the majority of teens never smoke marijuana, those that do try it may begin even before they are officially “teenagers.”

Many experts on the topic advise that you begin talking about the dangers of drug use by the time your child is ten or eleven years old. Don’t give a lecture, though; start a real dialogue with your child. Start by asking questions — “Do you know what marijuana is?” “Have you ever heard kids talking about it in school, or heard people talking about it on TV or movies?” “What do you think marijuana does to someone?”. This can help reduce awkwardness, give you a better idea how to continue approaching the subject, and spur an ongoing conversation with your child.

——— CONTENTS ———
00:41 Start the conversation sooner rather than later
01:30 Do your homework
02:06 Be clear that it is a “big deal” and it isn’t a “rite of pas…
03:07 Prepare together to handle challenging situations and peer p…
03:41 Set and enforce clear expectations and consequences

As parents, how should we respond to a teenager who argues that the recreational use of pot is socially acceptable, that the authorities aren’t concerned about it anymore, and that it’s on the verge of being legalized. We know he’s been using marijuana, but when we confronted him about it he flatly refused to stop. We’re not sure what to do next. Can you help?

Sadly, there’s a sense in which your teen is right: talk in the media about “medical marijuana” and lax attitudes toward pot in the culture at large have created a situation in which there are fewer and fewer consequences for the use of this drug. Even if your son were legally charged with possession and use of marijuana, there’s a good chance that the courts wouldn’t do anything about it. Increasingly, concerned parents like yourselves are left without a shred of support in the outside world.

None of this changes the fact that cannabis is a mind-altering and addictive drug. Consequences such as legal fines, jail time, and social disapproval may have dropped off the radar, but your son’s physical and mental health is still being compromised by his use of marijuana. The drug has already distorted his thought processes, and the harmful effects will only increase with time. We would encourage you to emphasize this side of the issue when discussing your concerns with your teen. If you’ve noticed recent changes in his personality, you can strengthen your case by describing these behavioral shifts in specific terms. You can also direct him to a website like that of the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) where he can see images of “the brain on pot” and access basic facts about the short- and long-term effects of marijuana on the central nervous system.

If you’re a Christian family, there’s also an important spiritual and emotional aspect that you will also want to bring to his attention. We’re not talking about beating him over the head with the Bible or laying down the law in a series of “Thou shalt not” statements – an approach which is almost certain to prove counterproductive. Instead, we’re suggesting that you spend some time as a family exploring your teen’s reasons for turning to a mind-numbing substance like marijuana. Ask questions about the deeper motivations behind this behavior. What else is going on in his personal life or in the life of your family that may be driving him to anesthetize his mind? Is he in emotional pain or under a great deal of stress? Do you have a troubled marriage? Has he been disappointed in love or discouraged in the classroom? Are there other sources of conflict at school or in the home?

You may also find it helpful to remember the words of Ephesians 5:18: “Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.” In this passage Scripture presents us with a choice. It’s not a question of Pharisaical rules and regulations, but rather of influences and control. Ask your son which is better: to open his mind to the potentially dehumanizing effects of a chemical substance, or to find himself within the context of a relationship with a loving heavenly Father.

Once you’ve been over this ground in detail, don’t hesitate to state your principles and draw a line in the sand. Let your teen know that, as long as he is living with you, there can be no question of your allowing him to use marijuana. Tell him clearly and plainly that the permissive attitudes of society have nothing to do with the standards governing your home. Set firm and consistent boundaries, and don’t be afraid to enforce them by imposing some swift and powerful consequences – for example, the loss of cell phone or driving privileges.

If he refuses to cooperate, we suggest that you seek professional counseling, and we highly recommend that you do this together as a family . The most successful treatment programs take a family systems approach that involves intensive evaluation and a series of counseling sessions offered in an environment of community and accountability. If this doesn’t work, you might opt to break the negative pattern by sending your teen to live with a relative in another city or enrolling him in a residential drug treatment program. Our staff would be happy to provide you with referrals to programs of this nature or a list of qualified therapists in your area who specialize in treating drug addiction. Don’t hesitate to contact our Counseling department.

If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

I have lost control of my teen son.

How to discourage teen marijuana use

I am completely losing it. A few months ago I found out my 17-year-old son was smoking marijuana. I grounded him—no car, no phone. He swore to me that was it (yeah right ). Just recently I bought an at-home drug test and asked him to take it just to ease my mind. He said he couldn’t. He lost his phone and his truck again. I am making him do any chore I can think of around the house. He sees nothing wrong with smoking. His buddies do it at home. He said that his friends’ parents would rather their kids do it there then somewhere else. I am at my wit’s end; I don’t know what to do. I have explained to him the problem he will have if or when he finds a job during his senior year and he doesn’t have a car. Please help.

—A Distressed Mother

Thank you for reaching out for help for your son and for yourself. As you know so well, when a member of a family has a problem it affects the entire family. I am not sure who else is living in your home, but if there is anyone else in the home I sure hope that you have their support.

As I see it, you have two major problems here. You have a son who has developed a problematic habit and you have a deteriorating relationship with your son. Clearly, the trust with your son has been lost and the relationship is full of frustrating conflicts, yes? I am so sorry. I am going to do my best to help guide you.

I am not sure how frequently your son is smoking marijuana and/or how it is impacting his performance in a variety of arenas in his life, but I am quite sure that his functioning is problematic given your high level of concern. And, your son’s apparent lack of concern about how his behavior is affecting his relationship with his mother is very worrisome.

It is clear that your son is not responsive to consequences despite your repeated efforts to tie marijuana smoking to consequences. Additionally, he is holding up his friends’ parents as models of how you should behave. You are not permissive like his friends’ parents and that is your right and perhaps even your responsibility. Permissive parenting is certainly not ideal in any way. Do not get swayed by your son’s arguments about his friends’ parents allowing them to smoke marijuana in the home. In your home, you make the rules.

I have a very serious concern about what is motivating your son’s marijuana use. Is he trying to numb himself from feeling uncomfortable feelings? Is he trying to alleviate anxiety or depression symptoms? When did he start smoking marijuana? You can see where I am going with this. I think it is necessary for your son to see a therapist for a good and thorough evaluation to help assess why he is smoking marijuana. I doubt very much that peer pressure is the main reason. Peer pressure may be contributing but our teens tend to gravitate toward peers who they identify with. I also wonder where your son is getting the money to purchase marijuana. This is also an important question. The hope is that he is not stealing money or dealing. I am not trying to alarm you. I am, instead, trying to bring up another issue that a professional may help you with.

Regarding your son having a job next year, I must say that I am usually an advocate of teens having jobs as long as they learn financial responsibility and are using their money well. Also, smoking marijuana may interfere with job functioning as you are already aware, I am sure.

Please make an appointment for your son with a therapist who specializes in working with the issues that you are describing. Inquire about the possibility of family therapy. Your son may be resistant to the idea of therapy at first but my experience is that teens welcome the opportunity to talk about what is going right and not so right in their lives. Good luck and please get back to me.

For more articles like this, see my website.

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Pot may be particularly dangerous for the teenaged brain, a new review suggests.

Not only were those who smoked marijuana more likely to suffer depression and suicidal thoughts, they were also more than three times as likely to attempt suicide between the ages of 18 and 32.

What isn’t clear from the review is why. Does marijuana (cannabis) somehow affect the developing teen brain? Or might teens who were later diagnosed with depression or who later attempted suicide have been using the drug to self-medicate?

Regardless, teens and preteens “should avoid using cannabis, as use is associated with a significant increased risk of developing depression or suicidality in young adulthood,” the Canadian researchers wrote.

In the United States, pot use is growing exponentially, the study authors noted. Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, the number of people aged 18 to 29 who used marijuana in the past year jumped from almost 11 percent to more than 21 percent.

Among U.S. high school seniors, about 7 percent said they smoked pot daily, according to background information in the report.

In the Canadian review, researchers led by Dr. Gabriella Gobbi of McGill University in Montreal looked through 269 studies to see if there was any link between teen marijuana use and depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. The researchers ended up including 11 of those studies in their final analysis.

There was no statistically significant link between anxiety as a young adult and marijuana use as a teen. However, the odds of developing depression as a young adult were 37 percent higher for those who used marijuana in their teen years compared to those who didn’t, the findings showed.

The odds of a young adult thinking about suicide were 50 percent higher in those who smoked pot. The odds of a suicide attempt were almost 3.5 times higher in the pot smokers versus those who didn’t use marijuana, the investigators found.

The findings were published online Feb. 13 in JAMA Psychiatry.


Dr. Harshal Kirane, an addiction psychiatrist with Northwell Health’s Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, reviewed the findings. He said as the country keeps moving toward increasing access to marijuana, it’s important to be able to identify which parts of the population are most vulnerable to its effects.

“Individuals harbor different predispositions as far as their vulnerability to marijuana exposure is concerned. Many, or maybe even most, teens who experiment with marijuana may not have problems. But, there’s still a significant subset who do, and those are the ones we need to understand,” he explained.

Kirane said the review couldn’t tease out a cause-and-effect relationship, but he added that marijuana may impact the developing brain. He said there have been a number of rodent studies that have shown that exposure to marijuana can disrupt how well certain brain processes mature.

This review suggests that “marijuana exposure in adolescents does potentially present a risk for mood and suicidal behaviors in young adults,” Kirane said. “From a policy standpoint, those are the ones we have to make an effort to protect.”

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the marijuana legalization advocacy organization called NORML, agreed that it’s important to discourage the use of marijuana by teens, and to use common-sense policy measures to restrict teens’ access to marijuana.

But Armentano added that it’s impossible to know from the review what role teens’ marijuana use played in the depression, and suicidal thoughts and attempts in the young adults. He said it could be that people who are more likely to use marijuana in their teens may share similar traits or behaviors with people who are depressed or suicidal.

“It is also possible that those struggling with such symptoms often turn to cannabis in early life as a form of potential self-medication,” Armentano suggested.

One in Six High School Seniors Admitted Driving While High

As Teen Marijuana Use Continues to Increase, Drug Czar, Secretary of Transportation, and Safe Driving Leaders Launch New Campaign to Urge Teens to ‘Steer Clear of Pot’

“Today’s teens have gotten the wrong message about marijuana,” said John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “Marijuana is harmful and can lead to risky decisions, such as driving while high or riding with drivers who are impaired. We want to encourage parents of new drivers to use this milestone in their teen’s life to discuss the dangers of marijuana and being responsible behind the wheel.”

“The Bush Administration is committed to the safety of all Americans,” said Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. “Teens already have the highest crash risk of any age group, making traffic crashes the leading cause of death for young people age 15-20. Combining teen marijuana use with teens’ inexperience on the road and risk-taking behavior is a recipe for disaster.”

The “Drugged Driving” short report released today from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that, in 2002, between 10 and 18 percent of young drivers age 17 to 21 reported driving under the influence of an illicit drug during the past year. Driving-age teens (age 16-19) are also four times more likely to use marijuana than younger adolescents (age 12-15).

Estimates based on Monitoring the Future and Census Bureau data also show that of the nearly 4 million high school seniors in the United States, approximately one in six (600,000) drive under the influence of marijuana, a number nearly equivalent to those who drive under the influence of alcohol (640,000). Additionally, an estimated 38,000 of these students reported in 2001 that they crashed while driving under the influence of marijuana and 46,000 reported that they crashed while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Marijuana affects concentration, perception, coordination, and reaction time, many of the skills required for safe driving and other tasks. These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana. Marijuana use can also make it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road.

Teens are high-risk drivers and have the highest crash risk of any age group. Nearly one in five 16-year-old drivers is involved in a collision in his or her first year of driving, making motor vehicle crashes the leading cause of death for young people age 15 to 20.

Greater parent involvement, clear rules, and parental supervision are associated with less risky teen behavior, such as marijuana use and driving while high or under the influence of alcohol. Crashes were one-seventh less likely to occur among teens with strong parental monitoring, according to the Journal of Safety Research.

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign will raise public awareness on the issues of drugged driving and the harmful effects of teen marijuana use through the promotion of free Steer Clear of Pot materials; new Web content on The Anti-Drug and FreeVibe; a new drivers’ safety kit for teens and parents; advertisements on television with drugged driving messages; and partnerships with GEICO, the Department of Transportation, SADD, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), American Driver & Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA), Mitsubishi Motors North America, Liberty Mutual, and others to distribute drugged driving and marijuana prevention materials to drivers’ education teachers, teens, and parents.

The Media Campaign, SADD, and the Department of Transportation will team up for National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month in December. SADD, the nation’s dominant peer-to-peer youth education and prevention organization, will help distribute teen materials through its estimated 10,000 middle school, high school, and college SADD chapters nationwide.

GEICO, the fifth-largest private passenger auto insurer in the United States, is incorporating the Media Campaign’s messages into its existing “Can I Borrow the Car?” teen driving and safety materials and providing co-branded versions of those materials through the Campaign’s “New Teen Driver Kit.” The company will also distribute co-branded Steer Clear of Pot materials to customers who have new teen drivers in the family and promote the Media Campaign’s resources to its 5.5 million policyholders and 22,000 GEICO associates.

Recognizing the importance of keeping the nation’s youth drug-free, Mitsubishi Motors North America will leverage its extensive dealership network, strong brand awareness and Web site to bring the Campaign’s anti-drug messages and Steer Clear of Pot materials to parents, teens and community leaders. This partnership extends the company’s efforts in promoting traffic safety and driving responsibility.

Liberty Mutual, the eighth-largest auto insurer in the U.S., will promote the Steer Clear of Pot and other anti-drug Campaign messages to its 2 million auto and home customers, and 37,000 employees worldwide. Campaign materials will be made available through Liberty Mutual’s 360 local personal insurance sales offices as well as through print materials, publications, and the company’s Internet and intranet sites.

AAMVA, the national network of departments of motor vehicles (DMVs), and the Governors’ Highway Safety Association will distribute materials to state officials and to DMVs across the nation. ADTSEA, which represents driving and traffic safety educators nationwide, will provide classrooms with drugged driving materials. In addition, the Media Campaign, AAMVA, and ADTSEA will collaborate on a revised driving manual and educator materials to enhance drugged-driving prevention in drivers’ education classes.

To learn more about preventing teen marijuana use and other illicit drugs, log on to The Anti-Drug for parents and Freevibe for teens.

Last Updated on December 10, 2019 by Valarie Ward

Modern-day teenagers are getting smarter about drugs and alcohol. Since its peak in the 1970s, teen consumption of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs has consistently been on the decline, hitting record lows in 2015. Even though the numbers are trending in the right direction, the next generation is beginning high school. Because of this, it’s a good time to look at some effective ways to reduce the chances of your teen drinking or experimenting with drugs.

Set Them Up for Success

Setting up your teen for success at an early age yields positive results later in life. So, what actions should be taken to do this? What can you do to set them up for success? Here are some tips to ensure you are preparing your teen for when the question of drugs or alcohol arises:

  • Model good behavior: Show your children how to lead healthy lives by leading one yourself. Stay away from abusing drugs and drink alcohol only in moderation. Leading by example proves to your teen that a successful life is one that is lived without illicit drugs and with responsible alcohol consumption.
  • Give them a place to vent: Give your teen options for talking or getting out frustrations when life gets difficult. Stressed teens may feel like they have no release, so they turn to drugs or alcohol. Combat this by allowing “no judgement” talks. A no-judgement talk means your teen can talk to you freely about their thoughts and feelings without fear of repercussions. This promotes an understanding between parent and child and allows valuable insight into your child’s life.
  • Show them alternate ways to have fun: Going out and participating in healthy activities with your teen shows them that fun doesn’t need to involve drugs and alcohol. Try playing a sport like bowling or shooting hoops to keep them active. Go camping or start a construction project to engage their brain.

Get Them Involved

Kids are more likely to turn to drugs when they’re bored. Keeping teenagers busy allows them to put their minds toward something they care about and away from drugs. Find ways to keep them involved both inside and outside of school. Encourage them to join a sports team, volunteer in the community, join a church youth group or start a hobby. This works by not only giving them something to occupy their time but also holding them accountable to other people. Being involved shows them that if they get busted for drugs or underage drinking, they aren’t only letting themselves down but are letting down other people as well.

Educate Them on Drugs Early and Properly

Remember when you were a teenager and your parents told you something you knew was obviously false? Remember how it made you feel and what you did about it? Things haven’t changed. With the access to information teens have nowadays, there is no reason to lie about what drugs are and what they do. Use this glut of information to your advantage by discussing drugs early and presenting factual information. Being transparent about drugs shows that you trust your child to make responsible decisions about drugs.

Monitor Prescriptions

Prescription drugs have overtaken illicit drugs as the most abused among young people. There is nothing wrong with prescribing medicine to teenagers, but when prescriptions are abused or sold then something that is intended to bring help ends up causing harm. If your child has a prescription it’s important to monitor how it’s being used. Are the pills being used more quickly than they should be? Are they being taken at times they shouldn’t be? Are the desired effects not being achieved? These questions can help determine if prescriptions are being used correctly.

Enroll in a Drug Awareness Program

If you aren’t comfortable with formally presenting drug information to your teen yourself, then let the professionals do it for you. Enroll in a drug awareness program with your child. These programs are created to present awareness and prevention in a fun and interesting manner for both parents and teenagers. If you can’t find an outside class, talk to your child’s school about their drug programs and research how the school is presenting drug information to its students.

The common thread in these tips is a healthy parent-child relationship. When parents take an active role in their children’s lives it shows the child they’re loved and cared for, and kids will take the consequences of doing drugs more seriously. It’s never too late to start a healthy relationship with your child and the sooner you do that, the more confidence you’ll have in them to make the right decision when it comes to drugs.


About Morris Green

Morris manages the day-to-day operations of Absolute Advocacy, ensuring clients have what they need when they schedule appointments and attend classes and treatment. Morris specializes in the business and technical aspects of running a Mental Health and Substance Abuse treatment agency including web and content strategy.
Follow me: LinkedIn | Facebook

Archive Sections

  • Home
  • Publications
  • Archived Meetings
  • Emerging Trend Alerts
  • News Releases
  • Testimony
  • Advisory Council Minutes
  • Budget Items
  • Trends and Statistics
  • Division/Branch Archives
  • Initiatives
  • Nora’s Blog
  • NIDA for Teens Games
  • Teens – Drugs & Health Blog
    • 6 Tactful Tips for Resisting Peer Pressure To Use Drugs and Alcohol
Cite this article

NIDA. (). 6 Tactful Tips for Resisting Peer Pressure To Use Drugs and Alcohol . Retrieved from

NIDA. “6 Tactful Tips for Resisting Peer Pressure To Use Drugs and Alcohol .” National Institute on Drug Abuse, ,

NIDA. 6 Tactful Tips for Resisting Peer Pressure To Use Drugs and Alcohol . National Institute on Drug Abuse website. .

How to discourage teen marijuana use

Even when you are confident in your decision not to use drugs or alcohol, it can be hard when it’s your friend who is offering.

A lot of times, a simple “no thanks” may be enough. But sometimes it’s not. It can get intense, especially if the people who want you to join in on a bad idea feel judged.

Here are a few tips that may come in handy.

1. Offer to be the designated driver. Get your friends home safely, and everyone will be glad you didn’t drink or take drugs.

2. If you’re on a sports team, you can say you are staying healthy to maximize your athletic performance—besides, no one would argue that a hangover would help you play your best.

3. “I have to [study for a big test / go to a concert / visit my grandmother / babysit / march in a parade, etc.]. I can’t do that after a night of drinking/drugs.”

4. Keep a bottled drink like a soda or iced tea with you to drink at parties. People will be less likely to pressure you to drink alcohol if you’re already drinking something. If they still offer you something, just say, “I’m covered.”

5. Find something to do so that you look busy. Get up and dance. Offer to DJ.

6. When all else fails…blame your parents. They won’t mind! Explain that your parents are really strict, or that they’ll check up on you when you get home.

If your friends aren’t having it—then it’s a good time to find the door. Seriously. Nobody wants to leave the party or their friends, but if your friends won’t let you party without drugs, then it’s not going to be fun for you.

Sometimes these situations totally surprise you. But sometimes you know the party you’re going to has alcohol or that people plan to do drugs at a concert. At times like that, asking yourself what you could do differently is key to not having to go through this every time.

How would you react if a classmate offered you drugs? Play this interactive game to find out.

How to discourage teen marijuana use

Call 800-926-9037 to speak with an alcohol or drug abuse counselor. Who Answers?

Last updated: 09/20/2018
Author: Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists marijuana as the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. As of 2007, survey data revealed more teenagers report smoking marijuana than cigarettes. Considering the mixed messages young people receive on the legalities and illegalities surrounding marijuana, many may view the drug as relatively harmless compared to other illicit drugs.

While marijuana can have negative effects on most anyone who uses on a regular basis, the damage done to a young person’s mind and body can stay with him or her for many years to come. Marijuana addiction help addresses the underlying reasons why a young person turns to marijuana. Others forms of marijuana addiction help encourage teens to engage in certain types of extracurricular-type activities as a form of drug treatment.

Marijuana Effects on Teens

How to discourage teen marijuana use

Marijuana can be damaging to a teen’s cognitive development.

Marijuana contains a substance known as cannabinoids, which naturally bind to existing cannabinoid cell receptors in the brain. In effect, marijuana use causes these receptors to release large amounts of dopamine neurotransmitter chemicals throughout the brain. Dopamine plays a primary role in regulating emotions, balance and coordination and cognitive functions.

Since a teenager’s brain is still in a development stage, frequent marijuana use gradually alters the physical and chemical structure of his or her brain. According to the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, ongoing brain development occurs with certain built-in deficits or impairments that can greatly hamper a teen’s capabilities for years; even in cases where a teen stops using.

Marijuana addiction help provides teens with educational information on how marijuana affects their brains now, and in the future. Teens also receive information on how addiction works to perpetuate ongoing drug use. By educating teens on the effects of their drug use behaviors, marijuana addiction help attempts to instill the type of motivation needed for young people to want to improve their lives and stop using.


Marijuana addiction help for teens centers on helping a teenager better understand his or her reasons for drug use. This entails encouraging teens to actually think about the things, places and people they most associate with drug use. A teen may use to cope with a particular relationship problem. Another teen may use out of boredom. Another teen may only use at parties or when around a certain group of friends.

Marijuana addiction help also addresses any family or parental issues that may contribute to ongoing marijuana use. Both individual and family therapy treatment can offer struggling teens helpful insights on why they use and how to stop using.

Extracurricular-Type Treatments

It’s not uncommon for teens to turn to marijuana to help boost their self confidence in social situations. Once teens stop using, extracurricular -type treatment approaches provide them with the types of settings where they can rebuild their confidence within a social context.

Marijuana addiction help activities take the form of wilderness programs where teens not only get needed exercise but learn to interact with other teens in recovery. These programs provide settings where young people can rebuild their confidence without the need for drugs while learning how to form healthy, productive relationships.