You have that "parent's intuition" that something has changed in your teen's life. And we aren't talking about the natural changes from puberty that comes with age, but a disruption in their personality, socialization, and behaviors.
Luckily, there are warning signs that your teen may be smoking weed, and I'll share the sure-fire way to find out if they are smoking marijuana (you'll find that part later in this article).
5 Warning Signs of Your Teen Smoking Weed
1. The Age of Your Teen- When Does Smoking Start?
Knowing the average age when a teen is introduced to marijuana could be a helpful sign and mindful note for parents.
An over decade-long study by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health revealed that 15 years old was the average age the participants first were introduced to marijuana. The study covered different ethnicities and schools across the U.S.
2. Hanging Out with New or Not So New Friends
There is a social shift that happens when a child becomes a teenager. They no longer need playdates to be set up and prefer to hang out with friends rather than their parents. And this doesn't mean they love their parents less, but it's more about creating belonging with their group of peers and friends.
The International Journal of Behavioral Development study found teens were highly influenced by their immediate social context and had a lower stress level when hanging out with their friends. The experience translates to a positive reward, making it even more appealing to hang out with friends.
However, when they stop hanging out with the same group of friends that gave them a sense of belonging, this could be a sign to look out for new friends. And question what this new group of friends fulfills in your child's life? What psychological reward are they needing or looking for? And could their friends have the access or make it comfortable for your teen to take on a new habit, like smoking weed.
Friends have such a significant influence on a teenager's life. Take note of when something has changed in that part of their world.
Think you may need more support and navigation around this topic? Check out the Better Yourself Discord community. A cohort of supportive people committing to ending unhealthy habits, like weed dependency.
3. New Scents and Smells
Marijuana has a distinctive smell that's undeniable if you smell it on your teen. But would you know if they were smoking weed if surrounded by the sweet aromas of candy or desserts? Most parents wouldn't suspect anything, but with the rise of teens vaping, there's an increased risk of your teen smoking marijuana with a vape pen.
A vape pen is an electronic device (aka e-cigarette) that burns concentrated liquids that can contain nicotine or marijuana (THC) with flavorings that smell and tastes like candy. The heat from the device and inhaling causes the liquid to transform into vapor, masking the smell of weed or tobacco and making it easier for teens to vape without being caught due to the typical smell of marijuana.
A 2021 study by the CDC found that 85% of the 2 million middle schoolers and high schoolers were currently using vape pens. Not all vape pens come with or contain THC. Most vape pens have flavored tobacco. However, a teen who is vaping is 3.5X more likely to vape with THC in the future.
4. Dramatic Mood or Behavior Change
Marijuana typically has a calming effect and relaxed state of mind after smoking. However, no one ever talks about mood swings or behavior changes if you go through withdrawals.
Like with any substance, when your body is used to or addicted to something, irritability and mood swings are one of the side effects.
So, when most parents would try to look out for the signs of their teens while they are high, I would be more aware when they show a dramatic mood change and behavioral changes that don't align with their personality or character.
5. Noticeable Paranoia
One of the common side effects marijuana can have on the brain is heightened feelings of paranoia. The cause comes from overstimulation of the amygdala part of the brain when cannabis with high levels of THC is inhaled, entering the body and brain. The overstimulation sets off the paranoia of fear and anxiety.
But showing paranoia even when they may not have gotten high could be a warning sign that they feel uneasy about hiding something from others, like smoking weed.
Conclusion: What To Do If You See the Warning Signs
I hope by reading this article on the five warning signs to look out for in your teen's behavior and actions. As you begin to notice the warning signs, let that be a signal to create an open and thoughtful dialog about smoking weed. This is the sure-fire way to know if your teen is actively smoking, curious, or needs helpful ways on what to do if offered.
It's an opportunity to listen and learn what they know about marijuana and the long-term effects it could have on them. Your teenager is no longer a child, and it's time to see them as young adults and start having one-to-one conversations.
Thanks for reading this article. If it's your first time reading our blog, you should know that addiction to weed is an issue I have experienced and what people in our TikTok and Discord community talk about. If you found this article helpful, please share this with a friend or connect with me here to let me know what got out of this article.