James left a group of close friends he’d known since kindergarten in the Midwest to relocate to Colorado shortly after his parents’ divorce was final. Although the 13-year-old was an excellent student and athlete, he was having significant trouble sleeping and becoming very anxious at the thought of entering eighth grade in his new town. Always a highly social kid, his dad reassured him that he’d have no trouble fitting into his new school and encouraged him to join a recreational soccer league shortly upon their arrival in order to meet some new friends. The first week, one of James’ new teammates invited him over to play video games with some other players. While no parents were present, he offered James and the other boys some marijuana to try. By the time school started two months later, James was smoking pot with his new friends every afternoon. James’ dad noticed his son was sleeping a great deal more than usual, but he thought he was doing so because he was finally settling into their new life.

Get to know your child’s friends and, if possible, their parents. Talk about being a leader or a follower. Listen to your child and let them know that you understand the difficulties of coping with peer pressure. If you can listen to them and discuss the issues without being judgmental, chances are they’ll continue to talk with you as they get older. Talk early and talk often.

Here are some things parents need to know about teens and marijuana use:

Many of us imagine that if our children are going to be exposed to drugs, a stranger will be involved. The reality is that your children are most likely to be offered drugs by a friend, often someone their own age.

Marijuana, especially when used in conjunction with alcohol, can significantly impair judgment and increase the level of intoxication as well as produce secondary and highly unpredictable effects. 

Using marijuana as a teen could lower a person’s IQ since the brain is still developing. Teens are at greater risk of injury, as they tend to make poorer choices while intoxicated.

Even the occasional consumption of marijuana may cause teens to engage in risky behavior. Your child could find herself or himself in situations where they are more vulnerable to abuse or exploitation.

For more information about Hanley Foundation, email or call: 561-268-2355.