Marijuana use predominates in youths compared to older populations and is the most commonly used substance among adolescents and young adults (Johnston, NIDA, 2012). Young adults represent about one-third of all people who use marijuana (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2017) and are also more likely than older adults to become dependent. The lifetime risk of dependence in marijuana users is less than 10 in 100; however, this risk increases to around 16 in 100 in people who start using as teens (Hall and Degenhardt, Lancet, 2009).
If you’re the parent of a young adult who regularly uses weed, it’s important to be aware of the risks of marijuana use on developing brains. If you discover or suspect that your teen is a regular user of marijuana, consider taking steps to discuss their use.
A helpful starting place is often laying the groundwork for an open, honest, and respectful conversation where you can ask how much and how often they’ve been using marijuana. When talking about possible marijuana use, keep these principles in mind.
Have an open discussion
Preventative conversations should never be interrogations, or one-sided. When people are criticized, their natural reaction is to put up a defense, or perhaps even to lash back. Remember that the goal is not to win, but to listen.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
If you’re a loved one who wants to broach the topic of marijuana use with someone you are worried about, keep in mind how off-putting it may be if you catch someone off guard with uninvited opinions. Build trust and demonstrate empathy by trying to understand the other person’s experience through questions like What do you think about what I said? What have you been going through?
Help each other to optimize supportive environments and lifestyles
Prevention of marijuana abuse isn’t about squashing habits whenever they start to boil over. Our social, physical, and mental environments play a huge role in influencing our personal behaviors. If you live with someone who has a worrisome pattern of marijuana use, try and identify those lifestyle factors which create opportunities—or drive—to use, whether it’s boredom, stress, a particular social crowd, dependence, or withdrawal.