Teens Smoking Weed to “Chill Out”

stressed student with hands on headYou’ve probably heard a teen insist that the reason he/she smokes marijuana is because it helps them chill out.  Never mind the documented evidence of risks, parental disapproval, and legal ramifications. “And why is it so important for you to smoke marijuana to relax?,” you might ask the young champion of chill.  Explanations range from reasonable — “I’m stressed out from school or my parents are bugging me,” to unrealistic — “it just makes my life better.” Needless to say, challenging this “chill defense” is central to reducing and/or stopping the teen’s marijuana use.

I no longer debate teenagers on whether marijuana really helps them to relax or not.  Unfortunately, in some ways it does, but there is a huge price to be paid. Decreased motivation, memory impairment, and dependence are just some of the detrimental side effects.  Indeed, self-medication is not the road to success.  Teens must be confronted on why they have to smoke weed to relax, and more importantly, on why they can’t find more constructive ways to reduce their stress and deal with family and school issues that plague them.  This is no simple matter, but it lies close to the heart of the issue.

girl smoking weedIndeed, stressed-out, lonely, angry, rebellious, and school-challenged kids are more susceptible to marijuana use.  So, why not take them at their word?  I don’t blame you for wanting to get stoned, I’ve told teenagers as a starting point.  But the stakes are way too high.  You’re smoking away life’s opportunities and you deserve better.  Surely, there must be other ways for you to unwind and deal with your parents getting on your case.

What have you got to lose by trying? 

boys playing soccerParents too must help their misguided teens to find healthier ways to relieve their angst.  In recent years, I’ve spoken with quite a few parents who have had some success.  It goes something like this:  The parent tells their child that they won’t argue about marijuana for a while (they’ve often been arguing for months or even years) if the child agrees to get involved in ongoing constructive activities and address the issues at hand.  Naturally, the teen resists but is reminded of the heavy monitoring, restrictions, and whistle blowing he will face if his marijuana involvement continues. Reluctantly, he consents and gradually enters a world outside his “stoner circle” which proves to be more gratifying than his repetitive discussions of the virtues of marijuana and seeking opportunities to get high.

Will this approach work for everyone?  Probably not. Sometimes, young people have grown so dependent on marijuana, they can’t break away from the culture. These people tend to need more powerful interventions such as therapy, drug treatment, and prevention programs.  But some teens can be weaned from their drug reliance through immersion in activities including volunteer work, martial arts, relaxation focused exercises, creative pursuits, and outdoor adventures, to name but a few.  It’s certainly worth a try before bringing in the heavy artillery.

Keep in mind — Well-deserved and valued freedom, independence of thought, and self-worth are the natural enemy of negative peer influence and the illicit drugs which induce a false sense of well-being.

Marijuana Talk Kit

Learn why pot is still risky for teens, what you should and shouldn’t say when talking with your teen, and how to respond to their questions.

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80 Responses

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    June 23, 2016 at 11:51 AM

    Most of the serious anti Marijuana people I’ve met are also the ones that are dependent on pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol and tobacco. To them cannabis is the Devils lettuce but a handful of anti depressants washed down with a glass or six of liquor is just fine. Their kids have been on Ritalin(might as well be amphetamine’s) since age six and are stealing pills from mom’s purse while she’s passed out on the couch from a combo of said pills and grey goose and dad won’t find out because he’s to busy slamming down high priced bourbon he doesn’t even like and trying to make it another day without blowing his brains out. Don’t smoke weed though kids it’s bad doodie.

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    April 29, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Es i still smokI agree pot can be very dangerous. Im 46 years young and have been smoking since i was a teen. Pot , weed (what ever they call it these days ) can be dangerous as a teen. All things listed above are true. However the substance that is being debated is no different from alcohal and surely is not as dangerous. Alcohal by far destroys more lives. The debate should be on a number of issues that tie into this debate.

    1) addictive genetics
    2) age of user (alcool also)

    The issue is the young developing teens . I went through it myself. However as i matured my priorities changed. Today i have four amazing children, oqn a home and highly successfull in my field.

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    Marx C

    April 17, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    the whole way this article was written is just close-minded and is asking for arguments and issues to come up. Look into the situation level headed and not with the idea that this is harmful and you will stop it. I’m 22 years old and still live with my father(he’s very close-minded old testament shit) But I smoke weed. Essentially almost every evening. But I still go to college, I’m punctual for work and I play lacrosse and keep it that way. I go out for drinks maybe once a week if I can but i’d rather just smoke up. He’s a heavy smoker but doesn’t drink so whenever he comes down on me for smoking weed I just have to roll with it because no matter what he can’t process the thought of it or the plant itself without down playing it. It’s addictive but to the person. It doesn’t hold the addictive properties of alcohol or tobacco. If the child(using this word lightly) knows exactly what he has gotten himself into and it really isn’t affecting his daily life then let him decide what he should do with it.

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    Shoshana Volkheimer

    April 4, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    I think that Marijuana is just plain stupid because all you are is just going to be stupid after you smoke it for like a few years or something. But since I did marijuana when I was like 12 even though that it was like two years ago, but anyway IF I was able to still do it I would do it, but since I can’t, even though I had a hard childhood with my mom and dad drinking, doing drugs, hitting each other, putting a knife to their wrist. Don’t DO MARIJUANA

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