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Daughter won't stop smoking pot...

Our 17 yr old daughter won't stop smoking pot – which she does daily to get through school. We have taken away privileges. Do we just ignore and ask her to leave once she's 18?


This is a tricky subject and different for every family, but I truly believe that every teenager who wants to get marijuana, can.

Therefore, I always tell moms & dads, it is extremely difficult to try to shield a teenager today from being exposed to marijuana because it is so prominent. I believe parents, and what I do with many of my clients, need to spend their efforts trying to equip teenagers to make the right choices, so when they are exposed to it, they will choose not to get high.

No matter how strict a curfew you have, how often you drug test your teenagers, or whether they are an athlete, a scholar or a jock, your teenager will always find a way to use marijuana if they want to. They key is making sure they do not want to.

1. Ask Questions—Before you dive into trying to equip them with the power to ‘say no,’ try to gauge their level of involvement. Ask the tough questions. I am not saying to grill them before they go out, but showing them you are paying attention and are very involved is important and you can get an idea of how much or how little you know about their social life.

2. Build their Esteem—If you cannot prevent them from encountering marijuana, you can empower them to make the right choices. I do believe there is peer pressure to use pot. It is hard to say no when it feels like everyone is doing it and you know that if you get high, you have the chance to be friends with that jock, who would never talk to you otherwise. So encourage them to do esteem building activities, like running for student council, working out, or doing a hobby and help them be proud of who they are by engaging in their unique qualities.

3. Don’t Lecture—If you think we are doing marijuana, dabbling in marijuana, seeing it at parties or just want to talk to us about it, please talk, don’t lecture. I promise, we have heard all of the negative sides to smoking weed in health class. As soon as you start lecturing us, we stop listening. So, instead of approaching it like a health teacher, ask questions and let us come to our own conclusion, usually we know what is right or wrong, and if we feel like you are talking to us about it, not at us, at least we will come to you if we have questions or problems down the road.

4. Find Out Why—This is tricky, it is important to understand that, today, marijuana is not only for ‘the stoner’ teenagers. All different kinds of teenagers are doing it and it has become a sort of social unifier. A drama teenager and a jock might not hang out at a party, but if they get to the party and share a joint, they are friends. It is really important to understand this new social aspect and that it permeates all kinds of peer groups.

5. Listen to the Answers—Most times, when I hear moms & dads talk to their teenagers, parents do ask questions, but then answer the questions themselves. A question, and then silence will get you a long way. For some reason, even after we have already given a one-word answer, if we feel you are still waiting for more, we either get nervous (a sign we are hiding something) or splurge and let our mouths go. Also look at your teenager’s immediate facial response as soon as you ask a question. We are not as good at hiding our emotions and you might be able to gauge a lot by watching our reaction.

6. Look at Their Friends—I constantly hear the “well, it’s not my teenager because…” response when I do speaking engagements on this topic. If you feel your child is either an angel or unreadable, look at their friends behavior. Have they gotten in trouble? Are they the ones who make the decisions where to go on the weekends? Friend’s behavior means everything in the world of marijuana.

7. Offer Other Activities—When you talk to your parent friends, make sure everyone is on the same page with curfews and activities. If there is a semi-formal or prom coming up, offer to host a substance-free after party, host bbqs and movie nights. I think many teenagers get high simply because there is nothing better to do.

8. Offer Other Options—As horrible as it sounds, if your teenager wants to get high, they will find a way. Make sure that they know never to drive high. If you think they are smoking and you cannot do anything about it (sometimes it happens), then at least tell them to call you if they are ever in a situation and they will not get in trouble. Many, many, teenagers drive high or drunk and this worries me more than anything. If you do not think they would call you, then encourage an aunt, uncle, priest, rabbi, teacher, friend to be their secondary support system if they ever need to be bailed out or get a ride home.

9. Talk to Your Friends and Other Parents—Get informed about the marijuana culture in general and in your specific community. I post frequently on this topic and what teenagers are doing right now, so you can stay a step ahead. I highly recommend getting together with parent friends and talking about what your teenagers are doing and sharing notes about what they think is going on.

10. Give Other Reasons Not to Use Pot—I constantly talk to teens about smoking and always give them non-health class reasons not to use pot which, I believe, appeal more to their interests. I always stress to girls the aging effects of smoking. I spoke to a group of 16 year-olds about ‘anti-partying’ and gave them my reasons not to use pot (they were shocked, because they were so a-typical):
  • At a prestigious internship interview, a friend got offered the job and when they asked for a drug test, he knew couldn’t pass it and they took back the offer.
  • Gives you lip wrinkles.
  • Lowers your sperm count.
  • Make allergies worse.
  • Makes you taste bad when you kiss.
  • The pot makes your teeth yellow.
  • You never know who is going to take an incriminating picture and post it somewhere, or use it against you later.

11. Give Them Excuses—Ok, so maybe they have the self-esteem to say no, and maybe they agree with the reasons above to say no, but sometimes people will not let up with the “just take one hit!, Just try it!” So, think of excuses for them to use. Here are some that I have given and tell teens to use:
  • I am on a diet, it gives me uncontrollable munchies and I am not giving up my summer goal for one hit.
  • I hate the taste.
  • I have dance class/practice/a run tomorrow and I can never perform as well.
  • It makes me really sleepy, and I am no fun when all I want to do is sleep.
  • It makes me sneeze.
  • My parents are waiting for me when I get home, and they will smell it/notice it.
  • My parents/job/school/coach drug test me.
  • Offer to be the reason! My parents told me to clearly tell people that they were watching me like hawks and that I would get in big trouble if I used pot. This almost always works, because everyone understands strict parents. So tell them to use you as the reason…after all there is some truth to it!

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


Anonymous said...

I am having an issue with my teen. She is 17. When she was 15/16, she was using some drugs and we found out about it. Between that and some other behavioral issues, we went through a very bad time with her. We got her some help for it and we thought things were back on track. That was almost a year ago. Now, I found out she has been smoking marijuana again and we are devastated by it. We feel so betrayed. We feel she has no respect for us and even more so, no respect for herself. I need some advice on how to handle this. I don't believe I handled it very well when I found out. I get so emotional because all those feelings are still very raw. I am so angry and hurt by this though and don't know how to turn those emotions off.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could help. I have a son who turned 19 yesterday. Started using marijuana at 14. We have struggled and struggled. Anyone who tells you Pot is not addictive is lying to you. My son has ruined his life. He has been in trouble with the law (mostly drug issues) and today is facing either Jail time or a very long inpatient rehab; We are looking at two years. Other people do not understand this, or they turn away and ignore the problem. Saying things like it is "only marijuana". Well, I have recently found out that our inpatient rehabs are full of patients who smoke "only marijuana". Know where your daughter is. Have a family locator plan on her cell phone. Do not give her money. Take her keys if you have to. Know her friends and what they are up to. These are all things I wish I had done. It is ok if my son hates me, as long as he gets better. Love your daughter... but take away the things that you have to to insure this does not become a HUGE problem. Believe me, I wish I had.

Unknown said...

It could help them with depression/anxiety if they have it. And don't assume they don't because teens are amazing at hiding it. Talk to them and ask them why they're using pot. If it's too be cool or because he's bored, get him out of the house and do something with him and he won't smoke anymore I promise you. Some teens you can't stop no matter what you do though, so if they keep disobeying, stand your ground. But I know pot is the only thing that helps me with my depression and anxiety, and my mom refuses to believe me. So talk to them before you yell or punish, because you never know their side of the story.

MDotaku said...

I'm a recent college graduate. I smoke to help with severe chronic pain associated with muscular dystrophy. It's easier on me than my prescribed opiates. And I think weed is whatever for chronic pain patients or really any adult over 21. But I'm absolutely worried and horrified as my two younger brothers do it regularly. They're not smart about it and do it and drive and just make very poor choices with it. My mother doesn't know how to stop them bc they are just so manipulative and hide everything well enough. They have an awaiting court date because they were dumb and brought a gram to school. They're ruining their lives and won't listen to me when I tell them to at least just slow their roll. I feel so helpless as I watch my little brothers turn into failures.

TLCMOM said...

My 16 yr old smokes because he is bipolar and not taking pharma meds. I despise it because he enjoys the high, and I know from experience that it's addictive, but I grudgingly admit it's better than the meds for bipolar. However, I am concerned about how to keep him from doing it during the school week.

Unknown said...

My son is 18 and a senior in high school. My husband and I have been dealing with his heavy use of marijuana for years and we've tried everything from open communication and the non lecture approach to taking away privileges and grounding him to giving him the ultimatum as to keep smoking (and he drives which is our biggest concern) or move out. Absolutely nothing has worked. We have taken him to rehab facilities for evaluations hoping that would scare him into wanting something better for himself and he has seen counselors for 2 years and again, nothing changes. Hes a daily or almost daily user and I do believe nothing will stop him. It has been so stressful on the rest of the family and is tearing his dad and I apart. Any suggestions at all as to what may have worked for your family would be so appreciated. Thank you

Mom on the edge said...

I know I am not supposed to enable my son. He is 17 and smokes pot. He has been through a drug program because he was legally required as part of probation for drug possession
Now he has been released from the probation and the drug treatment program. He is now smoking multiple times a day
Not in his room. I feel like i am enabling him by letting him live here for free. Feeding him. Basically allowing him to have all his income for buying pot. But I can't throw him out because he is not 18. I can't stop him from using unless I never sleep and find a way to physically restrain him. I feel trapped

Unknown said...

My husband has depression and smoking pot made it worse.

George said...

It does not help with depression or anxiety anymore than a fifth of vodka would. The serious risk is it can trigger psychosis. I've seen it and it can be devastating. A life on antipsychotics is no one's dream.

Anonymous said...

I am a recovering addict who only smoked pot and drank. I did both to get through me horrible depression. I thought that the pot at least was helping me. I knew the alcohol was bad (my Uncle died from alcoholism) but I thought the pot helped cure my depression. It was the only thing that made me happy. Fast forward to 15 years of smoking and drinking and I learned from a therapist that long term use actually makes depression worse. I got clean in 2007 and now take mental health meds for my depression. I don't like that I have to take them, but I also don't like feeling suicidal and hopeless. The meds help with that. I'm now using Essentail oils to help me through the sad but I will not go off my meds without my dr's help.
So at ten years clean, I live with my boyfriend who is also in recovery. He has a 17 yo son who smokes pot. We know we can't control him so we tell him of the dangers, tell him our own stories and hope that he will hear us. All we ask is that he doesn't bring it into the house, for our safety. Apparently that is too much to ask. I wake up to the smell, confront him, tell his dad and nothing is done. His dad and I finally had a huge blow up and talk bc I can't live like this anymore. This last time I caught him his father grounded him for a week. It hasn't even been a full week yet and I awoke to the smell again last night. I told his father who said he will search his room but he doesn't want me to. He is so afraid of upsetting his son that he ends up enabling him. I am worried for his son's safety, my safety and our relationship. Any advice, experience would be welcome. My email is

Unknown said...

I kid you not, your story is identical to mine. I have other kids who are forced to smell it and she gets severe migraines as a result of having to smell it. What do you do when they don’t think its a problem? As a recovered addict, i know until she admits its a problem, rehab and drug counseling simply wont work. Its definitely made her behavior worse becaus it counteracts the effects of her meds. All the sudden she stopped caring about the consequences. I did make her leave one night a few weeks ago and things seemed to stop until this past week when we started smelling it again. She already has probation in her future and knows if she gets drug tested, it will be so much worse. I thought we were doing everything right with her finally. We got her the help she needed to battle the anxiety and reactive depression and continues seeing a behavior therapist weekly or biweekly for months. I dont know what happened. Everything was finally headed in the right direction and what feels like out of nowhere, it all went to hell.

Anonymous said...

We're in that dilemma.

I have a very headstrong teenager. He's taking it upon himself to go out and not come back until the next day. We have imposed restrictions, tested (which he's failed), etc. He's threatening to move out as soon as he's 18 (which would be before graduation). We already had one move out.

He says our home is a "hell hole". He cusses non stop when he's angry, calls my wife every name in the book, especially when I'm not there. I think we're far past the "spankings" stage.

The more we take away, the more defiant he becomes.

We have him in therapy to talk about his anger and defiance issues, but I think we're in for a senior year of hell.

I feel defeated as a parent. We have lost friends. Other parents look at us as trouble. We really feel on our own.

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