Is Your Child Using Marijuana?
During their kids’ middle, high school, and even college years, many parents struggle with what to do about their child using marijuana. No parent wants to think their child may turn to drugs, but it’s a reality for many.
Unfortunately, in today’s culture, attitudes surrounding marijuana are incredibly relaxed. This makes using and abusing it seem “harmless”. However, marijuana does carry with it some serious health risks. Among these risks are addiction, low motivation, and behavior changes. If you’re concerned that your child is using marijuana, there are some tell-tale signs to watch for.
Signs of Marijuana Use
The first step to addressing a problem is identifying it. Find a list of common signs that your child is using marijuana below:
- Dilated pupils
- Bloodshot eyes
- Apathy and dazed behavior
- Changes in personality
- Financial issues- always asking for money or being unable to explain where allowance or a paycheck is going
- Paraphernalia: things like joint or blunt papers, pipes, bongs, and grinders are a clear sign of marijuana use.
If you notice these signs, it’s an indication that there may be a problem. Being aware of the effects of marijuana can help you detect use, and can also be helpful when confronting a loved one about your concerns. Additionally, early substance abuse may lead to various mental health conditions later in life such as Bipolar disorder.
Effects of Marijuana
Marijuana can cause side effects that range from mildly annoying to dangerous. Find a list of effects common to marijuana use below:
• Increased appetite – often called “the munchies,” marijuana drastically increases its users’ appetites. This is due to how THC, the most potent active chemical in marijuana, stimulates the brain’s olfactory receptors. THC actually causes hunger by increasing how users smell food.
• Increased heart rate – marijuana increases users’ heart rates by between twenty and fifty beats per minute. Most people’s hearts beat between seventy and eighty times per minute, so this is a large increase in heart rate.
• Decreased coordination & balance – after smoking pot, THC binds to receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia. These parts of the brain control balance, coordination, and reaction time.
• Memory loss – THC also binds to receptors in the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain that forms and stores memory. As THC enters the hippocampus, it actually alters how information is received and processed. This leads to decreased memory retention.
Because these symptoms may not seem as severe as the effects of other drugs, it can be tempting to ignore them or deny them. However, long-term marijuana use can lead to dependence and addiction. The short-term effects, like memory loss and decreased coordination, can make learning and working difficult. This can be a big problem for teenagers, whose brains are still developing. Over time, marijuana can become addictive and lead to psychological dependence. This can also lead to increased drug use and experimentation with “harder” drugs like alcohol and cocaine.
What Do I Do if My Child is Using Marijuana?
If, after learning some of the above information, you think your child is smoking marijuana, the question becomes what to do. This is often the most overwhelming part of struggling with a child, family member, or significant other’s drug use. What can you do to help them? What can you do to break the cycle of drug use and abuse?
The first step to helping your child is simply to learn information about their drug use. This is true for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or any other drug. How often is your child or loved one using? What consequences have they experienced? Do they view their use as a problem? Do they actively want help?
After obtaining this information, speaking to a treatment center is a great resource. Most treatment centers have a dedicated group of admission coordinators whose job is to answer any and all questions concerned parents may have.
Give Lighthouse Recovery Institute a call. Our staff members are trained, experienced, and passionate about helping families struggling with substance abuse. We believe the simplest way to solve any drug-related problem is to learn the facts and make an informed decision, rather than one based on fear and uncertainty. If you need more information, guidance, or help with choosing the right program for yourself or a loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out today.