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The Inner Voice of a Teenager Addicted to Marijuana

“Nothing is coming between me and smoking. Nothing.”

Posted Feb 18, 2020

The information in this post is based on my clinical interviews with teenagers that suffer from marijuana dependency.

“I had my first hit in middle school, in a park near my house, hanging out, basically doing nothing. My friend took out a joint that his brother gave him for his thirteenth birthday. Sounds sketchy, right? But his brother is a straight-A student. He’s wasn’t a drug dealer.

To be honest, I wasn’t into it. I coughed so much it burned my throat. But then I was thought to myself, “Whoah.” I had this euphoric feeling that I never had before—total freedom. Everything I worried about went away like thinking I’m too short, nerdy or worrying about my acne. It all disappeared.

I decided right then and there, “I need to get more.”

Before you judge me, I’m not a loser with a sad story. No one in my family does drugs, my parents aren’t abusive. I’m not from a poor neighborhood. I love my mom and dad, my brother and I are best friends. On winter breaks, when I was little, we went to Disney World and we visited my grandparents in Florida.

I guess you could say, we’re an all-American family.

But smoking weed, it just feels so good. It’s all I think about now. When I’m not high, I’m thinking about getting high. When my supply is low, I’m thinking about buying more weed or bumming some off a friend. I can’t imagine not having weed on me. Man, that would so suck.

Even when my parents caught me smoking in my room and I promised I wouldn’t do it again, I knew I was lying. In fact, I smoked later that night. My mom cries and my dad has this defeated look. They’re so dramatic. They need to chill out. Even my brother is dumping on me, saying that I’ve changed, that’s I’m hurting mom and dad.

Honesty, I don’t care what he says. Nothing is coming between me and smoking. Nothing.

I get high alone now. I don’t need friends. I smoke before school, in the stairwell during lunch, behind the gym after school. I don’t need a reason to get high. Honestly, I forget what it feels like not to be high.

Most days, I can’t stand my parents. They’re always sniffing around my room. Judging me. They make me want to smoke more. I can’t wait to move out. I tell them that weed isn’t addictive but they won’t listen.

There are so many ways to get high too. You can roll, bake, they even have weed gummy bears. My friend’s parents smoke with him. How cool is that? They even taught him how to make weed butter.

Last week, I got a vape pen. I traded for my guitar for it. Now I can smoke anywhere. Sometimes I even take a few hits in the back of my English class. The other kids stare and shake their heads like they’re better than me. But I don’t care. That’s why I quit sports and band. They’re all uptight and stupid.

The truth is, weed just makes everything better. If I watch a movie, I watch it high. If I skateboard, I ride high. I even eat dinner with my family high. They can’t even tell anymore.

I owe everything to weed. Weed is a part of my identity. I don’t know who I would be without it.”

“I Tried to Cut Back”

“Honestly, I’ve tried to smoke less. but I just can’t. Seriously. Last year, I went two or three days without smoking, and I had a wicked panic attack. My hands were sweating, my heart was racing. Thank God, my friend let me hit his pipe after school. I took a few puffs and I calmed right down (See “Raising Teenagers in the Age of Anxiety”).

Weed is good for me. It helps me. It helps a lot of people. Even doctors describe it. Is that the word? Described?

Now, all the kids at school are obsessed with college applications. What a joke! Spending all that money. Stressing about grades—for what? Honestly, I feel sorry for them. I stopped worrying about my grades a long time ago.

Most days, you’ll find me chillin’ in my bedroom. Watching YouTube videos or playing Fortnite. And smoking, of course.

I’m not an addict. Seriously, I’m not. I’m a good person. And if you think that I’m addicted to weed, well, whatever. Get over yourself.”

"Weed is part of my identity. I don't know who I'd be without it."

How to Tell If Your Teen Is Smoking Pot

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist, author of the bestselling book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” and a highly sought-after speaker.

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drug among teenagers.   Yet, many teens don’t even consider it to be a drug. Changes in laws regarding medicinal marijuana and recreational use causes many teens to doubt the dangers of marijuana use.

A 2018 survey of 12th-grade students found that just over 22% of teens said they had smoked marijuana within the past month.   Teens continue to report that marijuana is easily accessible and very affordable.

Make sure you know the warning signs that could indicate your teen is using marijuana.

What Marijuana Looks Like

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Doug Menuez/Photodisc/Getty Images

Marijuana resembles tobacco but can take on several forms. It can be green and brown or grayish in color. It includes the dried leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis plant.  

It may be shredded or crumbled, which is how it looks when it is smoked.

Sometimes teens will create a blunt out of a hollowed-out cigar filled with marijuana.

Teens crumble marijuana and roll it into a cigarette or use a pipe or bong to smoke. Sometimes teens place marijuana in food, like brownies, or make it into a tea.

Signs Your Teen Is High

Being high on marijuana is unique to the individual, but there are some signs you may notice if your teen has recently smoked pot:  

  • Your teen may have red, bloodshot eyes.
  • Your teen could be very giddy or very tired, depending on when they got high.
  • Your teen may be paranoid or anxious.
  • They may get the “munchies” and be hungry for anything they can get their hands on.

Mood or Behavior Changes

A change in behavior is one of the biggest telltale signs your teen may be using drugs.

Regular marijuana use might lead to varying behavior at school, work, changes in attendance in school, or mood swings. Your teen’s appearance may change, too.

Additionally, it could be that your teen demonstrates a more laid-back or “lazy” demeanor. It’s possible they may neglect chores or other activities. However, it’s important to remember that the effects of marijuana on an individual vary. It’s best not to make the assumption your teen is on drugs until you have further evidence or you are able to have an honest discussion with them about it.  

Signs of Drug Paraphernalia

While it’s good practice to give your teen privacy, it’s important to remember what your teen is doing is your business. So if you have a reason to suspect your teen is using drugs, it’s worth investigating.

Be on the lookout for pipes, rolling papers, and baggies with marijuana residue. These items may be hidden in canisters, books, or bottles in your teen’s room.  

Your Teen’s Friends

Sometimes, parents find out about their teen’s marijuana use through their teen’s friends. A parent might confide in you that your child’s friend was caught smoking marijuana or using drugs.

Spending time with friends who use drugs may indicate that your teen could be using drugs as well. It’s important to know who is influencing your teen.   If you know your teen’s friends are smoking, you can use this fact to open up a conversation about what it means to your teen that his/her friends are smoking, which may lead you to discover if your teen is participating as well.

Hiding the Evidence

Teens who use marijuana, especially around the home, have to be resourceful to mask the smell and hide the evidence.

Marijuana has a distinct order and if you have ever smelled it, you’ll recognize it again. If you have not, call your local community center or police department and sign up for a D.A.R.E. or parenting class on teen drug use.

You may find your teen has taken an interest in incense or air fresheners. Or, they may start using eye drops to mask the redness in their eyes.  

Drug Tests

If you’re suspicious your teen may be using marijuana, a home drug testing kit can give you an answer. Available at pharmacies and online drug stores, most kits will test for a variety of drugs, including marijuana.

And while positive test results could be a first step in getting your teen help, drug testing your child definitely has some serious risks. It could greatly impair your relationship with your teen. And that could be quite harmful in the long-term.

Additionally, at-home drug tests don’t detect all drugs. Synthetic drugs, for example, might not show up on a screening even though they can be just as dangerous as other drugs.

So think twice about drug testing your teen. Instead, put your energy into creating a healthy relationship that encourages your teen to be honest with you.

Again, marijuana use varies per the individual. Behavior changes may come in many different forms, so it is best not to jump to conclusions that your teen is on drugs and to try to communicate with them openly and honestly.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

If you suspect your teen may be using marijuana, you should be on the lookout for these warning signs that may indicate drug use.