Finding out that one’s child has been using cannabis can be a shock. Some parents blame themselves. They are very disappointed. Or they are scared. In that case, they can be very severe. They react impulsively, without thinking. As for the teenager, he/she closes up.
Other parents believe smoking cannabis is harmless or “normal during the adolescence”. So, they don’t react. A lot of young people use cannabis, and then suddenly stop. But one can’t know beforehand how the young person’s consumption is going to evolve. The reaction of parents is, therefore, important.
So, how should one react? The ideal solution is to find the right balance: not dramatizing, but not downplaying either. Stating clearly that cannabis can be dangerous, but without demonizing it.
If you find out your teenager has used cannabis, try to find out more. Was it just to try out? How much? Occasionally, or often? Do you often feel the urge to smoke? Do you think cannabis is not dangerous? Do you know the risks associated with its use?
Above all, maintain a positive image of your child. Stay open and as calm as possible. That way, you encourage your child to be honest with you. You favour dialogue. You show him/her that he/she can count on you. But being calm and open doesn’t mean you agree with this behaviour.
⇒ My teenager “tried” cannabis.
If your child used cannabis once or twice: ask him/her how it went, what he/she felt. Was it out of curiosity? Or because others were smoking? Explain to your child what worries you. Also, say that the role of parents is to set boundaries. Explain that you don’t want him or her to go on using.
⇒ My teenager smokes cannabis from time to time.
If your child smokes cannabis occasionally, for example during a party or with friends: clearly state that you want him or her to stop. If your child refuses, talk about the risks. How to ensure that the consumption won’t increase?
Demand never to drive (a bike, a scooter or a car) after smoking. AND demand to never be in a car driven by someone who smoked.
If your child is still very young, insist about stopping. Because the brain builds a very strong link between pleasure and cannabis. Then, it becomes like a reflex: I want to feel pleasure = my solution is to use cannabis.
⇒ My teenager uses cannabis regularly.
If your teenager regularly smokes cannabis, try to find out more. Are you smoking daily? Do you think about quitting? What place does it have in your life? Is it a habit? To open the discussion, you can, for example, ask:
- What importance does cannabis have in your life?
- How can you avoid cannabis from becoming more important?
- In what situations do you feel pleasure by smoking cannabis?
- In what situations don’t you like to smoke it?
- How do you manage to maintain results in school or at work?
You can also discuss motivations with them:
- Why do you smoke?
- To lower stress levels?
- To forget about your problems?
If your teenager smokes to forget negative feelings, say this worries you. Try to find together other answers to these problems.
Using cannabis (or drinking alcohol) when one doesn’t feel well may be comforting on the spot. But with time, one has less and less strength to fight one’s problems. Then, problems will remain and the will to smoke (or drink) will increase.
Worry if your child uses cannabis:
- before the age of 16;
- every day or almost;
- before and during school or work;
- during all free time or almost;
- in order to feel better;
- before driving or operating machinery.