Help, my teenage son is smok­ing weed

The Invercargill Eye - - YOUR HEALTH - Q: I re­cently dis­cov­ered a small bag of mar­i­juana in my 17-year-old son’s bed­room. I’d had my sus­pi­cions for a while. I con­fronted him about it and he said smok­ing pot is some­thing he only does oc­ca­sion­ally and that it’s ‘‘bet­ter than drink­ing’’ for his h

When you con­fronted your son about the bag of mar­i­juana, he gave you an in­tel­li­gent re­ply and it sounds as if this is a boy you can rea­son with. He said he only smokes pot oc­ca­sion­ally, so at least you know what you are deal­ing with.

If he’s sug­gest­ing that mar­i­juana is bet­ter for his health than al­co­hol then he is right, but in a lim­ited way. It’s pos­si­ble to die from binge drink­ing and it can hap­pen very quickly af­ter con­sum­ing large quan­ti­ties. You won’t die from ex­cess mar­i­juana but the im­pact will nev­er­the­less be there over time.

When you’re 17, you can’t imag­ine the reper­cus­sions of a con­vic­tion on your life, the risk of trig­ger­ing a men­tal ill­ness or the pos­si­bil­ity of long-term brain dam­age.

The in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the ef­fects of cannabis on the teenage brain are ex­ten­sive and you are right to be con­cerned.

How­ever, be as­sured that this is fairly typ­i­cal teenage be­hav­iour. Sta­tis­tics show that half of all New Zealan­ders have tried cannabis and that ap­prox­i­mately one quar­ter of those who’ve tried it go on to be­come reg­u­lar users, so your son’s ex­per­i­men­tal phase is likely to be just that.

Con­vinc­ing your son to look far into the fu­ture is made harder by the fact that his rea­sons for smok­ing cannabis will be about how he’s feel­ing right now. Usu­ally teenagers start their habit be­cause of peer pres­sure and so­cial ac­cep­tance.

There is an im­me­di­acy about their choice that makes your ra­tio­nale for look­ing into the fu­ture so much more dif­fi­cult.

So, when you ask, how can I stop this? I think you should do what you’re do­ing.

You’ve con­fronted him and opened up a dis­cus­sion, which is a good start. Talk about the pos­si­bil­ity of him be­com­ing ad­dicted or los­ing his way (al­though try not to be too alarmist in these dis­cus­sions as that will widen the gap be­tween your per­spec­tives).

Make it clear that, re­gard­less of what he does in his leisure time with his friends, study­ing and achiev­ing his aca­demic po­ten­tial is es­sen­tial in your home. If he’s the boy you think he is, then he’ll process your thoughts, fo­cus on his bright fu­ture, and the mar­i­juana will fade into the back­ground.


I’m wor­ried my bright son will end up ‘‘brain dead’’ like the pot smok­ers I’ve met be­fore.

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