and Your Teen
by Helen Selenati
Marijuana is the illegal drug most often used in
the US. Research by the National Institute
on Drug Abuse has shown that since 1991,
marijuana use has doubled among 8th-
and 10th-grade students, and
increased by a third among high school seniors.
Accompanying this upward pattern of use, is a
significant erosion in antidrug perception and
knowledge among young people today.
changes in perception and knowledge may be due
to a decrease in antidrug messages in the media,
an increase in pro-drug messages through the pop
culture, and a lack of awareness among parents
about the resurgence in drug use.
parents of this generation of teenagers
experimented with marijuana when they were in
college, they often find it difficult to talk
about marijuana use with their children and to
set strict ground rules against drug use. But
marijuana use starts at a younger age today –
and more potent forms of the drug are available
to these young children. Parents need to
recognize that marijuana use is a serious threat
and they need to tell their children not to use
it is best to talk about drugs when children are
young, it is never too late to talk to you teen
about the danger of drug use. A pro-active
parent sums it up this way: “The only way to
prevent your child from using drugs is to be
open, talk to them, be aware of everything going
on in your child’s life….If there is
experimentation, I’m going to know and be able
Talking to our
children about drug abuse is not always easy,
but it is one of the most important and
effective deterrents of teen drug addiction.
There are stronger forms of marijuana
available to adolescents today than in the
1960s. Stronger marijuana means stronger
What is Marijuana?
is a green, brown or gray mixture of dried,
shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of
the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). Today
Marijuana is the most often used illegal drug
in the US.
Canabis is the term
that refers to marijuana and other drugs made
from the same plant. Strong forms of cannabis
include sinsemilla (made from just the buds
and flowering tops of the female plant),
hashish (the sticky resin from the female
plant’s flowers), and hash oil (a tar-like
liquid distilled from hashish). All forms of
cannabis are mind-altering drugs.
What are the
current slang term for marijuana?
Slang terms for
drugs change quickly, and they vary from one
part of the country to another, even across
sections of a large city. Terms from years
ago, such as pot, herb, grass, weed, Mary
Jane, and reefer, are still used. You might
also hear the names Aunt Mary, skunk, boom,
gangster, kif or ganja. A recent book of
American slang lists more than 200 terms for
various kinds of marijuana.
How is marijuana
Most users roll
loose marijuana into a cigarette (called a
joint or a nail) or smoke it in a pipe. One
well-known type of water pipe is the
bong. Some users mix marijuana with food
or use it to brew a tea. Another method
is to slice open a cigar and replace the
tobacco with marijuana, making what’s called a
cigarettes or blunts often include crack
cocaine, a combination known by various street
names such as “primos” or “woolies”. Joints
and blunts often are dipped in PCP and are
called “happy sticks”. “wicky sticks”. “love
boat”, or “tical”.
At what age do
children generally start?
Recent government research
- Among teens 12 to
17, the average age of first trying
marijuana was 14 years.
- 23% of 8th
graders have tried marijuana at least once
and by 10th grade, 21% are
“current” users (used within the past
- Among 12th
graders nearly 50% have tried marijuana/hash
at least once, and about 24% were current
Other researchers have found
that the use of marijuana and other drugs
usually peaks in the late teens and early
twenties, then declines in later years.
How can I tell if my
child has been
There are some signs you might
be able to see if someone is under the influence
of marijuana. He or she might:
- Seem dizzy or have
- Seem silly and
giggly for no reason;
- Have very red,
bloodshot eyes; and
- Have a hard time
remembering things that just happened.
- When the early
effects fade, the user can become very
Parents should be aware of
changes in their child’s behavior; look for
withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness
with grooming, hostility, deteriorating
relationships with family members and
friends. In addition changes in academic
performance, increased absenteeism, lost
interest in sports, or other favorite
activities, and changes in sleeping habits could
all be related to drug use.
Tips for parents
Be a good listener
and maintain an open dialogue with your
Give clear no-use
messages about drugs and alcohol.
child’s whereabouts and supervise teen
Get to know your
child’s friends and their parents.
Helen Selenati is a
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and
Certified Coach. She has a private
practice in Redwood City and can be
email@example.com or by calling 650-596-0807.
Also visit www.selenati.com