Marijuana ranks as the most frequently used illegal drug in teenagers. Nearly 20 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 have at least experimented with the drug, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Research published by the Radiological Society of North America suggests that smoking pot as a teen can permanently change the brain. For parents, knowing the signs of marijuana use in a teen can help with intervention before it develops into a serious problem.
Eating and Sleeping
An increase in appetite or weight can signal pot smoking in teenagers. Marijuana increases appetite and teens may binge eat after smoking it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also lists changes in sleeping habits as an indicator of use. Sleepiness after signs such as excessive giggling, bloodshot eyes and short-term memory issues, is an effect of the marijuana high wearing off.
Teens using drugs often develop changes in their grooming habits. They might slack in regular hygiene, but pick up new habits. Some of the signs to watch for include bloodshot eyes and eye drop use, unusual perfume or cologne use, an odor on the clothes or hair, less care in grooming and use of breath fresheners.
Many teenagers experiment with different styles and looks. While this classifies as normal behavior, some changes in clothing and style can be a sign of pot use. A teenager using marijuana may wear clothing, jewelry and accessories promoting its use, states the NIDA. The marijuana plant leaf is a common symbol to watch for. Parents should also watch for changes in room décor, such as pro-drug use posters or incense burning, and signs of drug paraphernalia, including lighters, pipes and rolling papers.
Physical behavioral changes happen to many teens as they adjust to peer pressure, hormonal fluctuations and stress. More extreme changes, however, may indicate marijuana use. Obvious mood swings, emotional outbursts, sudden changes in friends and angry, paranoid or secretive behaviors can all signal that a teenager is using drugs. Some of the physical changes in behavior come about due to the way THC works on the brain, according to The Bay Team Drug Free Community Coalition. Pot smoking affects the areas of the brain responsible for memory, emotions, aggression and fear.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration: Teen Marijuana Use
- Radiological Society of North America: Imaging Shows Similarities in Brains of Marijuana Smokers, Schizophrenics
- MedlinePlus: Drugs Signs and Teenagers
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Marijuana Facts Parents Need to Know
- Parents. The Anti-Drug: Is Your Teen Using