How to Know if a Teen is Using Marijuana

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Teens who use marijuana can hide it pretty easily but if a parent knows what to look for, the signs will be more obvious, even if the signs are subtle. Marijuana is used by teens who see a health benefit and forget about the risks involved due to social media posts with mixed messages on the positive benefits. Learn more how to know if a teen is using marijuana.

Negative Side Effects

When a teen uses marijuana, he or she is not likely to overdose on the drug by itself. Even though it has hallucinogenic properties and psychoactive effects, when combined with other drugs the effects may be accelerated. Many healthcare professionals agree marijuana use among teens has consequences that are far reaching which include death. The other negative side effects include:

  • Permanent brain changes
  • Likelihood of addiction developing later in life
  • Medical professionals agree on addictive properties prior to age 18 is higher than for adults
  • Stats suggest higher risks of leaving school, experimenting with risky sexual behavior and involvement with accidents than kids not using drugs

Symptoms of Teen Marijuana Use

Many warning signs may appear as symptoms which are behavioral in nature. These include:

  • Rebellious behavior towards family rules
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Looking for money constantly
  • Cheats or steals
  • Caught with paraphernalia
  • Lacks participation with friends or family in events
  • Loss of memory or attention
  • Poor school performance and rapid decline in grades

Discerning Teen Behavior

It may be difficult to review the list of possible symptoms and ascertain whether a teen is just acting like a teen or is behaving differently due to drug use. When examining the possibilities, it helps to know how to confront the teen appropriately. Come to the table prepared with evidence and concerns without being judgmental or condemning. What is presented will leave a lasting impression. Remember kids will go through pushing boundaries and acting out as a way of expressing the self but allowing room for growth for teens is positive as long as it is done safely. Learning how to discern what is typical behavior versus irrational and negative behavioral traits brought on by marijuana use is critical. It may be helpful to try the following to get support:

  • Seek outside help from mentors or those who know the teen
  • Seek counseling to work through issues
  • Confront teen directly to see what comes up
  • Set up an intervention if it is obvious the teen is using drugs

The main goal is to support the teen in seeking treatment for the addiction rather than condemning the behavior. It helps to bring the family together and suggest ways to make the situation better (treatment, etc) and offer help throughout the process.


Sustain Recovery helps adolescents who are struggling with addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to substances, call us to find out how we can help you recover.