Cannabis use-My son smokes joints: how it affects him and what to do

Cannabis use - My son smokes joints

Three out of ten teenagers use cannabis. To deal with this problem, it is convenient to talk with them, try to identify their reasons and explain very well what the health risks of smoking joints are.

Cannabis use - My son smokes joints

What to do if a teenager smokes joints. It is a really frequent consultation, both for family or general practitioners, as well as other health professionals, and psychologists and psychotherapists. But people also ask on the web, on social networks, on the street, among friends, other parents…

We can say that the three most frequent responses are trivializing, dramatizing and authoritarian…

The first: “well, it’s not that serious, I also smoke or smoked” (and its derivatives). The second, to mount a drama when he found out about it, but without putting measures of care, affection and attention afterwards. The third, mounting or not a drama previously, dedicate to prohibit, persecute, punish, monitor

None of the three forms of response is the timeliest but, before knowing the appropriate way to react, there are some things that we must know beforehand:

  • It is a common problem. The consumption of marijuana (the dried leaf of cannabis), hashish (the resin of the plant), or the like, is relatively frequent among our adolescents.
  • But we must not dramatize. In reality, large Spanish studies, such as ESTUDES, by the Ministry of Health, make it clear that it is consumed (and occasionally) by a minority of adolescents, around 30%.
  • Nor do they trivialize. It is not worth saying: “Nothing happens, it has no harmful effects.” First, because these data mean that in 2018, 222,000 students from our country began to consume cannabis, and of both sexes. Second, because all drugs and pharmaceuticals have detrimental effects.

    All substances exogenous to the body, even therapeutic ones, have a harmless or even therapeutic level, and a level of toxicity or intoxication for the body. With the added drawback that psychoactive substances, such as THC (the fundamental component of marijuana and hashish), have addictive properties, that is, they invite repeat use.
  • Self-deception should be avoided. Trivializing behavior is not appropriate when it is “self-justifying”, to “deceive ourselves” (ourselves or our child). This “self-deception” is the aspect that most stimulates subsequent dependence: it is a relational characteristic to which we must be especially attentive.


The psychobiological reality is that the results of the use of hashish or similar, as of any other psychoactive drug (including alcohol) are always serious if the use is continued. It is important to know its harmful effects so that we can always communicate them to our son or daughter. But not to argue about them. It is necessary to consider that “it is what it is”. Its effects have no discussion.

Another thing is the therapeutic use of THC, which can occur in very special cases and situations and limits. But the supposedly “recreational” use must be discussed with our son, asking and wondering. The drunkenness of the pubescent and adolescents and the “bottles” are also very common. Maybe from our daughter or son.

But each one means a coma or a sub coma, that is, the death of millions of neurons, with the consequent alterations in the consolidation of certain circuits of the central nervous system, which are definitively established in adolescence and post-adolescence.

Today it is known that the effects are different between a brief or occasional consumption and a prolonged consumption. But there are always side effects.

If consumed occasionally

The most demonstrated effects of the occasional use of these substances are a decrease in short-term memory, which can lead to learning problems and difficulties in retaining information, alterations in motor coordination (with an increased risk of accidents if using machines or driving), alteration of the judgment of reality (which can lead to sexual, or non-sexual, risky behaviors), etc.

If the dose or continued consumption is high

In this case, the main risks are addiction and losses and changes in brain development, especially if use begins in puberty or early adolescence.

There are also consecutive cognitive losses, decreases in academic performance, a greater possibility of lung diseases, asthma and cardiovascular diseases, alterations in emotional development, low self-esteem and increased vital and social dissatisfaction.

Likewise, there is an increased risk of mental disorders, partly because it facilitates them and partly because already altered psychopathological developments are hidden … For example, very often, early psychosis takes longer to be diagnosed because their mental suffering is hidden behind the marijuana.


There is a lot of scientific data on what it is that facilitates the use of cannabis on a chronic basis. The risk factors for this clearly dangerous use are the use of cannabis or tobacco by the mother or father, serious socioeconomic factors (hardships, losses and changes in lifestyle, adversities in childhood …), the serious or persistent relational problems of the young man or the young person, the alterations, dysfunctions and serious family problems, easy access to cannabis and derivatives, habitual consumption in the family or social environment…


Well, our recommendation can be very clear. We usually summarize it like this: talk to her or him. First, in agreement with your partner, have at least one calm and quiet conversation with your child. Together or alone. Stop it if the situation “gets too hot.”

It is better to continue at another time than to end up screaming and fighting.

The global idea is what we usually defend for the care of children and people in a situation of dependency: spend more time with children, enjoying them. Adolescence is an adventure for children, but also for parents. For those, an adventure –or series of adventures–, a journey into an unknown future. For parents it can also lead to interesting adventures and is the “doctorate of life.”

Neither “colegui”, nor police

Talk to them, yes, but without becoming a “buddy” nor a policeman. How many interesting things your child can teach you, in which you have not fallen and that, without his help or that of his “compas”, you will never be able to know! Concerts, bands, types of music, the Internet, excursions and endless etcetera. Are you going to miss it? Explore their tastes, attitudes, relationships…

He talks about the singer or the public figure that attracts him, comments if he takes drugs and the consequences, they have had on him or on others, without skimping on the details (about overdoses, addictions, miseries …), but without being alone in them.

Express yes, but without drama

In calm moments, you can explain that you do not agree with him smoking joints and expose him to the dangers of doing so. But not to scare you, but because “it is what it is.” Angry arguments are of little use in these cases. They can even convince you that “there is no one to talk to you.”


He or she is the one who can best answer that question. First, it is convenient, and without unnecessary drama, to ask him how and why he uses that drug. And that means listening to him. For example, do you do it “to test”, out of exploration, out of curiosity…? Based on this, clarify the risks to him, but without dramatizing or harassing him.

It can be an emotional issue

Do you do it because others do it? Really? Is it really like that, or is that a subterfuge or a way to “get out of the way”, or even what we prefer to hear ourselves to deceive ourselves? Ultimately, he is talking about an identity issue, of who he wants / can be.

Maybe our son / daughter is especially vulnerable, lacking in identity, or with a fragility in his way of relating to himself and to others? Then we will have to ask ourselves why he is vulnerable, what has led him there. And, consequently, how to help you in your security, self-affirmation, self-esteem…

If your child tells you that he uses “to avoid thinking about problems”, to alleviate anger or pain, you can tell him firmly, but not insistently, that drugs only make his underlying problem worse and that this means you need help.

It is not easy to guide him, even with the help of friends and colleagues, something we must look for.

We usually see it so complicated that we close our eyes or fall into authoritarian attitudes. But there are keys to understanding him: Do you know how he and you see himself? Do you also know how others see you (other relatives, your friends, the parents of your friends, your colleagues…)?

You may not consider it dangerous

First of all, seriously reconsider: Do you or your partner smoke or have you smoked joints in front of him or have you trivialized its use or downplayed it? Without dramatizing, but it must be recognized that this is a mistake. Exploring is one thing and needing, addicting, another.

First, addictive family behaviors will have to be denasalized: not only with cannabis, but also with alcohol, other drugs or gambling … From here, you and your partner should ask each other about the emotional climate of the family.

If it is upset, you have to ask yourself how to improve it urgently, with help from family, friends, friends, or professional help … It is not enough to “my son smokes joints” and put the problems in him. The problem is usually familiar, especially in this serious or continued use.

Let’s not deceive ourselves because self-deception is also an addiction and the basis of all addictions.

Do you see in your son or daughter important inhibitions in the development of their desire, their eroticism or their tendencies to bond with others?

What is really worrying is if your son or daughter only establishes relationships through joints and with people who smoke joints or if they need them to be able to behave spontaneously or freely in society. Have they always presented difficulties in the face of separations or tendencies to isolation? They are two clear risk factors for addictions.

What if you need it to calm down?

That could explain his behavior: he already needs it to sleep, to be able to endure a meeting, a meeting, class with less tension … If this happens to you continuously or frequently, you are probably experiencing significant relationship difficulties and it occurs or may occur an addiction.

You should check that situation now.

Not with specialists in brain biology or psychiatric classifications, but with a specialist in relationships: an adolescent psychotherapist.

But let him be a psychotherapist whose training, his supervision, the evolution of other cases he has handled … Not because he is the neighbor, the son of, a friend, the closest or the easiest to consult…

The solutions that an expert will propose to you have a lot to do with the environments and media that are around you: in your region, city, autonomous community … You have to know about it.

Today there are great differences between autonomous communities on these issues, and serious imbalances in the provision of care for these problems, especially because of the cuts that abusive politicians are applying in public health. In this case, although it is not always a necessarily serious problem, it can hide serious problems and it is not easy to solve…


How to prevent a child from smoking joints is something that depends on the family and the context, so it is not usually helpful to give simple recipes. But we can follow some tips:

  • Children should feel loved, regardless of their behaviors. Even more if they are conflicting. Remember the Chinese proverb “Love me when I least deserve it, since that is when I need it most.” But loving, wanting, does not mean condescending, or compromising and deceiving ourselves. We must transmit limits for their explorations and behaviors, but reasonable and reasoned limits.
  • If you or your partner smoke joints, or even tobacco, you can hardly stop your child from doing so.
  • Sometimes giving him / her responsibilities, making him / her feel that you trust him / her, rather than taking away the trust because he / she smokes, can be a good resource.
  • Have conversations with him or her about their tastes and desires, but without imposing yours on it. You have to listen to your child to be able to accompany him in his growth based on his tastes, ambitions, abilities, etc. That is the best way for them to have interests, even intense and passionate, that make them lessen the tendency to seek moments of disinhibition through drugs.
  • It encourages a healthy lifestyle in the whole family: associations, hiking, activities in nature, physical exercise, sports, culture of all kinds …
  • He tries to get to know his friends and his environment. Sometimes he can be lazy, but if he asks you to take him to or from a concert or party, go for it. And if you can really know the environment, take an interest in it. Do not denigrate him from the start.
  • Take care and show yourself concerned or concerned about the improvement of the means of public health for the care of these types of problems and so that these situations are not addressed with “pills and only pills” or “wholesale pills”.
  • Take action so that this issue is covered more in the public media and that it is done in a more open and scientific way. The media have immense power in this area and we all pay for it. That is why the public media should insist much more on campaigns, debates and information, but not commercially dominated.


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