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Signs Your Teen is Using Marijuana

Teen boy

​​​​​​This information is included in our Substance Abuse Guide. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

By Natasha Robinson, Director, Chemical Use Program

Research shows that at least 40 percent of teens ​try marijuana before they graduate from high school. How can you tell if your child is using?

Sometimes you can see the signs: 

  • Dizziness and unsteadiness in walking
  • Silliness and giggles without reason
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Difficulty remembering things that just happened

You should also look for signs of withdrawal, depression, fatigue, careless grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with family and friends. There may also be changes in academic performance, increased absenteeism or truancy, loss of interest in favorite activities, and changes in eating and sleeping habits.

Other signs to be aware of include the following:

  • Drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers
  • Odors in clothes or in the bedroom
  • Use of incense and other deodorizers
  • Use of eye drops
  • Clothing, posters and jewelry that promote drug use

There is no magic way to prevent drug use. However, you can be a positive influence by talking about the dangers of drugs and remaining active in your teen's life. Research shows that appropriate monitoring can reduce future drug use.

More parenting tips and advice:

  • Be a good listener
  • Give clear messages about drug and alcohol use
  • Help your teen deal with peer pressure
  • Know your teen's "who, what, when and where" by communicating with other parents.
  • When speaking to your teen about his/her activities and whereabouts, don't ask as an investigator; ask as a concerned parent.
  • Supervise activities
  • Maintain an open and honest dialogue

Drug use is a serious problem. If you think your child may be using drugs and aren't sure how to approach him/her, contact the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. A trained counselor can help.

Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ​NIH Publication No. 95-4036