How To Tell If Your Teen Is Smoking Weed

by | Feb 15, 2023 | Family Issues, Helping a Loved One, Substance Abuse | 0 comments

If you are wondering if your teenager may be smoking weed, you are likely experiencing high levels of stress and concern for their well-being. This concern is not misplaced, as regular use of marijuana in teens can cause potentially irreversible damage. 

Smoking weed as a teenager can have harmful repercussions such as impaired driving, impulsive decision-making, and an increased risk of addiction. It has also been shown to lower both cognitive function and IQ. For these reasons, it is vitally important to learn if your teen is actively smoking and to be able to understand the warning signs. 

Below are some of the most common indicators of marijuana use and the most effective ways to detect if this is occurring in your teen.

Behavioral Changes

One of the first signs to look out for in your teenager is a shift in behavior. Although mood swings can be common in teenagers due to hormones or stressors, a dramatic shift in behavior is a red flag. 

Some of the most common behavioral changes exhibited by teenagers that are actively smoking weed are increased sneakiness, deceptive actions, lack of interest in a conversation, avoiding eye contact, and increased laziness. These changes are not only a cause for concern themselves but can lead to more severe changes as your teen ages. Specifically, regular smoking during adolescence has been linked to increased psychosis, anxiety, and depression once adulthood is reached. 

Another behavior change that can be a sign of marijuana use is a drop in grades or attendance in school. Losing cognitive ability and motivation can have a dramatic effect on a teen’s success rate in school. Especially if their grades are dropping significantly, it is vital to discuss the possible reasoning for this with them. Regular use of marijuana in middle and high school is linked to an increased early school dropout rate. This behavior could be one of the first of many detrimental changes that affect the future success of your child.


Anxiousness and Irritability

Especially for those that do not commonly experience anxiousness or irritability, this can be a telltale sign of marijuana use. Smoking weed can increase anxiety dramatically, so it can also be a sign in an already anxious child. Panic attacks, rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, and a lack of concentration are all common indicators of marijuana-induced anxiety. 

It also negatively affects sleep, which can cause insomnia or increased irritability due to a lack of proper rest. Sleep is essential for a developing body, and these effects can be extremely harmful to your rapidly growing teenager. 

Irritability can also occur as a result of increased paranoia. Marijuana has the ability to create a level of paranoia that keeps them on a constant edge. This can be draining, exhausting, and overwhelming. Being able to pick up on increased levels of irritability or stress can alert you to your teen’s marijuana use quickly. 


Physical Signs

The physical signs of marijuana use are typically very obvious. Teenagers can be incredibly resourceful, especially when attempting to hide this behavior to avoid conflict. In many cases, they will try to cover up these signs by using things like mouthwash, eye drops, and cologne or perfume. 

Their eyes will typically be bloodshot, and their breath will be pungent or have an earthy smell. Clothing will often have an odor to it as well as the vehicle they drive. If you notice your teen taking extra care of their appearance and hygiene out of nowhere, this could be a possible explanation for such a change. 

Another physical sign that points to smoking weed is delayed reaction time, either mentally or physically. If your teen begins to both think and move slower, it is very likely a result of smoking. Both muscle coordination and cognitive processing abilities are inhibited when high. If they are slow to respond to questions, move at a decreased pace, or often stall when attempting to speak, it is a good idea to discuss this with them.


Changes in Friend Groups

A shift or change in the friends your teen is spending time with is another way to pick up on possible marijuana use. It is common that picking up a habit such as smoking weed creates a rift in friendships with those who are not interested in such an activity. For this reason, your teen may stop spending time with long-standing friends and begin spending time with a new group of people that do partake in the activity. A loss of friends or mentioning new names that you have not heard before can be a simple way to determine if this kind of change is occurring. 

Although friendships can often change during the teen years, a rapid change is a reason to inquire further. Taking the time to ask questions or meet these new friends can help gauge the accuracy of this potential red flag. Most often, if there are actively smoking peers within their friend group, they are at higher risk of also engaging in the activity. Also, having a conversation with your teen regarding peer pressure can be a helpful way for them to understand that they can say no. Even if this behavior isn’t something they are currently engaged in, the likelihood that they will be offered at some point in their adolescence is high.


Vaping and Edibles

The emergence of alternative ways to consume marijuana has made detecting marijuana use even more challenging for parents. Vapes are a new and incredibly trendy tool for teenage smoking. Though it is also used for nicotine, vapes are often used for smoking different forms of weed. In some cases, it can also make the smell harder to detect. If you notice your teen with a vape pen, it is essential to ask them about it. Nicotine is incredibly damaging to the growing body as well, so regardless of the intended use of the pen, it is a cause for concern. 

Edibles are another sneaky way for teens to engage in marijuana use. Again, this form makes it more challenging to detect. Because of the new and innovative ways in which marijuana can be condensed, most foods have the ability to be an edible. It can be made into a form such as butter as well as wax or even a liquid form that can be put in drinks. Most often, they will come in the form of a dessert such as a brownie, candy, cookie, or rice krispie treat. Even so, there are plenty of other food items that could contain the drug. 

If your teen is hiding any kind of food in their room, it is a good idea to inspect it thoroughly. Looking out for physical and behavioral changes are two of the most effective ways to determine whether or not your teen is using these two methods of consumption.

Being aware of these frequent telltale signs can help you intervene quickly and effectively should your teen be actively smoking weed. Honest conversations can open the door for your teen to share the ongoings of their personal life, and as a result, you can educate them on the impacts of the decision to smoke weed and stop the damage from occurring before it becomes potentially irreversible. Knowing what is going on in your teen’s life is not only crucial for their well-being and safety but for their future as well.


We Can Help!

MHThrive provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit to learn more.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Online Treatment Programs provides Teletherapy Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs allowing participants to receive intensive therapy with our licensed therapists and psychiatrists without having to leave home.  If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other mental health or addiction issues, we can help.  To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our teletherapy programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.



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