Ask an Expert: How Can I Confront My Pot-Smoking Teen?

By Jessica Bullock 11/05/14

Today's question is about what to do when you find out your teenager is smoking pot.


EDITOR'S NOTE: "Ask An Expert" is guidance for the general public. Responses from our experts are not to be construed as doctor/patient relationships, which require private and extensive consultation.

A month ago my wife and I found marijuana in our 16 year old son's room. He said it was a one time thing and we chose to believe him. But recently I know he has been smoking pot again. I can smell it on him and he is acting very secretive. We are not sure how to confront him. When I was a kid I smoked pot and lied about so maybe it is just part of being a teen? It worries me, though, especially because drugs today seem so much more potent than in the old days. My wife wants to drug test him, but I don't want to be that kind of parent. We have always been close and it disturbs me that he is lying. Do you have any advice? -John

Jessica Bullock: Hi John,

I’m sorry you and your wife are going through this. Many parents across the country are dealing with this same problem. You are not alone. In a nutshell, there are positive ways to handle this.

1. Be honest and straightforward in your discussion with your son. You are still the parent and the number one priority is his safety. I’ve noticed that you said you have ‘always been close.' So getting right to the point and discussing the issue will be more beneficial than drug testing him off guard and accusing him of using marijuana. This may make him defensive.

2. Be supportive and provide a ‘safe zone’ for him to speak candidly with you. Remain calm and firm. Yelling does not yield the best results. So maybe you and your wife can think about your reaction to his answers before you actually meet, so that you don't respond emotionally.

3. You are right! Marijuana is more potent than it was 20 years ago. Maybe speaking to him about your concerns regarding marijuana and why you would prefer for him to abstain would be helpful. Give him information to think about it. Read as much as you can on websites such as NIDA and SAMHSA. Learn as much as you can about marijuana to share with your son.

4. Last but not least, you may want to see if your son would be interested in going to see a therapist together. The counselor may be able to assist the family in dealing with the repercussions of the abuse.


Jessica Bullock is a clinical supervisor at a New Brunswick Counseling Center in New Brunswick, NJ and CEO and founder of Life Options Counseling Services. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in social science and Master’s Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Counseling. Full Bio.

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