The Significance of 4/20

The date 4/20 or time 4:20 pm has long been popular with the marijuana sub-culture. Even mainstream media will sometimes mention the infamous date/time in reference to marijuana use. It is used as code or slang for many marijuana users as the time when one smokes. It is also a date that many marijuana users celebrate. Many users, including teens, plan on celebrating this date each year by skipping work or school and spending the entire day consuming marijuana and marijuana products.

In the ACS’ Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment (ASAT) program during the week of 4/20, counselors take time to explore what it is that is so “special” for marijuana users, and try to help those working on their sobriety. The counselors confront this day as a temptation to begin using again, and they discuss this issue with the teens receiving treatment as well as the parents that have teens in recovery. It is difficult for a teen going through recovery to ignore the day that is celebrated by the counterculture. His/her friends, that use, may be attending a party where they will be using, he/her might hear others in the media speaking positively about using on this day, and all of this might affect their confidence in their sobriety.

ASAT counselors give their teens these tips to avoid ruining their sobriety on 4/20:

  • Hang with friends not in the marijuana culture, or friends that are working on their sobriety as well, such as the AA  or NA group they may be part of.
  • Talk about the temptation to use openly with their family. Sobriety for a teen is a family affair.
  • Avoid temptation by using another substance, like alcohol, which may lead to a bad decision to use marijuana.

4/20 is also a day that non-users might be interested in trying marijuana for the first time. With all the positive hype from the counter-culture, peers, and famous performers, children as young as 12 might try marijuana for the first time just to be part of the larger group experience.

The ASAT counselors shared some signs of marijuana use, which parents should be aware of :

  • Sleepy/tired
  • Slow processing skills, slow to answer questions
  • A look of confusion or just being “stuck”
  • A smell of stink (from the marijuana) or an overpowering deodorizer to cover up the smell of marijuana
  • Overly hungry
  • Paranoid

It is sometimes hard to determine what are signs of marijuana use and just normal adolescent behaviour, but it is important to confront initial use before it becomes a problem in a few months.

ACS, through the ASAT program and a generous gift from Esther’s Pledge, will be holding monthly prevention workshops on the first and third Thursdays of each month.s. Workshops begin May 3rd (parents and teens 15-21) and May 17th (parents of children 10-14) from 6-7:30, held at ACS offices at 1717 Embarcadero Rd, Suite 4o00, Palo Alto 94303.

To learn more click here.

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