Talking to your child about drugs: Part 2 – teens and marijuana
Talking with your teen about drugs, particularly marijuana is important to helping them chart a course away from drug abuse. When we are empowered with knowledge, and know the risks and dangers of something, we are less likely to engage in those behaviors. Drugabuse.gov recently published an article about discussing marijuana with your teen. The information therein will be cited and quoted throughout this post, as it is very informative on the subject.
For some teenagers, drug use begins as a means of coping. Kids use drugs to deal with anxiety, anger, depression, boredom, and other unpleasant feelings. However, sometimes getting high can be a way of simply avoiding the problems and challenges of growing up. Some kids also use drugs because their family members do. Parents, grandparents, and older brothers and sisters are models that younger kids look up to and follow their example.
Research shows that talking with kids about the key issues and getting information “out in the open” can help kids know what they are up against and understand long term consequences of their behavior. Drugabuse.gov answered the most frequently asked recent questions by teens through their website. The questions asked and the answers given are summarized below. Talking to your teen about these questions and answers can help to open the door to a great conversation between your teen and you regarding marijuana.
Can marijuana be addictive? Yes, marijuana can be addictive. In fact, “about 1 in 6 people who start smoking in their teens, and 25–50 percent of people who use it every day, become addicted to marijuana.” (drugabuse.gov)
Is it safe to drive while using marijuana? No, marijuana is unsafe behind the wheel. “Marijuana is the most commonly identified illegal drug in fatal accidents (showing up in the bloodstream of about 14 percent of drivers), sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs.” (drugabuse.gov)
How does marijuana affect school grades? “Marijuana is associated with school failure. Compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.” (drugabuse.gov)
How can marijuana affect me mentally? “High doses of marijuana can cause psychosis or panic during intoxication. Although scientists do not yet know whether the use of marijuana causes mental illness, high doses can induce an acute psychosis (disturbed perceptions and thoughts, including paranoia) or panic attacks.” (drugabuse.gov)
What is marijuana? “Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa).” All marijuana is made of the same mind altering chemical. (drugabuse.gov)
How is marijuana used? “Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette (called a joint) or smoke it in a pipe or a water pipe, sometimes referred to as a bong. Some users mix marijuana into foods, or use it to brew a tea.” (drugabuse.gov)
How many people use marijuana? Today, marijuana “is the most often used illegal drug in the United States. According to a 2012 national survey, more than 111 million Americans over the age of 12 had tried marijuana at least once, and nearly 19 million had used the drug in the month before the survey.” (drugabuse.gov)
What are the quick effects of marijuana? These short term effects include: euphoria (high), memory impairment, adverse mental reactions (in some), and physical changes. Other effects include: “depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and personality disturbances. One of the effects most frequently reported is an “amotivational syndrome” characterized by a diminished or lost drive to engage in formerly rewarding activities.” (drugabuse.gov)
Can smoking marijuana cause lung cancer? There is no proven research on this, but “marijuana users can have many of the same respiratory problems tobacco smokers have, such as chronic cough and more frequent chest colds.” (drugabuse.gov)
Is Spice or synthetic marijuana as bad for you? Spice, synthetic marijuana, or K2 is just as harmful if not more harmful than regular marijuana.
Starting an open conversation with your teen and talking to your teen about marijuana is a positive start to steering them away from marijuana abuse. The above questions and answers can be useful in beginning this discussion. When teens are made aware of facts and have discussed dangers with their parents, they are more equipped to deal with the pressures and temptations that their teen years bring.