Peer influence. Curiosity. A need to escape. An urge to experiment. Legalization in other states. These are all some reasons children and teens try marijuana for the first time. Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs among youth, and the earlier a child is exposed the more likely he or she will become addicted. It is therefore vital that you take preventative action to stop children and teens from ever trying marijuana in the first place.
Be proactive in talking about marijuana use. It’s never too early to start the conversation about drugs; recent studies show children are smoking at younger ages than ever.
Parent Strategies for Prevention
Informed communication and proactive parenting are proven tools in preventing marijuana use. Here’s what you can do:
1. Talk with your children. Young people report that their parents are the number one reason they do not experiment with marijuana.
2. Set clear boundaries regarding your rules and stance on marijuana usage. Young people are less likely to use drugs in homes with established guidelines.
3. Sit down at the dinner table together. Young people who regularly share a family meal are less likely to use marijuana and other drugs.
The takeaway is that young people hear you and even if they don’t seem like they’re listening, they are. Arm yourself with supported facts, so that young people will see you as an authority figure on the subject of marijuana usage. This will also help you dispel myths that nearly every young person hears at some point.
Facts about Marijuana Use
The narrative your children hear from others perpetuates a belief that smoking marijuana is not dangerous…that there are no long-term effects. The reality is that:
· Roughly one in six children who start smoking at an earlier age are more likely to become addicted.
· The negative impacts of smoking marijuana on memory and cognitive functioning can be lifelong.
· Smoking marijuana can lead to decreased IQ among regular smokers.
· Marijuana usage increases the risk of cardiorespiratory disease and testicular cancer.
· Marijuana users are less likely to complete their education and are more likely to be unemployed.
Modern, More Dangerous Marijuana
These are just the effects of “regular” marijuana laced with a “standard” quantity of tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH), which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Modern marijuana mixtures are more potent and dangerous than they were in the past.
· In 1978, marijuana had 1.3% TCH; in 2013, the average amount was 15% (and sometimes over 30%).
· Marijuana edibles are 10 times stronger than marijuana that’s smoked.
· Modern marijuana mixtures are more likely to be laced with K2 and Spice, which are labeled “unsafe” for human consumption.
· Synthetic chemicals are increasingly common in marijuana; these chemicals often change from batch-to-batch and can cause unforeseen and dangerous side effects including rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, and suicidal thoughts.
Communicate these and other facts related to the impacts of marijuana use to your children. Arm yourself with the entire prevention toolkit, so you can help children and teens be smart and never start using marijuana.