As marijuana use becomes legal in more states (although its use is still a federal crime), the long-standing stigma associated with the drug has begun to recede. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe. And it’s especially unsafe for teens and young adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Unlike adults, the teen brain is actively developing and often will not be fully developed until the mid 20s. Marijuana use during this period may harm the developing teen brain.”
Among the negative effects of marijuana use for this age group are:
- difficulty thinking and problem solving
- problems with memory and learning
- impaired driving
- and the potential for addiction
In addition, a study last month linked heavy marijuana use in those between ages 10 and 24 years old who also had mood disorders with an increased risk of self-harm, suicide attempts, and death. And unintentional overdoses, suicide and homicide were the three most frequent causes of death. The study was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Present the facts
The younger they are when they begin the use any drug—including alcohol and nicotine—the more likely they are to become addicted. Teens are also more likely to abuse drugs because of their inherent tendency toward risk-taking.
As always, the best approach is to talk to your kids, calmly, reasonably, and often. And do so before they reach the age when they’re likely to begin experimenting with addictive substances.
- Don’t try to frighten them, just enlighten them.
- Let them know the legal as well as the physical consequences of drug use.
- Encourage them to be honest with you.
- Ask your teen for their views on drugs.
- Discuss ways they can avoid peer pressure.
- Reinforce their self-esteem.
For more ways to talk to your kids about drugs, see these tips from the Partnership to End Addiction. (https://drugfree.org/article/prevention-tips-for-every-age/)