Kids will be exposed to Marijuana at a young age. Even by watching TV, driving on the highway and seeing a billboard, or the obvious case of hanging out with older friends you children will not be sheltered from this drug. Data shows that 71% of high school seniors do not view regular marijuana smoking as harmful. Also, many teens believe that marijuana isn’t a dangerous drug because it’s “natural” and comes from a plant. However, with a little more education and knowledge on marijuana these teens may rethink their common usage of this drug.
As of June 2018, 9 states and DC have declared marijuana as a legal recreational drug and 30 have legalized medical marijuana. The drug that in the past was classified illegal alongside other illicit drugs has finally become accessible and normalized. It also, has become significantly stronger and less diluted than in the past. Previously, catching your young child stealing from your liquor cabinet, or noticing that they have returned drunk from a party was always the main fear. Yet, now, there is an emphasis on marijuana as well, due to the recent legality and easier accessibility of this drug.
What can you do as a parent to protect kids and assure they do not abuse this drug and fall into the wrong habits?
It is important not to teach your child to never touch marijuana. Abstinence won’t solve the problem, but instead education is the solution. Making sure you child knows what they will be tempted to put into their bodies, and what the effects will be is very important. You should have a conversation with your children at an early age before marijuana will even be introduced to them in a social setting. Some schools with similar reasoning are beginning to bring in drug specialists. Yet, if your school does not provide this service it is still important that you have the conversations with your own children and give them the scientific facts about the drugs. Rather than glorifying the drug it is important to express the consequences.
Some important facts to express to your child:
- The earlier teens start using, the more likely they will go on to have problems in adulthood
- Marijuana use at a young age can damage the frontal lobe and interrupt a processing technique called “executive functioning.”
- People can hallucinate or even go into psychosis from using marijuana
- Marijuana can cause severe nausea and sometimes even vomiting
- Marijuana can be physically addictive (people under the age of 18 are 4-7 times more likely then adults to become addicted)
- Students who smoke marijuana tend to get worse grades and are more likely to drop out of high school then those who do not use
Marijuana effects on the brain:
When someone smokes marijuana the THC (the main ingredient) will move throughout the body all the way to your brain. It then attaches to the cannabinoid receptors which are the parts of your brain that control:
Even just smoking marijuana can affect your decision-making and judgment for multiple days post intake of the drug. If you are under the age of 25, your brain is still developing and Marijuana is more likely to cause lifelong developmental damages to the brain.
Letting your child know that marijuana will always be there but that it is not necessary for them to try it now is one step in the right direction. If a parent is to forbid the drug, the children may feel more enticed to go use it right away. Therefore, by delaying the experimentation they are making sure that their young children aren’t using marijuana while their brains are still rapidly developing. Prior to this talk, it is important that parents have conversations with their children about marijuana and other drugs. Pretending they don’t exist isn’t going to help. Rather, it is beneficial to ask you child questions, listen to what they have to say and discuss your expectations.
Another important part of this conversation is not to lie. No matter what your child asks, be upfront so that you can create a mutual trust and your child will feel comfortable talking to you and coming to you with any issues. You can leave out parts of the story that would be detrimental for your child to hear, but do not lie. For example: if your child asks you “mom have you ever smoked marijuana?” Admit the fact that you have (if it’s true) but finish by saying that you didn’t like it or that it got you in trouble; maybe even try explaining the consequences.
For more information navigating these tough conversations with you children contact Key Transitions or parent coaching.
Also, check out https://teens.drugabuse.gov/parents to get more information to share with your children on drug statistics, facts and their effects.