With marijuana becoming widely and increasingly legalized and as a result, more readily available, teens today have more access to the “harmless” drug than ever before. Marijuana has a reputation as being not that big a deal in the hierarchy of dangerous substances, but that might need to be reexamined as we learn more about the long term effects and risks of abuse. As a growing number of teens with substance abuse issues check in to rehabs for the purpose of overcoming their marijuana addictions and dependencies we are forced to reevaluate the potency of not just the drug but also the significance of the problems it causes. Some newer research suggests that marijuana use among teens can be more detrimental to the brain’s development than alcohol.
The Effects on Developing Brains
Kid’s and teen’s bodies and brains are in a prolonged state of growth and development and just because they are able to perform complex and diverse adult tasks and levels of comprehension does not mean that they are fully evolved quite yet. A teens brain and mind is in a highly impressionable and yes, somewhat vulnerable perpetual state. Bad habits and unhealthy coping mechanisms learned while mired in teen drug abuse can become hard wired methods of dealing with the stresses in life that further inhibit a developing mind’s ability to process and deal with what comes our way in a healthy manner. All too often the teen substance abuse habits acquired in adolescence bleeds into adult life. This is a problem that’s become normalized and even glamorized by some accounts, but the fact remains that when it comes to marijuana and teen addiction, the issues of emotional health and maturity, problem solving, short term memory loss and long term memory issues become quite pronounced.
Changes In Social Patterns
Although it’s unlikely that your teen that uses marijuana is going to lose or damage friendships merely because he or she is high once in awhile, overtime the increasingly habitual pattern of prioritizing drug use over other healthy communal teen activities can begin to cause a rift and create distance between your teen and his or her circle of friends. Cliche as it may seem, falling in with “the wrong crowd” can swiftly normalize peer pressure and going along with activities that lead to even more risky behaviour. Of course there is the possibility that he or she will find enabling peers that make it easier for the group to hide marijuana use in plain sight. If you notice that your teen is hanging out with a different group of friends or has severed ties with once healthy friendships it can be an early warning sign of a shift in drug related behaviour. Talk and listen to your kids about what’s going on in their social life before rushing to any conclusions.
Teen Attitudes On Marijuana
Most kids are casually going to try marijuana at some point. The prevailing attitude among teens is that “ “It’s legal now.” Or “It’s not that big a deal” Sometimes this is based on knowledge that their parents smoked pot when they themselves were younger. This may be true, but it is also true that marijuana itself has changed and evolved over the years and the strains that we find today are often much, much stronger than what was available when the teens’ parents were young. The active psychotropic agent in marijuana, THC, is present in much higher levels in today’s crops as much as 17% compared to the 3% or 4% of the past. The truth is that although marijuana is not necessarily physically addictive such as other, harder drugs can be, it is sneakily psychologically addictive and can lead to crippling dependency issues in a very troubling way.
Talk To Your Kids About Marijuana
As our kids get older we have less and less control over their decisions and actions. The trick to broaching the subject of teen substance abuse is to never to come at it from a hard, disciplinary attack mode. You want to gain your teens trust which in turn will lead to more honest communication. Your end goal here is to understand them and not to undermine their sense of independence. Communicate how although marijuana and to some extent other recreational teen drugs use is common, there are often consequences and risks involved. Problems and dependency issues are not something you wish on anyone. Taking a hands on approach to educating your teen about drug use can seem an awkward and uncomfortable task, but the open communication and trust that can be achieved is worth the discomfort. Express lovingly that your desire isn’t to wish to control them, but to want to help influence them to make the right choices while they are still young and developing.