June 27th, 2018
ACPeds Parent Talk

Keeping parents up to date on the latest news in child and teen health
Using cannabis (commonly referred to as Marijuana) directly increases the risk for psychosis in teens, according to a study published earlier this month.
Symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations, delusions, and changes in mood and behavior.

This is not the first time research has pointed out the detrimental effects of marijuana on the teen brain. In the ACPeds position statement, Marijuana Use: Detrimental to Youth , ACPeds member Dr. Donald Hagler references 50 different research articles to show just how vulnerable the rapidly developing teenage brain is to the negative effects of marijuana use.

These harmful effects include distorted perceptions, psychotic symptoms, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, disrupted learning and memory, and impaired reaction time, attention span, judgment, balance and coordination . Despite all this research, marijuana use by adolescents has grown steadily as more states legalize medicinal (and even recreational) marijuana use.
The best thing parents can do to protect their children from drugs and alcohol is to have regular discussions with their kids and teens about the dangers of substance abuse.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health of 2012 , teenagers who have regular, serious conversations about drug prevention with their parents are around 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.

Tips for parents on talking with teenagers about drugs:

  • Start early. Many teens are offered drugs at an early age.

  • Begin by asking your child what they know about drugs. Don’t begin with accusations. The more open and relaxed you are, the more relaxed your teen will be.

  • Don’t just focus on the potential harms, but also the positive aspects of not using drugs. Be firm in explaining why drugs are not at all allowable.

  • Because adolescents’ have a hard time really caring about future effects that seem far away, emphasize the short-term problems that come from using drugs. Tell them about the bad breath, teeth staining, difficulty performing athletics, difficulty holding a job, and the cost of drugs.

  • Explain that sometimes people cannot stop doing drugs even when they want to and praise them for standing up against the idea that doing drugs or drinking alcohol is somehow cool.

  • Talking while driving, working on a project, or just doing something non-stressful provides a good environment to express feelings. This is likely more comfortable for teens than just staring at them straight on.

As a parent, you are automatically a role model so if you don’t want your kids to use drugs or drink alcohol, you probably shouldn’t either. If you are struggling with substance abuse, show your teen that you are doing what you can to break the habit so that you can be the best parent you can be for them . Even if you don’t quit drinking or smoking immediately, at least do what you can to protect your kids from knowing about the habit so that they don’t follow suit.

Click here for more tips on talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol. For more information about the harmful effects marijuana can have on the teen brain, check out the resources below.

Want to read articles that can help you and your family become happier and healthier? Check out our other Parent Talk articles at www.acpeds.org/parent-talk and the ACPeds blog at www.acpeds.org/blog . To receive articles like these straight to your inbox, visit www.acpeds.org/subscribe to subscribe to the blog and click here to subscribe to the Parent Talk newsletter.
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