There has been a lot of coverage and conversation about marijuana across the country, in Maine, and locally here in Androscoggin County. A lot of information is being provided from many different sources. It may become confusing for adults and youth alike to know what the true science is around marijuana, especially when it comes to our teens and pre-teens.
The good news is that there is a lot of good, reliable science on the impacts of marijuana on our youth. Here are four key facts:
Fact 1: Marijuana is a harmful drug. Research has confirmed that using marijuana at an early age can destroy a child’s future by lowering academic performance and eliminating motivation to succeed later in life.
Fact 2: Today’s marijuana is significantly more powerful than it was 30 years ago. It contains 33 cancer-causing chemicals and can deposit four times more tar in the lungs than tobacco.
Fact 3: Young people who use marijuana frequently may be at risk for heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular problems. Frequent use among young males can increase their risk of developing testicular cancer.
Fact 4: Marijuana can linger in your child’s system for up to 30 days! Sadly, more teens enter treatment each year for marijuana dependence than all other illicit drugs combined! Since 2000, 47% of people admitted for marijuana use were under the age of 20. Of those, 56% had used the drug by age 14 and 26% by age 12!
Tips for talking with your teen.
Talking with your teen about NOT using marijuana is the first step in prevention. Kids say that disappointing or worrying their parents are the most important reasons not to use drugs.
Developing and maintaining open, trusting communication between you and your child is essential to helping your teen avoid marijuana use. Here are some tips for encouraging communication:
- Encourage your child to talk about his or her interests.
- Listen without interruption.
- Give your child a chance to teach you something new.
- Your active listening paves the way for conversations about topics that concern you.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Encourage your teen to tell you how he or she thinks and feels about the issue you’re discussing.
- Avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
- Try to keep your emotions in check as you discuss challenging topics.
- If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
- Don’t lecture or try to “score points” by showing how he or she is wrong.
- If you show respect for your teen’s viewpoint, he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.
- Do your homework. Check out the rest of the Healthy Androscoggin website for more facts on substance abuse, or visit www.maineparents.net for more information from the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.