Recent studies suggest that marijuana use in the teenage years acts as a predictor of drug addiction. It’s not that marijuana is consumed causes Youngsters using other drugs. Rather, researchers have shown that adolescents who use marijuana are more likely to use other drugs, especially in their young adult years.
The importance of these findings to parents should be that marijuana Not harmless, as many would like to think. Rather, parents should consider the risk factors of their young sons and daughters experimenting with marijuana. One of the most obvious risks is an increased likelihood of future drug use.
A cause-and-effect relationship is not evident, but it is is a relationship between adolescent cannabis use and young adult drug use. With this in mind, parents should know how to talk to their children about marijuana. If parents have this information and apply it by having regular conversations about cannabis with their teenagers, they may be able to prevent their soon-to-be-grown children from becoming addicted.
Cannabis Use Among Adolescents – Recent Findings
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in March 2021 found that first-time cannabis use or prescription drug abuse in a younger age were associated with faster development of addiction to these substances. In other words, starting drug use (or first exposure to drugs) at an earlier age was associated with a faster transition to drug addiction or experimentation with more harmful drugs.
The study looked at different demographics and age groups, and the researchers measured these study groups based on their current drug use patterns and past drug use incidence. The results showed the susceptibility of young people to develop drug addiction, especially if they start using drugs at a very young age.
For example, the paper found that drug addiction was more common in people who started experimenting with cannabis between the ages of 12 and 17 than in people who did not start experimenting with cannabis between the ages of 18 and 25.
“Although not everyone who uses a drug develops an addiction, adolescents can develop an addiction to substances faster than young adults …”
Quote from Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the lead author of the study, “We know that young people are more prone to developing substance use disorders, but knowledge of how the prevalence of certain substance use disorders changes with time since first substance use or abuse in adolescents and young adults in the United States is limited. Although not everyone who uses a drug develops an addiction, teenagers can develop an addiction to substances faster than young adults. This study provides further evidence that delaying substance exposure until the brain is fully developed can reduce the risk of developing substance use disorder. “
Parents should talk to their children about cannabis
The research cited above claims that if young people can be deterred from using marijuana, they may develop fewer addiction problems later in life. This is where parents come in as parents are, in many ways, a young person’s first line of defense against drug experimentation.
Parents can play the best role in ensuring their children are not using cannabis by talking to their children about it. When young people know the truth about marijuana and the inherent risk factors associated with using marijuana, they are much less likely to experiment with the drug.
Overcoming Marijuana Misconceptions
When young people get their marijuana information from their peers, it is almost guaranteed that the information is partially untrue, and possibly entirely false. Here are six common misconceptions teenagers have about cannabis, and some data on how to respond to them:
- Misunderstanding: The teenager believes that one conversation about marijuana is enough.
- How to answer: It’s impossible to cover all of the information about marijuana in one conversation. And while one parent shouldn’t appear to be “nagging” their teen about marijuana, they should have several and different Talks about it.
- Misunderstanding: The teenager believes that recreational use (that is, on the weekend) is not a big deal.
- How to answer: Much of the drug-related conversations and discussions teenagers have revolved around the idea that only addiction is harmful, while moderate, controlled drug use is okay. The truth is that “moderate” drug use is harmful, and it is leads to even more harmful drug use.
- Misunderstanding: The teenager believes that using marijuana is safer than drinking alcohol.
- How to answer: Instead of arguing about whether marijuana is safer than alcohol, point it out neither Marijuana nor alcohol is safe. Both are dangerous and especially harmful to a developing brain.
- Misunderstanding: The teenager believes this because his parents Tried pot, it is acceptable that he or she is given the opportunity to experiment.
- How to answer: It is important not to lie to your children about your past drug use. However, this could also be a good opportunity to talk about how marijuana use is personally harmful to parents and that they wish they had never experimented with it.
- Misunderstanding: The teenager believes that marijuana cannot be harmful because it is “natural” and “just a plant”.
- How to answer: It’s important to note that no matter how “harmful” marijuana is due to its plant origin or not, it is does change a person’s judgment, and there is always a risk if that occurs.
- Misunderstanding: The teenager only tried marijuana once and claims there were no ill effects.
- How to answer: Damage caused by harmful habits and activities that aren’t exactly fatal is usually cumulative. For example, nobody gets diabetes from eating a single piece of candy, and nobody gets lung cancer from a single cigarette. First, marijuana consumption alone may not seem harmful, but cumulative use over time is quite harmful.
Parents should have as many conversations with their children as necessary to ensure they aren’t experimenting with marijuana. In an interview about the unique harm marijuana can cause to teenagers and why parents need to talk to their children about drugs, Dr. Nora Volkow drew a fitting conclusion on this discussion: “If you are a teenager using drugs, you are much more susceptible to addiction, but drugs also participate in ways that can make you more susceptible to other mental illnesses …. [P]They should also be proactive in engaging in a dialogue with their teenagers and giving them a chance to feel fulfilled because when they get bored they are at a higher risk of looking for ways to entertain themselves. And drugs can be a way to get through that. “