As a level two substance abuse prevention specialist in Colorado, I have direct experience with parents of teenagers and legal marijuana. In this post, I offer three tips for talking to you kids about marijuana. And please note; it is time to talk with them.
What I experience from many parents is something that can be wrapped up into a common expression;
“Now that marijuana is legal, we have better conversations about it with our kids.”
Research shows that parents who talk about marijuana use, and other substances or risky behaviors in general, have kids who use less substances and who take less unhealthy risky actions. Parents cannot be trumped.
In Colorado, marijuana is legal. More parents are talking to their kids about this drug, and others, as a result of new marketing efforts and a constant flow of information in the mainstream media. With store fronts and new coverage bringing this issue in front of families and children of all ages, parents are jumping on board and having conversations. As long as parents are armed with information, those conversations can be fruitful for helping youth choose healthy behaviors.
Truth is, we want kids to take risks. This is how they learn and without engaging in risky behaviors, they would never leave our homes. What we don’t want them to do is to engage in unhealthy risky behaviors, like drug use, before their brains are developed.
To arm you with some good knowledge that is hard to argue (we all know teens are great at arguing), here are a three facts that can help guide a teen to take healthy risks – such as public speaking, playing a sport, getting involved with church or community.
Nine out of ten adults with substance abuse issues began using when they were teens. This is mainly because our brains are not fully developed until our mid-twenties. Up to this point, and very actively in our teen years, our brain is pruning and changing dramatically. Any substance that is introduced to a child’s brain at this time has the ability to alter that brain for life.
It is about blood flow. During this massive brain development period, blood flow is key to helping brains develop normally. When we add marijuana, alcohol, caffeine, and high amounts of sugar to a person, it will affect blood flow. Nurturing a healthy brain requires good hydration, sleep, nutrition, and exercise — not substances.
Marijuana is a drug. It can be addictive for some of its users. And some research points to how heavy and chronic use, when started young, can negatively impact a person for life. Parents, we must continue to learn about marijuana. Understand its consequences and listen to your kids. If you pick up that they do use marijuana, find out how they use it and why. Do they use is daily to escape boredom? Do they use it once a month or less when socializing with friends while watching a movie? Your values will depict your next actions.
In summary, remember that parents cannot be trumped. Your words and conversations with your kids, are listened too. Even if it seems your kids are ignoring you, research says they are not.