Teen Marijuana Use – It Ain’t the Pot from Your Day

talking with your teen about marijuanaAs an addiction counselor, I’ve heard all kinds of rationale for using drugs. Some reasonable (“a drink with dinner is relaxing”) and some not so reasonable (“with all my troubles, I deserve to get high”). One rationale I’ve heard many people use about marijuana is, “It’s only pot… it’s natural… like an herb.” Nowadays I hear, “It’s medicinal, right?” That’s not the whole story.

Increased Potency… and Danger

When I was a teen, marijuana was part of the 60s counter-culture. It was a nice, easy high, *ahem…or so I’ve been told. But time changes everything and the marijuana today is not the same drug. In searching the data, websites indicate that thc (the psychoactive content – that which makes you high) in marijuana has increased anywhere from 8-15 fold, with a potency that is 50-70% greater than in the past.

According to the National Institute of Health website, a study of the changes in potency in marijuana from 1995 – 2014 found an increase from 4% potency in 1995 (70s potency is believed to have been 1-2%), to 12% in 2014. A 3-fold increase in potency! Imagine what it could be today.

The problem with this is the effects it has on your child over time. A recent study at the University of Toronto studied marijuana use in teens and young adults. Study results show some disturbing and dangerous news for our teens. Children aged 12 -1 9 who smoked marijuana are at an 11-time risk of developing psychotic disorders.

Interestingly, they found no significant difference in young adults. It is possible that because their brains are still developing in significant ways, marijuana use has a much more potent effect on our teens.

Parents, it is urgent to talk with your children about drug use and encourage them to remain open to discussing their thoughts and concerns with you. It is urgent you take seriously any desire they have to explore drugs and drug use. and it is urgent to not dismiss their exploration as “a little harmless pot.” It is not so harmless.

Tips for Talking with Your Teens about Marijuana

  • Remember, you have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly – listen more than you talk.
  • Don’t lecture but ask open-ended questions, help your child think through their choices by asking them questions.
  • Encourage them to do their own research. Do research together.
  • For more suggestions, read this article.

Need more help with how to talk to your child or feel your child may need more help? Contact our office. We have excellent teen therapists who are happy to support you and your child as you navigate these tricky teen years.