Only 36.1%% of high school teens think occasional marijuana use is harmful, down from over 52% in 2009. (1) A lowered perceived harm could lead to a future increase in the teen and child use of marijuana.
While drug and alcohol use by teens has declined in the past year, only marijuana use has remained stagnant. (1) Tammy Strickling, executive director of Suncoast Rehabilitation Center, stressed the immediacy of continued drug education on the harms of marijuana to combat this impression.
She attributes the decline in drug and alcohol use in teens to an upswing in drug education campaigns and raised awareness. This needs to translate to marijuana, she says: “It is vital that parents take a proactive approach and maintain an open dialogue about the harms of drug and alcohol abuse with their kids.”
Strickling says that today’s marijuana has the highest THC levels ever seen – marijuana sold in pot shops as “medicine” is testing at THC levels in the mid 20% range, which is much higher than marijuana sold on the street and dwarfs levels seen nearly 40 years ago when the average THC potency was 1.37%. (2)
Strickling offered tips on how to talk with kids and teens about drug use:
- Start at an early age. Ingraining your child with positive values and good decision-making skills can prevent them from making negative choices later on.
- Make sure your child knows that you are a safe person to come to for help. If your child feels you can be trusted, he or she is more likely to come to you if presented with a dangerous situation.
- Have an honest dialogue. There are so many reasons why young adults should not take drugs or alcohol, but “because I said so” is not one of them.
- Remind them that even prescription drugs can be abused. Vicodin and OxyContin are no safer than illicit drugs just because they’re prescribed by doctors.
- Fully inform teens of the risks involved in drug and alcohol use. A teen may try drugs or alcohol because it seems “fun,” so make sure they know the consequences and risks.
- If you are abusing drugs yourself, seek help. You are a role model for your child, so seek out a valid drug treatment program if you’re struggling with abuse.
- “DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dec. 2014. Web. 11 Jan. 2015. drugabuse.gov/publications/
- “Jaslow, Ryan. “New U.S. Drug Survey: Marijuana and Heroin Increasing.” CBSNews.com. CBS Interactive, 4 Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Mar. 2014. cbsnews.com/news/new-us-drug-