The teenage years are often at time of experimentation – experimentation with relationships, friendships, sex and of course drugs. For decades, parents have been steadily warning their teenagers against the use of drugs such as marijuana, however they are slowly losing their legs to stand on.
The great debate about the legalization of marijuana has been a constant headline in the news for years, however on January 1st of 2014, everything seemed to quickly change.
As Colorado announced the legalized use of marijuana for recreational purposes, people from all over the country rejoiced – including teenagers. Taking heed from what is going on in the country, many teenagers are no longer viewing the use of marijuana to be as dangerous as their parents made it seem to be. As a matter of fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), stated that while the use of marijuana amongst teenagers decreased between the late 1990’s and into the mid 2000’s, its use is beginning to skyrocket once again.
Dangers of Marijuana Use in Teenagers
While many studies now show that there are not any significant physical and/or psychological health concerns for adults who choose to use marijuana, the science is showing much different results for teenagers.
For example, a study published by Oxford Journals showed that teenagers who use marijuana experienced changes in their brain that impacted their memory. The lack of proper function of memory can lead to trouble with school-based tests, completion of homework, and basic functioning skills. Other concerns related to damaged memory can include poor athletic performance, decrease in creative skills such as artistry, and more.
The study also showed that even two years after teenagers stopped smoking marijuana, they were still displaying the cognitive effects of their use, signaling that these consequences can be long-term if not permanent.
With this study coming to the forefront, many parents continue to be concerned about their teenagers smoking marijuana, especially now that they are not viewing it to be as dangerous as their elders say.
Preventing Marijuana Abuse in Teenagers
For people who use marijuana in their adult years, these brain effects are not present. Most researchers equate that to be directly related to brain development, and how the brain of an adult has already fully developed while a teenager’s brain has not. It can be complicated to try to explain to this to a teenager, especially when most individuals in this age range are dead-set on proving how much of an “adult” they are. The best way to prevent marijuana abuse in your teenager is to be upfront and honest with him or her. Talk to them about these recent studies, and explain to them that while they are still young, these consequences are more likely to happen to them. Provide them with tips on how to say “no” to their peers and work to understand how the vantage point on the use of this drug is now changing. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can develop ways to be effective in preventing use without breaking the line of communication permanently.