Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Clear the Smoke: Teach them how to say NO!

Developing open and trusting communication with all youth is essential to helping them avoid marijuana use. Talk to the kids you know about the reasons not to use marijuana. Teach them ways to handle situations where others are using marijuana. Let them know the consequences and praise them for doing the right thing.

Local information shows that Marijuana use in the past 30 days is up for both 6th grade students (0% to 2%) and 8th grade students (0% to 5%) and down for 11th grade students (6% to 3%) in Van Buren County from 2005 to 2010 as reported on the Iowa Youth Survey; 5% of Van Buren County 11th graders report that they don’t think their parents would think it was wrong for them to smoke marijuana and Almost half (49%) of Van Buren County 11th graders report it is easy or very easy to get marijuana. (Iowa Youth Survey 2010)

Research shows that today's pot is addictive and causes harm to developing brains and lungs. The marijuana of today is stronger than ever before.

Marijuana use can lead to many negative consequences, including bad grades, broken friendships, family problems, trouble with the law, etc. Marijuana use can weaken the ability to concentrate and retain information during a teen's peak learning years, and impair judgment leading to risky decision making that could involve sex or getting into a car with someone under the influence of drugs.

More teens are in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illegal drugs combined. (TEDS, SAMHSA, October 2001) Kids are using marijuana at an earlier age. In the late 1960s fewer than half of those using marijuana for the first time were under 18. In 2006, about 64 percent of marijuana users were younger than 18. (SAMHSA, 2006)

Smoking marijuana leads to changes in the brain that are similar to those caused by cocaine, heroin, or alcohol. (Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, Revised, NIDA, November 1998) Parents need to know the facts about marijuana. Setting rules and enforcing them can make all the difference in teens' lives.

• Youths who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use drugs. (Metzler, Rusby and Biglan. Community builders for success: monitoring after-school activities. Oregon Research Institute, 1999)

• Parents are the most powerful influence on their kids when it comes to drugs. Two-thirds of youth ages 13-17 say losing their parents' respect is one of the main reasons they don't smoke marijuana or use other drugs. (Partnership for a Drug-Free America Attitude Tracking Study, 2002)

• Parental disapproval plays a strong role in turning back drug use. In 2004, youths who believed that their parents would strongly disapprove of marijuana use had rates over 80 percent lower than those whose parents would not strongly disapprove (5.1 percent use vs. 30 percent use rates). (National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2004. SAMHSA, 2005)

• Kids who learn about the risks of marijuana and other illicit drugs from their parents are far less likely to use drugs. (Greenblat, J. Self-reported behaviors and their association with marijuana use. SAMHSA. Based on data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1994-1996)

Talk to the kids you know about the reasons not to use marijuana. Teach them ways to handle situations where others are using marijuana. Establish consequences and praise them for doing the right thing. Tell them what you think. Set rules and enforce them. It’s everyone’s job to STOP marijuana use!

For more information on this or other substance abuse issues please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or info@vbsafecoalition.com.

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