How to Talk to Teens About Cannabis Use

The presence of over three dozen cannabis dispensaries in Ann Arbor offers easy access to a wide range of cannabis products for both medical patients and recreational users. This reality underscores the necessity for parents to have informed discussions with their teens about the implications of cannabis use.

Adolescent cannabis use

Recent data from the Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by the University of Michigan, reveals nuanced trends in adolescent substance use.

The 2022 annual drug use survey reported that 8.3% of 8th graders, 19.5% of 10th graders and 30.7% of 12th graders acknowledged using cannabis in the past year. These statistics highlight a stabilization of cannabis use among teens following a notable decline in 2021, driven by the societal shifts induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preferred substances and consumption methods

The survey also sheds light on the preferred substances among teens, with alcohol, nicotine through vaping, and cannabis topping the list.

Notably, the method of cannabis consumption has evolved, with vaping becoming increasingly prevalent among teens. This shift underscores the adaptability of adolescent substance use behaviors and the importance of parental awareness of these trends.

Health implications of teen cannabis use

The ramifications of cannabis use on adolescent health are profound. Starting cannabis use in the teen years can significantly impair cognitive functions such as memory, learning and decision-making.

The link between early cannabis use and mental health issues is well-documented, with associations to conditions such as depression, anxiety and more severe disorders like schizophrenia. Particularly alarming is the increased risk of developing marijuana use disorder, especially among those who start using cannabis before age 18.

Parental guidance and conversations

Given these concerns, it’s crucial for parents to initiate open and fact-based conversations with their teens about cannabis. The Adolescent Health Initiative at the University of Michigan emphasizes the importance of parental involvement in adolescent healthcare to foster healthy behaviors and empower teens as health care consumers. 

It suggests a proactive approach when discussing health topics like cannabis use with teens. Encourage open dialogues, focusing on education and support rather than punishment. Emphasizing education over intimidation and fostering an environment where teens feel comfortable sharing their views and experiences can lead to more meaningful exchanges. 

If you suspect cannabis use, engage in a non-judgmental conversation to understand their perspective and express your concerns about its impact on health and well-being. Discussions should not only highlight the legal and social consequences of cannabis use but also address the long-term impacts on health and wellbeing. 

However, if parents find their efforts unsuccessful, seeking external support might be the next step. Professional guidance from healthcare providers, therapists, or support groups can offer additional perspectives and strategies to address teen cannabis use effectively.

Furthermore, engaging in community-wide efforts to educate about cannabis can amplify these individual conversations. Schools, healthcare providers and local organizations in Ann Arbor can collaborate to provide comprehensive education and support systems for teens and their families, helping to mitigate the risks associated with adolescent cannabis use.

Stay engaged!

The accessibility of cannabis presents both challenges and opportunities for parental engagement. By staying informed, encouraging open dialogue and leveraging community resources, parents can play a pivotal role in guiding their teens through the complexities of cannabis use and its potential impacts.

As the landscape of cannabis legalization and consumption evolves, so too must the conversations around it, ensuring that teens are equipped with the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to make informed decisions about their health and future.

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