People of all ages use cannabis, with the prevalence of the substance only increasing in Canada since it’s been legalized. Young people have always turned to marijuana for a variety of reasons: peer pressure, curiosity, anxiety, depression, and more. But now more than ever, cannabis and other substances are more accessible to youth.
In some cases, young people use drugs to cope with the common challenges that arise in the teenage years. This substance can seem like a reasonable option for youth to overcome boredom, anger, and mental challenges. As a parent, should you be worried if your child is using cannabis?
How Cannabis Affects Children and Teens
The best thing that you can do is become informed about the substance and its potential risks. This information will empower you to educate your children and set boundaries within your home that protect and support your family. Some people have found that cannabis can be helpful for medical purposes. But, it is important to use caution due to the way the substance can affect the developing brain.
When teens smoke cannabis, the effects of the drug can have an impact on their developing bodies and brains. Research shows that these effects can be permanent, especially when marijuana is used heavily in the teenage years.
These are common effects that occur with cannabis use in children and teens:
- Risk of addiction
- Poor school performance
- Memory and learning problems
- Developmental delays
- Attention problems
- Impaired driving
- Negative impact on athletic performance and coordination
- Possibility of psychosis or panic
- Altered judgment, which increases risky behaviour
- Often leads to the use of harder drugs, such as heroin
While 1 in 11 cannabis users will become addicted to the substance, the risk increases if the person begins using in their teen years. If the substance use starts early in life, then the risk increases to 1 in 6 users that become addicted.
Having a Family Discussion about Cannabis
Is there a place for this substance in your home? While cannabis is now a legal substance in Canada, most parents still opt to encourage their children to delay use to give the child’s brain and body time to develop.
The best thing that you can do is talk to your children about the substance. Open conversation in the home gives your loved ones the option to discuss their needs and concerns, decreasing the likelihood that the child will turn to friends or strangers for information. Follow these guidelines to open the conversation with your loved ones:
- Specific: Be clear about what you are trying to achieve. For example, set a specific goal to talk with your sponsor at least once a day.
- Measurable: Can you identify a successful completion of the goal? The only way to identify if progress is being made is if you can measure the actions that have occurred.
- Attainable: Start with short-term goals that build up to the long-term achievements that you desire. These smaller actions help you experience success along the way. You will feel the accomplishment in the progress that is made, and build momentum that supports your long-term recovery goals.
- Relevant: Are the goals relevant to match your desires? When it comes to addiction recovery, you need to be thinking about the small actions, habits, and personality traits that will help you maintain a fulfilled lifestyle without the use of drugs and alcohol
- Timely: When you are fighting addiction and triggers, focus on the immediacy of the current situation. While it is important to look to the future, you also need to be sure that your finish line is within reach. For example, you might have hourly, daily, and weekly goals that build up to monthly, annually, and lifetime goals.
Always remember to approach the conversation from a place of love and support. Be careful to avoid anger and judgment because this approach can create a divide in the relationship. If your child is using cannabis and requires substance abuse treatment, then they should have a safe place at home to discuss their needs. As a parent, you can provide the support and encouragement that will help your child maintain a healthy, happy life that is free of addiction.