New research confirms what parents have been preaching all along: Smoking pot and drinking alcohol can mess with your future. A small study, conducted by researchers from the University of Connecticut, took a look at 1,165 people from ages 12 until ages 25 to 32. The majority of study participants also had a family history of alcohol use disorder.
The goal was to find out how heavy drug and alcohol use impacts key hallmarks of adult success: a college degree, a full-time job and good salary and getting married. In general, the subjects who smoked a lot of pot and drank as teens (especially male participants) were less likely to hit these milestones.
“This study found that chronic marijuana use in adolescence was negatively associated with achieving important developmental milestones in young adulthood,” said study author Elizabeth Harari, in a statement. “Awareness of marijuana’s potentially deleterious effects will be important moving forward, given the current move in the U.S. toward marijuana legalization for medicinal and possibly recreational use.”
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), 75 percent of high school students have used addictive substances, and roughly 16 percent of the U.S. population ages 12 and over met the diagnostic criteria for addiction to nicotine, alcohol and other drugs.
Talking to Teens About Substance Abuse
While there’s no magic bullet for preventing teen drug use, parents do have a big influence on their teens. “Parents should try to delay their children’s onset of use as much as possible,” said research supervisor Victor Hesselbrock, chairman of addiction studies at the University of Connecticut, in a statement.
One way to do this is to encourage your child to take part in activities and sports and to always keep the lines of communication open. “Parents should listen before they decide to talk,” parenting expert Kathy Lynn, told Global News. “What we tend to do is lecture, we tend to panic but what we really need to do first of all is listen. Figure out what’s going on with this child and why this is going on.”
The goal is to reduce the risk factors for substance use while increasing protective factors like involvement in sports, hobbies and having good, open communication with parents. All the research shows that parents are the number one reason kids decide not to use substances, so setting up clear boundaries and helping children understand why it’s not ok for them to experiment is extremely important. Educating parents so they don’t send mixed messages is also crucial so kids understand the expectations and consequences for substance use.
Unfortunately, because of the legalization of marijuana in so many states, some parents are becoming confused and are falling into the trap of thinking that it is ok for teenagers and young adults to use marijuana recreationally. The potency of marijuana has increased drastically over past decades so marijuana is not the harmless drug that many people believe it is.
Marijuana is addictive and the latest research shows that it can have lasting consequences for the young user. The developing brain is more vulnerable to the effects of marijuana and young people can have their lives altered negatively because of use that begins at an early age. It’s important for parents to discourage any use in children and to delay experimentation as long as possible. Just like the research that has been done with alcohol, we know the later a person begins experimenting with marijuana, the less chance they will have to develop a problem.
FRS Has Programs Geared Towards At-Risk Youth
Family Recovery Specialists provides programs for adolescents and young adults that are experimenting or abusing substances but may not have a more serious problem. We also treat young people that show evidence of a true addiction problem. Parents are required to participate in these programs and receive education and coaching on how to parent their children more effectively, discouraging further drug use in their children. Together, we can tailor an individualized plan to help your loved one realize his or her potential and ability to live a happy and drug-free lifestyle. To learn more, call today: 305-595-7378.