What your teen should know about marijuana use – myths and facts.
This is what they hear from their friends:
- Well, it’s better than smoking cigarettes isn’t it?
- It’s not addictive.
- It’s a natural substance – it comes from the earth!
- Adults do it too and they lead normal lives.
- Not everyone that smokes pot becomes a junkie you know.
These are all things you are likely to hear from your teen if you speak to them after they have already been exposed to the popular culture of pot. That is only one of the reasons that you need to talk to them while they are still young. But what if it is too late? What information can you give your teen that might possibly affect their choices?
Well, let’s start with the typical stuff:
In the short term:
- difficulty keeping track of time; impaired or reduced short-term memory
- reduced ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination
- increased heart rate
- potential cardiac dangers for those with preexisting heart disease
- bloodshot eyes
- dry mouth and throat
- decreased social inhibitions
- paranoia, hallucinations
But really, when those thing come up against things like peer pressure and looking cool and social acceptance – they don’t really compare. The majority of teens – especially ones that are already popular – will pick the cool factor any day. And kids that aren’t cool? Many of them will choose the cool factor as well if it means getting invited to that party on the weekend.
How about long term effects:
- enhanced cancer risk
- decrease in testosterone levels for males
- lower sperm counts and difficulty having children
- increase in testosterone levels for women
- increased risk of infertility
- psychological dependence requiring more of the drug to get the same effect
- diminished or extinguished sexual pleasure
Now let’s go back to some of the things they are told by their friends. One of them was that pot is not addicting. Well – it is true for the most part that it is not physically addictive; however, mentally, using marijuana is very addictive.
People – including teens – smoke pot for a reason. It helps you to relax, makes you feel good, and makes all of your problems go away. So people smoke to deal with the everyday stresses of life. Unfortunately, when smoking pot becomes a solution to stress or problems we forget how to cope without it. It’s so much easier to have a joint than to deal with a boss that is unhappy with your work or a fight with your girlfriend. Many people become emotionally addicted to pot everyday.
There’s one more issue that parents and teens should be concerned about and that is the fact that marijuana today is stronger than the pot that was smoked in the 60’s and 70’s and it contains more harmful chemicals. These chemicals can stay in the fat cells of your body for up to a week or more! Not only is the pot that is smoked today stronger but it is often laced with other drugs with the intention of getting kids hooked.
Smoking pot is not a simple way of calming down – it’s a simple way of making your life more complicated. If you want to know more about marijuana use contact your local addictions centre.