With so many states legalizing marijuana, teens might think there are no downsides to trying the drug, but they are seriously mistaken. Due to their susceptibility to the framing effect, they have a diminished ability to think through multiple choices to a decision. Your teens misunderstanding about cannabis might put them at risk. If you don’t know how to talk to your teen about weed, here are four facts to help get you on the right track for a constructive conversation.
- It Physically Harms
If you suspect your teen is smoking weed, you should have a conversation about the physical risks to your teen’s wellbeing. First, smoking weed exposes the body to carcinogens and other irritants that can damage the heart and lungs. Additionally, teens under the influence can get in car crashes or experience dangerous falls due to impaired coordination. Physical discomfort is also a risk, as many heavy smokers report withdrawal symptoms when they stop smoking such as nausea, insomnia, and sweating.
- Vaping Weed Doesn’t Make It Safe
Another thing you should tell your teen is that vaping isn’t healthier way to smoke weed. The teen injuries from exploding vaporized are almost exclusively related to vaping weed products. A lot of THC vape manufacturers, especially unregulated black market manufacturers, can make faulty equipment that can harm users. The THC concentration is also much higher in vapes, but gives a weaker high, encouraging teens to smoke even more and put themselves at higher risk of dependency and overuse. Plus, the oil-thinning agents in THC vapes can release harmful chemicals when vaporized that are comparable to smoking cigarettes in terms of health risk.
- It Makes Anxiety Worse
Your teen might be using THC to manage their anxiety, but you should warn them that it can actually make anxiety worse. Marijuana is known to cause paranoia and can make an anxious episode even worse. Plus, your teen’s self-medicating might prevent them from wanting to see a professional mental health expert to work out anxiety issues. Also, smoking might give your teen a short-term relief from anxiety, but studies show that anxiety actually increases with marijuana use over time. We think you should warn them about having to take more and more to cope with increasing anxiety.Antidepressants might be a more effective and stable management strategy.
- It Can Cause Dependency
The last fact we think you should share with your teen is that it can cause dependency. A lot of teens are attracted to weed because it’s supposedly not addictive, unlike alcohol, cigarettes, or harder drugs. We think you should warn your teen about physical dependence that can afflict heavy users by altering their appetite, sleep patterns and mood. If your teen wants to use weed regularly, they could be at risk of having poor concentration, poor eating and sleeping habits, and decreased mood when they aren’t high. It’s very unhealthy when the drug becomes necessary to functioning with comfort.
Your Teen Might Not Understand the Risk
So, it’s crucial that you inform them of these facts before they start experimenting with marijuana or encounter peer pressure situations. If your teen takes these facts to heart, they might make healthier choices when it comes to trying drugs.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.