Staying involved in teens’ lives makes it easier to keep the conversation going about topics like marijuana.

Staying involved in teens’ lives makes it easier to keep the conversation going about topics like marijuana.

Under the Influence…of You: Start the conversation about marijuana use with your teen

Public health initiative aims to get families talking

According to the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey, 17 per cent of 10th graders report having used marijuana within the past 30 days. The survey also showed a decrease in youth perception of harm, which is concerning.

Here’s why.

Marijuana use can cause more harm to the developing teen brain. Like alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can impair the areas of the brain that control motor coordination, impulse control, memory, learning and judgment, but because the teen brain is still developing, it’s more vulnerable than an adult’s brain to their effects.

And because use can begin as early as the 6th grade, it’s important to start the conversation early.

Start the conversation

That’s the focus of an initiative from local health authorities, Under the Influence…of You. The campaign encourages parents and other influential adults – the No. 1 influencers in teens lives – to talk with teens about the risks and consequences of using marijuana.

Teens watch and listen to the adults they know and respect. Research shows that when influential adults are present and engaged, teens are happier, healthier and make better choices.

However, parents and other adults often struggle to talk with teens about marijuana – especially now that marijuana is legal for anyone 21 and older. Adults may not know the facts or not understand the serious risks that using marijuana can have for teens.

Under the Influence…of You not only encourages adults to talk with teens about the risks and consequences of marijuana, but also provides tips on how to have effective conversations, explains Island Country Public Health.

Here’s how you can help:

• Don’t accept marijuana use as a rite of passage to adulthood.

• Set clear rules against using marijuana, alcohol and other drugs.

• Help children deal with peer pressure and stress.

• Be a good role model – show kids you don’t need a drink to relax or celebrate.

• Talk with them early and often about the ways marijuana and alcohol can harm them, ask questions and be a good listener.

• Stay involved in their lives, and know who their friends are and where they’re going.

To get help fast if your teen is already using, call the Washington Recovery Help Line for 24-hour emotional support, referrals and information: 1-866-789-1511.

Get the facts, find resources and learn how to start – and continue – the conversation with your teen at StartTalkingNow.org.

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