Marijuana is a popular drug in the state of California, particularly Los Angeles. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)’s February 2014 report of drug use in Los Angeles County, marijuana was reported as “the primary drug problem” with 27.2% of drug rehab treatment admissions for marijuana addiction or dependency. Plus, more than half (59%) of drug rehab treatment admissions were for children. Furthermore, marijuana was identified in 30.8% of drug reports analyzed in laboratories. Lastly, marijuana ranked second in the list of illicit drugs reported in the poison control system.
Children younger than 12 years old are experimenting with marijuana. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, 14 children under the age of 12 ended up in the hospital after taking in the edible form of the drug between 2009 and 2011.
Despite its reputation for being a safe and harmless drug, marijuana does in fact lead to danger, as noted with the hospitalizations above, as well as addiction. In fact, regular use of marijuana can create the same destructive lifestyle that comes with any dependency. Considering marijuana to be harmless, in a sense, makes it more dangerous. A child using the drug may not be able to make the connection between some of its ill effects on school, home life, and peer interactions. He or she might be looking for a quick high, a release of stress, but the effects of the drug have proven to lead to an addiction. Continue reading
Even though the average age of beginning drug use is around 14 year old, talking to your child about drugs can begin as early as 6 or 7. Even during this young age, there are teachable moments to encourage your child’s avoidance of substance use later in life.
For instance, if you see a billboard or television commercial highlighting the use of cigarettes, a parent might talk with their child about smoking, nicotine addiction, and what smoking does to a person’s body. This might lead into a discussion about other drugs and how they can potentially cause harm. Parents can keep the tone of these discussions calm, using terms their child can understand. As parents and children are spending time in various parts of Los Angeles, they might witness people drinking or smoking, which can also be points for discussion. Parents should be specific about the effects of the drugs, including how they make a person feel, the risk of overdose, and the other long-term damage they can cause.
Sadly, according to a 2009 federal survey, one in 10 children ages 12 to 17 use illicit drugs on a regular basis. However, according to Dr. Joseph Lee, Medical Director of the Hazelden Center for Youth and Family, an addiction treatment facility in Minneapolis, there are many simple steps that parents can take to prevent drug use in their children. In fact, these are simple and effective ways that parents help their children avoid the pitfalls of alcohol and drug use later in life: Continue reading