These days, marijuana use among young adults is downright commonplace. According to a 2014 study by the National Institute of Health, 52 percent of all 18 to 25 year olds had tried marijuana at least once, and nearly 20 percent had used marijuana in the past month.
Among high school students, the trends are even more troubling — almost 6 percent of high school students say they smoke marijuana every day, compared with only 2 percent who say they drink alcohol every day.
If you are a parent who smoked marijuana yourself in high school, you may not think it is a big problem for your son or daughter to smoke it, too. But according to David Baron, medical director at Yellowbrick, the marijuana from today is far more potent than the marijuana that was available in the ’60s and ’70s.
Baron says some studies indicate today’s marijuana can contain 8 to 15 times the concentration of THC, one of the chemicals in the plant that can cause psychotic experiences.
“This means that the ‘same’ drug that made most people calm, mellow and a bit silly 40 years ago now causes a much higher percentage of users to experience paranoia, anxiety, or full-blown psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions,” he says. “To paraphrase an old car commercial: ‘This is not your father’s marijuana.’”
Baron also says there are significant risks for young adults who smoke marijuana, noting that one in ten young adults who smoke marijuana will become addicted to it.
Marijuana use is considered a problem when it starts interfering with someone’s everyday life. For example, those who are addicted to marijuana may continue to smoke, despite the fact that it causes problems in school, work, or relationships, or even puts them in danger.
So if you’re a parent of a young adult, how do you know if your son or daughter is abusing marijuana? Here are a few signs that your child may have a problem:
If you notice any of these symptoms in your young adult children, there are ways you can make a difference.
First, start by simply stating to your son or daughter what you have found and wait for a response, rather than starting an argument. If he or she tries to take you off the topic, bring the conversation back to the point.
If your son or daughter is willing to admit they have been smoking marijuana, ask them about why and how. Unless a doctor has been prescribing it in a state where it’s legal—without your knowledge—they’ve been breaking the law to do it. The risks associated with this are also worth talking about.
Be clear about the limits you intend to set, and if consequences are warranted, make them proportionate to the situation.
Keep checking in and ask also about other factors (depression, anxiety, bullying, and academic worries) that may be contributing factors and/or consequences of smoking marijuana.
If your son or daughter persists in smoking, or their behaviors continue to indicate that they do, consider getting them professional help.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
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People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
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