Substance use among adolescents is not a new concern for parents, but with recreational marijuana use being legal for people ages 21 and older in Washington, the changes to laws around marijuana over the past few years have led many parents to ask questions about how to talk with their teens about substance use. Should I tell my teen I’ve used before? How do I keep my teen from abusing drugs? Is it ok for teens to use occasionally? Are drugs really all that harmful? If a drug is legal, does that mean it’s safe? My teen is using, when should I be worried?

Here’s what we know:

  • Young brains are under construction until age 25. Addiction is forever. Substance use (including marijuana and alcohol) during adolescence and early adulthood is brain altering.
  • Today’s marijuana is a different drug than 12+ years ago. The concentration of THC (the active component of the marijuana plant) is much higher than it used to be marijuana sold in dispensaries and for recreational purposed. Think about our rapid advancements in technology in just the past five years. We’ve done the same in advancing the potency, purity, and quantity of THC.
  • Just because recreational marijuana is legal for 21 and older in WA, it is still federally illegal so youth who get caught using could jeopardize their future goals of applying to college, for federal scholarship/grant funding, jobs, athletics, etc.

Parents are critical in preventing substance abuse:

  • Talk with your kids openly about expectations and consequences.
  • Even if you as a parent use alcohol or marijuana, it’s important to reinforce how the choices your teen makes now can impact their future.

If you live in the Seattle area and have ever considered any of the above question or topics, or if you just want to learn more about how to prevent substance use in teens please join us for our open parent forum on prevention of teen substance use.

Date: March 24, 2016

Location: Wright Auditorium in Seattle Children’s Hospital

4800 Sand Point Way, NE Seattle, WA 98105

Time: 6:30pm -8:30pm

Panel Participants: Lisa Chinn, Mental Health & Chemical Dependency professional

Dr. Leslie Walker, Chief of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine

Dr. Suzan Mazor, Attending Physician, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Toxicology

Rachel & Joseph, parents of a college sophomore

Jon Huber, Seattle Police Department Impaired Driving Coordinator/Trainer