Every time I meet with a teen for the first time I ask a series of questions. Most are open ended inquiries about their hobbies, their friends and family, and what motivates them to do their best. I also ask a few screening questions to get a sense of whether or not they’re engaging in risky behaviors. A trend I’ve noticed over the past 5 years is that more and more teens are telling me they’ve tried marijuana.
A new documentary called “Marijuana Documentary – Northwest Trees” was created and produced by Ben Grayzel. It features one of our guest bloggers Dr. Leslie Walker and offers commentary from teens and young adults in the Pacific Northwest on marijuana. While I may not condone some of the behaviors featured, I definitely admire the candid responses. Teens talk about availability of marijuana, perceptions of peer use, and discuss whether or not they think it’s helpful or harmful.
This video prompts me to consider how parents can help guide their teens to make decisions around drug use that are consistent with their own family expectations, norms, and beliefs.
Dr. Walker helped create A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Underage Marijuana Use. Here are some of the tips in the booklet:
- Start talking early – teens who use marijuana often start by age 14. Parents should start having an ongoing conversation about drugs by 4th or 5th grade.
- Set clear guidelines – establish clear, specific, and consistent rules about marijuana and other drugs. This can be part of a broader conversation around expectations of things like chores, curfew, showing respect for family members, following law and school regulations
- Keep lines of communication open. Eat dinner together, do fun activities together, communicate in whatever way your child does (Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, texting, etc).
For more information in teen substance use, check out some of our previous posts on marijuana use.
Our Seattle Children’s Hospital Substance Abuse Program is a resource in Washington State if you’re concerned about your teen abusing marijuana or other drugs. Information about our program can be found here.
If you’d like to watch the documentary, it can be found on YouTube here