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Kids & Marijuana – What’s a Parent To Do?

Marijuana-and-Cognitive-Development

“It’s a natural plant! What’s the big deal?” —A common declaration among youth who believe that the effects of marijuana are harmless and that the substance shouldn’t be regulated.

Regardless of public opinion, the science is clear:

Regular recreational use of marijuana during adolescence is harmful to the brain, which isn’t fully developed until the age of 25.

A recent review article further emphasized legitimate reasons for concern, suggesting that recreational use of marijuana increases an adolescent’s risk for anxiety and depression; addictions; disruptions in cognitive development; brain changes that can stretch well into adulthood, including impaired activity in the areas that govern alertness, awareness, learning, memory and inhibitory control; and overall lower IQ.

How_Marijuana_Affects_the_Brain_Infographic

IMAGE: How Marijuana Affects the Brain (Infographic) The Wall Street Journal

The long-term risks of using recreational marijuana are even greater for adolescents with ADD/ADHD because the aforementioned cognitive issues are magnified in those with already-low prefrontal cortex (PFC) function. At Amen Clinics, we call the PFC the brain’s “executive center” because it regulates impulse control and keeps us focused on the outcome of our decisions.

So, what’s a parent or grandparent to do? How do you keep your kids safe?

The most important thing is to teach them to love their brains, so they would never want to do anything to hurt it.

… But how?

Respect and a genuine connection. Teens don’t want to be lectured or given unsolicited advice. This approach encourages rebellion. Developing autonomy is a teen’s #1 objective, so if you pressure them to change or to problem-solve before they are ready, they will reject everything you say!

You must lovingly and patiently guide them into making the decision not to use drugs and alcohol on their own. Sound impossible? It’s not. I’ll walk you through the process next week, in part two of this blog post.

Imaging changes everything. At the Amen Clinics, we can help you and your loved ones overcome the stigma and suffering associated with ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, brain injury, weight loss, addictions, memory issues, brain fog, and other emotional and cognitive issues. If you are ready to regain control over your life or help a loved one do the same, give us a call at 1-888-288-9834 or click here to ask a question.

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