The Effect of Legalizing Marijuana on Our Teens

UnknownOver the last several months I have had so many teachers, parents and students ask my thoughts on the affects marijuana will have on teens now that it is becoming legal.   Here are my thoughts.  Eight states have recently legalized recreational marijuana use for adults over age 21. Some might see this as a progressive step forward, but in truth, it’s a major setback for teenagers and the future of our Country.

The effects of both legal and illegal marijuana use are impacting youth in America in a major way. Substance abuse experts already see a correlation between the legalization of marijuana in these states and increased use among teens.  Studies have shown that even before these laws were in effect, teens were abusing this drug at a high rate: two-thirds of first-time marijuana users are under the age of 18, and one in six teens who tries marijuana becomes addicted to it.

Our culture glamorizes drug use in movies, in music and on television. Teens are bombarded with these messages, and the devastating consequences of marijuana use are almost never portrayed. Now, several other states are considering following this trend in legalizing marijuana.

While some might say that legalizing marijuana gets it out of the hands of unscrupulous dealers, and therefore protect teens, we should all know better. Creating a culture more tolerant of drug use makes drug use more “acceptable” in the minds of teens. In fact, Colorado is among the states with the highest teen marijuana abuse and usage is increasing while the perception of risk is falling.

We need to help our teens understand that marijuana use isn’t glamorous, and it isn’t safe. Not only are there risks to their health and brain development, but driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana can be just as a dangerous as a driving drunk.

Besides, why would we want to send a message to a generation ripe with potential that getting hooked on a chemical is an okay thing? We are talking about the future leaders of our nation. All of the “Just say no!” messages fly out the window when we make laws that say, “Well, this particular drug is okay.”

Marijuana takes away motivation and passion for life and for work. When is the last time you heard of any great inventions coming out of Amsterdam, where pot has been legal for a generation?

Do we want an addicted generation? Or do we want a generation that values a sober mind and responsible behavior? The teenagers of our nation are yearning for more from life. They crave a meaningful life. Instead of pushing a message that tells them “life is hard, so ease it with a drug,” let us instead inspire them to take on the challenges of life with ingenuity, creativity and dedication.

 

Substance Abuse And Our Young People

Substance Abuse YouthThere was a time in cinematic history where virtually every actor/actress was portrayed on screen with a cigarette in hand. Smoking, it was implied, was cool. As a result everyone was doing it, including kids. Well, as awareness to the danger of smoking increased, “cool” images of smoking disappeared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about drugs and alcohol. These vices are staples in everyday media. Simply, drinking and using drugs is shown as being cool.

The numbers bear the tale. 21% of high school seniors say they get high and 41% of the same group report drinking alcohol. Our kids are literally moving around in an intoxicated daze. Immature behavior is then amplified due to being under the influence, drunk driving, poor grades and attendance, anti-social and violent behavior and the list goes on.

There is no single age group of people more affected by alcohol and drugs than young people.  Nationwide, alcohol and drugs affect each and every one of us, directly or indirectly:  in our homes, in our families, in our school, in our dorm, in our community, town or city.

More than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs affecting millions more people — parents, family members, friends and neighbors.  For some, one time or infrequent use of alcohol or drugs can result in tragedy: alcohol overdose (alcohol poisoning), an accident or fall when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or an arrest associated with alcohol or drugs that may cost you your reputation and/or your freedom. For others, even though they may not use alcohol or drugs, they could become a victim of an alcohol or drug-related crime. And, for yet others, what may have started as occasional use can turn into an addiction that presents extraordinary health concerns with potentially grave and tragic consequences.

The age of first use has tremendous consequences. Using alcohol and drugs before the brain has fully developed increases your risk for future addiction to alcohol and drugs dramatically. Young people who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than people who first used alcohol at age 21 or older. Research for drug use and drug addiction has found similar results.

Family history plays a huge role in addiction . Whether a person decides to use alcohol or drugs is a choice, influenced by their environment: peers, family, and availability. But, once a person uses alcohol or drugs, the risk of developing alcoholism or drug dependence is largely influenced by genetics. Plain and simple, people’s bodies respond to the effects of alcohol and drugs differently.  If you have a family history of alcoholism or addiction, you are four times more likely to develop a problem.

The bottom line is no one has ever won the game against alcohol and drugs. It always wins. Whether you recover or not, the damage has been done to yourself, your family, and friends. The best advice, stay away from it.

 

 

 

Take Responsibility for Everything

imagesTake responsibility for everything. Yes, I do mean absolutely everything, whether something is your fault or not.

Taking responsibility for everything that life throws your way is a key character trait that distinguishes the most successful people from the rest. However, even if success isn’t a huge priority for you, you can still derive incredible value from taking responsibility.

Taking responsibility for your life and circumstances is incredibly empowering. It’s empowering because it’s a measure of your courage, of your selfconfidence, self-worth and of your mental strength, toughness and resilience.

To take responsibility is empowering because it provides you with a sense of control over your life. In essence it gives you greater self-assurance that you will eventually get the outcome you are after.

To take responsibility is empowering because it encourages solution-based thinking that can lead to a plethora of creative ideas to help you solve your problems more effectively. In other words, it empowers you to take an active role in solving your life’s problems, which earns you an incredible amount of respect in the eyes of others.

Now of course taking responsibility doesn’t mean you are weak or powerless and therefore you blame yourself for everything. This isn’t about blame. This is rather about responsibility. There is a big difference.

Blaming yourself comes from a position of weakness. It comes from a victimized mentality that doesn’t have any control over life or circumstances. To take responsibility means to take ownership of the situation. It means fully accepting how things are and committing yourself to making things right. That’s what taking responsibility is all about.