Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Teens, Pot, and IQ

Finally, some research that can help parents give a good reason to their kids that might actually make them understand why smoking weed in Adolescence can truly be harmful to their brains. I think intuitively we all knew this, but having actual statistics and numbers can be a much more persuasive argument than just lecturing to your teen. So this article, should be required reading for all teens and their parents.
The research consists of more than 1000 people who were pretested for mental functioning at age 13 than again at age 38. This is one of the first longitudinal studies of teens who smoked pot and teens who didn't and the effect on IQ, which tests for the brains capacity to learn. Findings were stunning. Those who smoked pot from ages 13 to 18 had a long term mental decline in their IQ versus those who didn't start their marijuana use after age 18.

Here are the facts. The number of new brain connections that are made during Adolescence is equal to the number of new brain connections that occur in the first 18 months of life. Just remind yourself of your teeny tiny newborn, completely relying on you for survival, and by 18 months, they have morphed into a walking, personality driven, ability driven little person who has intentional interests,  emotions, and desires. Your teen's brain is morphing in the same way. New thoughts, new feelings, new abilities, new intentions. Interfering with that natural process with a strong chemical can cause permanent damage in that development. All parents want to see each and everyone of their kids live up to THEIR potential, not what YOU want them to be but what THEY want to become. You wouldn't want them to unknowingly put themselves at a disadvantage. And this is how you approach this topic.

So when your teen says as a rational for smoking: "Well you smoked when you were younger, and you are OK" Now you can say, well I didn't try it until I was in college, or after high school, and (fill in the blank with the rest of your experience). Or maybe you did smoke alot when you were a teen, and now you realize that it really changed the person you wanted to become. Maybe you don't feel you have reached your potential, and if you look back, smoking and drinking really interfered with the goals you had for yourself, but didn't follow through on.

Use some of your teens current interests and talents, and ask them what kinds of goals they have for themselves. Make a connection with the need to keep the brain at it's optimal production as they develop the foundations for their future goals. Whether it's music, or business, or science, it doesn't matter, the foundation of learning for all these areas need a strong base of knowledge from which to build.

Like with alcohol, you cannot be with your teen when they light up, but you can damn well continue to make a case for wanting them to be the best they can be. This is not about punishment and control, this is about love and education. 

Remember teens love their pot. It doesn't make them vomit, it can mellow out their anxiety, give them the illusion of feeling in control, and it makes them feel really good. That is alot to fight against. So please, don't just go into punishment and lecture mode. Give them the tools to educate themselves, which gives them the power to make safer choices. Understand with them, why it might be something they are attracted to, and that you get that they think it is safe. Here is the proof that it isn't!

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