Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens Smoking Pot

I still scratch my head when I hear parents say "he/she is ONLY smoking pot" - without realizing the dangers, not only to their behavior, but to their physical health.  Don't be a parent in denial, be educated.

Pot and Lungs

Source: Connect with Kids

This latest study shows that you have destruction of lung tissue and reduction of lung vital capacity and a decreased ability to exhale if you smoke marijuana and what's probably the most disturbing part of this latest article is that it shows that a cigarette is really much less potent than a joint of marijuana.”

– Fadlo Khuri, M.D., oncologist

A new study of teen drug use and parent and teen attitudes reveals some troubling new highs. According to the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, teen use of marijuana is on the rise, along with a growing climate of parental denial when it comes to addressing the issue with their teens.

The study reports that the number of teens in grades 9 to 12 that used marijuana in the past year shows a 19 percent increase (from 32 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009).

According to the latest Monitoring the Future report, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 40 percent of twelfth graders have experimented with marijuana. In fact, it is the most commonly abused illicit drug. Plus, new information shows it's even more dangerous than we thought.

Andrew was 14-years-old when he first tried pot.

"I didn't, I didn't even inhale it all the way, I just took it into my mouth and stuff, but I loved the taste. I knew that I liked it and stuff," says Andrew Wolpa, 18 years old.

From there he experimented with alcohol, painkillers, mushrooms and almost every drug except one.

"I never smoked cigarettes because those things will kill ya, you know," says Wolpa.

But according to a study by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, smoking one marijuana joint is equal to smoking five cigarettes at the same time.

"This study shows that you have destruction of lung tissue and reduction of lung vital capacity and a decreased ability to exhale if you smoke marijuana and what's probably the most disturbing part of this latest article is that it shows that a cigarette is really much less potent than a joint of marijuana," says Fadlo Khuri, M.D., oncologist and deputy director for the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University.

And he says smoking pot can lead to emphysema and lung cancer.

"That's a real problem because we only cure about 15 to 17 percent of all the people who present with lung cancer nowadays. So, this is a disease in which you have a one in six chance of surviving it for five years or longer," says Khuri.

He says talking about painful and serious diseases is one way to persuade kids not to use marijuana.

"Confronting them with the data, showing them what the outcomes are with lung cancer, with emphysema, with what even some individuals would consider moderate marijuana or cigarette use," says Khuri.

Andrew says even though he's in rehab he's not ready to quit.

"I don't want to be clean yet. I'm not there," says Wolpa.

What Parents Need To Know

Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. It is a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the plant Cannabis sativa. A stronger form of marijuana called hashish (hash) looks like brown or black cakes or balls. Street names for marijuana include pot, herb, weed, grass, Jane, reefer, dope, and ganja.

Marijuana is typically smoked in cigarettes (joints or spliffs), hollowed-out cigars (blunts), pipes (bowls), or water pipes (bongs). Some people mix it into food or brew it as a tea. It's tough – or tougher -- on your lungs as cigarettes. Steady users suffer coughs, wheezing, frequent colds, and respiratory (airway and lung) infections, like bronchitis. People who smoke marijuana have more respiratory problems — such as having more mucus, chronic cough, and bronchitis (irritated breathing passages). There are more than 400 known chemicals in marijuana. A single joint contains four times as much cancer-causing tar as a filtered cigarette.

Marijuana is easily available, relatively cheap, and kids say that it relaxes them, it's effective for stress, and gets rid of their anxiety. Anxiety is huge. In fact, by conservative estimates, half of young people who are addicted to chemicals—alcohol, marijuana or other drugs—also have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

The resurgence in teen drug and alcohol use comes at a time when pro-drug cues in popular culture – in film, television and online – abound, and when funding for federal prevention programs has been declining for several years. This places an even greater burden on parents. Among the parents surveyed for the PATS study, 20 percent say their child (ages 10-19) has already used drugs or alcohol beyond an "experimental" level. Among parents of teens ages 14-19, that percentage jumps to 31 percent, nearly one third.

Disturbingly, among those parents of teens who have used, nearly half (47 percent) either waited to take action or took no action at all – which studies show put those children at greater risk of continued use and negative consequences.

What can parents do? It's important to talk openly about the dangers of drug use – again and again. Children Now, a research and action organization, offers the following tips for discussing drug abuse with your child:

■Listen carefully. Student surveys reveal that when parents listen to their children's feelings and concerns, their kids feel comfortable talking with them and are more likely to stay drug-free.
■Role play about ways to say "no" without becoming a social outcast. Consider statements like, "My mom would kill me if I used drugs."
■Encourage choice. Allow your child plenty of opportunity to become a confident decision-maker.
■Provide age-appropriate information that fits your child's stage of development.
■Establish a clear family position on drugs, alcohol and marijuana. It is OK to say, "We don't allow any drug or alcohol use."
■Be a good example. Children will do what you do much more readily than what you say.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers the following strategies to help child can reap the rewards of a healthy, drug-free life:

■Get to know your child's friends and their parents. Call other parents and check-in to make sure they share your views on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Steer your child away from any friends who use drugs.
■Call teens' parents if their home is to be used for a party. Make sure that the party will be alcohol-free and supervised by adults.
■Set curfews and enforce them. Let your child know the consequences of breaking curfew.
■Set a no-use rule for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
■Get – and stay – involved in your child's life.

■Partnership for a Drug-Free America 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study
■Monitoring the Future
■Nemours Foundation
■Medical Research Institute of New Zealand