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Many parents worry about their teen's exposure to alcohol and other drugs. There is a common belief that some drug use is normal or a rite of passage for teens. This is a myth. For teens, the healthiest decision is to not use any alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs. This website will help parents keep their kids drug free.


America's Dropout Crisis: The Unrecognized Connection to Adolescent Substance Use discusses decades of scientific studies that show the connection between adolescent substance use and school failure.
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A Father's Story

Ed Wood's son, Brian, was killed when the driver of the vehicle that hit his car asked her passenger to steer while she changed her sweater. Both of the women tested positive for marijuana and other drugs. The drivers received light sentences because, as with most states, the laws in that state did not satisfactorily address drugged driving.
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A Doctor's Story

Christian Thurstone, M.D. is a board-certified child psychiatrist and addiction psychiatrist. He is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver and a nationally recognized researcher in the field of adolescent substance treatment.
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A Teen's Story

On November 16, 2011 testifying before the New York City Council at hearings on medical marijuana, Max Schwartzberg described his first use of marijuana at age 12 and his subsequent long-term addiction.
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What Parents Need to Know

"Medical" Marijuana

Marijuana: A Second Class Addiction

Drug Abuse and Teens: It's a Big Deal
Tell Your Teen Not To Use
Parents can make a difference in teen drug use. Research shows that teens do listen to what their parents say. Set and enforce rules. Tell your kids not to use any alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs.

Drug use is not normal. Roughly 27% of high school seniors have never used any substance in their life. This number has continued to grow over the past few decades. Teens can make the healthiest choice for their brains if they know how. For health, the best option is to avoid any use of any drugs.

The average potency of today's marijuana is 244% higher -- yes, you read that right -- than the average potency of marijuana smoked in the 1980s. As a result, today's marijuana is more addictive and harmful -- especially for adolescents, who are in crucial stages of brain development. Parents shouldn't dismiss today's teen marijuana use based on their own use of lower potency pot when they were young. What kids smoke today is not their parents' marijuana.

Largely because of the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use in several states, the drug is more available, accessible -- and socially accepted. Already, government agencies across our country are reporting sharp increases in problems associated with adolescent marijuana use. High school seniors are using marijuana at rapidly increasing rates that have not been seen in the United States for three decades.

This combination of a stronger drug and more drug use is bad news. Decades of research on the negative effects of marijuana on the developing brain are yielding disturbing results. These new findings -- many of which point to long term and permanent cognitive deficits -- should concern parents and teenagers. Marijuana use is associated with:

  • lower academic achievement
  • high school and college dropout
  • serious mental health problems
  • chronic, lifelong struggle with drug addiction.
While many teenagers use marijuana with no apparent ill effects, the drug robs many others of their future. Summary of Research -- Marijuana and Kids: It's a Big Deal.

Vaporizing is the intake of marijuana vapor by using a device that creates steam to inhale rather than the traditional inhalation of smoke produced by burning leaves. Vaping devices were originally developed to create an alternative way to inhale nicotine. Smoking e-cigarettes is safer than smoking cigarettes but far from safe. The marijuana industry has co-opted these devices, which deliver a high percentage of THC rapidly to the bloodstream. For more about this topic check out "Vaping" - The Transformation of Marijuana.

Prescription Drugs
Home medicine cabinets often contain highly potent prescription drugs. The nonmedical use of these drugs poses a serious threat to health and safety to all users, and in particular, teens. Opioids used to treat pain are often misused and diverted. These painkillers are primarily responsible for overdose deaths, and many regions of the country are experiencing a resurgence of heroin use and related deaths, by individuals who began their opioid use with prescription drugs. A segment on The Today Show features the serious problem of prescription drug use by teens.

Another problem is the non-medical use of stimulants like those to treat ADHD. These drugs are used by young people with the hope of enhancing academic performance; however, are the most widely abused drugs among 12- and 13-year-olds. The nonmedical use of these medicines poses serious risks for young brains.

A new heroin epidemic is sweeping the nation, but this time it is hitting big city suburbs, small and medium towns, small cities, and rural areas as well as its old haunts in inner cities. Its primary victims are young people ages 18-25. Many are high achievers. What most of them they have in common is the prior use of other substances - marijuana, alcohol and prescription opioids. Today's heroin is cheap, very easily accessible and is often offered as a free sample to a non-heroin using poly-drug using teens. The heroin supply chain used to be traced to sources such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, but now more commonly is the mountains of Western Mexico. Its delivery system is likened to the home delivery of a pizza, a short call to a local dealer's cell phone or to a Mexican call center and the order is on its way to the requested safe drop off spot. It's a quick discreet process. The heroin is high quality and sometimes laced with fentanyl, a particularly lethal combination. Young people are dying from heroin overdoses every day.

Abstaining from Substance Use
Teens, you are not alone if you do not use any of these illegal substances. Many teens choose to abstain. In fact your numbers are increasing every year. Read It's Time to Re-Think Prevention: Increasing Percentages of Adolescents Understand They Should Not Use Any Addicting Substances.

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