Prevention is the best option

Advice for preventing cannabis consumption among teenagers

com prevenir consum cànnabis en adolescents Vall d'Hebron

These days, cannabis consumption is frequently an option in our teenagers’ daily lives. Cannabis is a drug, and as such it's not harmless. For those who don’t consume it, we need to give them arguments to help them continue avoiding it.

For those who do consume it, we need to provide them with the tools for giving it up or reducing its consumption or, at least, the knowledge they need in order to minimise the risks.

Parents are crucial for prevention; they play a major role in reducing the risk factors of consumption and strengthening protections, as part of teaching their children to protect themselves from all the risky situations they encounter throughout their lives.




Advice for preventing cannabis consumption among teenagers:

-  Help your children to build up their self-esteem, independence and responsibility. We need to show them how to be able to say no, how to deal with frustration and the desire for immediate gratification, and how to accept refusals. We need to talk to them and to listen from a very young age, and we need to be aware of their friendships and encourage them to take up a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits (sport, food, sleep, hygiene etc.)

-  Having all these internal resources at hand will help them to successfully face situations where they feel exposed to consumption.

-  Ask them what they know about cannabis and spot their mistakes.

-  Demystify the beneficial use of cannabis and debunk myths:

  • there is an urban legend doing the rounds that claims tobacco is more harmful than cannabis.
  • Tell them how, despite having some sedative effects, cannabis can cause anxiety in the long term.
  • Tell them how joints must not be seen as an easy way of relating to or creating a group of friends, and that there are other healthier forms of leisure.
  • Tell them that it must not be seen as a form of identity or rebellion, but as something that can actually harm them.
  • Give them information on the true benefits of some cannabinoids prescribed in a regulated way. Compare that information with the harm that cannabis can cause: whoever mixes it with tobacco will also be inhaling toxic tobacco substances, which will harm them all the more if smoked without a filter.
  • When it is illegally sold:
    • as a product it can be adulterated with harmful substances
    • it can lead to legal action, fines etc.
    • it can make it easier for a child to consume other illegal drugs that are also on sale in the black market
    • it can stunt a child’s physical, social and emotional growth
    • it can alter the functioning of a child's nervous system, with the physical and psychological consequences that this entails, etc.

-  Maintain a climate of trust with your children, make communication easy, talk when necessary about the consumption of substances.

-  Make the most of the questions and comments that arise around the consumption of cannabis, but you don’t need to exhaust the topic in one day.

-  Create doubts for your children to reflect on and be critical over.



How to detect cannabis cunsumption among teenagers:

Adolescence is a time of numerous changes, all to prepare us for the transition from child to adult. But taking on all that is no easy matter. It is when our mind and body develop at breakneck speed and it can be difficult to make sense of it all.

That’s why it’s a key stage in life: it’s easier for risky behaviour to be adopted here that puts people’s health in danger. Sexual relations can occur without protection that lead to unwanted pregnancies or STD infections. But there is also another danger that usually starts at this time of life: the consumption of drugs.

If we focus on joints, the substance that is smoked in them is hashish. This is a brown-coloured ball- or bar-shaped paste that is prepared from cannabis resin. It is mixed with tobacco and rolled up in cigarette paper for consumption. In general, hashish is consumed because it relaxes people and lowers their inhibitions, which is why it can help improve relations with others.

What can we do if we “detect” our child is smoking joints?

  • Avoid searching their clothes/room or questioning their friends, etc.
  • Don’t prejudge them, tell them off, punish them or make accusations against them. Faced with imposed information or prohibitions, they will tend to reject instructions and any other information you may wish to give them.
  • Speak to them directly, explain what you’re worried about and listen to their opinion.
  • Don’t broach the topic if they’re under the influence of cannabis.
  • Talk to them about it in private, in an intimate, comfortable space.
  • Find a time to speak calmly.
  • Assess how much they are consuming (trying it is not the same thing as smoking it when they go to a party or on a daily basis).
  • If they're having problems from smoking, take the opportunity to broach the subject and help them to see its negative effects.
  • Don’t make drastic or hasty decisions, make them together.
  • Finally, if necessary, ask for professional advice or help and negotiate possible solutions with your child. 
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