National Prevention Week – Day Four: Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use

Illicit Drugs Use: Cocaine, crack, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, tranquilizers, methamphetamine…illicit drugs and as we know can lead to addiction, impaired decision making, reduced self-control, and other community problems that we often identify with these types of drugs.

This week is about prevention. How can you make a difference? If you’re a parent, get involved in your child’s day-to-day activities by discussing risks of using illicit drugs. Talk Early, Talk Often!  Educate them on the dangers, teach them what you believe, give them resources, and let them know you care. As a community member you can take the time to talk to others about what you know, and provide resources. See below for some helpful resources (there are many others as well)!

Youth Marijuana Use: Young people start using marijuana for many reasons. Curiosity, peer pressure, and the desire to fit in with friends are common ones. Those who have already begun to smoke cigarettes or use alcohol—or both—are at increased risk for marijuana use as well. And people who have untreated mental health disorders or who have experienced trauma are at increased risk of using marijuana and other drugs at an early age.

Federal Law has prohibited the manufacture, sale, and distribution of marijuana for more than 70 years. However, with the discovery of potential medicinal properties of marijuana and the increasing misperception that the drug is harmless, there have arisen increased efforts to achieve its broad legalization despite persistent problems of abuse. As public perception of marijuana’s safety has grown, some states have also passed voter-approved referendum legalizing recreational use of marijuana by adults. The result has been the same: limited legalization has led to greater availability of marijuana to youth.

The question, “How much do you think people risk harming themselves physically or in other ways if they smoke marijuana once or twice per week?” was asked on the MN Student Survey taken in 2016 to 9th grade students in Kanabec County, 33.3%  answered “No Risk” and 21.3% “Slight Risk”. As we can see by these survey results and trends similar to this across the State of Minnesota and elsewhere, the limited legalization has begun to change the perception of harm with our youth.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States by teens as well as adults. Teens tend to believe marijuana cannot be harmful because it is “natural.” But not all natural plant substances are good for you—tobacco, cocaine, and heroin also come from plants. (National Institute on Drug Abuse – NIH)

There is good news!! 93.2% of 9th grade students reported NOT using marijuana in the past 30 days when asked on 2016 the MN Student Survey!

There is no magic bullet for preventing teen drug use – darn it!

Research shows that parents, guardians and other trusted adults have a big influence on their teens, even when it doesn’t seem that way! Talk openly with your children and stay actively engaged in their lives. Some find it helpful to share key points and address questions with fact. There are many great resources available. For more information here are a few resources:



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