A Publication of WTVP

Research indicates that children are experimenting with drugs and alcohol at earlier ages. It is clear that the use of substances can lead to a number of negative consequences, but when a young person uses, they are placing their vulnerable developing mind and body at greater risk.

For example, studies have shown that marijuana impacts learning and concentration. Alcohol use by teens is shown to weaken their ability to retain information and also impairs judgment. Both substances often lead to an increase in risk-taking behavior. Additionally, some marijuana users will show signs of amotivational syndrome, which could significantly impact every area of their lives.

Further, the marijuana of today is not the marijuana of the ‘70s—more than twice the concentration of THC is found in today’s marijuana, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Many do not realize the effects of marijuana can last up to 24 hours after smoking. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States. They further report that nearly 50 percent of 12th graders have tried the drug.

So is your child at risk? The answer is undoubtedly yes. Many parents wonder if their child could be using. Most hope that their child would make a good decision if offered alcohol or drugs. Don’t be in denial—it is not always somebody else’s child. Education and prevention are key.

Things to consider:

It is important to know the possible signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse. However, use good judgment when evaluating the potential problem. Many symptoms can be common occurrences when it comes to teens and their ever-changing feelings and behaviors. Some signs are clear while others are more subtle. Remember—if you stay involved, you will be more able to detect any concerning changes. The American Academy of Pediatricians suggests that some potential signs may include:

What to do if your child is using:

Charisa Richardson is a state and nationally certified alcohol and drug counselor and owner of Richardson Counseling Center, LLC, with more than thirteen years of experience working with both adults and adolescents. For a free consultation call (309) 633-1030, or email your questions to [email protected].