I know some people would scoff at the idea that cannabis will become the mainstream drug of choice. After all, alcohol is king!
Well, this might be true today, but what about twenty years from now? It turns out that since the year 2000, teens have been ditching alcohol and switching to cannabis as their primary source of recreational drug use. In fact, according to a 20-year study, there has been a 245% increase in youth consumption.
Findings, published today in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Toxicology, find over 338,000 instances of intentional abuse or misuse amongst American children aged 6-18.
The majority of ingestions occurred in males (58.3%), and more than 80% of all reported exposure cases occurred in young people aged 13 to 18.
In total, over 32% of instances resulted in “worse than minor clinical outcomes”.
The new report demonstrates a change in patterns over time. For instance, dextromethorphan was the most reported substance over the study period, however this peaked in 2006 and has decreased since.
In addition, in 2000 the largest number of abuse cases involved exposure to ethanol, yet since then child alcohol abuse has steadily declined over the years.
As more states begin to legalize and public perception of cannabis shifts, it seems that kids are more interested in swiping their parents buds than their bottles. Since 2011, cannabis consumption within the demographic rose but really spiked from about 2017 and onwards.
Most certainly, the Covid Pandemic also attributed to the rise of cannabis consumption.
“Ethanol abuse cases exceeded the number of marijuana cases every year from 2000 until 2013,” says Dr Adrienne Hughes, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, one of the authors of the study.
However, by 2014 this trend had reversed.
“Since 2014, marijuana exposure cases have exceeded ethanol cases every year, and by a greater amount each year than the prior,” says Hughes.
But what’s probably even more interesting is that these kids aren’t “smoking weed” like their parents do – rather, they are more interested in edibles and alternative means of consuming the plant. The most popular option being vaping.
Why we need better education!
While one could argue that it’s probably better for kids to smoke cannabis than it is to consume alcohol, the fact of the matter is that neither is the ideal situation.
However, in order to have this happen you’d need to engage with actual conversations with teens and not “drug education programs” as presented by the state. The state has a piss poor track record in creating cohesive messages that appeal to the youth.
They would much rather utilize alarmist rhetoric to “scare” kids away from consuming any drug. However, this typically fails abysmally.
This is because the people writing these programs have long forgotten what it means to be “youth”. They think, “well, this is what they should do, so I’ll teach them the information” ignoring the fact that these kids are probably dealing with a myriad of “non-drug related problems” that they believe can be solved by drugs.
For example, perhaps the kid is having problem connecting with people and thus utilize cannabis as a proxy to hang with a certain crowd. Apart from the euphoria associated with smoking – the kid also gains a circle of friends.
Or perhaps the kid is suffering anxiety, abuse at home, etc – and utilizes the drug as a means of escape.
If you don’t treat the underlying causes for kids to consume cannabis, then you will always fail in convincing them to NOT use it.
How do you get kids to stay on the straight path?
The short answer – you can’t!
My parents tried and failed. Your teen years is about experimentation and as a result, some kids will smoke weed even if you show them compelling evidence to abstain.
But the real issue comes with how we educate people in general. We teach people that “good grades gets you into a good school and a good school gets you a good job” – which to a teenager means, “you need to perform according to a particular status or you’re a loser!”
We teach kids to retain information but not how to think. We teach them how to be good followers and not good leaders.
But what would happen if we teach them mindfulness? What if we teach them how to modulate their stress using the breath? What if we teach them emotional intelligence instead of focusing purely on rational thinking?
The truth of the matter is that cannabis legalization isn’t responsible for the increase of cannabis use but rather the fact that we aren’t training young humans to be consciously aware – how to observe their thoughts and feelings and how to deal with it accurately.
Hell, most adults I know don’t have a clue about how to deal with their own emotions and rather find relief at the end of a bottle. How can we expect anything else if we continue to do the same things?
If you have a teen and don’t want them to consume cannabis during their formative years – have an honest conversation with them. Don’t prohibit, just let them know and become mindful. Assure them that they don’t have to consume to belong and that it’s okay to go against the majority.
However, mostly – help them deal with the other “teen related problems” and get them to engage with the self in a mindful manner either via meditation, breathwork, yoga, or any other introspective activity and you’ll notice a sharp decline over a decade or so.