Addictive pot damages the young's mental health

PARENT TRAPS: Offer stress management alternatives to pot
 A teenager's accelerating marijuana use has become an issue for a concerned parent 
By Michele Kambolis, family therapist, February 4, 2013

I have a 17-year-old daughter who attends a university prep school and she’s feeling stressed out by applying to university, keeping her grades up and maintaining her current level of involvement in her competitive sport. I know she has experimented with marijuana (which is something that I would expect) but I’m concerned that she now “blazes” on a regular basis, occasionally even before school. I’m now becoming concerned that she may be damaging her health, not to mention the possibility of her being arrested and how that would impact her future as well. What should I do?
-- Anxious in Abbotsford


Pot, weed, B.C. bud — whatever teens are calling it, the effects are harmful and your concerns are justified.

In this case, your daughter looks to have acquired the habit as a means to contend with stress and anxiety.

Start by front-loading her with other ways to tackle her stress — a yoga class, relaxation exercises and CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) workbooks can go a long way to teaching coping skills to replace self medicating with pot.

Then, outline the effects. It’ll be of no surprise to her that her “blazing” will cause short-term difficulty in thinking and problem solving, impaired memory and learning, loss of coordination and distorted perception. The longer users toke up, the worse their memories and attention spans; it affects immune and respiratory systems and is associated with anxiety and/or panic attacks in 20-30 per cent of recreational users.

While the risk of becoming dependent on pot is relatively low compared to other drugs, withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, stomach pains and sleeping difficulty go hand in hand with kicking the habit. So, when and if your daughter decides to quit, watch for these symptoms and reassure her that they’ll go away in time. In the meantime, encourage and focus on long-term anxiety reduction tools to help her butt out.