The Ridgefield Prevention Council and Ridgefield Library sponsored a parent education program in May: Marijuana & Alcohol: Just the Facts without the Fiction, with speaker Alicia Farrell, PhD, cognitive psychologist and national keynote speaker. These two substances are commonly abused by adolescents, and Dr. Farrell spoke about the risks of use, and the challenges facing parents

Today, with medical marijuana laws in many states and the wide acceptance of alcohol in our culture, there is often a low “perception of risk” by teens around the use of both of these substances. Teens often misunderstand that since medical uses for marijuana are acceptable or since adults drink alcohol that there is not much danger for teenagers to use either marijuana or alcohol. They see opioid overdoses in the news, and in comparison marijuana and alcohol seem harmless. But, as we all know well,  marijuana and alcohol are not harmless at all, especially to a young, developing brain.

According to Dr. Farrell, research shows, the brain continues to develop into the mid 20’s, and adolescence is a uniquely sensitive time period for the brain. It’s an amazing time for teens to learn new things and be stimulated by positive influences. On the flip side, teen brains are also more vulnerable to negative influences. Research has shown a loss of up to eight IQ points in teens after regular marijuana use. According to many statistics, 90% of adults who struggle with addiction to substances started using them in their teen years. According to Dr. Farrell, “If you can get a child to 21 without addiction, they will likely not develop one.”  These are amazing statistics and important facts.

For more information about having the conversation with your child about marijuana and alcohol, visit drugfree.org. They have a Marijuana Talk Kit for parents that can guide you in the conversation with your teen about the risks of marijuana use.

More information at the RPC website Ridgefieldpreventioncouncil.org and the RPC facebook page.