Should You Smoke Weed With Your Kid – Even if They’re 18?
As the nation continues to discuss and push forth the legalization of marijuana, it’s probably safe to say that parents of both adult children and kids under the age of 18 are trying to figure out just how serious an offense it is – or isn’t – to share a joint with them.
Some parents, if they smoke weed themselves, may view it as a bonding ritual. Others may wonder just how harmful it really is, compared to harder drugs or alcohol, and let their kid at least smoke around them or in the house.
Here’s some food for thought to consider while you’re mulling it all over.
Damaging a Still Developing Brain
A recent poll by Caron Treatment Centers found that at least 26% of the adults surveyed said they would share a marijuana joint with their son or daughter if he or she were age 18 or older, and 73% of respondents between the ages 18 and 34 said they believe alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana.
Dr. Joseph Garbely, Caron’s Medical Director, says the results indicate that people underestimate the significant impact of marijuana on brain development in young adults.
“Nearly two in five adults think marijuana is safe for people ages 18 to 25 to use in moderation, while 11 percent think it is safe for teenagers ages 13 to 17 to use occasionally,” he said. “This, even though approximately 90 percent of Caron’s adolescent and young adult patients report that marijuana is their drug of choice.”
Given the magnitude of the drug epidemic in our country as we bear witness to the fastest rise in drug deaths in U.S. history, it’s worth noting that parents are far more aware of the risks of brain injury in sports such as football and soccer, according to Dr. Garbley.
The Addictive Nature of Weed
Weed is just as addictive as alcohol if you have an addictive personality. You can become addicted to sugar, or shopping, or online poker, or love. Weed is no exception, especially because it’s a mood-altering substance.
For me, it got to the point where, back in college, I became nervous if I couldn’t get my $20 to $40 bucks worth every week, and ventured to meet with people in locations that I had no business being around to get it. Did I ever want to smoke weed with my parents? That’s a hard pass – no pun intended. But it got to the point where, when I still lived with them, I smoked on the terrace just inches away from where they’d be watching TV or reading on the couch. First, I tried to conceal it. Then, I didn’t even bother to hide it. All the while, I felt guilty.
It was those moments that made me feel like something probably wasn’t normal about how I was smoking, or how I needed just a few hits before bed. Passing Mom on my way to my room while smelling like a skunk did not feel good. It felt awkward and embarrassing. Because of that, I would bet on the fact that it led to my getting sober a lot faster than if she had said “Hey, cool, let me take a hit and let’s online shop at Sephora with reckless abandon!”
Consider this as well: even if you are 18 years old, you’re brain is still developing – for another eight years, in fact. Therapist Dr. Gary Brown points to the fact that studies have demonstrated long-term use of marijuana can negatively impact memory and even lower IQ by about 6-8 points. “We also know that regular use may result in diminished performance in school,” he says. That goes for college and grad school too, guys.
The Very Real Dangers of Substance Abuse
As for whether it’s more dangerous than alcohol, we have to look at how we define dangerous. When I smoked weed before I got sober, I never blacked out. I never woke up next to someone I didn’t know. And I certainly have never heard of two people being arrested outside a bar for fighting because they were “so stoned.” The effects are different, but whichever substance you’re using, you need to be aware of the reasons they can become addictive.
Bottom line: As a parent, no matter how old your baby is – whether they’re 13 or 33 – it’s important to understand just what you’re supporting.-Helaina Hovitz
Author and therapist Helen Kramer reminds us, though substances are used to temporarily alleviate underlying distress, they are not intrinsically capable of eliminating the problem, so they need to be repeated over and over again. This gives temporary relief, but the underlying discomfort only grows. And now there is an additional problem – the problem of addiction.
“Most parents are also lacking these tools and need to look in the mirror and see if there are any issues that they are battling when they smoke pot. Parents are always role models,”Kramer says. “They would do themselves and their children a great service if they found ways of coping with their anxiety or depression [by] over eating or using drugs or drinking alcohol, [which] can feel good at first, but when used to cover up a painful feeling, makes us feel out of control when we become dependent on it.”
Bottom line: As a parent, no matter how old your baby is – whether they’re 13 or 33 – it’s important to understand just what you’re supporting. Weed can have an impact on your memory or ability to be present at any age. It can also be a ‘safer alternative’ to alcohol, depending on how you use it.
The conclusion is yours to make. The most important thing is that you start educating yourself about the risks and make an informed decision from there.
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