A new campaign from the Durham Region Health encourages parents to talk to children and teens about cannabis.
Dubbed ‘Talk Early, Talk Often,’ the initiative provides parents with four tips to spark a dialogue surrounding cannabis use and its related risks for young people.
A media release from the health department states that research shows that youth are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cannabis, as their brain is still developing until the age of 25. Research also indicates that one in six teens who use cannabis often are at the greatest risk for addiction, mental health issues such as psychosis and schizophrenia, and other long-term effects. In addition, the risk of harm increases when the THC content of cannabis is high or when it is used in combination with alcohol.
“Parents play an important role in influencing their children and teens’ views on cannabis. Research shows that it’s important to talk early and talk often to help children and teens make informed decisions and delay the use of cannabis for as long as possible,” said Ann-Marie Ho, a public health nurse with the health department.
“We know that talking to children and teens about difficult subjects like cannabis can be a challenge for parents. With the Talk Early, Talk Often campaign, we want to help parents become aware of tips to create a safe and receptive environment to start important and positive conversations.”
The health department recommends parents take the following steps to talk with their child or teen about cannabis:
Stay connected by talking with your child or teen: cannabis education should start early and be ongoing. A casual and spontaneous approach can help lower anxiety for both you and your child. Engage in a calm, respectful conversation that hears their viewpoint. Going for a walk or sitting with your child may be a good opportunity to start the conversation about cannabis.
Be positive: build trust by listening to your child or teen with an open mind and avoid frightening, shaming or lecturing.
Focus on safety: be prepared with facts about cannabis so that you can respond to their questions.
Be supportive: teens use cannabis for different reasons. Be ready to help your teen find healthier coping strategies and ways to deal with social situations.