Talking to Teens May Help Them Cut Back on Pot
WEDNESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Brief, voluntary and
non-judgmental conversations with teens about marijuana use may
significantly reduce their use of the drug, according to a new
Researchers also found that a motivational approach to these
discussions about marijuana was more effective than merely
educating high school students on the health effects of the
Marijuana is a common drug choice for teens around the world. In
the United States alone, nearly one-third of high school students
report smoking pot. Many of them do so because they don't realize
the health consequences of using the drug, according to researchers
at the University of Washington.
"It's not a risk-free drug," Denise Walker, co-director of the University of Washington's Innovative Programs Research Group, said in a university news release. "Lots of people who use it do so without problems. But there are others who use it regularly -- almost daily -- and want to stop but aren't sure how."
Complicating matters, the risks associated with marijuana use
are greater for teenagers than adults, noted Walker. "Adolescence
is a big developmental period for learning adult roles. Smoking
marijuana regularly can impede development and school performance,
and it sets kids up for other risky behaviors," she added.
The researchers found, however, that marijuana use among teens
could be reduced significantly through direct and intimate talks.
In conducting the study, published online in a recent issue of
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, researchers met with 310 high school students to provide them with feedback -- not treatment -- on their regular marijuana use.
Each student had two, one-on-one meetings with health educators
that lasted up to an hour and used either a motivational or an
The students who attended the motivational meeting discussed how
marijuana could be interfering with their goals, life and values.
Those who received the educational approach saw a presentation
outlining the health and psychological effects of marijuana
The investigators found that the teens who attended the
motivational meetings cut back on their marijuana use by 20 percent
within three months. One year after their meetings, they still had
a 15 percent drop in their use of the drug.
Although they had less dramatic results, participants in the
educational treatment group reported an 8 percent decline in
marijuana use three months after their meetings. A year later, they
maintained an 11 percent overall drop.
The study authors added that this low-cost and low-burden
approach to curbing marijuana use among teens should be distributed
to high school drug and alcohol counselors. The program "is
supposed to attract people who aren't ready for a full treatment,
but are interested in having a conversation with a professional
trained to discuss concerns with substance use," Walker said.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse provides detailed
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