According to a brand-new study from Harvard’s School of Public Health, when a mother uses marijuana during the first 12 years of her child’s life, the child is at increased risk of using the drug at a younger age.
Specifically, researchers concluded that the children of mothers who smoke pot are more likely to initiate use earlier. The median age is just 16 years old.
Risks of Underage Marijuana Use
Currently, there is a significant cultural shift happening in America as recreational cannabis is legalized in more states. And although increased marijuana use by adults is problematic enough, use by adolescents and teenagers significantly increases the risk of negative consequences to mental health, including impairments in:
- Attention span
- Impulse control
These impairments can persist for several weeks after use.
Furthermore, other studies have concluded that early marijuana use can lower the user’s IQ—permanently.
Finally, marijuana has been linked with higher rates of depression and anxiety.
Why Is Underage Marijuana Use Dangerous?
The brain continues to mature until the early-to-mid-twenties. This means that the still-developing teenage brain is especially-vulnerable to the effects of ALL mind-altering substances – including marijuana.
Dr. Francesca Filbey, Associate Professor with the University of Texas’s School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, says, “The younger the individual started using, the more pronounced the changes. Adolescence is when the brain starts maturing and making itself more adult-like, so any exposure to toxic substances can set up the course for how your brain ends up.”
What Is This Important?
Understanding how parental marijuana use impacts a child’s subsequent drug use is a major step towards possibly anticipating the ways in which changes in social or home environments affect drug abuse in society. In the future, it may even lead to more effective early interventions.
At a bare minimum, this should encourage parents to better educate themselves about the collateral damage of drug use, including the influence that it may have on their young children.
Dr. Natasha A. Sokol, ScD, explains, “Incorporating maternal cannabis use into our understanding of the important risk factors for early initiation may help us better identify at-risk youth for more tailored or intensive prevention strategies.” Dr. Sokol works for the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.
If you are concerned about how your marijuana use is affecting your young children, perhaps you should reexamine your relationship with the drug. And if you think that you might actually have a problem with marijuana, Chapman House Treatment Centers in can help you get back on track.
Because they have provided premier drug recovery services in Orange County, California, since 1978, Chapman House has become the go-to resource for individuals and families in crisis.
To get the help and support you need, contact Chapman House TODAY.