Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
When I was a teen, smoking marijuana was a common pastime for my friends and I. It was fun, mostly harmless, and we all grew out of it fairly quickly. Our kids are still young and happily not old enough to be dabbling with illicit substances yet (seriously, they are five and eight!). I told my wife that I wouldn’t mind if our children dabbled in a little weed when they were a bit older as long as they kept their usage to a minimum, but she immediately opposed this idea. She said a few of her family members had their mental illnesses worsen with the use of marijuana and she didn’t want that potential harm for our children. I had never considered that marijuana use could have such negative effects and couldn’t argue her logic.
Marijuana use has been a polarizing topic for decades, but it seems to be garnering more acceptance these days. In fact, medical marijuana use is now legal in 33 states (Florida being one of them) while recreational use is legal in 10.
As its popularity and public approval continue to grow, it’s now more important than ever for parents to know the potential and long-term effects of marijuana, especially in families with a history of mental illness. In this piece, our licensed psychologists and mental health counselors in Tampa will offer some information on this important and underreported topic.
Beware if the History’s There
Studies, such as one published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, have found that people with a family history of severe mental illness can potentially increase their chances of developing schizophrenia with prolonged marijuana use. This is especially concerning when you consider the fact that 15% of 12- to 17-year-olds have reportedly used the drug.
Research has additionally revealed that psychotic episodes are more likely to occur between two to six years earlier with habitual marijuana usage. This is especially true for those who indulge in highly potent cannabis. And as you may know, much of the marijuana on the market these days has a higher THC count than in past decades. This means that the potency of the drug is no longer “no big deal.”
It’s important to note that many people use the drug without any permanent or significant adverse consequences or effects. However, it’s a parent’s responsibility to discuss marijuana use and family history of mental illness with their child. As their guardian, you have the final say in their well-being, so if you fear that using marijuana could have detrimental effects, you should speak up.
Talk About It
It’s not always easy for parents to speak with their children about tough topics like their family’s history of mental illness. However, it is an important conversation to have with them and your child has a right to know about this possible health issue. Some of the things you should do when having this talk include:
- Communicating clearly and appropriately for your child’s age.
- Ensuring that the conversation happens when your child feels comfortable.
- Observing your child’s reactions and reassessing your approach if they look confused or become upset.
Having this conversation will not only allow you to inform your children about your family’s past, but it will also give you an opportunity to provide support or guidance. It may additionally give your kids the opportunity to ask questions that they may not have been comfortable asking otherwise.
Talk to Us in Tampa
Parenting can be tough, especially if you’re trying to keep up with and understand what your child is going through at school or in life in general. Throw drugs into the mix and things get even more complicated.
At RPG, we often refer to marijuana as the “anti-motivation drug” because many of our patients struggle mightily with motivation in general and can ill afford to have less of it! If you need some help supporting your kids, then Rice Psychology Group would be honored to aid you.
Our team of licensed psychologists and mental health counselors in Tampa are ready to provide the perfect setting to discuss your situation so that, together, we can find the answers you need. For more information, contact us today.