Tough choices. Teen alcohol and drug use.

Tough choices. Teen alcohol and drug use.

To my beloved children ~ 

As you get older, I want to make sure we continue to have open and honest conversations. Our ability to speak genuinely means so much to me. When your aunties and I were growing up, the sentiment towards drugs was “just say no.” Not surprisingly, it didn’t work, and I can’t imagine insulting your intelligence with this rhetoric. The “war on drugs” started in the 70s and had many casualties. People are still in jail, even as cannabis is legal in a growing number of states.  

You will undoubtedly be exposed to both drugs and alcohol, it’s a part of teenage life here. I will try to leave my emotion and personal experience out of this, aside from reminding you that someone close to me passed away as a direct result of alcohol. After years of increasing levels of abuse, she lost her battle with alcohol during a non-medically supervised withdrawal. She had a lovely life that looked perfect from the outside... it can happen to anyone. Having abused alcohol at times myself, I can understand how this can progress, even if everyone thinks they are immune. Aside from late-stage alcoholism, 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2018 were alcohol-impaired crashes (NHTSA.) It's important to mention that these are preventable deaths, driven by bad choices. Not to mention blood alcohol poisoning, and negative mental effects, including decision impairment (The Cleveland Clinic, ironically from my home town.) 
If you decide to drink, which I hope you won't until you’re older, always have reverence for how powerful and addictive it is. While you can’t make choices for those around you, you can do your best to protect them. You can call me anytime, anywhere, no questions asked.  
You know I work in cannabis, and I'm happy to continue to discuss this in more detail. Today, many cannabis sativa plants are bred to have much higher THC content than in the past. They’re often not an appropriate dose for anyone new to the plant. Your brain is still developing, and it’s not a good time to introduce mind-altering substances. The latest recommendation (from B. Stephens Dudle, M.D. in the Wall Street Journal yesterday) was age 24. This sounds late (even to me,) but the human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25 (according to Sandra Aamodt, neuroscientist and co-author of the book Welcome to Your Child's Brain.) Car rental companies have followed this milestone. While your brain is developing, cannabis use can affect coordination, memory and learning, which are all talents that I know are very important to you. 

By 25, you likely will have figured out other ways to soothe stress and relax, or even celebrate. Many of us who grew up using drugs and alcohol use them to self-medicate, which becomes a bigger problem. There simply isn’t enough research on CBD and adolescents to have an opinion on that. You know I’m comfortable giving it to you topically, and it helps you with muscle soreness.  

We also didn’t have fentanyl when we were growing up, which can sneak up where you don’t expect it. So, it’s a hard pass on experimenting with anything else at your age. Never take pills from strangers, obviously. I meant for this to sound a little more open minded than it came out, but let's consider it an opening for ongoing dialogue... All for now. 

I love you, Mom 

Photo credit: Kari Sweet 

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