In a world where cannabis is becoming increasingly accessible and popular, it is crucial for parents to create an open and supportive environment where their children feel comfortable discussing drug use. This sentiment became evident to me when my father unexpectedly proposed the idea of smoking pot together, seemingly out of concern that if he didn’t introduce me to marijuana, someone else would. Although he is not a pot user himself, he recognized the growing prevalence of cannabis and wanted to ensure my safety by guiding me through a controlled experience.
This incident taught me the significance of parental communication in addressing sensitive topics like drug use. By fostering an atmosphere of trust and non-judgment, parents can encourage their teenagers to ask questions and engage in open dialogue. While it may be challenging for scientists to quantify the precise impact of parental communication on teen drug use, research suggests that improved parent-child communication is likely to be effective in reducing adolescent marijuana use, as outlined in a study titled “The Effectiveness of Family Interventions in Preventing Adolescent Illicit Drug Use” published in Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review in 2015.
This communication becomes even more crucial considering that teenagers often begin experimenting with cannabis around the same time they start learning to drive. With the absence of specific laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana in Thailand, it is essential for parents to discuss the potential risks associated with impaired driving due to cannabis use. Although the Ministry of Public Health discourages driving after cannabis consumption, proactive parental involvement in addressing this issue can help teenagers make informed decisions and understand the impact of marijuana on their driving abilities.
As cannabis becomes readily available and joins the ranks of alcohol and e-cigarettes as substances easily accessible to teenagers, parents face a choice: actively engage in conversations about drugs with their children or ignore the topic altogether. The scientific evidence is clear – dismissing this vital discussion can lead to significant risks. Teenagers often rely on their peers and biased information from social media, which may downplay the potential negative effects of cannabis use. By actively participating in their children’s journey into adulthood, parents can help prevent substance misuse and its associated consequences.
One of the most concerning implications of avoiding drug-related conversations is that teenagers may feel hesitant to seek help from their parents if they encounter issues related to drugs, such as overdoses, legal troubles, or violence. By avoiding discussions about drugs, parents risk closing the door on vital support and guidance for their children. Avoidance may seem easier in the short term, but it comes at a cost.
My personal experience highlighted the importance of parental communication in addressing drug use among teenagers. By creating an open and non-judgmental environment, parents can foster honest conversations that enable teenagers to make informed decisions and understand the risks associated with drug use. Proactive engagement in discussions about cannabis and other substances is crucial for ensuring the well-being and safety of teenagers as they navigate the complexities of adolescence and independence.
Zachary Quang Mills is a Year 12 student at an international school in Bangkok, Thailand.
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