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How to talk to your child about drugs – Healthy body

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It can be difficult to talk about drugs with your kids. Use these tips to help you talk openly with your child.

1. Do not panic

If you find out your child has tried drugs, your first reaction may be anger or panic.

Wait until you’re calm before discussing it with them, and show them love and concern rather than anger.

2. Do your homework about drugs

Make sure you know enough about drugs to talk to your child in an informed way.

The national drugs website FRANK is a reliable source of information.

3. Pick a good time

Do no try to talk to your child about drugs when they’re in a rush – for example, before they leave for school. If they’re using drugs, do not confront them when they’re high.

It may be easier to talk to your child about drugs when the subject comes up during TV programmes or in the news. Mealtimes can also be a good time for chatting.

It’s often easier to have a conversation side-by-side, such as when you’re driving in the car, washing up together or preparing food.

4. Let them know your values

It’s important for your children to know where you stand on drug taking.

Be clear about your opinions on drugs and let them know your boundaries. For example, you may say that you do not want any drugs in the house.

5. Avoid scare tactics

Teenagers often know more about drugs than you do, so there’s no point in saying, “Smoking cannabis will kill you”. Pointing out that cannabis can cause mental health problems, especially if you start smoking it in your teens, may be more of a deterrent.

6. Know your child’s friends

Get to know your child’s friends. Invite them to your house and take an interest in what’s going on in their lives.

If you have good reason to think your child’s friends are involved in drugs, you may need to support your child to find new friends.

7. Let them know you’re always there for them

If your child knows you’re there for them whatever, they’re more likely to be honest with you. They are also less likely to just tell you what they think you want to hear.

8. Listen as well as talk

Do not preach or make assumptions about what your child does. Let them tell you about their experiences, and try to listen without judging.

9. Do not give up

Do not be put off talking if your child argues, gets embarrassed or storms off. Parents’ opinions matter to their children. Go back to the subject when they’re calmer.

10. Let them be responsible for their actions

You’re trying to help your child make good choices in life about drugs. But only they can say no to drugs.

Make sure they know you support them, but that it’s up to them to make positive decisions.

11. Be realistic

Lots of teenagers experiment with drugs. But only a small number of those who experiment will develop a drug problem.

Help for your child

If your child is using drugs and you’re worried, find out where to get help for drug addiction.

Support for yourself

If your child has drug problems, you need support too.

Page last reviewed: 17 March 2020
Next review due: 17 March 2023

How to talk to young people about drugs, plus details of where to get help and support.

Smoking cannabis just once can change a teenager’s brain

Scientists say it could have serious implications

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Teenagers who use cannabis just once or twice may end up with changes to the structure of their brain, scientists have warned.

A study, conducted by researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, found that there were clear differences on brain scans between teens who said they had smoked cannabis a couple of times and those who had never tried it.

Until now, research using animals to study the effects of cannabis on the brain have shown effects at low levels, leading researchers to believe that changes might occur during early stages of cannabis use.

However, the study’s lead author, Catherine Orr, says she “was surprised by the extent of the effects”.

The researchers analysed images from 46 14-year-olds who said they had used marijuana once or twice, as well as images from 46 teens who had never tried it, taking into consideration age, sex, IQ, socioeconomic status and use of alcohol or tobacco.

Read more

Upon analysing the teens’ brain scans, the researchers found clear differences between the two groups, which they suspected were due to low-level cannabis use.

At this stage, the scientists couldn’t prove that marijuana led to the differences seen in the scans and acknowledged that it was possible those who chose to use marijuana had different brain structures to begin with.

To address this, the researchers analysed scans from a third group of teens that had not tried marijuana before they had their brain scans at age 14.

By the age of 16, 69 of the participants said they had used marijuana at least 10 times but their brain scans at age 14 looked no different to the brain scans of other teens who had not taken up cannabis.

This meant there could not be any inborn brain difference that predicts a person would later become a cannabis user.

Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

1 /7 Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

A Yage ceremony in La Calera, Colombia. Yage, a mixture of the Ayahuasca hallucinogenic liana and a psychoactive bush, attracts many people in Colombia, who seek to participate in a traditional indigenous ritual of spiritual and physical healing impossible to realize in many countries where these plants are considered drugs.

Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

A man laying on a carpet after drinking yage – mixture of the Ayahuasca hallucinogenic liana and a psychoactive bush – during a ritual in La Calera, Colombia.

Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

Taking the ayahuasca hallucinogenic drug – in pictures

What’s more, the scientists discovered there were widespread increases in the volume of grey matter – which is made up of nerve cell bodies and involved in sensory perception and muscle control – in brain regions among those who had smoked marijuana.

According to the researchers, this kind of alteration to the structure of the brain could have serious implications.

Read more

“In our sample of cannabis users, the greater volumes in the affected parts of the brain were associated with reductions in psychomotor sped and perceptual reasoning and with increased levels of anxiety two years later,” Orr said.

However, the higher volume of grey matter in cannabinoid-rich regions of the brain could be related to a normal process called “pruning” which may go awry when teens use marijuana.

As young brains develop, unnecessary or defective neurons are pruned away, Orr explained. But, when the system doesn’t work correctly, those cells remain in place.

With rates of cannabis use among adolescents increasing – it’s the most frequently used drug in Europe – concurrent with changes in the legal status of marijuana and societal attitudes regarding its use, the scientists believe the new findings are a step forward in understanding the impact it can have on developing brains, but accept that more research needs to be done.

1 /1 Smoking cannabis just once can change a teenager’s brain

Smoking cannabis just once can change a teenager’s brain

Scientists say it could have serious implications

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Scientists say it could have serious implications