Peer Pressure Blogs
Read More Peer Pressure blogs about making decisions, growing up and issues with peers.
March 2009 Blogs
- March Break Personality Quiz
- Ask a Guy - in your sleep, faked sick, goals,treat guys
- Ask a Girl - in your sleep, faked sick, goals,treat guys
- Career Watch - Stylist
- Real Girl: Rachel
- Elemental Connections Part 3 of 4: EARTH
- STOP the Negative Thinking
- Fashion Tips: Hips
- Sisters from Poland
- The Truth about Marijuana
The Truth about Marijuana
ASK LORI AND LIANE, March 2009, by Lori Clemente and Liane Knowl-Kowk
Dear Lori and Liane,
I went to my cousin's house for a sleep over. We sat around her room with her big sister and her BFF who are 14. They told us that they smoked marijuana once. They said it's not that bad because cigarettes are worse and they don't smoke cigarettes too. They also said school will make us think it's worse than it really is to scare us from doing it and lots of people do it and it's normal. Me and my cousin talked about it all night and we thought that if it was normal then it wouldn't be illegal and people wouldn't get sick from it. You probably won't publish this, but if you do, can you please tell us the truth about marijuana, for real?
~ 2 Curious Cousins, 12 and a half, Windsor, ON
LORI: Dear CCs, It is so confusing when we get totally different opinions from different people, like adults saying that it’s scary and dangerous and then completely normal, “cool” kids, or other adults saying it is fine, normal and safe. Even music, TV and movies make pot look normal, safe, and fun. How do you know what to do and who to ask? Thank you for being brave enough to ask us!
LIANE: Making good decisions on your own is hard enough, but when other people try to influence you or pressure you, it can make it even harder. The neat thing about you and your cousin is that despite getting info from 2 cool, older girls, you both are smart enough to question their beliefs and figure out where to get some real, solid facts about marijuana.
Teens smoke marijuana for the same reason some adults do: to change how they feel because they want to feel better or different. Some people do it because of peer pressure or the need to feel part of a group. Some do it because they’re bored and “weed” or “pot” makes them feel excited about taking risks. Some do it because they’re curious and want to know what the big deal is, and some do it because they’re hurting or sad and are looking for a way to cope.
LORI: There are some really good reasons to be cautious of pot. Here are some things to consider. First of all, let’s consider the actual effect of pot on the body. It can affect learning, memory and coordination and cause difficulty with thinking and problem solving that can last for days or even weeks, long after the initial high wears off. If you are getting ready for a test or exam it can have an impact on how well you do. If you are learning to drive or are driving it can affect your reaction time in avoiding an accident. It can have an effect on your heart and lungs as well. In the first hour after smoking pot, the risk of heart attack quadruples. Marijuana smoke has 50-70% more carcinogens than tobacco smoke and can lead to chronic cough and lung infections just as you would see in a cigarette smoker. There is also an association between smoking pot and mood. It is associated with increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicide.
LIANE: There are also long term effects. Pot can affect changes in the brain that may be permanent. Some researchers believe that smoking marijuana may have a role in mental illnesses like schizophrenia. This is an illness that causes your brain to play tricks on your thoughts, like hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t there or having beliefs that aren’t true, to mention a few.
Some studies suggest that both men and women who use pot heavily may have difficulty having children as they get older. These problems might seem a long way off when you’re a teenager, but are important things to keep in mind if you’re trying to decide what is right and wrong.
LORI: Secondly, how do you know what is really in it? It could be contaminated with dangerous substances that can seriously harm you. Because it is not legal, the production of pot is not regulated so you never know what exactly is in it and whether it is safe. If you try it at a party, you may not even know where or who it came from, or what it really is.
LIANE: Lori is absolutely right. Someone who is willing to sell illegal drugs won’t be the type of person to worry about your safety. Some dealers (people who sell drugs) have been known to mix marijuana with other drugs like Crystal Meth (a very addictive and dangerous drug) so that people will quickly become addicted to their drugs and come back for more.
LORI: A third thing to consider is that marijuana can lower your inhibitions so that you do things you may not normally have wanted to do like have sex, drink alcohol, or say things you wouldn’t have wanted to say. The list goes on.
LIANE: People can act very different when they’re ‘stoned’ or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Using drugs can take away some self-control (that’s what lowered inhibitions means). I’ve spoken to some teens that have a lot of regrets about their behavior after taking drugs. Sometimes they’re scared or embarrassed about what they may have done but can’t remember. Sometimes they remember everything and thinking about it makes their toes curl with embarrassment or dread. It’s hard to face people after acting in ways you normally wouldn’t.
LORI: Finally, pot can also be a “gateway” substance, meaning that if you have tried it you are more likely to go on and use more dangerous chemicals with more addictive properties like heroine, cocaine, pills, etc. There are several reasons for this, one being that you may make friends that are into other drugs and it will be around you more so that it will be tough to say no even when you may not really want to try them. Also because your inhibitions are lowered you may not want to say no to something you ordinarily would be afraid to try.
LIANE: Saying no can be hard especially when you’re with a group and don’t want to make a big deal out of things. It’s a good idea to think ahead about what you might say if you were offered drugs. Some kids might make a joke: “No way, I’m spacey enough already!”. Some might change the subject or make an excuse: “I gotta dash, I’m late for practice!”. Other kids might blame an adult in their life: “My Mom/ my coach would kill me!”, or some might be honest and brave enough to plainly say, “No, I don’t smoke pot.”. Use whatever approach works for you but be firm when you say it. Speak in a steady, sure voice and look the person in the eye. In the end, if you still feel pressured, just walk away.
LORI: I hope that this gives you some things to think about. You sound like an intelligent girl and one of the best things you can do when you are faced with something like this is to keep asking questions and find out as much as you can. You are on the right track. There are lots of people you can talk to who can give you the facts anonymously if you’d like, and there is lots of information on the internet, too.
LIANE: Thanks again for asking such a great question! Keep questioning everything. Keep thinking about what YOU want to do... what you want to be like someday, and how you’re going to reach your goals. Tell all your friends what you were brave enough to find out about smoking weed. Once you’ve made up your mind, don’t’ let others talk you into things you don’t want to do. Your opinions and values count, so stick to them!
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