Okay so does it qualify as shocking news that teenagers who smoke pot every day are 60% less likely to graduate high school?
I didn’t think so. In fact, it would be more surprising to learn that anyone—including high school kids who smoke pot—couldn’t have surmised this statistic even if they had never heard it. But that doesn’t mean the study isn’t important—it is always helpful to have scientific facts to back up basic logic. But when it comes to making a difference for kids experimenting with marijuana, I don’t think it matters at all. I also don’t think that some of the additional findings from the study—like that kids under the age of 17 who smoke pot every day were also 60% less likely to finish college than their peers who didn’t smoke at all—are likely to have an effect on any teens’ decision to get high.
So What’s the Point?
I suppose the results of the study could be useful for parents—many of whom probably have a general idea, based on their own experiences, of why they don’t want their teen hitting the pipe. But concrete numbers can help for further clarity and validation and this information is probably most beneficial for those who are influenced by both legalization and stories about how pot is actually good for you and thus believe it doesn’t really have detrimental effects.
The study also shows that teens who admit to being daily pot smokers are seven times more likely to attempt suicide and eight times more likely to use other illegal substances in the future than their peers who never used. While the connection between pot and depression isn’t new information, the stats from this study might be a tool for parents, counselors and therapists in assessing a teen’s mental health as well as a way to educate them on how their depression is being exacerbated by their marijuana use.
Throw It at the Wall and See What Sticks
Like I said, the chances of any of this having an immediate effect on a teenager is slim since kids are either going to try drugs or they aren’t and weighing pros and cons is just not something that happens. But it’s this kind of information that could be a decision-making factor later on in life when the teens are in their 20s and more willing to make changes (alas, the greatest damage pot has on people is before the age of 25). It’s kind of like how “beer before liquor-never been sicker” are the words of wisdom I didn’t always apply in high school but carried me through the hardcore drinking years later on.
Parents, teachers, counselors and therapists can only do so much when it comes to whether a kid is going to try alcohol or drugs or not and how heavily they will end up using. There are plenty of people in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous who fully admit to having very happy childhoods and amazing parents yet still ended up becoming addicts. The alcoholic gene doesn’t discriminate against well-adjusted households but it also doesn’t mean we can’t continue to educate kids and give them all the information. Whether they chose to believe it, think it applies to them or care about it at all is a whole other story.
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