Alcohol, Marijuana and other drugs….

ImagesThere was an article in the NYTimes recently that teenagers are smoking more pot than drinking alcohol.  Why should that come as such a surprise?  The simplicity of supply/demand economics always work. 

Alcohol is illegal until you are 21 in the USA.  For whatever reason our culture is not embracing of a glass of wine with dinner as they are in other countries.  Keep in mind that one of the reasons that one that prohibition came about in this country is because of alcohol abuse.  Certainly there are plenty of people who have a history of abuse in their family and that should be discussed early on but educating kids at a young age to enjoy alcohol is a completely different thing.  They see their parents enjoying alcohol and that is ok. Getting wasted beyond control is not. 

Scientifically marijuana in terms of a dangerous overdose is siginificantly safer than any other drug or alcohol.  Teens are stressed.  Turning to pills and alcohol to unwind is a lot worse than turning to weed.  Like anything, moderation is key.  Getting stoned every day as a teenager is not going to be a good thing for getting school work done but kicking back on the weekends with friends is going to happen so why not educate kids about it.  We are better off embracing the reality than turning a blind eye and just saying no. Doesn't mean you shouldn't still worry because every parent will but being honest about what your kids are doing I believe is key because then you can communicate openly about use.  

Our schools have sex education, as they should, but the ridiculous thread of adults writing about how kids should not smoke, drink or have sex is so utterly ridiculous because they are going to do it all.  I'd rather see a spike in marijuana use among teens than any other drug available….in reality it is the safest.  The key is teaching your kids to be safe and smart about all the decisions they make when it comes to any mind altering substances. 

If you are so inclined to read the debates over this on the NYTimes…click here

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pamela Parker

    Interesting perspective. I’ve thought a lot about educating my kids to be responsible drinkers and lovers, but the drugs thing is tough. Perhaps because I’ve read recently that the earlier people try drugs (and alcohol, for that matter), the more likely they are to get addicted. So, it seems that anything that can put off their experimentation would be helpful… but how does one accomplish that? Obviously, I don’t know. Thankfully, my kids are still young (6 and 3) so I have a little time. 

    1. Gotham Gal

      Don’t think that alcohol is any different from drugs, it isn’t. Drugs are easy to get access to than alcohol before you are 21. When you kids are ready to know more about drugs, they will ask. Their compass is a lot better than yours. When they are ready to ask about how babies are made, they do. All of our kids started to ask about drugs in about 6/7th grade. I am a big believer if a kid asks you a question, you give them an honest answer. They know when you are lying. They still listen to you at that age and will take what you have to say as a foundation at least for the time being.

      1. Josh Abramson

        Joanne — I seriously want you to write a parenting book that I can use as my bible when I eventually raise kids.  How much do you need for an advance?? : )

        1. Gotham Gal

          for you? i’m free.

      2. pixiedust8

        Perhaps times have changed, but it was a LOT easier for me to get alcohol as a teen than it was to get drugs. But then, my friends and I didn’t really experiment much. We smoked pot about ten times max. (I only smoked it about three times total myself.)However, I was pretty conscious of the risks (which was more the risk of being “date raped” while drunk, which was fairly common, sadly), and I didn’t want to risk putting myself in that situation.

        1. Gotham Gal

          All kids are different. City kids vs suburban kids too. You still experimented although not a lot and you didn’t want to put yourself in a bad situation. Education about date rape was probably why you chose to stay away from both alcohol and pot. Education is key.

  2. andyidsinga

    Its a fascinating subject . Have you ever seen the documentary film “Grass”? ( narrated by Woody Harrelson )I watched it several months back after stumbling upon it in netflix. Anyhow – its very interesting and informative.Heres the page on imdb :

    1. Gotham Gal

      have not. will check it out. i am also a big woody harrelson fan.

  3. Steven

    I believe that the dangers of early age use of drugs and alcohol (agree alcohol is a drug) outweight the benefits (“kicking back” etc). Our brains are wired to learn stuff – to speak a foreign language, play music, or do arithmetic. A big part of addiction is the learning of it. Drugs and alcohol teach the brain certain pathways to pain relief, euphoria, numbness, lessening feelings of grief, loss and guilt, anxiety control, mood stabilization and relief from depression and other psychiatric disorders. At first drugs work, until they don’t work anymore, and it can be years and lots of damage before an alcoholic realizes that he/she needs a divorce from Mr./Ms. Smirnoff. Craving is a mystery – the diet business thrives on low rates of weight loss success – not for lack of desire to lose weight. Until the neurological brain chemistry mystery of craving is solved the practical question is not what stops craving but what stops addiction. If you do not use, you cannot get addicted.            If you want to be a lawyer you need to learn what lawyers do. If you want to be a teacher you have to learn what teachers do. If you want to learn sobriety you need to learn what the sober do. Teaching kids how to kick back without drugs seems smarter than teaching so called responsible use because life is rarely euphoric and often boring, sad, hard and way too frequently brushed  by tragedy. Put another way, in life,  pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice. So why not talk to kids about making good choices, not easy ones?

    1. Gotham Gal

      you should talk to your kids about making smart choices but reality is kids experiment and to think otherwise is like sticking your head in the sand.

      1. Steven

        All we can do is teach what we know for ourselves, what kids learn for themselves (by experimenting or otherwise) is up to them. I will have to look up why the ostrich sticks its head in the sand, must be adaptive in some way.

  4. ellen

    Drugs in junior high?  Whoa, it used to be high school 10th grade . Am I out of the loop. 

    1. Gotham Gal

      High school. Junior high school is not okay

  5. ellen

    Education is so important.  When we were young our parents had no clue about anything.  When I was in junior high Timothy  Leary lived within walking distance to Newton Centre.  He was already into the Turn on, Tune in, Drop out phase.Everyone was so naive.

    1. Gotham Gal

      not sure naive but prefer to see nothing. timothy leary…

  6. ellen

    In those days they were naive. I think LSD was still legal at that time. It took the parents a few years to get hip to what was happening to their children.

  7. Rohan

    This is an interesting debate. I agree with you on the principle of let’s accept reality instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. I just come from a very different background.. I guess, in our case, this stuff happens in college.Definitely not high school..