Survey Finds More Kids Using Marijuana

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that from 2008 to 2009, there was a 9 percent increase in people ages 12 and over who currently use marijuana. The average age of first-time use decreased to 17, which means more people are starting to use marijuana at earlier ages. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that using marijuana at the age of 12 can lead to cognitive impairment, respiratory problems, weakened motor skills, and addiction—even years after the individual stops using marijuana. In a press release announcing the survey’s findings, Kerlikowske said that it’s important for parents to try to prevent their children from using drugs, as it can lead to a lifetime of devastating consequences. Kerlikowske added that parents should take the following three steps to help prevent their children from abusing drugs: 1.) Talk to your kids about drugs. For tips, visit 2.) Learn to spot risk factors that can lead to drug use, such as association with peer who use drugs. Other risks include slipping grades, poor classroom behavior, mood swings, and a sudden change in friends. 3.) Go through your medicine cabinet. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, especially among adolescents, and more than 70 percent of people get the drugs from friends or family—often from the medicine cabinet. Properly dispose of excess or expired medications. Sources: CNN, Caitlin Hagan, Survey: More Children Using Marijuana, October 14, 2010 Office of National Drug Control Policy, White House Drug Policy Director Urges Parents to Take Action to Prevent Youth Drug Use, October 7, 2010

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