Thursday, April 7, 2016

Seattle Magazine: What's being done about the rise in marijuana use among teens?

"What's being done about the rise in marijuana use among teens?" asks an article in this month's Seattle Magazine. The article features interviews with Prevention WINS current and former members. Here are a few excerpts:

Local kids are being pummeled with messages that pot is now OK, says longtime KING-TV reporter Roberta Romero, now director of development at Residence XII, a substance abuse program for women based in Kirkland. Romero, in recovery for alcohol addiction herself and the parent of twin teenagers attending Seattle’s Roosevelt High School, worries that the recent years’ barrage of local pot promotion isn’t being offset by prevention education for youth. 


 But increasing availability for adults also means that youth are likely to have more access to pot. According to the state’s most recent Healthy Youth Survey, 10th graders who live with a marijuana user are more than five times as likely to report regular pot use. When kids ingest or smoke pot, it can lead to a slew of health-related issues, says Leslie R. Walker, M.D., the chief of Seattle Children’s Division of Adolescent Medicine. 


Although hundreds of Seattle students were caught using or possessing marijuana last year, Seattle Public Schools has not made broad changes to student programming or curriculum to address Washington’s new legal environment for marijuana. However, the district has incorporated information on the risk of new marijuana products into existing curriculum, says Lisa Davidson, manager of prevention and intervention for Seattle Public Schools. Evidence-based drug prevention programs used by the district include the Project Alert program, used in many middle schools, and Project SUCCESS, in high schools. There’s also more staff training and parent education pertaining to issues such as the marijuana law and new products, she says. 


In prevention circles, “perception of harm,” or the idea that a substance is harmful, is a key indicator. “As perceptions of harm around a substance go down, we see the use go up,” says Liz Wilhelm, drug-free communities coordinator for Prevention WINS.

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