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Parent Connection Hosting NMS Talk On Pot, Vaping

Published: May 04, 2019 at 07:00 am

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Parents — do you really know if your son or daughter is using pot or some type of marijuana product? And what about their friends — including the ones who may be driving your kids around?

The Newtown Parent Connection and its founder, Dorrie Carolan, have seen all too many cases where they had to assist a family with a son or daughter seeking rehab from harder drugs who started their journey to addiction by experimenting with pot. So the local prevention and support agency is hosting a forum on the subject entitled “What Are Teens Up To: Vaping, Weed, ‘Dabs’ and More.”

The free public gathering is set for May 15 from 7 to 8:30 pm at Newtown Middle School, and features Liz Jorgensen, who has 30 years experience as a nationally recognized expert engaging teens and motivating them to change destructive behaviors.

“We’re being told that the marijuana today is 90 percent stronger than it was back when we were growing up,” Ms Carolan told The Newtown Bee. “Parents tend to say, ‘Well we did it and we were ok.’ We hope that parents will come out and hear the facts — and they are welcome to bring their middle and high school students with them.”

According to the latest data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), almost 14 of every 100 eighth graders have tried marijuana in some form. But disturbingly, that number jumps to about 33 in 100 10th Graders and nearly 44 in 100 high school seniors.

Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, poses several important points for parents and caregivers to consider. For example, are parents aware:

*When asked, only about 1 in 14 teens say they used marijuana in the past month. So if you were thinking everyone uses marijuana, they don’t;

*Some think marijuana is okay to use because it’s “natural.” But not all natural plants are good for you — take tobacco, for example;

*Some teens believe marijuana can’t be that harmful if states are legalizing it. Legal or not, one real risk is addiction;

*In 2016, around 4 million people ages 12 and older had a marijuana use disorder. The most severe form also is known as an addiction;

*Research also shows that marijuana can harm the developing teen brain.

NPC Chairman Joe Hemingway said he is equally concerned about the explosion of teen vaping locally and around the region.

“There is a lot of advertising geared toward young people regarding vaping, very similar to the way tobacco used to be marketed,” Mr Hemingway said. “Vaping is also being sold as a safe alternative to smoking, which is not accurate.”

Fearing that marijuana is moving toward legalization in Connecticut and noting recreational pot is already legal in neighboring states, the NPC Chairman believes parents will face many decisions in the near future.

“This forum will provide parents with information they need to be able to help make educated decisions, get the other side of the story,” Mr Hemingway said.

According to Dr Volkow, between January 2017 and January 2018, the percentage of 12th graders who reported vaping nicotine (not flavoring or other substances) during the past 30 days nearly doubled, from 11 percent to nearly 21 percent; among 10th graders, the increase was almost as great, from 8.2 percent to 16.1 percent.

“These are — by far — the biggest one-year increases ever seen for any substance in the history of the MTF survey,” Dr Volkow aid in a recent blog. “Previously, the largest increase for any substance in 12th grade was seen between 1975 and 1976, when past-month marijuana use jumped from 27.1 to 32.2 percent. Teens report they are vaping “flavoring only” in higher numbers as well, although it is likely that many young users do not know what is in the liquid they are vaping.”

Ms Carolan says the facts on marijuana risks and vaping addictions speak for themselves and hopes every parent who cares about the future of their children and the Newtown community will come to the NPC’s free forum.

“It takes a village to raise a child, and we all need to work together to keep our children safe,” Ms Carolan said. “So we’re thrilled to continue our partnership with the United Methodist Church. The Parent Connection and I welcome other Newtown and regional faith-based and community groups to partner with us on similar programs that could help save lives and mitigate addiction-related tragedies across our community, especially among our younger populations.”

For information on this event and all the support systems and resources available to families trying to prevent, or are grappling with, addiction or a loss from it, visit newtownparentconnection.org.

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