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Parents, kids can pledge to remain drug-free


Last updated 10/16/2019 at 3:28pm | View PDF

Two out of 10 high school seniors have used marijuana in the past month.

Six percent reported daily use. About 36 percent have used it in the past year and 43 percent have used it during their lifetime, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, according to NIDA. We can’t imagine its use will drop when the drug becomes legal on Jan. 1.

Some teens believe the drug is safe because it’s natural, but that’s not really true. Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, including THC, the one that creates the high. And the amount of THC in marijuana is on the rise — from less than 4 percent in the early 1990s to more than 12 percent.

THC affects a person’s decision-making, concentration and memory for days after use, especially in people who use marijuana regularly, according to NIDA. Long-term use has been linked with anxiety and depression, as well as suicidal thoughts in teens.

And while marijuana is considered less addictive than other drugs, with about 10 percent of users developing an addiction, the rate increases to 17 percent, or about one in six, for people who start using in their teens. That rate goes up to 25 to 50 percent for daily users.

As we approach the start of National Red Ribbon Week on Oct. 23, we’re happy to report that fewer teens are using alcohol and prescription opioids. The number of teens using of cocaine and Ecstasy is close to historic lows as well.

But we think it’s important to remind teens — and adults — that marijuana is a drug. And for teens and young adults under the age of 21, it will remain illegal. Parents can reinforce the dangers of drug use and abuse by taking the National Red Ribbon Campaign Pledge and committing to do the following:

• Talk to our children and the children in our lives about the dangers of drug abuse.

• Set clear rules for our children about not using drugs.

• Set a good example for our children by not using illegal drugs or medicine without a prescription.

• Monitor our children’s behavior and enforce appropriate consequences, so that our rules are respected.

• Encourage family and friends to follow the same guidelines to keep children safe from substance abuse.

Parents can encourage their kids to take the youth pledge, promising to grow up safe, healthy and drug free by

1. Understanding the dangers of drug use and abuse;

2. Respecting myself and being drug free; and

3. Spreading the word to family and friends about the importance of being healthy and drug free.

Both pledges can be “signed” online at

Parents also can educate themselves and their kids on a variety of drugs at the NIDA website at The teen site at has free downloads, entertaining and informative videos and games, and a blog where teens can leave comments and read real stories from teens who have struggled with drug abuse and addiction.

The 2019 Red Ribbon Week Theme is “Send a Message. Stay Drug Free.” We invite you to join us in speaking out in support of healthy choices next week — and every week.


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