Yes, Dear, Smoking Dope IS a Big Deal

Dear Mr. Dad: My 15-year old daughter has been suspended from school several times for smoking marijuana on campus. She also regularly comes home from parties smelling like pot. My wife and I smoked when we were in college (we don’t anymore), but we’ve told our daughter that she shouldn’t. She just calls us hypocrites and says that smoking weed isn’t that big of a deal. We’re worried about her. What can we do?

A: Step number one is to quit worrying about your daughter’s dope smoking and start actually doing something to make her stop. Cities across the country—and two entire states (Colorado and Washington—have either decriminalized or completely legalized marijuana use. So it’s no surprise that many of your daughter’s peers agree with her that smoking it is “no big deal.” In fact, that misguided opinion has been gaining popularity among teens for quite some time. In 2005, 74% of eighth graders and 58% of 12th graders said that being a regular marijuana user was dangerous. Today, it’s 61% and 40%, respectively.

A recent study done at Northwestern University found that teens who smoked marijuana regularly had “abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory and performed poorly on memory tasks.” But what does “regular” mean? In the Northwestern study, it was every day for three years. But according to addiction researcher Constance Scharff, from Cliffside Malibu (an addiction treatment center), “regular” could mean as little as once a week. “Pot damages the heart and lungs,” says Dr. Scharff. “And it increases the incidence of shorter tempers, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, and it can trigger acute psychotic episodes.” Regardless of your definition of “regular,” the younger one is when lighting up for the first time, the greater the damage.

Some say that marijuana isn’t addictive, but a growing amount of research shows that as many as one in six smokers—especially those under 25, whose brain is still developing—will become addicted. Many experts also consider marijuana to be a “gateway drug,” meaning that smoking it increases the likelihood of trying other, more dangerous—and more addictive—drugs.

Here’s what to do to get your daughter to quit:

  • Explain. The pot you smoked when you were in college was nowhere near as strong as what’s available today. Plus, in your day, most people didn’t start experimenting with drugs until about age 20. Today, kids as young as 11 or 12 are trying drugs. By the time they reach 20 they’ve already done major damage to their brain.
  • Get tough. If she gets an allowance, cancel it (If she doesn’t have money, she won’t be able to buy drugs, and her friends will get tired of her mooching off them). If she’s hoping to get a driver’s license or permit anytime soon, cancel that too. Take away her phone, ground her. If she any of those things back, she’ll have to earn them by taking regular drug tests (you can get at-home kits at many drugstores) and staying clean for several months.
  • Eat together. Children who have regular meals with their parents tend to have lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse. But the meals themselves aren’t magic—it’s the conversations and clear messages that mom and dad care that do the trick.
  • Encourage sports. Athletes tend to care about their body and they tend to stay away from things that could negatively affect their performance.
  • Get help. If none of this works, you’ll need to find a therapist who has lots of experience–and success—working with teens who have drug abuse or addiction issues.

What Men Should Know & Do About the Flu

Spring is on the horizon, and you may be thinking that flu season is a thing of the past. But, the truth is flu viruses can circulate as late as May. As of February 21, CDC data shows flu activity remains elevated nationally but is decreasing. Young and middle-aged adults, including those with chronic conditions and those who are otherwise healthy, have been among the hardest hit by flu this season. However, there is good news to share about the flu vaccine this season – it is providing solid protection to people of all ages. In fact, new information released on February 20 finds that the flu vaccine reduced a vaccinated person’s risk of having to go to the doctor for flu illness by about 61% across all ages. CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccination. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet this flu season, CDC urges you to do so now.

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Cleanse Diets: Are They Worth It?

Around the new year, people are determined to get in shape and be healthier in general. This usually includes going to the gym more often, limiting your late night trips to the golden arches, and dieting. With so many people facing similar goals and challenges, diets have become almost an annual fad that we see in the early months of every year. In recent years, we’ve seen the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, and so on. One of the most recent diets that society seems to have taken a liking to is the “Master Cleanse” diet. [Read more...]

The Power of Acceptance


Nancy Rose, author of Raise the Child You’ve Got, Not the One You Want.
Topic:
Why everyone thrives when parents lead with acceptance
Issues: Understanding and accepting your child’s core traits; What you can and can’t change about your child; the power of acceptance; building a healthy parent-child connection; raising your children to be the best, happiest selves.

“If the Shoe Fits…” Spousal Support Is Not Just for Women

By Penelope L. Hefner

In the legal arena, it seems many times women have had to follow in the footsteps of men. But as family law attorneys across the nation are undoubtedly seeing, when it comes to spousal support it seems the shoe may be making its way to the other foot. In years past, according to “The Historical Background of Alimony Law and its Present Statutory Structure,” a 1939 article by Chester G. Vernier and John B. Hurlbut, former professors of law at Stanford University, the primary purpose of alimony was to “provide continuing maintenance for the wife.” It simply was beyond most lawmakers’ contemplation at that time that a husband would seek alimony.
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