The landscape for cannabis use has been changing in and around New Hampshire (NH) with increased legal access to recreational and therapeutic forms of cannabis. These changes have caused confusion about the risks and harms associated with cannabis/marijuana use. The Partnership @drugfreeNH, the State’s trusted resource for prevention information, recently introduced the Stronger Than You Think campaign to help clarify some of the confusion.
While it may not always seem like it, adults’ words and actions are stronger than they think in influencing the beliefs and actions of young people. Adults are the number one influence on whether a child chooses to use cannabis, tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. The Stronger Than You Think campaign encourages open conversations between caring adults and the young people in their lives about cannabis/marijuana and other substance use. It is important to talk about clear expectations about healthy choices and age-appropriate boundaries, accountability, planning safe activities, and information about the risks and consequences of using any substance. While these dialogues may cause some discomfort at first for both the adult and youth, they are key to future decisions youth may make. Open two-way conversations go a long way.
“What we want to do with this campaign is to raise awareness about the harmful effects of cannabis and marijuana products on the developing brain of a young person, and then we want to empower caring adults to carry that message to the young people they care about and have a conversation.” says Christin D’Ovidio, Director of The Partnership project, “We are not here to criticize adult use, but to provide factual, science-based information and prevent unintended outcomes of youth using these products.”
StrongerNH.org provides easily understood information including a tool kit, fact sheets, and brief videos designed to help with these conversations.
Some discomfort an adult may have when contemplating having this conversation can be due to their own cannabis use or feelings around adult-use of cannabis or marijuana products and by-products. An adult may choose to use cannabis/marijuana for a number of reasons, including a decision made with a healthcare provider. But it is important to understand and educate young people about the risks associated with their use of the product. Information about the impacts of use on developing brains is included in campaign materials.
It is far better for a trusted adult to have a potentially tough dialogue than for youth to receive inaccurate information from misinformed peers, pop culture influencers, and the internet.
When in doubt, remember: open, two-way conversations go a long way.
About The Partnership @drugfreeNH
The Partnership is a public-private collaboration between the NH Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services (BDAS), the NH Governor’s Commission on Alcohol & Other Drugs, the NH Charitable Foundation, and the Center for Excellence on Addiction. The Partnership is supported by relationship building, collaboration and leveraging efforts. Resources provided by the Partnership include a robust and dynamic website, The Power of Prevention podcast, The Partnership Prevention blog, topic specific trainings, and a series of videos.