Perceived Harmfulness of Current Cannabis Use by Adolescents

Perceived Harmfulness of Current Cannabis Use by Adolescents

A study published in Preventive Medicine Reports (2021) evaluated parental, school, and peer influence as protective factors in perceiving there is risk of harm from monthly cannabis use using the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (N=12,024).

Findings indicated that adolescents who perceived that monthly cannabis use was risky had high parental monitoring, low perception of peer use, high perception of peers’ disapproval of cannabis use, high perception of school importance, and participated more in extracurricular activities.

The authors concluded that substance use prevention programs targeting adolescent attitudes and beliefs would benefit from leveraging peer influence, promoting extracurricular activities, and enhancing schoolwork to be more meaningful.

Regarding the first two recommendations, we suggest the following:

  1. Youth marijuana prevention programs should aim to increase perceived risk of harm resulting from current cannabis use.

For example, the evidence-informed Marijuana Prevention Plus Wellness program highlights how cannabis use is harmful to achieving healthy behaviors like physical activity and sports, heathy breakfast and nutrition, and sleep, as well as related positive, desired self-images of themselves resulting from these behaviors like being physical fit, active, healthy, strong and energetic.

  1. Marijuana prevention efforts should also include providing youth with goal setting opportunities and events to engage in positive activities such as sports, youth clubs and others that promote healthy lifestyles and pro-social skill development supporting and strengthening prevention communication.

Read the study paper:

Learn more about the Marijuana Prevention Plus Wellness program:

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