Researchers from The University of Washington and Virginia Tech released this wonderful study.
Their findings: 2 simple talks with your teens each year, can help make a huge impact on your teen when it comes to smoking pot.
Here is their press release:
BLACKSBURG, Va., June 29, 2011 –
Nearly a third of high school students in the United States report
smoking marijuana. Despite the mixed messages about the safety of
marijuana, it is risky behavior for teens, who are, after all, still
Researchers from Virginia Tech and the University of
Washington have demonstrated that a brief, voluntary conversation with
an adult led to up to a 20 percent decrease in marijuana use for
teenagers who frequently used the drug. The research was published
online June 20 in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors,
in the article, “Randomized Controlled Trial of Motivational
Enhancement Therapy with Nontreatment-Seeking Adolescent Cannabis Users:
A Further Test of the Teen Marijuana Check-Up,” by Denise D. Walker, Robert S. Stephens, Roger Roffman, Josephine DeMarce, Brian Lozano, Sheri Towe, and Belinda Berg
Walker, research assistant professor of social work and co-director of the University of Washington’s Innovative Programs Research Group,
said, “Adolescence is a big developmental period for learning adult
roles. Smoking marijuana regularly can impede development and school
performance, and it sets kids up for other risky behaviors.”
But a “non-finger wagging” approach called Teen Marijuana Check-Up could encourage teens to reduce their marijuana use.
marijuana users have few options for sorting out the disparate
information on the risks of smoking marijuana. The programs we are
developing and testing will hopefully help fill the gap,” said Stephens,
chair of psychology at Virginia Tech and director of the addictions
Many teens have concerns about their use of marijuana, “even
if they’re not sharing them with family or friends,” Walker said. If a
convenient and easy opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of their drug
use is offered that isn’t “shaming or blaming,” kids will participate
in it voluntarily, she said.
The researchers went to high school
classrooms and gave short presentations describing myths and facts about
marijuana, common reasons why teens smoke it, and its health, and
The researchers told the students about the
study, saying it was intended to give feedback on – not treat – each
student’s marijuana use. Students could volunteer privately. Of about
7,100 students who heard about the study, 619 volunteered, and 310 met
its criterion of smoking marijuana regularly.
ninth through 12th graders attending Seattle public schools, had two
one-on-one meetings with health educators. During the meetings, which
lasted 30-60 minutes each over two weeks, the health educators used one
of two approaches:
- Motivational interviewing, in which the
health educator and student discussed the student’s marijuana use and
how it might be interfering with the student’s life, goals, and personal
values, and the health educator told the student about social norms of
how much others use the drug.
- An educational approach in which a
PowerPoint presentation described current marijuana research and health
and psychological effects of marijuana use.
the motivational interviewing group started the study using marijuana
40 out of the previous 60 days. Three months after counseling they had
decreased their use 20 percent, to 32 out of 60 days. After a year they
still showed a 15 percent decrease, 34 days out of 60.
in the educational treatment group had slower results, reporting an 8
percent decrease from 38 to 35 days out of 60 days three months after
the treatment ended. A year later, they reported using marijuana 34 of
60 days, an 11 percent overall drop.
The researchers called the
findings “encouraging in that apparently meaningful reductions in
cannabis use resulting from the brief meetings were sustained over a
relatively lengthy period of time.”
Stephens said, “A unique
aspect of this research has been our ability to get teens to voluntarily
sign up for the programs. Previous research has focused mainly on teens
who are coerced into treatment programs by schools, parents, or the
legal system, but there are many more users who may profit from talking
to someone about their use if we can give them options that are
Walker said that the low-burden, low-cost program
could be disseminated to drug and alcohol counselors in schools. The
program “is supposed to attract people who aren’t ready for a full
treatment, but are interested in having a conversation with a
professional trained to discuss concerns with substance use,” she said.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Of the co-authors, Josephine DeMarce of Salem, Va., is a 2006 Ph.D. graduate in psychology from Virginia Tech; Brian Lozano of Charleston, S.C., is a 2008 Ph.D. graduate of psychology from Virginia Tech; Sheri Towe of Martinez, Ga., is a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech; Roger Roffman
is professor of sociology and director of the Innovative Programs
Research Group at the University of Washington; and Belinda Berg is a
health educator with the School of Social Work at the University of
Founded in 1872, Virginia Tech
attracts students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The
university’s eight colleges achieve quality, innovation, and results
through teaching, research, and outreach in Blacksburg and at other
campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Richmond,
Southern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Roanoke.