Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two talks with teens leads to less marijuana use for at least a year, study finds

Date:
June 27, 2011
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Researchers found 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.

Marijuana is the most prevalent illicit drug used by teenagers and adults around the world. Nearly a third of high school students in the United States report smoking it, and most high schoolers say they have access to the drug.

To many people, smoking pot is no big deal. They cite reasons such as: "it isn't dangerous or addictive" and "everybody is doing it."

Denise Walker, co-director of the University of Washington's Innovative Programs Research Group, disagrees.

"It's not a risk-free drug," she said. "Lots of people who use it do so without problems. But there are others who use it regularly -- almost daily -- and want to stop but aren't sure how."

Walker hopes to help these people, many of whom feel stigmatized by their drug use. She is lead author of a paper showing 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 paper was published online May 30 in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Teenagers face greater risks from regular marijuana use compared with adults, said Walker, who is also a UW research assistant professor of social work.

"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," she said.

Walker and her co-authors investigated how a two-session, "non-finger wagging" approach called Teen Marijuana Check-Up could encourage teens to reduce their marijuana use.

"The majority of people who need help aren't getting it and they don't think they need it," Walker said. Users are ambivalent about their drug use, Walker reported, and there are aspects of using marijuana they enjoy.

"However, many teens also have concerns about their use, even if they're not sharing them with family or friends," she 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 behavior consequences.

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.

The participants, 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.

Participants in 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.

Participants 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."

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. Co-authors are Robert Stephens, Josephine DeMarce, Brian Lozano and Sheri Towe at Virginia Tech University and Roger Roffman and Belinda Berg at the UW.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Denise D. Walker, Robert Stephens, Roger Roffman, Josephine DeMarce, Brian Lozano, Sheri Towe, Belinda Berg. Randomized controlled trial of motivational enhancement therapy with nontreatment-seeking adolescent cannabis users: A further test of the teen marijuana check-up.. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2011; DOI: 10.1037/a0024076

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Two talks with teens leads to less marijuana use for at least a year, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627095647.htm>.
University of Washington. (2011, June 27). Two talks with teens leads to less marijuana use for at least a year, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627095647.htm
University of Washington. "Two talks with teens leads to less marijuana use for at least a year, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627095647.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins