By Christopher Fisher, PhD
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 June 20 in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.