According to researchers at the University of Washington and Virginia Tech, just one brief voluntary discussion with an adult reduced teenagers’ use of marijuana by up to 20 percent.  The research was carried out among frequent users who, after hearing the program explained, volunteered to be interviewed.

The researchers report that many of the teens had concerns about their marijuana use, frequency of use, and the overall effects it might have on their lives, but were not sharing them with family or friends because of imagined peer pressure and the reactions of family members.  They stated that the response was overwhelmingly positive among those interviewed, and that it seemed to be due to the non-blaming opportunity to air their questions with people who clearly knew what they were talking about.  The program was designed “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.”

The report goes on to say that the most reduction came from motivational interviews where the teens discussed their use with the interviewers, and explored potential problems that might occur because of the physical and emotional effects of smoking.  This achieved an average 20% reduction over a 60-day period (from an average of 40 days of use out of 60 days to 32 out of 60 days), and the reduction still held at about 15% after one year.  The other approach, an educational interview that used PowerPoint presentations to present factual information about marijuana use, showed an 11% overall drop at the end of one year.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

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