Destinations to host ‘Marijuana and Adolescents’ event

by Debbie Hall

Destinations for Teens will host a parent education workshop “Marijuana and Adolescents” led by Dr. Bob Gabbay, medical director of Destinations on Thursday, Sept. 14. It is truly a different world for parents with the legalization of the use of recreational marijuana in the state of Nevada. While it is an individual choice for adults over the age of 21, it is still illegal for teens to use marijuana except as prescribed medical marijuana. Still, teenagers have access to marijuana and are using it even though they are not developed physically or emotionally to make such a decision.

“It is important to understand that different parts of the body  develop over time. Our brains need time to develop until early 20s. The brain of a teenager is very malleable and vulnerable,” he explained to the Las Vegas Informer. “Teenagers are also going through other stresses with more risk taking along with hormonal changes. The teenager’s brain, especially the frontal where complex decision making is done, is still being developed.”

Another concern is the potency of marijuana is much stronger today than 30 or 50 years ago. While parents and grandparents might legitimately think  that smoking marijuana did not affect them, today the potency is 10 times stronger. Studies have not been conducted yet how people who begin to smoke marijuana today will be affected 30 years in the future.

According to Dr. Gabbay, edibles are portrayed by the media as safer than smoking and teens believe the hype. The candy is wrapped in colorful wrappers, cookies are sweet so teenagers can ingest more and get addicted to the edible version of marijuana. It takes 30 to 60 minutes to feel the effect of edibles so one can overindulge without realizing it.

Symptoms and signs of using marijuana will be discussed, which can be mistaken for other causes. With the acceptance of marijuana, especially by the media, it can be a landmine for parents, teachers and other health care professionals with teenagers. Resources will be available including research and avenues of help. This seminar is not meant to scare parents but to give information and offer discussion.

Dr. Gabbay is a University of California, Los Angeles-trained psychiatrist who specializes in treating children and adolescents with substance abuse problems. He has worked in the field for over 12 years. He chose this field when he covered for another doctor and realized this is where he wanted to practice. Dr. Gabbay also realized that it can be difficult to diagnose substance abuse in adolescents and strives to work with family members and other health care professionals. Symptoms and behaviors can mask abuse and be misdiagnosed.

“It is also important to understand why a teenage uses a substance whether it is alcohol, drugs or smoking. We don’t want to be punitive but to discover why that individual adolescent is using these substances. Is it peer pressure? Overwhelming stress? Inability to sleep? There are many reasons and we need to explore them,” he explained.

Destinations for Teens, a premier dual diagnosis and primary mental health treatment center serving teens ages 13 to 17 affected by co-occurring substance abuse and/or mental health disorders, regularly leads community events to promote health and wellness.

The focused discussion is geared toward parents of teenagers. The presentation will be held at Destinations located at 9089 S. Pecos Road, Suite 3500 in Henderson from 3:30 to 5 p.m. There is no cost to attend but reservations are suggested.

For further information or to RSVP, call Destinations at 702-605-9997. Click here to RSVP and for complimentary tickets.

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