Turns out the old adage, “monkey see, monkey do,” does ring true — even when it comes to cannabis use. However, when cannabis use involves youth, it’s see, think, then do, says a team of UBC Okanagan researchers.
The team found that kids who grow up in homes where parents consume cannabis will more than likely use it themselves. Parental influence on the use of cannabis is important to study as it can help with the development of effective prevention programs, explains Maya Pilin, a doctoral psychology student in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
“Adolescence is a critical period in which drug and alcohol experimentation takes place and when cannabis use is often initiated,” says Pilin. “Parents are perhaps the most influential socializing agent for children and early adolescents.”
Pilin says it has long been assumed that parental use of cannabis contributes to higher levels of adolescent use. However, while there has been research about parental use of alcohol and whether their children drink, there is less known about pathways to cannabis use.
“What we found mirrors closely what has been found in past research with alcohol use — that parental use influences adolescents’ use as well,” she says.
For their research, the team used data from a survey of almost 700 students in Grades 7 to 9, which is when previous studies demonstrate that cannabis use increases dramatically. Each year, the students were asked over a three-year period, if one or both of their parents used cannabis, if so, how frequently and whether they also use it. As the students aged, their cannabis use began and increased.
This data was collected before cannabis was decriminalized in Canada in 2017.
“We wanted to try and explain, how parental use, while their kids were in Grade 7, would be associated with their kids’ use by ninth grade,” says Dr. Sarah Dow-Fleisner, a researcher with the School of Social Work. “We hypothesized that early parental use would impact how teens think about cannabis use, in particular whether parental use early in adolescence would be associated with more positive expectations and perceptions of cannabis use by Grade 8, and whether that would lead to an increased chance of using cannabis by Grade 9. What we thought is exactly what we found.”
UBCO Psychology Professor Dr. Marvin Krank funded the research and collected the data for the study in collaboration with Okanagan valley school districts.
Read the full story here: UBC Okanagan News