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NYS OASAS announces release of new cannabis toolkit


Fri, Apr 19th 2024 03:05 pm

Information and resources on talking to youth about risks of underage cannabis use now available in both English and Spanish

Submitted by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) announced the launch of a new cannabis toolkit for parents and mentors, designed to offer resources and information about cannabis and how to talk to young people about the risks of underage cannabis use and the impact it can have.

This free toolkit is available in both English and Spanish on the OASAS website.

OASAS Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, “Young people may find cannabis products attractive and appealing, and parents and other trusted adults should know how to discuss this issue and give young people the information they need to stay safe. It is important to have regular conversations about this topic. Research shows that having these conversations can significantly influence a teen’s decisions regarding substance use.”

The new cannabis toolkit is focused on addressing and preventing underage use of cannabis, which can impair learning, short-term memory, decision-making and problem-solving skills, attention, and motivation. It can also lead to physical issues, such as bronchitis or asthma, and increased risk of schizophrenia and other serious mental health disorders.

The toolkit provides evidence-based information and tips for starting and maintaining conversations with youth on things like cannabis potency, types of products, and the impact that cannabis and THC can have on the developing brain. It also offers important information on the risks of underage use, how to model healthy and safe behaviors, and discussing ways to avoid underage use altogether, all of which are hallmarks of OASAS prevention efforts.

Executive Director Chris Alexander said, “The New York State Office of Cannabis Management applauds the addition of resources like the cannabis toolkit by the Office of Addiction Services and Supports to help parents and mentors navigate critical discussions around cannabis and young people. Regular discussions on this topic are crucial, as research demonstrates their significant impact on influencing teens' decisions regarding substance use. As we strive to promote public health and safety, resources like the cannabis toolkit play a meaningful role in supporting families as they navigate important discussions around preventing underage cannabis use and fostering informed decision-making among the young people in our communities.”

New York State Schools Boards Association Executive Director Robert Schneider said, “NYS OASAS’ new cannabis toolkit will help parents and adults navigate effective conversations with young adults about the risks associated with cannabis use. Students may learn the risks associated with substance use in classrooms, however, their decision-making can often rest on their peer group preferences, social pressures, and the possibilities of misinformation in social media feeds. This toolkit will provide needed structure and direction for meaningful dialogue between adults and youth about substance use, which is a risk factor in youth development that can have a negative impact on learning, attention and health.”

NYS Parent-Teacher Association Executive Director Kyle Belokopitsky said, “We are thrilled that OASAS has taken on this critical work to support parent, family, educator, and youth education on cannabis. Since legalization of recreational marijuana, we have seen both cases of accidental ingestion and use by underage youth increase substantially, and education and awareness of harms and dangers of cannabis use by youth is so important. As a parent of a high school student, I personally know how hard these conversations are to have with your child, and we hope this toolkit with help both educators and families have meaningful talks with their children and students on the dangers and harms of substance use – including cannabis.”

OASAS oversees one of the nation’s largest systems of addiction services with approximately 1,700 prevention, treatment and recovery programs serving over 731,000 individuals per year. This includes the direct operation of 12 addiction treatment centers where our doctors, nurses and clinical staff provide inpatient and residential services to approximately 8,000 individuals per year.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (short code 467369). Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, residential or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS treatment availability dashboard at findaddictiontreatment.ny.gov or through the NYS OASAS website. If you, or a loved one, have experienced insurance obstacles related to treatment, or need help filing an appeal for a denied claim, contact the CHAMP helpline by phone at 888-614-5400 or email at [email protected].

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