In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic, and the recent vaping crisis, parents are uniting in Parent Movement 2.0 via the “I’m in” pledge, an instrument designed to create an online community intent on reducing the use of marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs among kids. These drugs can hurt and kill. “Because it attacks the lungs, COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape tobacco and/or marijuana,” warns Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Drugs are different from what today’s parents may have known when they were young, and how kids use drugs today is also changing. Via an email campaign, Parent Movement 2.0 helps today’s parents become more drug and alcohol savvy – providing ways to connect with other parents to get educated around issues of teenage substance use. Parents join Parent Movement 2.0 by reading and signing the “I’m in” Pledge, the same way parents joined the first parent movement.
Parent Movement 2.0 is patterned after the original parent movement that reduced illicit drug use among high school seniors by 66 percent – from 39 percent in 1979 to 14 percent in 1992. Sue Rusche and Carla Lowe, mothers who helped lead the effort in 1979 and who now lead National Families in Action (NFIA) and Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana (AALM), are helping launch the new movement.
Drug use up again
Since 1992, adolescent drug use has moved back up. Today, nearly one-fourth (22 percent) of 12th graders use marijuana, an 86 percent increase in marijuana use alone. Adolescent cigarette use is virtually nil, but vaping nicotine has skyrocketed, and alcohol continues to be the national drug of choice among 12th graders, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study, Monitoring the Future.
“Parents need to get up to date. Rivaled only by their children’s peers, parents have the greatest influence over a child’s decision to use any drug,” says Debbie Berndt, director of the new movement. “Not every parent will be successful in helping their kids choose not to use, but every parent certainly is the first line of defense, and they become the first responders if their child begins to use.”
Take the “I’m in” Pledge
Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams warned in August that no amount of marijuana is safe during adolescence or during pregnancy. He added that recent increases in both marijuana potency and in access to the drug, along with misperceptions about the safety of marijuana, endanger children and youth, the country’s most precious resources.
“We’re excited that through Parent Movement 2.0 and the “I’m in” Pledge, parents now have a process to get quickly educated, to understand the drugs their kids face every day, and to learn how to take action to protect them,” says Carla Lowe, President of AALM.
Addiction industries target youth
The well-funded marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine industries are driving the narrative in our country through lobbyists, PR firms, and an increasing number of current and past legislators on payroll. Parents have a difficult time sorting through what might be true or not. Kids, who are the target audience for many industry marketing dollars, become unwitting industry mouthpieces, especially with their parents. Parents frequently hear from their kids, “vaping is safe; it’s no big deal mom” and “marijuana is safer for me than alcohol.” On no scale of measurement are these claims true.
“Parents get duped by the narrative and the same incessant media beat that we all do,” says Sue Rusche, president and CEO of NFIA. “The increasingly permissive national narrative on drug use, legalization, and medical claims that have not been vetted by the FDA drive drug ‘normalization’ at the cost of our kid’s mental health and well-being. We know so much today, more than even ten years ago, about adolescent neuroscience, as well as how drugs can change the function and structure of the brain, especially kids’ brains.”
Few parents today are aware of this new knowledge, which compounds this normalizing affect.
“It’s time for parents to re-engage,” says Ms. Berndt. “We invite them ‘all in’ to Parent Movement 2.0.”
Parents can read and sign the “I’m in” Pledge to become part of the new Parent Movement here.