Can Parents Help Prevent Risky Cannabis and Alcohol Use by College Students?

(The Pennsylvania State University) University Park, Pa. — Cannabis use by college students is on the rise, causing concern among substance-use experts. In 2020, 44% of college students reported using marijuana in the past year, compared to 38% in 2015, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Penn State researchers are testing an intervention designed to help parents talk with their college-bound teens about cannabis and alcohol use, with support of a $2.8 million, five-year award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

In a randomized, controlled trial, the research team will provide an electronic handbook to approximately 1000 parents whose children will attend a large, northeastern university, said Rob Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health and the study's principal investigator. The handbook guides parents through having meaningful discussions on cannabis and alcohol use with their children.

Turrisi wants all parents to know that cannabis is more potent than in previous decades and has the potential to cause more harm.

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