SOS workshop debunks marijuana myths

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The Student Counseling Center hosted a Secrets of Success workshop to discuss the myths of marijuana on Sept. 29. Director of the Counseling Center and Staff Psychologist Kelly Miller and Group Coordinator and Staff Psychologist Alicia Simle created an interactive activity on common questions about marijuana. The workshop was intended to dispel the myths about marijuana and further educate the students.

“The reason we did this is because there are a lot of myths about marijuana and its use,” Miller said. “We wanted to come out and say, ‘Hey there’s a lot of trends out there, and there’s a lot of information that is wrong. We’re not here to tell you not to use. We’re here to talk to you about what’s out there. And if you do use, or know others who use, we hope that you will have that information and use it responsibly.”

The interactive activity consisted of splitting students into four separate groups, where they were to team up in a competition to answer questions about myths and facts regarding marijuana. Simle and Miller busted a myth about marijuana as a gateway drug.  They told students that marijuana can be a gateway drug, depending on the situation and the person. This is because many high school students say that they first began using marijuana before moving on to harder drugs, while others say they have never had a desire to do anything but marijuana. This is something that most of the attendees did not know before the workshop because this was one of the more commonly missed questions during the interactive activity.

“We had it very interactive, and we left it with a question, so that they can reflect on the topic with friends and talk more about it,” Miller said. “So by starting the conversation and having individuals outside of the normal talking about what’s out there, that is really helpful to spread the news on what is good information.”

Miller and Simle also talked about what parts of the body are affected by marijuana, such as the brain, heart, lungs and sexual organs. The two even gave bonus points to the teams that could produce examples of how marijuana affected those organs specifically.

Useful information, such as mental health problems that can potentially come with marijuana use and how marijuana use can heighten current mental health problems, also were presented.  Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety can occur, and be heightened by, marijuana. Schizophrenia symptoms can be heightened by marijuana as well. The workshop was intended to educate and inform students about marijuana, according to Simle.

“I hope that they [the students] get information that perhaps they didn’t have before,” Simle said. “I also hope that by having this conversation, it gets them to think about marijuana and reflect on its use in their [the student’s] life, or others that they know, and to use more critical thinking skills on how marijuana might impact their life.”

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