Fight against teenage addiction in France

Efforts to reduce addiction are being increased, Dr Bernard says

We must change attitudes, says Dr Catherine Bernard, who is responsible for health at Mildeca, the government agency which draws up strategies to combat addictive behaviour. It must not be accepted as normal behaviour for young people to be smoking in front of schools, drinking regularly and smoking cannabis.

She spoke to Connexion ahead of November, designated as a Mois sans Tabac (tobacco-free month), one of the government’s campaigns.

Why is it important to do more to reduce these behaviours at a young age?

The younger children start smoking or drinking, the more dangerous it is for the development of their brain because it does not reach maturity until 25. Connections are still forming and can easily be destroyed. Teenagers will always experiment, but the later the better - and even better if they do not.

I do not advocate prohibition and there is no need to worry if it is just occasional but regular use of any of these substances for teenagers is dangerous to health.

We must not be over-dramatic, but at the same time we must not allow these practices to be seen as commonplace and usual.

Smoking a joint once at a party is not the same at 12, 14, 16 or at 18. If you are going to smoke it from time to time, for example, far better to start at 35 than as a teenager. Some individuals are more vulnerable than others to addiction and this can be linked to emotional and physical health. If ...

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