Medical News Today 14 June 2016
Family First Comment: “Youth need to better understand the harms of marijuana use, such as the potential effect on their developing brain and how it can affect performance in both adolescence and adulthood.” – Elizabeth D’Amico, senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation
Middle and high school students who use marijuana and drink alcohol are at greater risk for poorer mental health and academic outcomes, finds a new study, with non-white students faring worst.The study, led by Elizabeth D’Amico, senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation – an American nonprofit global policy organization – was recently published in the journal Addiction.
Alcohol and marijuana use are common among adolescents in the United States.
Approximately 8.7 million youths aged 12-20 report having consumed alcohol in the past month, while 6.5 percent of 8th-grade students and 14.8 percent of 10th-graders in the U.S. currently use marijuana.
For their study, D’Amico and colleagues set out to investigate how alcohol consumption and marijuana use in middle and high school might influence academic outcomes.
Youth ‘need to better understand the harms of marijuana use’
The research involved 6,509 youths from 16 middle schools across Southern California – all of whom were part of an alcohol and drug use prevention program called CHOICE.
Between the ages of 11 ½ and 17 years – spanning from middle to high school – the students completed a total of seven surveys, in which they were asked about their use of alcohol and marijuana.
The final survey they completed also asked about their academic performance, as well as social functioning, delinquent behavior, and mental and physical health.
Compared with youths who engaged in lower or no alcohol and marijuana use during middle and high school, those with greater use were found to have poorer academic preparedness and were more likely to have delinquent behavior.
Furthermore, youths who engaged in greater marijuana use alone during middle and high school were found to have poorer academic performance and poorer mental health.
“Many youth tend to think that alcohol use has more consequences than marijuana use and therefore view marijuana use as safer than drinking.
However, youth need to better understand the harms of marijuana use, such as the potential effect on their developing brain and how it can affect performance in both adolescence and adulthood.” Elizabeth D’Amico
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