Substance Abuse in Youth Associated with Poor Academia

Substance Abuse in Youth Associated with Poor Academia

It’s common knowledge that the brains of adolescents are still developing and may be more susceptible to lasting effects of substance abuse than adults. But what impact does overindulgence have on long-term academic performance?

Researchers at St. Louis’s Washington University School of Medicine studied the impact of substance abuse on more than 6,200 men who were a twin that enlisted for military service during Vietnam.

Identical and fraternal twins were selected because it made it easier to isolate genetic and environmental factors that might be impacting behavior. And, veterans were the particular group chosen because it is highly unusual for someone in the military to not finish school, due to educational funding afforded through the G.I. Bill.

Investigators discovered a link between the age at which one started using alcohol or drugs and their likelihood of finishing school. Specifically, those who became dependent as teenagers were more likely to drop out of college than their peers who were drug-free or decided to wait to experiment with such things till they were older.

While investigators are quick to caution that the study does not prove a causal relationship between substance abuse in the young and poor academic performance, they do say that research shows a solid connection between the two. Even after accounting for other outside factors that might be responsible, a link still existed.

Those who started drinking before they were 14 were at greatest risk. Study results showed that those who abused alcohol at this age were more apt to drop out of school before completing their college degree. This just adds to the growing body of evidence that suggests early substance abuse is associated with issues on down the track.

Experts believe the findings underscore the continued need to provide programs and healthy alternatives to divert early substance abuse. A person’s education is tied to many aspects of life such as getting married, having children, and finding a career. Substance abuse can quickly destroy any one of these and can change a person’s path forever.

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