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Posted on Dec 14, 2016 in Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, Teens, Therapy

Teens vs. Drugs

Alcohol and marijuana have been the two most widely used substances among teens for quite some time.

According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future survey, a University of Michigan study that tracks drug use trends among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, 15.5 percent of 8th graders, 31.1 percent of 10th graders and 51.4 percent of 12th graders have smoked marijuana in their lifetime.

Alcohol is even more prevalent among teens. According to Monitoring the Future, 26.1 percent of 8th graders, 47.1 percent of 10th graders and 64 percent of 12th graders have drank in their lifetime.

Despite the high rates of use of these substances among teens, there are considerable negative consequences to using marijuana or drinking. Academic achievement in particular suffers as a result of weed and alcohol abuse.

teens vs drugs


Marijuana use has been linked to poorer academic outcomes among teens. Evidence from around the world supports this notion.

In 2004, researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom reviewed 48 studies relating to student marijuana use and its effects. Results showed that marijuana use is associated with reduced educational attainment and increased use of other illicit drugs.

These findings were supported by a 2014 study that analyzed data from three adolescent marijuana studies in Australia and New Zealand. The analysis found that people who used marijuana daily before age 17 were less likely to finish high school or obtain a degree than their peers who never used marijuana. Marijuana-using adolescents also had a higher chance of developing cannabis dependence and attempting suicide.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a multitude of studies link heavy marijuana use to lower income and lower satisfaction with life. It is also linked to criminal behavior, greater dependence on welfare and unemployment.


A plethora of studies show that alcohol use during adolescence increases the likelihood that a student does not finish school.

A study by researchers from the University of Miami and the Universidad de Montevideo examined the effect alcohol use has on student GPAs. The study found that increasing alcohol intake by 100 drinks per month will reduce a male student’s GPA by 0.07 points and cause him to skip 0.72 days of school.

The study also found that increasing drinking frequency by one day per month can reduce a male student’s GPA by 0.005 points. For every one additional drink per episode, GPA falls by 0.004 points.

Improving Substance Abuse Awareness

Students rarely hear research-based facts about substance abuse.

School substance abuse programs too frequently rely on scare tactics and overinflated myths to reinforce the idea that drugs are harmful.

Improving education and awareness of the effects of substance abuse through facts and research is important to giving youth the tools they need to stay sober. An increasing number of drug prevention programs are tailoring their content to students in a way that truly connects with them.

In order to prevent the future generation from a life of drug abuse, prevention programs need to give kids the truth and not just try to scare them away from substances that students commonly abuse.

Need more help?

The therapists at Agor Behavioral Health Services can help you through holiday conflicts. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a free 20 minute consultation to discuss your situation. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-621-5824 or send us a message.

This post was written by a guest author. About the author: Trey Dyer is a writer for and an advocate for individuals with substance use disorders. When Trey is not working, he can be found fishing, camping and hiking.
Balsa, A., Giuliano, L. & French, M. (2011, February). The effects of alcohol use on academic achievement in high school. Retrieved from
Gruber, A. et al. (2003, November). Attributes of long-term heavy cannabis users: a case-control study. Retrieved from
Macleod, J. et al. (2004, May 15). Psychological and social sequelae of cannabis and other illicit drug use by young people: a systematic review of longitudinal, general population studies. Retrieved from
McCaffrey, D. et al. (2010, November). Marijuana Use and High School Dropout: The Influence of Unobservables. Retrieved from
Mrug, S. et al. (2010, July). School-Level Substance Use: Effects on Early Adolescents’ Alcohol, Tobacco, and Marijuana Use. Retrieved from
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, August). Marijuana: How does marijuana use affect school, work, and social life? Retrieved from
Silins, E. et al. (2014, September). Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. Retrieved from
The Monitoring the Future study, the University of Michigan. (2015). Trends in Lifetime Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs in Grades 8, 10, and 12. Retrieved from