Teens Dependent on Alcohol and Marijuana Lessen their Chance of Success

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According to a new study carried out by UConn Health scientists, teens who become dependent on alcohol and marijuana are lessening their chances of becoming successful in later life.  The research was presented recently at the American Public Health Association 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo.

Data taken from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) was examined by UConn Health researchers.  In doing this, they were able to track the effects that alcohol and marijuana use had on various adult life goals:  marriage, full-time employment, social economic potential, and educational achievement.

A total of 1,165 young adults across the United States took part in the study.  The participants’ habits were first assessed aged 12, then every two years after that until they were between 25 and 34 years old.  The majority of teens taking part had an alcoholic parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent.

Results from the study showed that those who became dependent on either alcohol or marijuana as a teen achieved a lower level of education, were less likely to get married or be employed full time, and had lower social economic potential too.

“This study found that chronic marijuana use in adolescence was negatively associated with achieving important developmental milestones in young adulthood.  Awareness of marijuana’s potentially deleterious effects will be important moving forward, given the current move in the US toward marijuana legalization for medicinal and possibly recreational use,” said Elizabeth Harari, author of the study.

The study also highlighted that dependence on both alcohol and marijuana were more likely to affect men too.  On all four measures, dependent young men achieved less.  Dependent women were found to have lower social economic potential and were less likely to obtain a college degree than non-dependent women, but were just as likely to get full-time employment or get married.

As the study goes on, researchers will continue to monitor the effects of alcohol and drugs on adolescents in later life as see whether there are different outcomes depending on the substance they become dependent on.  They will also look to see why there are such big differences in the outcomes between the sexes.

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