Abusing Pot, Booze Lowers Teens' Chances for Success in Life

From Drugs.com - November 6, 2017

Abusing Pot, Booze Lowers Teens' Chances for Success in Life

MONDAY, Nov. 6, 2017 -- The American dream of success is a lot harder to attain for teenagers who use pot and alcohol, especially if they become substance abusers, a new study reports.

Teen pot smokers and drinkers struggle to achieve some of the hallmarks of adult success, including obtaining a college degree, getting married, holding down a full-time job and earning a good living, the researchers found.

"Parents should try to delay their children's onset of use as much as possible," said research supervisor Victor Hesselbrock, chairman of addiction studies at the University of Connecticut. "If you can push regular use back well into adolescence, the kids do a lot better."

The researchers have been tracking the life course of 1,165 young adults from across the United States, most of whom come from a family with a history of alcoholism, Hesselbrock said.

Participants' habits were first assessed at age 12. After that, the researchers checked in on them at two-year intervals, up through age 25 to 34 for many of the subjects.

Kids from families with alcohol abuse followed patterns of first substance use and frequency of use that are typical of U.S. high school kids, Hesselbrock said.

But as they got older, the paths of those who used or became dependent on alcohol or pot as teens deviated from those of kids who stayed clean for the most part, according to lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Harari, who did the analysis as part of her residency training at the University of Connecticut.

Teens addicted to any substance were less likely to achieve any of the life goals she assessed. Fewer got married, went on to get a college degree, found a full-time job or earned a good salary.

Even those teens who only used pot and alcohol without forming a habit wound up achieving less in their lives.

Male users had a harder time finding a full-time job and earning good pay, while female users were less likely to get a college degree.

Harari presented the findings Sunday at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting, in Atlanta.

"As America continues this momentum towards legalization of cannabis, results like these should serve as important speed bumps to remind us cannabis is not a harmless product," said Dr. Timothy Brennan, an attending physician with The Addiction Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. "When combined with alcohol, it can be quite problematic for people's lives."

Because the study tracked kids over time, it provides solid evidence that substance use predates problems in achieving success later in life, Hesselbrock said.


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