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Friday, March 10, 2017

Pot Plus Alcohol Equals Poor Grades

Drinking and smoking pot can cause poor grades for college students, according to a study published in PLOS One, which confirms a notion long-held by addiction experts and educators. 

Researchers at Yale University and the Institute of Living in Hartford, Conn., found that college students who consume medium-to-high levels of alcohol and marijuana have a consistently lower GPA -- not only by the end of the first semester but throughout the two years of the study. 

The authors used data from the Brain and Alcohol Research in College Students study, which tracked 1,142 students for two years after they began college, and self-reported data to cluster them into groups of low users or medium-to-high users of alcohol or both substances.

Those who used marijuana and alcohol heavily in the first semester had a GPA of 2.66 compared to 3.1 for those who used little to no alcohol or pot. Those who drank heavily but didn’t smoke marijuana had an average first semester GPA of 3.03. Students who decreased their substance use over time did show an increase in GPA compared to their peers who continued the same pattern of drug and alcohol use, noted authors.

Hopefully, these results will encourage college health and counseling services to put out more information on the impact that drugs and alcohol have on grades, said Godfrey Pearlson, senior author of the study. “There’s a lot of peer pressure during that first year to drink and use marijuana,” he adds.

Here are some more facts about drinking and smoking marijuana in college, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
  • People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.
  • About 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. 
  • About one in four college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
  • Marijuana is linked to school failure, causing negative effects on attention, memory, and learning.
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