Marijuana and Alcohol: Their Negative Impact on Academic Performance

It can sometimes occur that something that is dangerous and has extensive damaging effects can yet become socially acceptable. Such is the case with marijuana and alcohol use, especially among adolescents and young adults. While the use of both of these substances has become socially acceptable in many situations, it must not be overlooked that they are both drug substances that produce physiological changes in the body and can therefore negatively impact the individual’s life.

Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug substance in our country, likely because it is legal and socially acceptable. Upon consuming alcohol, individuals often experience slurred speech, drowsiness, emotional changes, sleep disruption, and lowering of body temperature. Extensive alcohol consumption over a long period of time can lead to depression, liver damage, cancer, immune system suppression, reduced sexual performance, pancreatitis, tolerance, and dependence.

Marijuana is the second-most commonly abused drug substance in our country, its wide use likely due in part to the fact that it is seen by many as a “safe, natural” drug substance and its medical and recreational use is approved in many states. Marijuana consumption can lead to short-term memory problems, severe anxiety, strange behavior, panic, hallucinations, reduced reaction time, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, impaired coordination, sexual problems, decline in IQ, poor school performance, inability to learn, potential switch to opiate use, relationship problems, antisocial behaviors, financial problems, and addiction.

Needless to say, the effects of drugs and alcohol are undesirable when occurring on their own, but combined they are far worse and can have a greater impact on the individual’s life.

Impact of Drugs and Alcohol on Education

The negative effect of drugs, especially marijuana and alcohol upon an individual’s education and life should never be underestimated since they are taking a substance that alters their basic ability to function normally. However, a recent study has proven conclusively that mixing marijuana and alcohol use together has an even more distinct negative impact on the individual’s academic performance.

Researchers from several Connecticut universities specifically analyzed how even moderate alcohol and marijuana consumption can reduce a student’s grade point average or GPA. Research leader Shashwath Meda, the senior clinical research associate at Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, says that the abundant use and abuse of alcohol and marijuana in American colleges demanded an investigation in order to determine their combined effects on academic performance, but no such study had previously been performed.

Researchers considered data that had been collected from over eleven hundred college freshmen by Brain and Alcohol Research in College Students and determined that college students who participated in moderate to high alcohol and marijuana use distinctly had lower GPAs than peers who did not use either of these two substances. Furthermore, while there is no arguing that alcohol use comes with negative effects on its own, this study did not note any sort of decrease in GPA scores among those students who used substantial amounts of alcohol but did not use even a little bit of marijuana. This led researchers to conclude that the combination of the two drug substances is clearly more detrimental than alcohol alone.

Interestingly enough, the researchers discovered that those college students who reduced or even put an end to their alcohol and marijuana use were able to recover from the negative impact of these substances and improve their academic performance and GPAs as a result. This is just one more reason why preventing and quickly resolving substance use and abuse, especially among adolescents and young adults are highly beneficial.

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