Regular Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among College Students = Poorer Academic Performance

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Regular Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among College Students = Poorer Academic Performance

Connecticut researchers recently published an article that revealed that moderate use of both alcohol and marijuana negatively affected the academic performance of college students, including GPA.

For the study, researchers analyzed information obtained over a two-year period by the Brain and Alcohol Research in College Students, which collected survey answers monthly from more than 1,100 college freshmen. Students reported on alcohol and marijuana use, while researchers looked at their verbal, math, and writing SAT scores.

Researchers also obtained information on the grade point average of each student for each semester, and split the students’ records into three groups:

  • Moderate to high quantity users of both alcohol and marijuana
  • Students who consumed little or no marijuana but were moderate to high users of alcohol
  • Students who used none or very little of both substances

Results indicated that there were no significant differences on pre-baseline academics or pre-college SAT scores. However, students who used medium to high levels of alcohol and had low marijuana use also had lower GPA scores compared to their non-using peers – but this difference tended to even out over time.

Moderate to high use of both substances, on the other hand, resulted in a lower predicted GPA than those who did not use, or used either substance moderately.

Fortunately, when the team conducted a follow-up, they found that students who had cut down on their substance abuse were able to recover over time and exhibit significantly improved academic performance and higher GPAs.

From the study:

“Overall, our study validates and extends the current literature by providing important implications of concurrent alcohol and marijuana use on academic achievement in college.”

The research article was published in March in the journal PLOS ONE.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology


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