It is a well-known fact that the abuse of an addictive substance causes disorders. Many researches have highlighted the link between consumption of substances like marijuana or alcohol and onset of psychiatric disorders. But the extent of disorder not only depends on the extent of abuse, but also on the age of the user. While the effects of drinking or smoking cannabis are known to all, a recent study indicated the drastic impact of taking both alcohol and marijuana during middle school and high school years on the cognitive ability of adolescents.
The seven-year long study, titled “Alcohol and Marijuana Use Trajectories in a Diverse Longitudinal Sample of Adolescents: Examining Use Patterns from Age 11 to 17,” was conducted on a group of students to examine the impact of both alcohol and marijuana on their mental health.
Crucial to address alcohol, marijuana abuse at an early age
In the study published in the journal Addiction in June 2016, the scientists examined 6,509 children studying in 16 middle schools in Southern California. During the seven-year survey period, between 2008 and 2015, the researchers examined students aged 11.5 years in 2008 and followed them till they turned 17 in 2015. The first survey was administered when the participants were in the sixth or seventh grade, while at the end of the survey period, the participants moved on to high schools.
The students were instructed to answer questions during the seven surveys conducted between 2008 and 2015. The respondents also participated in an alcohol and another drug use prevention program called CHOICE organized in 16 schools in the Los Angeles region.
At the end of the study, the researchers monitored the extent of drugs taken by the participants and its effect on their academic progress.
It was observed that the use of marijuana among the middle and high school students was linked with diminished cognitive ability, including poor academic performance, inability to prepare oneself for school, increased tendencies of negligence and poor mental health.
A comparison of marijuana and alcohol use at the same level by both whites and non-whites revealed that non-whites showed more vulnerability to function poorly than their white counterparts. When compared at the academic level, the Asians, Blacks and Hispanic adolescents were found to be less academically prepared than the white youth. Commenting on the findings, lead author Elizabeth D’Amico said, “Disparities are occurring as early as high school and therefore it is crucial to address alcohol and marijuana use early on, especially for nonwhite youth. One approach may be to increase protective factors such as parental support or the adolescent’s ability to resist temptations to use these substances.”
Need for integrated treatment for dual diagnosis
Previous studies had advocated for the safety of marijuana consumption in comparison to drinking. But adolescents need to realize the effects of marijuana addiction considering its likely impact on the developing brain and its long-term effects in terms of academic performance.
Though factors such as racial discrimination, involvement of parents or quality of neighborhood also play a key role in determining the effects of marijuana and alcohol use, their impact on the psychological development of children cannot be denied.
Addiction problems may cause mental health problems, so it is imperative to screen addicts for potential cognitive impairment and provide integrated treatment that caters to both the disorders. For patients struggling with both drug dependence and mental health problems, dual diagnosis treatment centers in America can help them reclaim their life.
If you or your loved one has been suffering from addiction and mental health together, you may get in touch with the Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline for more information on one of the best dual diagnosis facilities in Florida. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-337-7631 for more information related to dual diagnosis treatment in Florida.