UConn study: Teenage pot and alcohol use can reduce success later in life

Teens who use a lot of marijuana and alcohol are less likely to have a full-time job when they grow up, or to get a college education or get married, according to a new study by University of Connecticut researchers.

The study of 1,165 young adults from across the U.S. also found that dependence on pot and booze may also have a “more severe effect on young men” than on young women.

Young women who were dependent on marijuana and alcohol were also less likely to go to college and had a lower standard of living than nondependent women, but were equally likely to be employed full time and to get married as nondependent women.

“This study found that chronic marijuana use in adolescence was negatively associated with achieving important developmental milestones in young adulthood,” Elizabeth Harari, a UConn Health psychiatry resident and author of the study, told UConn Today.

Harari presented the results of the research at the American Public Health Association’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta.

The research comes from tracked information collected by the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism on young people beginning at age 12. These individuals were then reassessed at two-year intervals until they were between 25 and 34 years old, checking on their educational levels, marital status, full-time employment and social and economic potential.

Earlier academic research demonstrated that chronic use of alcohol or marijuana in adolescence can affect the user’s development. The new UConn study differed in that it attempted to determine what heavy use of pot and booze would mean for a person in adulthood.

“Awareness of marijuana’s potentially deleterious effects will be important moving forward, given the current move in the U.S. toward marijuana legalization for medicinal and possibly recreational use,” Harari said.

Connecticut has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and already has a legal medical marijuana program for thousands of patients. Massachusetts is moving forward with legalizing recreational pot, although proposals to do the same in Connecticut stalled in this year’s legislative session.

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