Marijuana Use Raises College Dropout Risk

Discover the impact of marijuana use on college dropouts. Unveil the link between marijuana use and academic success.

By Alis Behavioral Health Staff

July 9, 2024

Marijuana Use in College

Marijuana use among college students has been a topic of concern, with substance use trends and mental health implications being important areas of consideration.

Substance Use Trends

According to a survey conducted in 2023, approximately 64 percent of college students in the U.S. reported having consumed alcohol at some point in their lifetime. Additionally, nearly one-fourth of students reported using marijuana within the past thirty days. These trends highlight the prevalence of substance use among college students.

Substance use, including marijuana, is often used as a maladaptive coping strategy to deal with academic and social pressures, difficult emotions, and stress. It is important to address these underlying issues and provide healthier alternatives for managing stress during the college years.

Mental Health Implications

The use of substances, including marijuana, can potentially exacerbate existing mental health difficulties among college students. Substance use and mental disorders often coexist and contribute to a complex relationship. This is particularly concerning considering the higher risk of suicide and self-harm behaviors among the college-aged population in the United States.

In 2023, over one-quarter of college students receiving mental health services reported feeling the need to reduce their drug and alcohol use. However, only a small percentage (1.8 percent) reported receiving treatment for substance use alongside their mental health treatment.

It is crucial to address the potential impact of marijuana use on mental health and provide support services that integrate substance use treatment with mental health treatment for those in need. For further information on the dangers of marijuana, particularly in the context of teens and young adults, refer to our article on the dangers of marijuana and teens.

Understanding the substance use trends and mental health implications associated with marijuana use among college students is essential for developing effective prevention and intervention strategies. By prioritizing mental health support and offering healthier coping mechanisms, colleges can contribute to a safer and more supportive environment for their students.

Impact on Academic Performance

When it comes to the influence of marijuana use on academic performance, numerous studies have shed light on its potential negative effects. Understanding the relationship between marijuana use and academic outcomes is crucial for college students and those concerned about their education.

GPA and Marijuana Use

Research consistently indicates that marijuana use among college students is associated with lower grade point averages (GPA) and poorer academic performance. A historic high of 44 percent of college students reported daily marijuana use in 2020. All marijuana user groups tend to have lower GPAs compared to non-users. Occasional users may experience a milder impact on their GPA compared to frequent or heavy users [3].

Class Attendance and Marijuana

In addition to GPA, marijuana use has been linked to decreased class attendance. Baseline marijuana use frequency predicts an increased likelihood of skipping more classes, resulting in lower first-semester GPA and longer time to graduation. Marijuana use during the first year of college has been found to contribute to poorer academic outcomes [2].

To illustrate the impact of marijuana use on academic performance, here is a table showcasing the average GPAs of different user groups:

It's important to note that individual experiences may vary, and not all marijuana users will encounter academic difficulties. However, these findings highlight the potential risks associated with marijuana use and its impact on academic success.

Understanding the impact of marijuana on academic performance is crucial for college students. It is important to weigh the potential consequences of marijuana use and make informed decisions about its consumption. For more information on the dangers of marijuana use and tips for recognizing addiction, refer to our articles on How to Know You’re Addicted to Marijuana? and The Dangers of Marijuana and Teens.

Factors Influencing Marijuana Use

When examining the influence of marijuana use, it is important to consider various factors that contribute to its prevalence among college students. Two significant factors are the frequency of use and heavy marijuana use.

Frequency of Use

The frequency of marijuana use among college students is a critical factor in understanding its impact. According to a study, nearly 30% of students reported ever having used marijuana at college entry, and approximately 8.5% initiated use during their freshman year. These statistics highlight the significant number of students who engage in marijuana use during their college years.

Furthermore, research shows that students who had a higher likelihood of using marijuana at college entry were those who had at least $100 per month in spending money, attended church rarely or never, used other substances like cigarettes, alcohol, and hookah tobacco, and had a higher propensity toward sensation-seeking behavior [4]. These findings suggest that certain lifestyle factors and behaviors may contribute to the initiation and frequency of marijuana use among college students.

Heavy Marijuana Use

Heavy marijuana use, characterized by regular and frequent consumption, has implications for academic performance and overall well-being. One study found that students who used marijuana more frequently during their first year of college tended to skip more classes, leading to lower grades. This pattern of marijuana use had a lasting impact, as it influenced class attendance and GPA, ultimately delaying graduation.

Moreover, heavy marijuana use can have long-term consequences on academic achievement and post-secondary education. Students who engage in heavy marijuana use are at an increased risk of dropping out of college. The negative impact on academic performance, coupled with the potential cognitive impairments associated with heavy marijuana use, can hinder a student's ability to succeed academically and complete their degree [5].

Understanding the factors that influence marijuana use among college students, such as the frequency of use and heavy marijuana use, is essential for addressing the potential risks and consequences associated with it. By recognizing these factors, educational institutions and policymakers can develop targeted interventions and prevention strategies to promote healthier choices and support the academic success of college students.

Long-Term Effects

When it comes to the influence of marijuana use on college students, it's important to consider the long-term effects that can impact their educational journey. Two significant long-term effects of marijuana use in college are delayed graduation and cognitive impairments.

Delayed Graduation

Baseline marijuana use frequency has been found to predict skipping more classes, resulting in lower first-semester GPA and longer time to graduation. This delay in completing their degree can have various ramifications, including increased financial burden and missed career opportunities.

Research has shown that students who use marijuana more frequently during their first year of college tend to skip more classes, leading to lower grades. This pattern of class absences and lower GPA can have a lasting impact, delaying graduation by several years. It is important for students to be aware of the potential consequences of frequent marijuana use on their academic progress and consider seeking support if needed.

Cognitive Impairments

Marijuana use, particularly heavy use, can have detrimental effects on cognitive functions that are crucial for academic performance. Working memory, learning, and information processing can all be impacted by marijuana use, potentially hindering students' ability to absorb and retain information effectively. These impairments can have a direct impact on a student's ability to succeed academically.

Long-term, heavy marijuana use has been associated with structural changes in the brain that further contribute to cognitive impairments. These changes can affect memory, attention, and decision-making, all of which play a significant role in the learning process [5]. It is crucial for college students to be aware of these potential consequences and make informed choices regarding their marijuana use to prioritize their academic success.

Understanding the long-term effects of marijuana use in college is essential for students to make informed decisions about their academic and personal lives. By being aware of the potential delays in graduation and the cognitive impairments associated with marijuana use, students can take steps to prioritize their education and seek support if needed.

Consequences of Heavy Use

When it comes to the influence of marijuana use on post-secondary education, heavy use can have significant consequences. In this section, we will explore two key areas affected by heavy marijuana use: dropouts and post-secondary education and academic achievement challenges.

Dropouts and Post-Secondary Education

Heavy marijuana use during college is associated with delays in enrollment or dropouts from post-secondary education. Individuals with marijuana use disorder are more likely to drop out of college, and heavy marijuana users who do enroll are more likely to experience gaps in enrollment.

It is crucial to recognize that marijuana use can be a barrier to academic achievement, impacting high school grades, high school degree completion, and the likelihood of entering college. Research indicates that heavy marijuana users who enroll in college are more likely to experience gaps in enrollment, further hindering their progress towards completing their degrees.

Academic Achievement Challenges

Studies have shown that heavy marijuana use is associated with lower GPA, increased likelihood of skipping classes, and longer time to graduation among college students. Baseline marijuana use frequency predicts skipping more classes, resulting in lower first-semester GPA and longer time to graduation.

The impairments caused by marijuana use can impact working memory, learning, and information processing, all of which are essential for academic performance. Heavy marijuana use during college can be a barrier to academic achievement, affecting students' engagement in academic life and leading to difficulties in sustaining focus on academic pursuits [5].

To excel academically, it's important for college students to maintain focus, attend classes regularly, and allocate sufficient time for studying. However, heavy marijuana use can disrupt these essential components of the learning process, resulting in academic challenges and increased difficulties in achieving educational goals.

Understanding the potential consequences of heavy marijuana use on post-secondary education and academic achievement is crucial for individuals seeking to navigate their college experience successfully. It is important to prioritize overall well-being, make informed choices, and seek support if needed.

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