Adolescence is a time for experimentation. High school and middle school students are exposed to many opportunities to engage in risky behavior. They are often first introduced to drugs, alcohol, and sex during these socially challenging years. Marijuana is one common drug that teens experiment with. Many of them see this as a harmless drug and do not associate it with the negative consequences attached to other drugs, such as heroin, opioids, or cocaine. However, it is well established that marijuana use can decrease a student’s academic motivation. It is also referred to as “the gateway drug” because it is believed that the innocuous perceptions about marijuana use open the door of opportunity for other drugs that are thought to be more dangerous.
Although there is abundant research demonstrating the negative effects of marijuana use, few have looked at the outcomes of in-school use versus out-of-school use. To address this gap, Kristin V. Finn of the Department of Adolescence Education at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, recently led a study that evaluated the social and academic behavior of 1,112 high school students from 11 separate high schools. She looked specifically at class involvement, attendance, grade point average, disciplinary records, and unethical and dishonest academic behavior.
Despite communities’ efforts to diminish drug use among teens, Finn found that approximately one in three students had used marijuana, and almost 20% reported having used it at school. Half of those who identified as general users also disclosed having used marijuana at school. The general users fared worse on all behavior and academic measures than the students who had no history of marijuana use. This was even more pronounced in the students who were in-school users. In particular, the students with in-school use had the lowest levels of academic integrity, attendance, and classroom involvement. Finn believes the reasons a student chooses to use marijuana may be many, including poor classroom supervision, peer pressure, or as a means of coping with threatening and victimizing environments. Despite the reasons for using, this study demonstrates the effect it has on adolescents. Finn added, “The results showed clearly that the educational correlates of marijuana use are significant and more pronounced for students who use marijuana during the school day.”
Finn, K. V. (2012). Marijuana use at school and achievement-linked behaviors. The High School Journal, 95.3, 2-13.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.