November 21, 2017
2 min read

Teen alcohol, drug dependence linked to poor life outcomes in adulthood

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Teenagers who are dependent on alcohol and marijuana are significantly less likely to attain life goals such as academic success and the achievement of full-time employment, according to a recent presentation held at The American Public Health Association 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo.

“This study found that chronic marijuana use in adolescence was negatively associated with achieving important developmental milestones in young adulthood,” Elizabeth Harari, MD, from the University of Connecticut Health Center, said in a press release. “Awareness of marijuana’s deleterious effects will be important moving forward, given the current move in the United States toward legalization for medicinal and possibly recreational use.”

To examine the association between DSM-IV marijuana and alcohol dependence in adolescence and achieving life goals such as marriage, educational achievement, employment and social economic potential by gender, the researchers conducted the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA). This study included 1,165 adolescents who were initially examined at 12 years. Every 2 years, they would be reexamined using a standard diagnostic research interview.

Those analyzed for the study were aged between 25 and 34 years, and 56% were female. The majority were European American (67%), whereas 26% were black and 7% identified as another race/ethnicity.

When adolescents were dependent on both marijuana and alcohol, they achieved less academic success and were also less likely to maintain full-time employment. Additionally, adolescents had a decreased chance of marriage and had lower social economic potential when they were dependent on marijuana and alcohol.

If the marijuana-dependent adolescent was female, they were more prone to have lower levels of educational achievement (P < .0001) and lessened social economic potential (P < .032). Academic achievement was also reduced in those with comorbid dependencies (P < .0001) and lower social economic potential (P < .05). If the marijuana-dependent adolescent was male, they were less likely to achieve full-time employment (P = .007) and had lower social economic potential (P = .004). Young women with comorbid dependencies were less likely to achieve educational success (P < .001).

“COGA investigators are following many subjects over the years and are using this extensive and growing database to examine several significant research topics,” Grace Chan, statistician in the University of Connecticut Health department of psychiatry, said in the release.  by Katherine Bortz


Harari E, et al. Board 3: Impact of marijuana us and dependence on life achievement in young adults. Presented at: The American Public Health Association2017 Annual Meeting & Expo; Nov. 4-8; Atlanta.

Disclosures: Harari’s work was supported by Hesselbrock and Chan. The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism is funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.