America's Dropout Crisis: The Unrecognized Connection to Adolescent Substance Use

Lower high school grades and motivation and higher risk of dropping out are associated with use of illegal substances. This report from the Institute for Behavior and Health and the Center on Young Adult Health and Development (CYAHD) at the University of Maryland School of Public Health discusses decades of scientific studies that show the connection between adolescent substance use and school failure.

Malignant Neglect: Substance Abuse and America’s Schools

This report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse is a comprehensive analysis on substance use in American schools, focused on how drug use affect schools and suggests how to make schools and teens substance-free.

Roughly 30% of middle school students and 60% of high school students report drugs being used, kept, and sold in their schools. Students attending these schools are three times more likely to smoke, drink, or use illicit drugs than those whose schools are substance free. A large proportion of students who begin using alcohol and other drugs continue to use throughout high school. Adolescents who use alcohol and other drugs perform poorly in school, are at greater risk of developing anxiety or depression, and are more likely to drop out of school.

Adolescents are more likely to use drugs when they perceive the risks to be low. Additionally, parent drug use, peer use, and the prevalence of drugs in the community increase the likelihood that a teen will use drugs. Programs that teach students about the risks of drug use do help increase the perception of risk, but do not address the other environmental risk factors for drug use.

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