Reducing Substance Use Improves Adolescents' School Attendance

Published In: Addiction, v. 101, no. 12, Dec. 2006, p. 1741-1751

Posted on on January 01, 2006

by John Engberg, Andrew R. Morral

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AIMS: Substance use initiation and frequency are associated with reduced educational attainments among adolescents. The authors examined if decreases in substance use substantially improve youths' school attendance. DESIGN: A total of 1084 US adolescents followed quarterly for 1 year after entering substance abuse treatment. METHODS: Random and fixed effects regression models were used to differentiate the lagged effects of drug use from other time-varying and time-invariant covariates. Self-reports of alcohol, marijuana, stimulants, sedatives, hallucinogens and other drug use were used to predict subsequent school attendance, after controlling for demographic and drug use history characteristics, problem indices and other covariates. FINDINGS: Reductions in the frequency of alcohol, stimulants and other drug use and the elimination of marijuana use were each associated independently with increased likelihoods of school attendance. CONCLUSIONS: Because years of completed schooling is highly correlated with long-term social and economic outcomes, the possibility that reductions in substance use may improve school attendance has significant implications for the cost-effectiveness of substance abuse treatment and other interventions designed to reduce adolescents' substance use.

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