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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Alcohol and Marijuana Comparison Study

There has been an ongoing debate as to whether or not alcohol is worse than marijuana; especially since more states have become tolerant of marijuana, the seemingly benign drug. Even President Obama has stated that he is not convinced that marijuana is more harmful than alcohol. It is no secret that both alcohol and marijuana are a part of teenage life, many high school students experiment with both substances just about every weekend and in some cases more often than just on the weekends.

In an attempt to gather more data, researchers at NYU conducted a comparison study of alcohol and marijuana. The study was titled "Adverse Psychosocial Outcomes Associated with Drug Use among US High School Seniors: A Comparison of Alcohol and Marijuana,” according to Newswise.

On September 1, 2014, researchers affiliated with New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) published their findings in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, (on-line ahead of print). Researchers gathered data to analyze from a nationally representative sample of high school seniors in the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study. Data from 7,437 students (modal age: 18) from 2007 through 2011 who reported using alcohol or marijuana in their lifetime was looked at in the study.

"The paucity of research is of particular public health concern as alcohol and marijuana are the two most commonly used psychoactive substances among adolescents," said Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, a CDUHR affiliated researcher and an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC). "Nearly half of high school seniors have used marijuana in their lifetime and over two-thirds have used alcohol, but few studies have compared adverse psychosocial outcomes of alcohol and marijuana directly resulting from use."

“The most alarming finding was that alcohol use was highly associated with unsafe driving, especially among frequent drinkers," said Dr. Palamar. "Compared to non-drinkers, frequent drinkers were over 13 times more likely to report that their alcohol use has led to unsafe driving. Marijuana users, compared to non-users, were three times more likely to report unsafe driving as a direct result of use."

Researchers found that alcohol use was more commonly reported to compromise relationships with friends and significant others. Alcohol use also led to more regret, particularly among females. On the other side, marijuana use was more commonly reported to:
  • Compromise Relationships With Teachers or Supervisors
  • Lower School Performance
  • Result in Less Energy or Interest
  • Lower Job Performance

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