Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Origins of Cigarette and Abusive Drug Use: Elementary School

A new study that comes out of the University of Michigan indicates early childhood academic problems in school is a gateway behavior toward drug use. That's right, early childhood educational failure leads to later drug use - the myth that drugs contribute to bad grades is misguided!
The authors outlined the policy implications of their research in these terms: “There are many good reasons for encouraging adolescents and preadolescents to do well in school, and to help them to do well. The long-term economic and cultural benefits of a good education are widely recognized and appreciated. The findings of this research suggest an additional class of benefits: Early educational success provides considerable protection against a wide range of problem behaviors, including delinquency, smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use.”

As for whether most adolescent substance use has much impact on educational success and eventual educational attainment, the authors say instead that, “…educational failures tend to come early in the sequence of problem behaviors, followed by adolescent delinquency, smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use. In general, substance use appears to be largely a symptom, rather than a cause, of poor academic adjustment, though one can easily imagine specific examples to the contrary.”

It is probably wishful thinking to suppose that reducing adolescent substance use will lead to substantial increases in educational success. Rather, whatever can be done to improve the educational successes of children and adolescents will likely have a very valuable additional benefit—reducing their substance abuse.”

The authors are careful to add that “we do not view these findings as any reason for slackening efforts to reduce adolescent substance use. There are already more than enough good reasons for discouraging such use, even if we look no further than the potential health consequences. What our findings do suggest is this: One particularly important way to reduce or prevent adolescents’ involvement in substance use is to help them succeed in school—and to do so well before they reach adolescence.”

I plea loudly and often that we are spending far too much at EO Smith and starving the local elementary schools.

Maybe someday the mountain of evidence piled in front of the faces of the public will get their attention.

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