Missing the Mark: the Impact of Teen Substance Abuse on American Academics [INFOGRAPHIC]

Over the years, substance use has progressed as a universal presence across campuses nationwide. Despite the detrimental effects that drugs and alcohol have on a person’s brain function, many continue to accept experimentation in college as normal. What we often fail to recognize, though, is that substance use usually starts long before high school graduation. In fact, 66 percent of teens have consumed alcohol by the end of high school, and 49 percent of high school students have already tried an illicit drug. The average age of initiation is just 14 years old. 

All the while, America’s educational crisis continues to grow: on average, 7,000 teens drop out of high school each day. Dropouts are more likely to have health problems, lower incomes, and to be incarcerated. They are also more at risk to the addiction cycle: resorting to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms to deal with their lack of education. Many factors contribute to academic failure and today’s high dropout rates, and substance abuse remains one of the most prevalent.

Research has proven that substance use is a direct contributor to poor academic performance. It affects the entire body, and a young person’s brain is especially susceptible to alterations. The parts of the brain responsible for learning, judgment, decision-making, and memory are also the ones most impaired with continued alcohol and drug use. At the same time, these are the parts most crucial for academic attainment: the ability to pay attention in class, memorize facts, balance personal priorities, and manage one’s time accordingly are all at risk with each hit, puff, or sip.  

As a parent, it can be difficult to accept that your teen is at risk of developing a substance use disorder, on or off school grounds. Yet the connection is clear. National statistics have painted a troubling picture of America’s substance abuse epidemic, our educational predicament, and the subtle intertwining of the two. It is time we open our eyes and see how these issues can be recognized, addressed, and further prevented in the lives of the ones we love most. 

Our team at Turnbridge has comprised the following infographic to help. We show the correlation between substance use and educational difficulty, as well as how parents, educators, and advisors alike can arm themselves with the skills necessary to prevent their dangerous combination. By understanding the facts, we can intervene in our teens’ lives and find professional help if a problem occurs. At Turnbridge, we uphold education as a priority, before, after, and throughout the course of our drug treatment program for young men. If you are concerned about your son’s early exposure to drugs and alcohol, his academic risks, or more information on the link between the two, please call us today at 1-877-581-1793.


teen addiction in high school and college

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