Unfazed or Dazed and Confused

Does Early Adolescent Marijuana Use Cause Sustained Impairments in Attention and Academic Functioning?

Dustin Pardini, Helene R. White, Shuangyan Xiong, Jordan Beardslee, Tammy Chung, Rolf Loeber, Alison Hipwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is some suggestion that heavy marijuana use during early adolescence (prior to age 17) may cause significant impairments in attention and academic functioning that remain despite sustained periods of abstinence. However, no longitudinal studies have examined whether both male and female adolescents who engage in low (less than once a month) to moderate (at least once a monthly) marijuana use experience increased problems with attention and academic performance, and whether these problems remain following sustained abstinence. The current study used within-individual change models to control for all potential pre-existing and time-stable confounds when examining this potential causal association in two gender-specific longitudinal samples assessed annually from ages 11 to 16 (Pittsburgh Youth Study N = 479; Pittsburgh Girls Study N = 2296). Analyses also controlled for the potential influence of several pertinent time-varying factors (e.g., other substance use, peer delinquency). Prior to controlling for time-varying confounds, analyses indicated that adolescents tended to experience an increase in parent-reported attention and academic problems, relative to their pre-onset levels, during years when they used marijuana. After controlling for several time-varying confounds, only the association between marijuana use and attention problems in the sample of girls remained statistically significant. There was no evidence indicating that adolescents who used marijuana experienced lingering attention and academic problems, relative to their pre-onset levels, after abstaining from use for at least a year. These results suggest that adolescents who engage in low to moderate marijuana use experience an increase in observable attention and academic problems, but these problems appear to be minimal and are eliminated following sustained abstinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1203-1217
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume43
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 11 2015
Externally publishedYes

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Cannabis
Longitudinal Studies

Keywords

  • Abstinence
  • Academic problems
  • Adolescence
  • Attention problems
  • Cognition
  • Marijuana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Unfazed or Dazed and Confused : Does Early Adolescent Marijuana Use Cause Sustained Impairments in Attention and Academic Functioning? / Pardini, Dustin; White, Helene R.; Xiong, Shuangyan; Beardslee, Jordan; Chung, Tammy; Loeber, Rolf; Hipwell, Alison.

In: Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Vol. 43, No. 7, 11.04.2015, p. 1203-1217.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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