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Even a Little Pot Use Ups College Dropout Risk
Date:3/22/2013

fall and spring semester for the first four years of the study, Arria said. By the study's end, 71 percent of the students had remained continuously enrolled over four years, and 29 percent had not.

Reasons that students left college varied. While some transferred to another university, others exited college life altogether, so the authors opted to use the term "discontinued enrollment" instead "dropout."

Aria said it's key to point out that their results were independent of other factors such as demographics, high school GPA, fraternity or sorority enrollment, personality type, risk-taking behaviors, and a student's use of tobacco and alcohol.

"Marijuana use was still a predictor of discontinuous enrollment," Arria said.

A second study, published in the journal Psychiatric Services and funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, looked at drug use and mental health problems and the risk of leaving college prematurely. Arria and her colleagues report that students who experience symptoms of depression and seek treatment for depression during college might be at risk for an enrollment gap, too, especially if they use pot or other illicit drugs.

However, students whose depression was identified and treated before heading to college were not at risk for enrollment problems once at the university level.

Dr. Marc Galanter, director of the division of alcoholism and drug abuse at NYU Langone Medical Center and a professor at the NYU School of Medicine, said the studies are interesting, especially when reviewed together.

"When they say there's a need for early intervention for illicit drug users, there may be other issues that cast the die for drug use, namely depression," Galanter said. "The question is, do drugs cause the problem or are they a consequence of some other problem? Could it be depression that leads people to use drugs secondarily? It's not clear what's causal."

Study author Arria said that alth
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