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Kids who abuse substance face greater health risks

Posted on May 05 2014 | IANS

Washington, May 5 : If teenagers are caught drinking alcohol or using marijuana at school, meeting the teachers or principals may not be enough. They must be screened for exposure to trauma, mental health problems and other serious health risks, a study indicated.

For both boys and girls, using alcohol or marijuana on campus is associated with significantly higher odds of showing serious health risks than using substances only out-of-school, the findings of the research showed.

"At-school substance use is not just an isolated event requiring simple disciplinary action but an important signal identifying teens in need of urgent psychosocial assessment and support," said Rebecca Dudovitz, an assistant professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

For the study, researchers analysed data from a survey of more than 15,000 high school students in the US.

Students who reported using either alcohol or marijuana on school campus had a 64 percent chance of having been in a car with an intoxicated driver, a 46 percent chance they had symptoms of depression, a 25 percent chance they had experienced intimate partner violence and a 25 percent chance they had attempted suicide, the study noted.

"These represent a considerable history of and ongoing risk for immediate harm that might not otherwise come to the attention of a parent or school official," said Dudovitz.

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