“Opportunity cost: Something a person sacrifices when they choose 1 option over another” (1).
For students, the health impact of marijuana use may be understated, and its harms can be sneaky. Beyond the cost of purchase, what is marijuana use costing you?
Hidden cost #1: Your total time in school
If you use marijuanna 2 or more times per month, you may be 66% more likely to miss 1 or more semesters of class (2): This was shown in a study of 1,133 students over a 4 year time period, starting freshman year, even after adjusting for variables such as demographic characteristics, high school GPA, fraternity/sorority involvement, personality/temperament characteristics, nicotine dependence, and alcohol use disorder (2).
Hidden cost #2: Your future income
6 years after graduation, students who used marijuanna infrequently during college were 3.7 x more likely to be unemployed than non-users (3).
Hidden cost #3: Your ability to study
The use of Marijuanna 4 or more times per month may impair brain functioning.
In this study, students demonstrated poorer verbal learning (p<.01), verbal working memory (p<.05), and attention accuracy (p<.01) compared to non users (4).
This might translate to more time studying or less information learned, mistakes, more frustration and angst with school work; and poor academic performance.
Hidden cost #4: Your emotional health
The cost of missing/prolonging school, poor grades due to marijuanna use, reduction in future and current income (money spent on marijuanna could be used for other things), fear of getting caught, and potential legal consequences are all stressful consequences beyond the biological impact of marijuanna use. Is it worth the extra stress?
Biologically, marijuanna can impact depression; while depression can impact marijuanna use (5).
If you can relate to any of this, you may want to ask yourself… Are these costs worth it?
How much better would your life be if you instead addressed your depression, anxiety, stress/time management skills, in healthier ways like counseling, exercise, meditation, improving medical health, etc?
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
1. Arria, A. M., Caldeira, K. M., Bugbee, B. A., Vincent, K. B., & O’Grady, K. E. (2013). The academic opportunity costs of substance use during college. College Park, MD: Center on Young Adult Health and Development. Available at www.cls.umd.edu/docs/AcadOppCosts.pdf.
2. Arria AM, Garnier-Dykstra LM, Caldeira KM, Vincent KB, Winick ER, O’Grady KE. Drug use patterns and continuous enrollment in college: Results from a longitudinal study. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2013;74(1):71-83.
3. Arria AM, Garnier-Dykstra LM, Cook ET, Caldeira KM, Vincent KB, Baron RA, O’Grady KE. Drug use patterns in young adulthood and post-college employment. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013;127(1-3):23–30.
4. Hanson KL, et al. Longitudinal study of cognition among adolescent marijuana users over three weeks of abstinence. Addict Behav. 2010 November ; 35(11): 970–976. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.06.012.
5. Pacek, LR, et al. The Bidirectional Relationships Between Alcohol, Cannabis, Cooccurring Alcohol and Cannabis Use Disorders with Major Depressive Disorder: Results From a National SampleJ Affect Disord. 2013 June ; 148(0): 188–195. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2012.11.059.