Going to a cool college and hanging out with 'cool' friends is like a dream come true for most kids. And of course, they'd want to fit in and look cool too which is why they end up indulging in things that they shouldn't. A study has now found that students who subject themselves to alcohol or drug abuse can end up suffering quite a few damaging effects even later in life. Lack of sleep, low grades, mental disorders and poor lifestyle choices are just some of the factors that accompany alcohol and substance abuse.
"We used a robust data-mining technique to identify associations between mental distress in college students with substance abuse, sleep, social behaviours, academic attitude and behaviours, and GPA (short-term and long-term as reflective of academic performance)," said one of the researchers. "Positive behaviours such as abstinence from substance use, studious attitudes and responsibility toward work and family are reflective of a brain chemistry profile that supports mood and maturation of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The latter matures last and supports impulse and emotional control as well as rationalization of thoughts,” she added.
Around 558 students were asked to anonymously complete a survey that measured academic performance, daytime sleepiness, substance use, and mental distress. It was found that students who scored better marks, didn't have any form of substance abuse issue and were less sleepy throughout the day, had the least mental distress. Students who tried to neglect work and scored borderline grades were associated with mild distress. And students who drank excessive alcohol, scored rather low grades and showed extreme sleepiness through the daytime showed severe mental distress.
"These factors that are associated with mental distress in college students are controllable factors, meaning that proper education of students may reduce risk of mental distress on college campuses, which is on the rise," said the researcher. “When young adults follow a healthy lifestyle (diet, sleep, and exercise), they are more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol, which supports a normal brain maturity, which is then reflected in a higher GPA and responsible attitudes toward learning, work and family," she concluded. Stay tuned for more updates.